Snow in the foothills was fun. Wearing warm scarves has been cozy. Freezing temps even had their charm, in that cold, wondrous way.
Yet, I’m glad the days are getting longer. If you look up into the trees you can see the buds of spring, sometimes a dull burgundy, sometimes brown or green.
I cover my eyes when the blood flows during action movies, and refuse to look when someone dislocates a finger.
For the same reasons, I couldn’t bring myself to check the frost damage in my yard. As each day passed with no rain, I knew I would be forced to drag the hose around the yard, and survey the frost damage.
Surprisingly, the yard did not look like the aftermath of the Three Mile Island disaster; most of the plants survived.
But what is dormant and what is dead?
Joe Connell, county farm adviser, said we won’t really know until spring. If the branches don’t come to life, it’ll be time to trim.
In the meantime, now’s a good time to begin to think about starting to get ready to put seeds into soil.
The catalog for the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. has been next to the TV remote for several weeks. The seed worshipers sent me the big version of their catalog, because I’m a member of the media elite and will give them a shameless plug.
You can buy your own big catalog at http:// www.rareseeds.com, or order the free version.
The glossy booklet includes some highly romanticized prose about plants — the type of words I like to string together when inspired.
For example, the company’s founder, Jere Gettle, talks about the joys of eating the varieties of tomatoes that fortified Roman soldiers, or squash that sustained his ancestors through lean times.
The company also commissioned research on the nutrition value of different tomatoes. You can also simply leaf through the fantastically beautiful photographs and daydream about sunshine and dancing with butterflies.
In a few weeks — mid-January — you can get an early start with seeds in a windowsill or greenhouse.
If you order seeds soon, you’ll be ready.
We’re in a Mediterranean climate, which means plants native or renowned in Italy and Spain should do well.
Last spring, the Butte County Master Gardeners wrote an essay about the best tomato varieties for Butte County backyards. Read it here: http://goo.gl/Ycbvyu.
For our area, the writers suggest slicers including: Beaverlodge Slicer, Aussie, Dinner Plate, Giant Belgium, Aunt Ginney’s Purple, Marianna Peace, Good Old Fashion Red, Momotaro and Rainbow.
For cherry tomatoes, suggestions are: Sugar Lump, Isis Candy, Sun Gold, Black Cherry, White Currant, Sweet Million and Hundred Million.
For salsa: La Roma and San Marzano. For sauce: Amish Paste, Costoluto Genovese, San Marzano Ridorta and Red Pear.
The article includes an informative discussion about the difference between deteriminate and indeterminate tomatoes.