Last night I pulled a magnificent parsnip out of my cold, clammy vegetable garden–triumphantly, because I have never grown parsnips before and I love them and I’d heard they were hard to grow. And indeed, not many of mine germinated, but there are enough to call it a crop, albeit a small one.

The parsnip went into a bean-and-vegetable soup with Hidatsa Shield Figure beans (very plump and meaty) and cabbage and roasted butternut squash and some of the slowly-ripening tomatoes from the cardboard box in the pantry. I took a picture of the parsnip. I still haven’t yet wrestled my computer into submission yet (it’s a brand-new hard drive and the software and plug worked just fine on the old one, and the plug works on Eric’s, so what’s the problem?), so I can’t show you; but trust me, it was magnificent in the way that only a first homegrown vegetable, gleaming white against a striped bamboo cutting board, can be. I am now officially in the second half of the vegetable storage cycle–consuming, rather than putting by. Consumption is delicious.

In the meantime, I’m already buying seeds for next year. Specifically, I’m working on Christmas shopping. Dad suggested that Mom could use garden-type stuff, and after visiting in the summer and seeing Mom dump all her kitchen scraps into an old margarine container and take it out to the garden after every meal, I decided a pretty indoor compost pail would be just the thing.

I’m getting this one, thanks to Genie’s kind pointer, since I remembered reading that she’d gotten a nice one but couldn’t remember when or where. And it occurred to me that there would be a lot of space inside the thing, and why not fill it up with some seeds to make it friendlier? I traded some seeds with Mom last year–scallions for basil and cilantro–so I know she’s willing to garden with seeds, and I know the kinds of things she likes to grow. I also know that she likes Asian vegetables, and it’s not easy for her to get them for the garden.

So I went to Evergreen Seeds and ordered pak choy, Korean shiso/perilla, Asian cucumber, and kimchi peppers. I had to throw in a couple of things for me–komatsuna, a spinach variant, and choy sum, a pak choy variant. I really did have to–they require a $10 minimum order–but I would have anyway. I’m completely ignoring my hope of moving next summer when it comes to seed-gathering this winter. I’m not noticing a lessening of the desire to acquire more stuff, either, the way I do with other hobbies. Seeds are still riches.

I’m still working on the seed-trading, too, and starting to consider that almost a sub-hobby in its own right. I have more to say on the subjects of seed-trading and seed-saving, to be posted sometime in the next couple of days, as I work through the leftovers of that soup.