Monthly Archives: January 2011

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Pretty much the only “gardening” I’m doing now is thumbing through the seed catalogs arriving in dribs and drabs in my mailbox. Among the funnest of these catalogs, and strictly for the plant-crazed, is “The 2011 Ethnobotanical Catalog of Seeds,” which, until I checked, I always called Hudson’s Seed Catalog. The catalog originates in the Santa Cruz mountains of California (once home to Ken Kesey) but offers seed from all corners of the world. Only recently have they come online, at www.jlhudsonseeds.net.

I’ve ordered from this catalog for decades, each winter pleasurably and slowly wading through the almost 100 black-and-white pages of small print listings of botanical names and descriptions. For this first run through the catalog, I sit poised with red pen, ready to make a star next to any seed listing that looks particularly interesting. After I go through the whole catalog once, I’ll re-examine all those …

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The harvest has begun: I picked the first fruit of the season this week. Not only that, but it was the first fruit I harvested from the particular plant. The fruit was a Sunquat, planted in a pot a year and a half ago. It summers outdoors and winters indoors, basking in sunlight streaming through a south-facing window.

Not many people have heard of Sunquats. I hadn’t. Citrus plants hybridize freely and Sunquat is one of many citrus hybrids, this one a mating of kumquat (botanically Fortunella, rather than Citrus, but very closely related) and Meyer lemon. I happen to be a big fan of the tart flesh and spicy, sweet skins of kumquat fruits. I also happen to be a big fan of Meyer lemon, which is not a true lemon but is probably a hybrid of lemon and mandarin orange. Meyer lemons are juicy and somewhat …

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The garden is winding down so I’ll look into the freezer and see what I’ve got. Hmmmm. A couple of jars of frozen, small, yellow-orange berries. Sea berries! I forgot all about them. I’ve had the bushes for a few years and each year nibble a few of the tart berries. This year I decided to use the berries in earnest.

Native to Russia, China, and northern Europe, sea berries are relative newcomers to this part of the world. And even then, they’re often planted strictly as ornamental shrubs. Their silvery leaves make the perfect backdrop for their bright and abundant orange, yellow, or red berries. As a fruiting or ornamental plant, sea berry is easy to grow, needing only abundant sunlight and well drained soil. A (nonfruiting) male plant is needed to get fruit on nearby female plants; each male can sire up to 8 females.

Years …

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