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  • martin
    http://www.seattlepi.com/nwgardens/361200_lovejoy01.html A search engine for seeds? How cool! April 30, 2008 By ANN LOVEJOY SPECIAL TO THE P-I As the soil
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2009
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      A search engine for seeds? How cool!
      April 30, 2008

      As the soil warms up and the days grow longer, a gardener's thoughts turn
      to vegetable love. Who can resist the idea of growing delicious vegetables
      and fruits? Our springtime enthusiasm often turns into summer despair when
      we realize that we can't possibly use or give away all we have sown.

      The good news is that many gardenless folks would appreciate a little of
      your garden's abundance. Every year, food banks run dry just as gardens
      start to overflow with edibles. So go ahead, plant big and reap plenty.
      Just remember that when the harvesting gets tough, your local food bank
      will happily receive your extras.

      The wonderful feeling that nothing will be wasted gives us permission to
      grow all the delectable things we can't find in the local grocery store.
      However, it can be challenging to locate seeds and starts of favorite
      foods. I often get reader requests for help in finding favorite tomatoes,
      old-fashioned beans and heirloom asparagus that aren't sold at the average
      garden center.

      Mother Earth can help. This year, editors at the venerable Mother Earth
      News worked with Google to create a new search engine that searches only
      current plant and seed catalogs. When cruising the Web for uncommon
      foodstuffs, an ordinary search is more apt to turn up a Wikipedia article
      on virtual vegetables than a place to buy actual seeds.

      Since Mother Earth's search engine is speed-reading through about 150
      catalogs, the odds of finding what you want are pretty darn good. All the
      big commercial catalogs are included, but so are dozens of small ones that
      specialize in uncommon edibles and ornamentals.

      To test drive this new tool, I asked this modified search engine to look
      for Tuscan kale, a plant many readers have had trouble finding. And no
      wonder! Though 10 pages of sources appeared, almost every catalog lists
      this classic Italian vegetable a little differently. The Grow Italian
      catalog sells it as cavolo nero (black cabbage), while Nichols Garden
      Nursery lists it under kale Tuscan organic. Others call it black dragon,
      laciniato, dinosaur, black palm tree kale and lots of other variants.

      Luckily, most catalogs mention variations on names, and the search engine
      cross-references fast. A previously frustrating search became a breeze with
      one click of my mouse. How cool!

      Catalog entries often include cultural information, growing tips and even
      planting combinations. For instance, the Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog
      suggests filling a container with Tuscan kale and edible peach melba
      nasturtiums, which makes a pretty and tasty combination. (I'd add chives as
      well, and perhaps some spicy oregano.)

      Next, I found rainbow carrots, an especially tasty, beautiful and
      nutritious mixture. Like their wild ancestors, these back-bred carrots come
      in a range of colors, from orange to yellow, cream, green, coral, rose, red
      and purple. Gorgeous in salads and stir-fries, all are crisp and sweet and
      each offers a slightly different blend of phytonutrients.

      Easter egg radishes were my next hit, a colorful and crisply delicious
      blend of French breakfast types. Tender even when quite large, these come
      in pretty tints from red, rose and pink to lavender, purple and white. Many
      catalogs also carried watermelon radishes (also called roseheart), an
      heirloom Chinese variety that is sweet-hot and beautiful. Thin slices,
      attractively fanned, make a memorable garnish for anything from appetizers
      and soups to salads and sides.

      Online sources abound for my favorite hand tool, a serrated farmer's knife
      called a hori-hori. That means "chop chop" in Japanese, and this heavy iron
      or steel tool is great for chopping, prying and demolishing weeds. It's
      also terrific for planting and transplanting anything up to a gallon in

      Mother Earth News has been around (off and on) since 1970, and today, both
      the magazine and the Web site offer self-sufficiency guidance.

      You'll find articles on everything from energy efficiency to green
      remodeling or raising chickens and goats, and regular online columns such
      as Garden Know-how and Eat in Season.

      There's also a free online Food and Gardening newsletter and a blog that
      offers regional planting advice.

      If you (like me) prefer to read a printed newspaper or magazine, you can
      subscribe online to receive the Mother Earth News magazine for half-price
      (six bimonthly issues for $10).


      Mother Earth news -- motherearthnews.com

      Mother Earth News Seed and Plant Finder -- goto.seattlepi.com/r1372

      Ann Lovejoy is the author of many gardening books. She can be reached via
      mail at: 8959 Battlepoint Drive N.E., Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.

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