Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Seed Catalogs...

...from the 1930s.

My dad gave me a stack of old seed catalogs, and it's really interesting to look through them. On the surface, they look pretty similar to modern catalogs, except there is more text and fewer pictures. However, the plant descriptions betray different attitudes and priorities of the gardeners of the time. One of the catalogs says of a variety of sweet pea, "This is the most vigorous Early Spencer Sweet Pea I have ever grown, and constitutes the richest tone of rose-pink ever produced in a Sweet Pea." Do many people even grow sweet peas for flowers anymore? I imagine that in 75 years there could be similar incredulity over our current catalogs, with all their lawn care gadgets and chemicals.

There was also an old almanac-type book from Better Homes and Gardens, which I haven't had a chance to look through yet.

Finally, my dad took me to a bookstore in Salt Lake City called Ken Sanders Rare Books. There was unfortunately no agriculture section, but I did find an old book on tanning leather in the craft section. I already have a book (Tan Your Hide!) but I've read reviews that say that it's not very accurate or useful as an instruction book. I hope that this one will be better.

As an aside, in March Wendell Berry will be at Ken Sanders. When I saw that, I immediately wished I had scheduled my trip for March instead of February. I haven't read any of his fiction, but his agricultural essays are thought-provoking and beautifully written.


Tracy said...

The baby boy goat is still doing just fine, thanks for asking! We worry a little bit, because his momma has one huge (engorged?) teat, and one regular, and he will suck only off the one good side. I have milked down her other side a couple times, and tried to get him to suck there, but that teat is just too large, and he won't do it. Maybe when he gets older. In the meantime, she looks very lop-sided.

We are still having basically warmer-than-normal temps - tomorrow is supposed to be VERY warm (80) for this time of year. Good thing, too, because we ran out of propane at home (which we use for heating out place), and can't get it refilled until my income tax refund comes. This is why we are pushing for wood heat for next year. Never depend solely on them again.

But we are dying for rain. We won't have any new pasture or anything for the animals until a rain comes. Everything is so dry and dusty, nothing is growing. It's starting to get desparate, as well as a huge fire danger.

Mel, Foxtail Farm said...

I hear you about the wood furnace. Our furnace uses fuel oil and I hate being dependent on that. Luckily we were able to stretch what was left from last year until the oil prices dropped, so that it only cost about $600 to fill up the tank instead of the $1300 or so one of our neighbors paid a few months earlier.

I don't know if this is at all feasible (need to do research), but I'd like to have a small wood burner in our living room. That would heat our living space, which is about all the oil furnace does anyhow.

I hope you get some rain. We're also anxiously awaiting the growth of the pastures, but we just need sunlight and warmth, not moisture.

Mary Cate said...

I would be interested in knowing if the tanning book is good. We should probably get a book about tanning leather. I see that one is on

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

What a wealth of information in those old books and catalogs. Nice blog.