Growing another jungle . . . with maybe some hindsight

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I just read a weather alert in an email from the center in Hastings which says it’s going to be cold as all get out, again . . . a million degrees below zero wind chill, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


Let it blow, let it be cold, because in my mind it’s already spring.

That’s because literally 15 giant seed catalogs have already arrived and every chance I get, I gaze at the pages with some hopeful excitement for the planting seasons.

What is not to love?

The things we can plant, as soon as it is warm enough . . . oh, they are endless.

The pages of those beloved catalogs are colorful. Their offerings are exotic, full of possibilities.

I can feel a warm breeze blow on my face as I turn the pages.

I feel tingly with anticipation of growing things I’ve never seen before.

It’s not yet time for me to spend my glorious hours walking through Fallers and choosing my plants, so until then I will shop for bizarre seeds from home between putting logs on the fire.

There is something about a seed catalog that soothes the pains of winter, because it reminds me that spring is always just around the corner.

It also allows me to believe – just for a bit – that I am a great horticulturist and my yard will be the location of the Garden of Eden. While I know that will likely not be the case, the catalog prompts me into exploring new options and experiments.

Three years ago, I tried the giant Russian sunflowers and they were incredible. Yes, they grew to about 14 feet tall and were covered with giant blooms (up and down the stalks, not just at the top). They were amazing . . . until they were attacked by squirrels while I was away at the state fair. The little creatures actually stripped every single sunflower seed out of the heads and trampled down the plants. That in itself was something to see, according to eye witness testimony from a neighbor.

I’ve tried some mysterious peppers that were supposed to grow really long and curl. Some plants grew – nothing else happened.

There was the “mystery box” of mixed seeds that I dumped in a little patch. The problem was that I didn’t know the difference between the intended plants (because I had never seen them before/had no idea what I was looking for) and weeds. Let’s just say the mystery was more than I could muster . . . and there was no result because I just pulled everything out.

Then there were the “rainbow carrots” of 2021. They were supposed to be blue, orange, red, yellow and a shade of green. Well, all I pulled out of the ground were orange and white ones – but they still tasted good.

I had a run-in last year with some blue vine-thing that I don’t think I planted – it effectively killed my cucumbers before I even knew it was there.

But here we are in the month of January and as I flip through this year’s catalog, I begin to believe again.

And fill out my order form.

There are herbs I cannot pronounce but I want to try them anyway.

Orange tomatoes. Can’t wait.

Foot-long, seedless cucumbers. Wonderful.

Red tomatoes that are supposed to produce fruit weighing two pounds apiece! Fantastic, but not realistic, from past experiences. The first go-around they are huge . . . and then they dwindled after that.

Multi-colored “rainbow radishes” that will look like crayons springing from the ground!

Purple potatoes! I can hardly wait.

Stuff called “craft lettuce” and “exotic greens.” Interesting salads will abound.

Last year I was so excited about one endeavor I ordered – the giant African elephant ear plant. I’ve been looking at this monster for years, as he always graces the pages of the seed catalog. The resulting plant is supposed to be massive – measuring about 15 feet tall with leaves a foot in diameter. The advertisement always shows a man standing in its foliage, to demonstrate how large it is. The cutline even reads, “Grow your own jungle.”

Last year, I took the plunge and that bad boy was added with the rest of my dreams. But he never arrived. This year, I will try to order him again and see what happens.

I think about the advertisement claiming I can “grow my own jungle,” and I can hear Guns N’ Roses in my head.

Ok, so it’s cold today. A thousand below zero. Whatever.

I’m going to finish filling out my seed order.

I can’t wait to see what happens.


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