Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcoming the Green into Your Life

As I look out my window, I see the snow softly falling. It has snowed all day and has left our Mother Earth covered in a blanket of pure, unblemished white. Some find this cold season dismal and depressing. I don't. I know the Earth needs this quiet season to rest and I also know that many of our most beloved native plants and wildflowers need the conditions of the season so their seeds will germinate.
Native Corn Variety - Dakota Black Popcorn

But most of all, this time of the year is one in which I dream of warm sunny days and my fingers working the dark, rich earth. Yes, I am a gardener, a lover of green growing things, and a tender of the soil. Winter is a terrific time for planning gardens and starting seeds. I know my own mailbox has blossomed with all manner of seed, plant, and gardening catalogs.

January is often a time of new promises and goals for the year. I encourage everyone to add planting a garden this year to your list of 2011 goals. For those with health goals this year, please know that gardening is a terrific activity for your health - see an article I wrote here on this topic. Gardening also allows you to reconnect to millennia-old traditions of sowing seeds, tending the soil, and partaking of the fruits of your labor - whether you be a gardener of flowers, herbs, or vegetables. To help you in this endeavor, I'll share some of my favorite sources with you. All of these places have online store fronts and many have print catalogs free upon request.

My best wishes for you in 2011. May you find beauty, joy, happiness, and peace in your gardens and may that extend to the rest of your life. Namaste.


Vegetables/Food Crops

Heirloom Tomatoes from my 2010 garden
Nothing is better than a tomato fresh from the garden, still warm from the sun's kiss that is sprinkled with a little sea salt. And so I encourage everyone to grow their own foods. Many food plants are ornamental in their own right and can easily slip into your flower beds if you do not have dedicated vegetable spaces. I also encourage everyone to seek out heirloom/heritage seeds, some of which are of direct Native origins. These are wonderful and tasty departures from the bland and tasteless vegetables that crowd grocery shelves. They will certainly be at home in your 3-Sister Garden.

Abundant Life Seeds - Organic and biodynamic vegetable seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - One of my favorite heirloom seed sources. Some Native varieties. The owners of Baker Creek recently bought the historic Comstock Seeds company.
Comstock Seeds - A 200 year old tradition of selling seeds being relaunched by new owners (website coming soon)
Johnny's Selected Seeds - A wide range of vegetable and herb seed. No genetically modified seed.
Miller Nurseries - A local company that specializes in fruit tree, shrubs, and plants. Get a variety of plants and varieties including strawberries and blueberries here.
Pinetree Garden Seeds - A favorite place to get not only a wide range of vegetable varieties but a place to get small amounts of seed for a small price which is a wonderful way to test out a variety
Raintree Nursery - All manner of fruit-bearing plants and trees are available here including juneberries, strawberries, and blueberries
Seed Savers - Heirloom vegetable seeds incl. some Native varieties
Seeds of Change - Organic vegetable, flower, and herb seed. Some Native varieties like the Dakota Black Popcorn I grew last year.
Territorial Seed Company - A wide range of heirloom, open pollinated, and hybrid vegetable varieties. No genetically modified or treated seed.
Totally Tomato - Can't find a particular tomato or pepper variety elsewhere? Find it here.
Terroir Seeds - Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds including the Cherokee "White Eagle" corn I grew in 2009. This special seed made the trip over the Trail of Tears.

Herbs/Medicinal Plants

White Baneberry - Poisonous & medicinal
Whether the herbs you grow are to season your food in the kitchen or are to keep you healthy, these are powerful members of the plant kingdom. Last week I had the pleasure to catch the podcast "Bringing Seeds to the People" by Richo Cech Herbalist and owner of Horizon Herbs. That combined along the current book I'm reading, Sacred Plant Medicine: The Wisdom in Native American Herbalism by Stephen Buhner has re-energized my desire to plant medicinal plants this season.

Horizon Herbs - Medicinal plants and seeds of many herbal traditions
Nichols Garden Nusery - A nice selection of culinary herb and vegetable seed
Richters - A wonderful source for medicinal plants of all sorts from nearby Toronto

Flower Gardening

I don't do much ornamental gardening these days but I do always slip some flowers into the vegetable beds to attract pollinators.

Select Seeds - Get antique flower seeds from this company including some of my favorite poppy varieties

Native Plants
Joe Pye Weed - A native beauty

I can't stress enough how important it is to welcome these plants into your life and gardens. Many have become rare in their native ranges. These plants are ideally suited to our growing conditions and they offer beauty, balanced habitats, medicines, and more. See for more details about growing native plants.

Forest Farm - While shipping from the westcoast is costly, this is a wonderful place to find many hard to find plants, trees, and shrubs.
Musser Forests - A nice place to get many native trees and shrubs in small amounts or quantity in nearby Pennsylvania
Prairie Moon Nursery - One of the best native plant and seed sources around.

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