By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

Most years, I am done ordering seeds by this time. Not only am I done ordering, but the seeds have arrived, the packages are Brailled, and they are in some kind of planting order–the early crops, the late crops, and the flowers. Gardening is wonderful because it is dynamic, and it will always be so.

For some reason, I delayed reading my Burpee catalog for some time. I just placed an order on February 21, probably a month later than usual. Elephant garlic and pepper plants are the primary reasons for ordering from this firm. They have a large sweet pepper cultivar named “Big Daddy” that I must try. And, much to my utter joy, they offered poblano hot peppers in plants!!! I have been looking all over for them–in local nurseries and mail order catalogs–for years. This cultivar is also a favorite of my son Jack’s. I ordered 3 plants, and we’ll hope and garden for the best. I ordered a pound of elephant garlic as well. It’ll be shipped in the spring. I prefer a fall shipment, but spring will do.

Beth ordered a Seed Savers Exchange catalog for me. Hawkeye Bob and I have done our first read through, and he has penned several possibilities.  Likely items are two kinds of gourds I’ve been trying to find for years. One of the gourd cultivars is called “crown of thorns.” Seed Savers calls it “The Ten Commandments.” Jack, Bob and I call them “Hawkeye Victory Gourds.” In October of 1990, I had successfully raised a package of mixed gourds along the west fence of the Seneca Avenue property I owned. I had noticed them all summer, and found one kind that I was especially fond of. I harvested them during the Iowa-Michigan State football game. I kept saying to myself, “If I can find this one kind of gourd Iowa will win.” I found the target, paced the driveway during the fourth quarter holding fast to the gourd, and the Hawks won 9-7. The other cultivar is called “worted mix.” I raised worty gourds on my parent’s farm in the early 1960’s. If ordered, they will be placed in the waste area long the south-east border of the property. I’ll have to ask Allen and his family not to mow that area–extra work for me, but rewarding if the crop is successful.

Sunday morning all the hyacinths were thrown away except for the pot of hollyhock doubles in the south-east bedroom. They have taken longer to bloom. The early double tulips are past their prime, but their flowering has been staggered, so there are still some flowers that are looking good. The pot of mixed fringe tulips is now on the west counter of the kitchen, and they are beginning to bloom. The first to appear is “cardinal and gold”, perfect Cyclone colors. Beth is a Cyclone fan, and she was elated to find this flower. She has had a wonderful time teasing me about it for the past four days. She calls it “beautiful,” Hawkeye Bob and I call it “ugly.” It is really called “unconditional love.” Beth also tells me that the second tulip will be red – one we both can enjoy.


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