Notes from the Seed Garden

Hard to believe that the summer days are running out. Hot days aside, for most of us the zucchini have given way to winter squash and tomato leaves are at the fight-the-blight stage—even if our counters are still obscured by veggies awaiting their place in an upcoming meal. (James Sie’s versatile stone soup, is one delicious and all-inclusive proposition).

As we plan for next year’s gardens—It’s not too soon!—we like to take stock of what went right—and wrong—with this year’s plants. At the Morton Library Seed Garden, where we grow everything past its eating prime in order to harvest seeds to share with all of you, we did battle with Mexican bean beetles and their yellow leaf-destroying larvae. While our climbing Sammataro beans were relatively resistant, the bush-style Providers took a beating. No amount of squishing (revolting!) or spraying could stop the onslaught.

On the plus side, the basil is bushy and proud and a cantilevered twine trellis that Sue designed allowed the Sammataros to drape above the tatsoi and protect it from the sun’s harsher rays— #stringtheory works in the garden too, turns out.

Green yard-long beans on another trellis may or may not have had a hand in the demise of the Red Sails lettuce growing in their shadow. The jury’s still out on that one, but there’s no denying the beans were exuberant and the lettuce was not. RIP, dear red heads.

Regardless of these inevitable trials, we’re looking forward to a bumper year of seeds, and with any luck they’ll be available at an in-person seed swap before spring! We’ll get them to you one way or another, so keep some space in your gardens for arugula, All Stars Kale, the Morton Mesclun Mix (mizuna and tatsoi included!), Provider and Sammataro beans, Busy Bee basil (Genovese with free-pollinator influences) and Echinacea purpurea.

—Margot Dougherty