On the dreary days following Christmas, with the snow piled high and the cold gripping the land, I remember my mother sitting by our wood burning cook stove. By the light of a kerosene lamp she studied the seed catalogs that had just arrived. And she was smiling.
On this wintery day in early January, I, like my mother so many years ago, am poring over the newly arrived seed catalogs: Burpee’s, Gurney’s, Jungs, Shumway’s and several others. A new wonderfully red tomato graces the cover of the Burpee catalog with the enticing words, “Madame Marmande: Gourmet tomato with a French accent. Juicy. Succulent. Super-flavorful.” On the Jung catalog cover I see an “Easy care barberry shrub, “A perfect pumpkin for patches big and small,” and a cluster of three strawberries: “Big yields of tasty berries on disease resistant plants.”
On the Shumway catalog cover I see the “Lazy Housewife Bean, the original heirloom from the 1800s. One of the first to be completely stringless-there is little work or time involved, thus resulting in its name.” And Grandpa Admire’s Lettuce named after a Civil War veteran whose family preserved the seeds throughout the years.
That’s just the covers. A peek inside the catalogs and all thoughts of long winter days melt into thoughts of spring and planting garden, and selecting just the right seeds for our sandy, central Wisconsin soil. Decisions, decisions. What to plant this year, something I have not tried: maybe Swiss chard, or how about some kale, or maybe a couple hills of Atlantic Giant pumpkins that are supposed to reach 400-500 pounds. Or maybe some Crimson Blaze sunflowers that “captivate with sensuous shades and tones,” and grow six feet tall?
Let’s see, it’s only how many days before it’s time to plant garden?
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Think garden thoughts; it shortens the winter.
January 12, Noon, Wisconsin Certified Crops Advisory Board, Coliseum, Madison.
January 15, 6:45 p.m. Wisconsin Grazing Conference, Wisconsin Dells. Stories from the land.
January 25, 6:30 p.m. Mt. Horeb Library—History of Cheese making in Wisconsin.
February 2 and 3, Great Wisconsin Farm Expo 11:00 a.m. (Farm Memories). and 1:00 p.m. (History of Wis. Agriculture) each day. Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center, 10101 Market Street, Rothschild, WI.
February 13-14. Garden Expo. Alliant Center, Madison. February 13, 2:15:Wild Flowers, Butterflies, and Other Stories From the Land. February 14, 1:00 p.m. Film: The Land With Jerry Apps plus discussion.
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps a Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story).Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County as well as Whispers and Shadows and his newest nonfiction book, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street