February 11, 2012

Serendipity in Sonoma: Petaluma

Speaking of heirloom tomatoes, as luck would have it we recently found ourselves smack in the middle of Sonoma Valley, passing by the town of Petaluma.

Petaluma has never been on my mental map but just a few days before we boarded Virgin America for sunny California my Baker Creek seed catalogue arrived in the mail. You see, buoyed by last year’s unexpected gardening success, I have big ambitions for growing juicy tomatoes. And Petaluma, on our way to the wine country, is home to Baker Creek’s seed bank!

The seed bank is literally an old bank, with high ceilings, moldings from the gilded age, and thousands of packets of famed heirloom seeds in neat rows.

The Seed Bank on main street, a Mecca! 

Though frankly I am after the fresh veg that tastes amazing, we have been reading up on heirloom seeds. Heirlooms are not hybrids and are not genetically modified (ie natural selection over human intervention).

Heirloom flowers dahlias and morning glory
Neat rows of dahlias and morning glories.

Choosing tomato seeds is not as easy as one might imagine. Pink tomatoes and striped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and giant tomatoes, Russian tomatoes and Japanese tomatoes. One of the garden-wise employees pointed me to Green Zebras and Pantano Romanesco.

Heirloom tomatoes seeds from Baker Creek
Rows and rows of tomato seeds
In a so-very-California turn of events a couple dudes acquiring seeds for a well known local restaurant (seasonal, heirloom, local, of course), helped round out my picks.

Stay tuned for more gardening updates. And if you know anything about growing tomatoes, be a dear and share your tips.

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