This is the glorious time of year when the plant porn arrives, and gardeners start thinking about what will be planted in the coming months when the ground begins to thaw. Every catalog offers something special, but I do have some favorites. My budget only allows me to place a couple of orders, but I can dream.
When it comes to growing edibles, I admit that I’m attracted to the exotic. Did you know that there are 7,000 species of food plants, but only 140 are cultivated commercially and most of the world’s food supply depend on just 12? Anybody can find a spearmint or peppermint plant at their local Home Depot, but Richter’s has 38 varieties of mint. They're also starting a Seed Zoo, hiring explorers to act as seed “curators,” travelling around the world to obtain landraces – plants with unique features found in only one region or sometimes in just one village. They'll make these seeds available in limited quantities online.
My heart gives a little jump when the Richter's catalog arrives, because I know that I'll see something new. Maybe I can’t grow them all here in zone 6A, but they’re fun to read about anyway. Here are some highlights from this year’s catalog. If you’ve had experience with any of them, I’d love to hear about it.
Andrographis – the main herb used to fight the common cold in Scandanavia “better than echinacea.” Annual.
Bacopa – I grew the ornamental bacopa last year. This variety, monniera, is medicinal, treating hysteria and insanity. May be good to have on hand.
Sweet Salad Basil – leading variety for commercial dried spices, with a cinnamon-clove note.
Bedstraw Yellow – curdles milk! Also known as cheese rennet. Tops and roots are source of yellow and red dyes.
Rose Scented Bergamot (monarda)– a perrenial in my zone. Source for tea and potpourri. Pretty pink flowers.
Jewelweed – the antidote to poison ivy. Must have.
Arp Rosemary – the hardiest variety of rosemary. Reliable to zone 7 and can live in 6 with protection.
Chia – seeds are considered a “superfood” full of nutrients.
Bayberry – Aromatic shrub. May go for the plant since it sounds like seeds are hard to germinate.
Edelweiss – Sentimental. I sang this song to the E. girl when she was tiny, tiny. Sounds like it’s easy to grow, and medicinal.
Yellow Foxglove – One of my favorite flowers and does well in shade. Yellow would be so pretty.
Wild Ginger – a.k.a Indian Ginger. Perennial in my zone.
Piss- Off Plant – they recommend planting this where you don’t want dogs or cats to pee or dig. Only perennial in zone 11+
Orange Spice Thyme – with 24 varieties of thyme it’s hard to choose, but this is a Richter’s “exclusive.”
Right now I’m just browsing – I probably won’t place any orders until next month. But until then, I’m curious…What are you excited about planting this year?