I plant a full row of shelling peas every year. This year, I planted two full rows. It was not, for the record, a waste of space.
I've planted Alderman, there on the left, for years. The peas are delicious, long pods, and I like how dramatically tall the plants get. I have been, admittedly, one for some garden drama. But the Lincolns I bought this year - they are the new pea seed for me. Shorter plants, less drama (read piles of broken stalks burying the pathway/lots of tying up/broken twine/self-abasement for bad pea-care etc), amazing heat resistance (really, the picture below is from my birthday - July 17th! - when the Lincolns were still putting on beautiful, sweet peas), and they're OP!
Open pollinated seed that makes delicious, resilient food is the holy grail. Not like those other OP peas. Maybe next year I will save my own seed. My heart swells at the thought.
Saving seed and then growing a crop from it is, for me, like connecting the two wires that make the lightbulb turn on in Middle School tech class. WOW. Also like being a truly useful person. Also a Best Mom Moment. Ode ode ode.
This is the year that I got to show Clara how the poppy seed pods can also be pepper shakers in the Rock Box Cafe.
I let the fava plants that tillered most productively and didn't fall on their faces alone and they made me some beautiful purple seed. If that is not pure Hope, what is?
Flower seed. I looked at the Wild Garden catalog (in which, this year, Frank Morton shared how he lost his head for flowers) and I just wanted to be like Frank so bad. His descriptions of the comfort and joy that flowers are bringing him in his age - and the incredible intimacy with seed that he has grown through those many years of openness and dedication ...
Potatoes! Easiest cycle to see and feel. Clara helped me drop potatoes that had already grown sprouts in the basement into well-prepared holes and they went ahead and multiplied themselves. Yes, I piled more dead weeds and loose soil and bunny bedding on them through the early summer, but it seems almost unconscionable to say that I grew these potatoes.
As you maybe guessed from the sprouting-in-the-basement part of that saved seed story, I had no idea how to season the above pile of potatoes after harvest. I googled and followed some stranger's instructions and while we ate the vast majority before they shriveled and sprouted ... they shriveled and sprouted.
Fresh seed/old seed. I grew melons and squash from mystery old seed, using my strategy of clearing out my stash by planting several piles of multiple varieties of old seed in one hill and watching for vigor in the new plants, eventually thinning down to one strong plant. I always mean to save seed from this plant, because though it is sloppy and very unplanned, this method shows all kinds of desirable characteristics. I think I overwatered/over nitro-ed (bunny poooop) all the cucurbits I grew this way, because the squash, especially, was so airy when raw and so melted when cooked I could only make soup with it.
I grew carrots and broccoli and bush beans and a crazy kale mix from Adaptive from new seed, and marveled at the vigor and grace of these little lives leaping from the soil. Something was missing in the soil, though, because the aphids were too heavy on all the brassicas by harvest time to do anything but give them to the bunnies.
Which brings us to flowers. I already wrote an ode to flowers I think. Or more than one. This year there will be black scabiosas. And more nicotiana. And more zinnias (which C and I made a fall garland from). And more more more more ...
But maybe not so many more sunflowers this year. It is hard to even type that, but this year they were so floppy, and I have given so much garden space to them for forever, and I didn't want to leave them in long enough for them to turn into bird feeders, which is my favorite part, and so I tried to save some seed for the birds, and give the leaves and stems to the bunnies ... which they loved. So, I dunno. Hard not to grow sunflowers!!