So much for spring! We got another 5-6" of snow in the middle of the week, which even aside from the 3-hour commute it caused, was pretty soul-crushingly depressing. But it looks like things will finally start thawing out by next weekend. Given that there's only one month in which there's never been snow here, that's not a sure thing, but it's a bit less dubious in April than in March. Also coming up shortly -- and this is definitely a sign of spring -- is the 2011 Friends' School Plant Sale catalog. I am volunteering again this year and am very excited to see what kinds of things they'll have, as this was a great experience last year! If you've never checked out the Plant Sale, I highly recommend it. It's Mother's Day weekend at the State Fairgrounds -- more details can be found here.
I started some of my tomatoes and peppers today; I've never done these from seed before and it will be interesting to see if I can manage it, particularly since I've gone the heirloom/unusual route this year instead of just ordering from one of the big garden stores. Among the varieties I'm growing are "Dancing With Smurfs" from New World Crops and "Big Month", "Jersey Giant", and "Amish Paste" from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. We use tomatoes mainly for sauces and canning, so these seem like better bets than the tomato plants I'm able to find locally. I'm also really excited to have FINALLY been able to track down urfa pepper seed this year.
If you aren't familiar with urfa/isot peppers (and in my experience, most people aren't), they're what's used to make the #1 favorite spice in this household -- urfa biber. We discovered this wonderful spice by accident at the World Spice Market when we lived in Seattle and immediately realized that it's good in pretty much anything. It's fantastic on eggs, meat, and adds a delicious depth of flavor to sauces, and can even be used in brownies or other sweets. It's got just enough spice to be interesting without the heat crowding out the other flavors, and it has a nice undertone of sweetness. We put it on almost everything, but I'd searched for years for seeds so I could grow the pepper, to no avail. This year I finally tracked them down, and while they're pricey (roughly $0.40 a seed), if I can manage to grow the peppers and save seeds from them, it'll be totally worth it, as there's absolutely no local place I can get this spice -- I have to order it online from all the way out in Seattle.
It's probably a good thing I got motivated to start another batch of seeds today...I could wait until next weekend, but I'm thinking with all the upcoming garden resource fairs (the next two Saturdays are taken up by them) and other springtime activities, things are going to get a lot busier very soon. That's what always thwarted my seed-starting in the past -- I'd get too busy during the three or four weeks I should have been doing most of them, and by the time I stopped to think about it, it would be too late. This year we don't have the money for plants, so I don't have much choice. But that may be a good thing, anyway, as starting things from seed is a skill I should have developed by now.