There are a few seeds that I like to order and start early as they require a long growing season. The first of these is cotton. It is hit or miss trying to get mature bolls in my climate zone (3), but I try anyway as it’s a nice plant with a beautiful, if short-lived, flower. This year I’ve ordered Erlene’s Green Cotton, Mississippi Brown Cotton and Sea Island White Cotton from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I still have plenty of Uplands Cotton seeds from my 2011 crop, so I’ll likely plant some of those too.
Last year’s cotton plants were rather sickly, so I only got a few stunted bolls, and I’ll discard any seeds that formed as I’d rather start with healthy seeds.
My second order was for Japanese Indigo (Dyer’s Knotweed) seeds. I’ve planted some of these directly in the garden, but they had only started to bloom when the season ended. I brought a few indoors and they have continued to produce blooms, but it doesn’t look like there’s much viable seed there and now they are dying back. I’m ordering these again from Companion Plants – one of the few seed houses I’ve found that carries them.
Third order is more Madder seed. My 2 year-old plants looked good last summer, but so far none have produced any blooms or seeds. I’d like to get some more plants going, and I’ll also try to start some from cuttings. Madder seeds germinate reliably and it’s nice to have a sure-bet in the flats. These I get from Horizon Herbs, and they are also hard to find.
I think I now have a life-time supply of woad seeds after letting a few plants over-winter and bloom. Just have to remember to scatter them once the ground is bare. Another plant that’s easy to grow.
The rest of the cold months should be dedicated to spinning and mordanting a supply of yarn so that I’ll be ready to go when the dye plants are ready to harvest next summer.
Next on the order list is fibre flax seed – still need to calculate how much I can reasonably sow in a limited space before I place my order.
It’s never too early to start planning next summer’s garden – hope you enjoy the process as much as I do.