Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cherry Pitter Review

 This morning I left home at 6:30am and drove to Wenatchee and picked cherries at Stutzman Ranch. Showed up as they opened at 9am and it was a glorious day to pick cherries. I am very happy I decided to go so early since it was turning out to be a scorcher of a day in Central Washington.

I picked 30 pounds of cherries by 10:30 and was on my way home. I stopped to take a short day hike and for lunch and was home by 2:45pm and moving on the the work of processing the cherries.

I bought a little cherry pitter at Sur La Table the other day in anticipation of the picking. I have decided that this little tool is wonderful! Below you are going to find a little 2 minute video review of the Progressive 6 Cherry Pitter. It aint fancy or all that professional, but it works and tell you what I think about it. Sorry for the vertical video, but these things happen...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Articles From When I Was The Chicken Lady


Bush bean!
 It has been lovely in Seattle these last couple of weeks. Eighty degree days and blue skies. This is actually quite unusual for a Seattle spring, not that I am complaining. I am that rare Seattle-ite that does not complain when the weather gets over 75°.  I will sit outside with my iced sweet tea and dig in my dirt until it sticks to my sweaty face!

And since it has been so lovely, my weekends have been taken up with working in the garden and household projects that I have been procrastinating on. Just like everyone else in Seattle, I hide in the house in the winter daydreaming about all the wonderful yard projects I am planning on doing and drooling over garden magazines and seed catalogs. But like most Seattle-ites, once the lovely weather starts all those plans get dumped out the window and replaced with hikes and bike rides and general outdoor goofing off.

So I finally got myself motivated and laid the beauty bark down for the mulch in the paths between the garden beds and built the path between the front and back yard.  I have a giant pile of top soil left over from when we cut down an old, rickety Douglas Fir in the back yard. It seems that one of the previous owners also used the location to dump the leftovers of their clam bakes. So, I have been slowly sifting all the big rocks, weird sea shells and the occasional marble out of and moving it to the places in my yard that need filling in and into new garden beds. It is good soil and composted with the ground stump of the Fir tree, so it is pretty rich in organic matter. Once that is completed and the location is relatively level,  I will work on expanding my patio.

Lately, right after I wake up, I am out in the garden breathing in the morning air and drinking my coffee. My pajamas match my coffee cup, I realized this morning. Anyways, it is so much more soothing now that it is more symmetric and easier to navigate.

Some might say that the beds are too close together, but I can get the mower in between them and sit on the edge of one bed to work in the other. It works perfectly for me and that is all that matters. I have my soaker hoses in the beds and turn them on first thing in the morning so that they do not lose too much to evaporation, then I just putz and drink my coffee and connect myself to the world again.

My garden in my sanctuary when things suck to much for me to deal with. It de-stresses me even when I am sore at night because I have been bending over a soil screen for four hours straight. It makes me realize that the world is only as lovely as you make it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jail Break

Chickens looking
covetously at the alley
The chickens busted out of their coop yesterday. I came home and my neighbor had told my boyfriend that another neighbor down the block had wrangled them back into they yard. (I feel like I am back in high school suddenly...)

Anyways, the birds got out. I did not latch the back gate well when I left for work in the morning and the wind blew it open is the only thing I can think happened. An open gate is an invitation for adventure for any animal! A dog, a cat, a small flock of chickens, hell, even a few goats have been found roaming neighborhoods after their back gates were left open.

But, I think escape is particularly a risk with chickens. They are naturally curious creatures and always want to know what is on the other side of the fence. If it looks more interesting than what is on your side of the fence, they will find a way to get out and explore it. Even if the "it" is the alley. If the yard next door looks like there are more bugs in the flower beds or the grass looks greener on the other side, they want to know about it and they want to taste it! It's one of the reasons I love chickens, they have an adventurous streak that I admire and hope to emulate!

Fortunately, I have awesome neighbors. The neighbor down the block, Beverley, wrangled them back into the yard and for her hard endeavours she received a dozen eggs and a heartfelt thank you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fermentation: Sauerkraut

 So there is a difference between pickling and fermenting. Fermenting is when you allow the naturally occurring lactic acid to preserve vegetable matter, anaerobically( "anaerobic",in a nutshell, is when you deprive the matter of air which causes an explosion of anaerobic bacteria("anaerobic bacteria" are bacteria that lives in an airless environment)). It is the easiest of all food preserving tricks and you use this process in making things like kimchee, sour pickles, yogurt and SAUERKRAUT!

Pickling is when you use an outside acid, such as vinegar, to "pickle" the vegetable matter. Basically pickling preserves food by killing any bacteria in the food  and keeping them at bay, while fermenting makes your food come alive! Many people will tout the health benefits of fermented foods. Me personally, I just like how it tastes.

I like pickling foods, but when I find cabbage on sale after St. Paddy's Day, I will make a gallon or two.  I found cabbage at a close by produce stand for $0.58/lb and bought four heads for $6.30. Three heads will generally make enough to fill a gallon jar.

I don't have a fancy fermentation crock, although I admit that I do lust after one of the German Crocks. But, sadly, I don't have one. So I use a one gallon glass jar. I found them on craigslist in Port Orchard for 2 dollars each and had the the boyfriend pick up a few when he was out visiting his parents one weekend. And they are perfect for making one gallon of Sauerkraut. I made one gallon this morning. It will take 4-6 weeks to ferment and I think that should last a couple of months. I will have to make another batch in the Autumn to get us through the winter.

How to Make Sauerkraut:

Take the outer leaves off of the cabbages and give them a rinse, just to get off any outer dirt, and then slice them in half, then in quarter. Remove the core and slice them in half again if you have a small mouthed processor and slice the cabbage thinly in the food processor.

You can get a cabbage mandolin. It is basically a really large mandolin slicer and its pretty to look at, but I find that my food processor works just fine and is much more practical. It was gift from my awesome older sister a couple years back!

After you slice them thinly, put the slices in a large bowl or if you are like me, you might have a very large quart tub just for these kinds of projects.

Sprinkle with a canning/pickling salt and mix with your hands. I use a little less than a 1/4 cup per 5lbs of cabbage. Make sure to coat the cabbage well.

Walk away from the cabbage. Walk away and pour a cup of coffee. Check your email. Call your mother. But let your cabbage sit for a few minutes. It should wilt fairly quickly and start producing brine and juices. If the cabbage heads were extra dry you might have to add brine, but it should make a bit of juice while it sits.

Then put it in your fermentation crock or gallon jar or old olive barrel or wherever you are planning to allow it to ferment. Remember, cabbage will ferment in order to turn into sauerkraut, this means it will make gas (yeah yeah... not only in you). Fermenting will cause the cabbage to release carbon dioxide, do not cover your fermenting crock with any tight fitting lid. There has to be the occasional release in pressure, there are stories of jars of sauerkraut exploding on people's larders, so make sure that the fermentation has stopped before capping and processing any jars.

Press the cabbage down, I mean really pack it in there. As you are pressing, it should be exuding juice, hopefully it has made enough to cover itself, If not then add a brine that is about a 1-1/2 Tbsp of salt to 1 quart of water ratio. This will cut off the air to the cabbage and will start the anaerobic process of turning into sauerkraut. You should have enough brine/juice to cover all the cabbage. Once it is pressed down into the jar, weight it down with a heavy stone, or water filled canning jar, fermentation weights, or a Ziploc bag filled with water (this one actually is pretty awesome, it keeps the cabbage weighted, keeps the top of the jar sealed and is pliable enough for gases to "burp" past it).

I am trying something new this batch, I got an airlock from the local beer brewing joint and had the boyfriend drill a hole in the lid, this should allow the gases to escape and keep the cabbage airtight so that no nasty mold or bad bacteria can get into the jar. The airlock uses twin chambers and you fill one up with water, this stops air from getting into the jar. As gases build up during the fermentation process it floats up the tube and through the water and burps out the top. We will see how this will work!

Stick your crock on a plate in a cool place and check it regularly, skim any foam that collects on the top.  You will notice bubbles and will have to press down the cabbage with very clean hands once in a while.  Let it sit for 4-6 weeks and at the end of that time, the bacteria should have slowed their process and you will notice that distinct sauerkraut smell. It should smell good and tangy, not yeasty.

If you notice any pink or brown discoloration, mold/slime or a bad smell, TOSS IT. Do not chance it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I have a goodly sized side yard that has generally just been a mass of weeds and good intentions. I've allowed it to get to the point that is is just a path from the front yard to the back and I have decided that since it is a nice sized space I would pave most of it over and use it as another patio space. Some nice ornamental plants in pots, a place to sit and have a chat and drink, etc.

But first, I gotta dig. I gotta dig a lot and level and scrape and tamp and level and haul and scrape and level and tamp.... You know the drill. I will need several yards of sand and I have over 200 paver stones in the backyard waiting to be used. Hopefully, it should be enough, but I got them for free so it worked out.

So, I started the digging portion of the project. I got a good 8 feet dug out and then I decided to work a bit on the bed between my yard and the neighbor's house.

I like my neighbor, very much in fact, but we have very different ideas of gardening. I am a no pesticides or herbicide kind of girl and I am happy to put in the work to weed a garden bed and to find more natural/organic ways to get rid of an infestation.

My neighbor is the opposite. If there is a chemical that will kill the inconvenience; IE, the weed or the bug, he will happily use it. We have a happy medium, he avoids spraying in my yard and I keep the fence-line as free of weeds as I can.

But, I have a section of bed that has a bad case of wild hyacinths.  I can't stand those things. You leave one little hunk of bulb and suddenly there is another batch of hyacinths!! I finally went all out on about 15 feet of fence-line next to where I plan on putting in the paver stones and pulled out and screened the soil to clear out as much of the hyacinths as I could. I ended up with about 2 yards of gravel as well. YAY!

I also cut back a Mock Orange that had gotten way out of hand. It was a good 20 feet tall and was no longer bushy. I really did cut it back hard and because the previous owner of this house who planted it here was not good at discerning how big plants grew... I might have to take it out. A Mock Orange has a 6 foot spread and it is right on the fence-line and my neighbor's pathway and house are only a couple of feet on the other side. The more I think of it the more I realize I need to dig it out... Ugh. I really hate digging out tree roots...

And just because it is spring, here is a gratuitous picture of my chickens looking happy in the sun.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Instant Gratification and Inconsistent Eggs

 Yesterday was the Seattle Tilth March Edible Plant Sale. Basically, early season plants, herbs and flowers.

I love plant sales since they provide me with instant gratification. Instead of waiting for my starts or the seeds I plant in the garden to sprout, they sell me plants that are already ready to plop in the ground and I can being to watch all the wonderful yummy veggies grow. Immediately.

I definitely have some seeds ready to sow, like lettuce and spinach. It makes no sense for me to buy these things since they are so easy to grow. Peas are also another plant that is easy to grow and makes no sense to me to purchase at plant sales.

I also go to these plant sales because I like the Seattle Tilth mission plan. They teach organic and sustainable gardening methods. I like that.

Anyways, I got home and planted my starts and sat down to write out my garden journal. This way I know where I planted what and wont overlap too much next time. Crop rotation keeps your soil fertile and reduces the chance of garden pests specific to one type of plant.

I am not an artist, but I like to draw out my journal. It makes it look pretty. I use a Moleskine Japanese Album which is pocket sized and has accordion paper sheets. I love these, you can use one sheet at a time or use multiple sheets for sketching.

The chickens are providing about 50 eggs a week. I sell some to neighbors and co-workers, I give some away, I barter some and I eat some. But as you can see there is some size difference. The ones at the top are equivalent to grocery store extra-large eggs and the ones at the bottom are smalls. This is because I have about 4 different breeds of birds.

I purchased the lot from Murray McMurray and it was a they pick kind of deal. I got some nice birds, but due to this , I also have some egg inconsistencies!

I won't complain since the eggs are all delicious, but it is funny to see the giant eggs compared to the small ones.

Monday, March 10, 2014

BBC Farm Series

I was just recently informed about the BBC Farm Series! Why would my friend wait so long to tell me about these shows?! I have wasted many years when I could have been watching these and attempting to make my own Devon Cream (delicious, by the way)!!

There are six seasons of reality historical docudramas concerning farms in Britain during different times in history, such as; Victorian, Edwardian, WW2, Tudor, etc.

Tales From The Green Valley
These show are my crack.

I have sat and watched a whole season on lazy days and they are awesome! The cast is made up of historians and archaeologists, so there tends to be very little drama other than when they attempt to work a piece of vintage Victorian machinery and it falls apart on them.

That is one of the more awesome aspects of these shows, they use the actual machinery and items from the era they are showing. Mostly, they do not bring in current machinery if something does not work. (In fact, the only instance I have seen them do this is when they were using a Edwardian chick incubator which had a live flame.) They figure something else out from that era. They show farm work, housework, cooking, cleaning, sewing, mending and so forth and so on. All the daily grind of rural life in that era.

I am really enjoying these shows and you can find the first four seasons here: 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Week Full Of Rain

This is how much rain we have got since Tuesday. I haven't worked much in the yard since then, and there is about 4 inches of water in the wheelbarrow.

Doesn't look like it plans on stopping anytime soon, so I will just clean the house. Not as much fun but more necessary.

I do love rainy days, it reminds me of rainy day recesses as a child. Those days you would have to stay inside the gym at my school. Or stay in the classroom and draw or write.

Now I bake granola and do the laundry. I live an exciting life...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pickled Eggs

Not Rocky Mountain Oysters
Since I tend to have an abundance of eggs on a regular basis, the other day I made some pickled eggs for snack-time noshing.

My mother was a bartender throughout my childhood.  Not nice bars, seedy Chinese restaurant bars and skid row bars, you know... the interesting ones that Hemmingway and Bukowski used to hang out in. Although, I don't think they ever hung out in my mom's bars...

Anyways, I always remember there being a giant gallon jar of pickled eggs sitting on the dark cigarette burn stained counter in the dim light of her bar.

These are way better, though.

You can usually fit a dozen boiled eggs into a quart jar. I recently found that if you put about a tablespoon of baking soda in with the eggs when you boil them it makes the peeling a whole lot easier, even when the eggs are very fresh. Fresh eggs don't peel very well. You end up with tears and divots from where the flesh of the egg has pulled away with the shell. It seems that the baking soda changes the pH of the egg and allows the shells to come away a little easier. Otherwise, you can leave the eggs on the counter for a few days to allow the skin on the inside of the shell to pull away.

Anyways, put a dozen eggs in a large sauce pan with about a tablespoon of baking soda and cover with water, then bring to a boil. This method keeps the gasses within the eggs from expanding too quickly and cracking the eggs in the water. Once it comes to a boil turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for 10 minutes or so. This should cook the eggs to a hard boil.

Cool the eggs in cold water and peel the shells carefully, they might still stick if they are very fresh so go slowly.

While boiling the eggs use another pot and put the pickling liquor together. I used:

1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Water(or beet juice)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
a small handful peppercorns
8 cloves of crushed garlic
1/2 of large onion sliced in slivers
1 thai chili

Bring just to a boil then let cool. Put the peeled eggs into a clean and sterilized quart jar and pour the liquor over them and cover with a tight lid then stick it in the fridge for 7 days.

And , VOILA! You have lovely garlicky pickled eggs. The boyfriend couldn't wait and tucked into one early and said that the flavour was coming along nicely, so hopefully, by the end of the week it should be a lovely jar of pickled eggs.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Poop and Soil

It was time to clean out the chicken coop. Again, I had been procrastinating about cleaning it since the weather had been icky and, in truth, it isn't one of my favourite things to do. But I admit, I love getting the wonderful fertilizing poop out of it and getting it into the new garden beds. I have a couple of months before I start seriously planting into them so I will put a layer of raw poop under the soil and let it do its work of amending the soil!

I try to use a deep litter method for the coop, it allows me to be lazy about cleaning the coop. Basically, you add bedding every few weeks and this gets scratched up by the chickens and the poop on the lower levels compost and the poop on top works its way down as time goes by. Due to the composting action of the poop and bedding it keeps the coop warmer and more comfortable for the chickens. Occasionally, I help the process along by stirring up the bedding with a rake. So then that means that I only need to clean the coop quarterly. Some will say you would only have to clean the coop once or twice a year, but I like the coop clean and the chickens seem to, too.

The chickens will be happier in their clean coop, my neighbours will be pleased that the waft of chicken manure into their backyards have ceased for now and my garden will be happy to have the nutrients hidden within the lovely chicken poop!

And so, the poop lays at the bottom of the garden beds, rotting and mellowing for the next month or so and when I am ready to plant, the soil should be rich in nutrients and sweet for the vegetables.

The large pile of dirt in the back yard is being slowly sifted through to clear out rocks, hyacinth bulbs and seashells. It is being transferred to the front beds since, once screened, it is awesome soil.

The pile is about 1/3 smaller than when I started this morning and I have only filled one bed fully, I still have another bed to go. This pile is where my patio is going to be expanded into, so the sooner I am able to get it moved, the sooner I will be able to have a patio for this summer's BBQs.

The screen is borrowed from a friend and is, definitely, a godsend. It makes the process go so much faster and at the end of the day, I have lovely crumbly soil for the garden.

The soil is leftover from a tree removal and a dig out when we remodeled the shed you see behind it (yeah, yeah... we still need to put the siding on it). It's coming along, and spring is almost here so I am feeling good about where it is at at this point even if the rain drove me inside.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Coming To Fruition... Slowly

Because my boyfriend is awesome and got me a huge batch of cardboard, I was able to get them de-taped and on the ground. Today is the supposed to be the last of a lovely week and the rains are supposed to start tonight.

The pile of bricks has shrunk significantly since advertising them on Freecycle and all the boxes, save one, are built. It already looks much better than the old garden and will definitely look better when the boxes are filled with soil and the ground is covered with mulch.

I am trying to decide if I want to put another garden bed box on the south side or keep the area open for a little cafe table and chairs so that I can sit in the garden and stare loving at it when spring rolls around.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Remnants of A Garden

The old garden beds are slowly being pulled out and replaced with the new. As the ground is being leveled and the bricks that I had used for the sides are being stacked for someone to take them away.

I offered them on Freecycle Seattle, that way someone who might have use for them can have them for free. I have found plenty of awesome items on Freecycle myself, as well as, given away a bunch of stuff. I highly recommend the service. Give a little, get a little.

It is a bit weird pulling out the beds that had been the location of many lovely salad greens. I know that the new beds will better suit my needs, but there was something wonderful about the janky, put together garden beds. They were kind of like my personality; Informal, but productive. I admit that the new beds and garden design will be more aesthetically pleasing and that will make the yard much more pleasant for me and my neighbours. The design will be easier on my back and knees.

Flattening out the surface is an interesting exercise.  What I think is flat actually seems to hold giant divots once I get a piece of cardboard over it. It is hard not letting the perfectionist in me get overly anal about flattening out the space. I know that it will be covered with cardboard and wood chips eventually and that as long as the beds are level it will be fine. But part of me wants it to be beautiful but then again I need to look at it as; I am planning a vegetable garden and just by definition alone they are beauty incarnate.

Speaking of flattening out surfaces. This is the other project I have been working on for a while. The pathway in front of my back gate. I had dug up this section of grass last autumn and had been procrastinating since.

Again, I found about 300 paver bricks and two bags of paving sand on Freecycle and decided to work on the pathway from the front garden to the back yard.

I ended up buying about 4 more bags of sand for this section alone, but getting that level was an interesting feat.  I finally was able to get it level enough, but there are a few wobbly spots and a couple of gaps. I am considering filling them with solar-powered light bricks, which would be a nice way to light the pathway. The gate is a little cattywompas and needs to be rehung, but this should help with the problem of it getting hung up on the grass.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Raised Beds

I have the occasional panic attack so there are times that I cannot leave my yard without anxiety, let alone the house. These last few days have been that kind of week.

I have found that as long as my neighbours don't notice that I am outside and don't say anything, I am fine with being in the yard and working.  So instead of being a shut in, I am a yard in... But as soon as someone said anything to me, I tended to run into the house until they went away.

 Anyways, since no one was around, I worked in the yard. I find that it calms me.

The boyfriend brought home a pile of flattened cardboard, so I got around to peeling off all the tape, removing any staples and lying them down, staggered over each other, as a weed barrier. I placed the second bed on top of them and filled it with soil.

The large pile of soil you see in the back of this picture is the soil I used to fill the bed. Nice, fluffy, humus-y soil, full of nice organic matter. It's the remnants of my old garden bed. My friend, Noel, loaned me her soil screen and I went to town removing all the larger rocks and the neighbour's cat's poop(I will leave them a nice present in their yard at a later date....). This also helped to level out the area so that the next bed would be ready to go right in when the boyfriend gets another batch of cardboard.

I moved six Swiss Chard plants that had over-wintered in one of the old beds into the new bed, as well as, three rather sad and stunted onions. We will see if they survive.

I have another pile of lovely soil in the back yard, so hopefully, I wont have to shell out any money for a bunch of soil. This is all the original soil from my yard, so it should not deplete the top soil too dreadfully.

I only went with a twelve inch tall bed since I do not plan on planting anything that is too deep rooted with eighteen inch aisles between the beds, which should give me plenty of room to work on either side.

Now, to figure out how to keep the neighbour's cat out of bed without resorting to a slingshot...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Veggie Garden Remodel

I am remodeling my vegetable garden. 

Truthfully when I put in my garden beds about 3 years ago, I did it in a hurry with little funds and little idea as to what I should be doing.  It was a slipshod affair and I hoped that I would be able to get it up to what I daydreamed it would be sooner.

The set up was wrong; it took up too much space for the amount of food it produced, did not take the best advantage of the sun's movements through the yard and was not convenient to work in. But at the time, I wanted my garden in NOW and was not patient enough to plan it more thoroughly. 

With the original beds, they were too wide and not convenient for my short little legs and arm. I couldn't reach the middle of the veggie bed easily. I don't like square beds, I prefer them long, so these beds are going to be 12feet by approximately 30inches. Approximately 30 square feet per bed. More space than a 4 foot x 4 foot square and much easier to work in for me. I will have a couple 4x4s but mainly it will be the long beds.  In total, I should have approximately 182 square feet of garden bed to plant which means a hell of a whole lot of vegetables!

Back in January, my friend Kate, was moving and had a bunch of 2 x 12 lumber boards she was giving away and luckily she offered them to me! So now I have a bunch of lumber to put raised beds together and get them in the yard for spring. My boyfriend is grabbing cardboard from his work to place on the ground under the beds and the walkways to reduce weeds, and the County is cutting down old trees or trees that are not movable in the neighborhood in the next few months because they are installing bio-retention swales. I called to ask if I could have the wood chips and get first dibs on them, for free. These will go in the walkways to keep them dry, make it look pretty and cut down on weeds. We have leftover soil from when I had the Douglas Fir in the backyard cut down and stump ground and when we extended out the shed on our garage, we shoveled it into a giant pile in the backyard. It needs to be screened but it is good fertile soil. I have quite a bit of chicken poop and that should help with the soil amendment as well.  And another friend, Alex, gave me a couple kits for 4 foot by 4 foot beds and I am set in making my garden what I hope it will be. Productive!

The costs should be minimal, it will just take lots of work. I have to get the ground relatively level and already have 3 beds built. One is on the ground and filled with dirt and bare root strawberry plants. The others are waiting for a cardboard layer on the ground. And I still have enough wood for two more beds!

I have read in articles that beds should be oriented in a North/South or East/West (meaning the short side would be directed east/west or north/south) or the directions of your ancestors or... or...  or... I am not sure that it really matters. Last time, my garden beds faced East/West, this time because I want to better use my space I am going to orient them North/South. I don't know if it would be any better or worse, but I can give it a try. Different publications give contradictory suggestions, so all I can really do is see what works better for me.

The boards are not treated so they will not leach arsenic into the soil, but they will also decay faster. It is a trade-off and worthwhile in my opinion, if I have to replace a board or two every few years I am good with that. At least I know my vegetable won't have extra unnecessary chemicals in them.

Hopefully, there will be good weather for the next couple of weeks and I can finally get the garden in order and ready for the first plant sales in March!

Rites Of Spring

Spring is almost here, my Dearies!

The garden catalogs have been slowly trickling in since the first week of January. Tempting me with their burlesque colorful covers and beautiful plants within. I can sit for hours flipping through the pages and making notes of what I would like to try this year.

Territorial Seed Company, Baker Creek, and Irish Eyes  are my three favourite, but I love getting all the seed catalogs!

Botanical Interests has pretty packets and some nice mixes.
Burgess Seed and Plant Co have beautiful ornamental plants, although rarely organically grown there are some lovely finds in it.
Burpee Seed Co recently put my worries about it ownership to rest.
Ed Hume Seeds tailor theirs for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) climate.
Renee's Garden has the prettiest of seed packets and a pretty decent variety of unusual plants.
Seattle Seed Company also tailors their seed selection to our Western Washington Climate ( I haven't tried them, so I cannot give feedback as of yet.)

Also, because we live in a wonderful modern world of instant informational gratification, I have been getting updates about local plant sales:

The Master Gardeners Annual Plant Sale will be on March 3rd. There is usually a nice variety of veggies, native plants, perennial and ornamental plants.
Northwest Horticultural Society will be having their Spring Plant Sale on March 7th. Mainly, PNW natives and ornamental plants
 Seattle Tilth will be having a March Edible Plant Sale this year on March 15 as well as their annual Edible Plant Sale in May. As the name of the plant sale suggests, you will find mainly edible plants, but there are plenty of other plants to get you interested as well.
Washington Park Arboretum's Plant Sale will be in April and you will always find wonderful plants!

You will start finding bare root plants in your local nurseries by now and like me I am sure you all are feeling the itch to get your hands into your soil! Unfortunately my soil is super soggy right now and not as workable as I would like. Even so, I can lie in my bed with my catalogs and plan.