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Edible Gardening In 2009

I've been reading a lot about how growing your own fruits and vegetables is going to be huge this year. The bad economic news apparently has people turning to gardening to in an effort to feel like they have some control in their lives or they're turning to vegetable gardening in order to feed their families.

Whatever the reason people are turning to gardening it is welcomed news not only to the seed companies, who are reporting increases in sales, but to those of us who garden. All of a sudden family members who once made fun of my dabbling with plants and seeds are now calling and emailing me asking for advice. This year tiny urban garden in Chicago will be a lot more edible than it has in the past. I feel a bit like I'm jumping on the edible gardening bandwagon but in reality it is more out of necessity. Last year I was too busy to tend to my garden and this resulted in a lot of plant deaths-instead of replacing them with more perennials I'm going to fill the space with vegetables.

Renee's Garden, vegetable seeds heirloom seeds

The other day I got a gift package of seeds from Renee's Garden that Renee wanted me to trial (more on that later) in my garden. You can click the image of the vegetable seed packs above for a larger view. One of the things that struck me about these veggie seed packs is the use of illustrations instead of photography. Renee's online garden seed catalog also makes use of the charming illustrations used on the seed packets.

Renee's Garden seed packThe back of the seed packets is full of information good for the first time gardener. You can click the seed packet image for a larger view.

On the left side of the seed packet you get directions on when to plant, where to place, planting depth, spacing of seeds, days to germination and days to harvest once started.

There's a flap that has a quick description of culinary uses for the edible plants.

Folding the flap over reveals specific information that is more in-depth than the planting guide on the left. Why am I going on about this? I'm a seed nerd, I think seeds and seed packs are cool and I like that Renee's seed packages provide so much information on germinating the seeds and growing them. I still have empty seed packs in a box from seeds I planted years ago because I liked the packaging or information on the seed pack. Not all seed packs go into so much detail for beginners or make good use of all the space they have available to them. The seeds are pretty cool too-the mix packets come color coded so you make sure to plant some of each.

The other thing that appeals to me about Renee is how socially aware she is. She's signed the "Safe Seed Pledge" to not buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. You can visit the About page on Renee' to learn more.

Here's a list of the seeds I received from Renee that are pictured above.

Butterfly Asclepias "Bright Wings"
Peppers "Thai Chile Duo"
Nasturtium Climbing, "Moonlight."
Strawberry, Alpine, "Mignonette"
Peas, Edible Pod, "Super Sugar Snap"
Peppers, Habanero "Red Savina"
Peas, Snow, "Oregon Giant."
Pak Choi, Baby, "Green Fortune"
Peppers, "Jewel Tone Sweet Bells"

I'm looking forward to growing all of these but in particular I'm excited about the climbing Nasturtium because I'm a big fan of this plant. The leaves & flowers are edible and if you're doing small scale farming you can grow it as a sacrificial plant. I've grown a few varieties of it but I've never been able to find the climbing variety for sale in a store. I can't wait for spring now.

If you've never grown plants from seeds before take a look at these past posts of mine. feel free to ask questions about starting seeds in the comments. I try to answer each and every comment left in the comment section.

Plastic bottle seed starter.
Sandwich bag seed starter.
Seed starter pot from newspaper.
Paper tube seed pot holder.
Homemade seed pots.
When I collect Nasturtium seeds.

Related from

Seed Sites Get Social-Post on the social networking sites by Renee' & Botanical Interests.

In the news:

Recession grows interest in seeds, vegetable gardening

If you've made it this far:

Renee offered me these seeds out of the kindness of her heart. I didn't ask for the seeds, I didn't hint at wanting seeds, I didn't offer to blog about her and her seeds-she just offered them to me while we discussed growing plants from seeds. In that same spirit in which they were given to me I'm offering to share part of my good fortune with one of you. I'm going to share half of; both peas, the Baby Pak Choi and the Habanero Chiles seeds with someone from the comments section. I've preselected a number, if your comment is that number the seeds are yours if you want them.


  1. I love your blog!! I love all of the wonderful information you offer, I make plenty of my own ghetto greenhouses to start my seeds in.

  2. Red Savina! Didn't that used to be the hottest pepper before Bhut Jolokia took over the title? I'm planning to grow Chocolate Habanero this year - hoping for heat plus great flavor.

    I'm a longtime fan of Renee Shepherd; used to buy things from her catalog way back when she had her first seed company.

  3. Great Post Mr. Brown thumb!

  4. These are my very favorite seeds. I have had much success with them and I love the packages that I can use in garden crafts after the seeds are gone. Great post.

  5. i just stumbled upon your blog. I am very much a beginning gardener, and have taken to starting from seed: tomato, basil, parsley, and chives this season (8 weeks ago). Would love to try a few more, as I'm building my first raised bed next week!

  6. I can add a paean of praise to Renee's seeds; they're wonderful. I tried them a couple of years ago and was very, very pleased with what I grew. And her seed packets are lovely enough to frame, in my opinion. I like that you're sharing them but I hope you'll also enjoy them immensely.

  7. As usual, Mr. BT, great and huge amt. of information! You are just the best thing since sliced bread and butter for a gardener! You almost have me convinced to try some seeds...I should, I know I really, really should...REALLY!

  8. WTG MBT! Nothing more satisfying than growing your own food. As a child (many moons ago) everyone had a kitchen garden, I have fond memories of working in the garden with my dad. Have to check out your growing tips, I am starting my maters from seed this year and zucchini ... I have my plastic bottles (mini greenhouses) saved and can't wait to get started. A fresh mater off the vine is a pure slice of heaven :)

  9. Anonymous7:22 PM

    I really wanted to try Renee's seeds this year, but they didn't make the cut. I anticipate your updates!

  10. I love Renee's seeds, too. Like you, the seed geek side of me is totally inlove with her seed packets. Hers and Botanical Interests have the best packets, without a doubt.

    And I'm jealous of your climbing nasturtiums. I've never found them in any of my local garden centers either.

  11. I've browsed Renee's site and admired her beautiful seed packets. I had already spent my limit on seeds for this year, so I will be back to her site in the future. By just browsing her site, i hadn't realized how much info was on the seed packets. That is awesome. I'm fairly new to gardening and figuring out how big a plant grows is a big frustration. I started seeds for tomatoes this year wanting some cherry tomatoes for hanging baskets. One of the varieties I started I have since found out can get to be eight fee tall. That would have been a disaster to find out the hard way. The other thing that frustrates me is that every plant site or book talks about cold hardiness and the zone you live in, but rarely do they discuss the plant's tolerance for heat. Here in Dallas, that is a major factor. Our 100 plus degree summers can wreck havoc on many plants, but I KNOW there are varieties that do well! Finding them is the challenge.

    Thanks for the review. Enjoy your new seeds.

  12. Oh! A comment challenge. I love it.
    Happy planting..

  13. Information on a seed packet is so important. I buy a lot of packets of seeds each year but not always is the info on the back useful, accurate and complete. And that's putting it mildly. Often I have to research (Google is my friend) how to sow certain seeds. In a nutshell, I think we could do with a Renee over here too. ;-)

  14. Welcome to the dark side! Renee's illustrations are famous; a lot of us edible gardeners buy the seeds because of them.

    I've started a new blog, mostly for my kids, with the family recipes; it will have a lot of garden bounty on it come summer, and some my attempts at root cellaring come fall. It's in my profile ("Mahlzeit") or check it out at

  15. I love the gardening blogs, and found yours via Mr Subjunctive's blog. I agree, the seed packets are gorgeous!

  16. I've become a seed-packet admirer this year - since blogging! I've purchased way too many already. I'm experimenting for the 1st time w/indoor starting. Don't need the giveaways-just stopping by;) The climbing nasturtiums sound interesting; hope they'll climb for you!

  17. I didn't even know there were Climbing Nasturtiums! I'm going to check these out. I imagine they would be lovely on a trellis.

  18. I'm starting a garden this spring for the first time in years - we lived in an apartment, and then had a completely shaded yard. I need to do raised beds because our house is new construction, and the topsoil is about an inch deep.
    Is it already time to start seeds indoors? I thought you couldn't plant outside in Chicago until late May.

  19. I've got my first little veggie patch planted! I haven't grown veggies since I was a child but I am about as excited as one can get to see the little row of sugar snap peas marching down the dirt!

  20. I haven't grown from seeds for years. I'm planting seeds for flowers instead of buying all those flats.Will also plant a few veggies. I just blogged about what a single person can do during this money crunch.I remember the victory gardens during WW 2.I think farmer's markets will be busy this year.

  21. I Love growing peppers. They seem to grow like weeds for me, and Okra grows like a weed, I think it is a weed. Great blog!

  22. Very nice MBT! The seed packets are beautiful. How nice of Renee to give you those freebies, and how nice of you to share.

    I'm so excited about my little veggie bed it's ridiculous! I went way overboard on seeds, but I'll figure out a way to grow some of everything. I may use containers usually reserved for ornamental plants to extend the growing space, and the climbing stuff will be trellised to save space.

  23. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Are these the kind of seeds that produce fruits and vegetables whose seeds can be planted and produce the same crop?

  24. I don't need the seeds but enjoy commenting. I've known about Renee's several years and she always sends me a little media kit with a pack of seeds to try. I've recommended her to my readers on more than one occasion for the same reasons you listed.

  25. I came over to thank you for all your helpful tips in visiting Chicago, and didn't realize I would be getting in on a giveaway! I've seen Renee's Seeds mentioned somewhere else, so I will definitely pay her a visit and check these out. You have a lot of wonderful information here--my first try at seed starting last here was less than successful, but I'm giving it another try. Hopefully, all the information I've learned from others will produce much better results this year:)

    Thanks again for the tips on the CTA--I've checked out their website. Looking forward to meeting you at Spring Fling!

  26. Thanks for the comments everyone. The winner has been contacted. Leigh some are heirlooms and will produce the same crop if the seeds are collected. Renee sells hybrids and heirloom seeds.



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