The first signs of spring always awaken the gardener’s imagination and this year is no different. So what are your plans for this year’s garden? Do you plan to stick to your usual vegetables, or are you daring enough to try new varieties?
The 2013 seed catalogs have been arriving in my mail for about a month, some still on the way. While all the catalogs I ordered aren’t here yet, I’d like to encourage you to visit the web site of the catalogs I’ve included.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds is offering the cutest little sweet red mini bell pepper called Cupid. A hybrid variety. The fruits are blocky to slightly pointed and average 2 X 1 /34” and are particularly sweet when red.
Cupid pepper - Photo courtesy of JohnnySeeds
Bountiful Gardens offers imported seeds from England and have been working with small growers in the U.S. for Low-Acid Spinach. This spinach has the lowest oxalic content of any variety but the iron and calcium in the leaf are more available. No photo available.
While thumbing through Territorial Seed Company my eye drifted to the right of the inside cover because of a book title, Drunken Botanist. I smiled because my late husband was a botanist as well as a garden writer. The book is about plants that create the world’s great drinks. Very clever title. But it doesn’t end there. Territorial Seed actually has a Drunken Botanist Cocktail Garden Starter kit. Each kit comes with 3 plants chosen by the author, Amy Stewart: Cuban Mojito mint, tiny Mexican sour Gherkin cucumber, and the ultimate swizzle stick, Redventure celery. I love tie-ins to gardens. What a great gift this would make for a garden enthusiast that believes in experimentation or likes to grow their own drink material.
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds Their new catalog hasn’t arrived yet, but Scott informed me they now include herbs used for tea and other medical purposes. Annie’s has an assortment of heirloom garden collections for gardeners who like to theme their beds.
Terrior Seeds is a company located in Chino, Arizona that offers heirlooms and open-pollinated seeds. For 2013 they feature two varieties that you may want to try. Oliver’s Pearl Cluster is a honeydew melon bred by Park Seed Company in the 1950s, but dropped in the late 1970s because hybrids became more popular. Terrior Seeds brought it back and recommend it for smaller gardens or container gardening as it is a bush-type honeydew.
Oliver's Pearl Cluster honeydew. - Photo courtesy Terrior Seeds
If you’re a pepper lover, Espelette is a treasured chili from the Basque country that is known for its robust and slightly smoky flavor. It is more aromatic and sweet than hot peppers and comes from the Nive Valley and grown in the Basque village of Espelette. Known as “piment d’Espelette” the chili is grown, harvested and dried according to specific cultural traditions in that area. Best used dried for its treasured powder.
Espelette pepper - Photo courtesy Terrior Seeds
Stokes Seeds always come up with new varieties each year and this year what caught my eye was Faerie watermelon. This watermelon has a creamy-yellow skin with pinkish-red flesh. Beautiful melon. It is an All American Selection winner for 2012, weighs 4-6 pounds and has a high brix of 11-12 sugar content.
Faerie watermelon Citrullus Ianatus - Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau
Stokes seems to be a leader in breeding synergistic hybrid sweet corn and this year they offer 3 new varieties. SC1102 is a bicolor corn with 7 ½-8” ears. Has good soil vigor and works better on heavier soils. Allure is also a bicolor synergistic that produces 8” ears. Illusion is a white corn with 7 ½-8” ears with excellent high sugar taste.
Allure corn - Photo courtesy Stokes Seeds
If you love oriental vegetables, Kitazawa Seed Co. is your best choice to find varieties you want. They do have individual vegetable varieties, but they also have an array of already packaged blends. From their specialty gardens collection you can’t go wrong with a salad: The Asian Salad Garden, which includes Beka Santoh Chinese Cabbage, Mizuna Pot Herb Mustard, Red Mustard, Tatsoi, Shungiku Chrysanthemum Green and White Stem Daikon Sprouts.
Other specialty blends are: Asian Herb Garden, Tropical Garden, Japanese Heirloom Garden, Tsukemono Favorite Pickling Garden, Macrobiotic Garden, Shabu Shabu Garden, Stir-fry Garden, and Thai Garden. Kitazawa Seed Co. takes the guess work and confusion out of oriental varieties.
While looking through the Neseed catalog two of their pumpkin varieties caught my eye. Blue Doll is a hybrid that grows to 20-24 pounds. It exhibits deep ribbing with an almost square appearance. Blue Doll’s deep-orange flesh is sweet and used from pies to gourmet culinary delights. The color is a fascinating very light blue.
Blue Doll pumpkin - Photo courtesy Neseed
Porcelain Doll is also a hybrid that looks yummy. An exotic pink exterior, it has deep-orange, sweet flesh. This pumpkin grows to 20-24 pounds and shouldn’t be picked until the pumpkins are fully pink and stem is corky before harvesting. Used for pies, soup, or gourmet culinary delights.
Porcelain Doll Photo courtesy Neseed
The pastel color of these two pumpkins will stand out in any garden.
Seed Savers Exchange offers a selection of heirloom varieties From the Preservation Gardens and available on a limited edition to the public. These are very special varieties selected because of their interesting histories, unique characteristics, and popularity with the Seed Savers Exchange staff. For 2013 they offer ‘Ole Timey Blue’ collard, a variety grown in a family for a hundred years, ‘Bear Paw’ popcorn grown in Vermont. ‘Collier’ cucumber, comes from a family who acquired the seed from a group of migrant people traveling through Indiana around 1910. ‘Gulley’s Favorite’ lettuce is reported to have been grown by the Gulley family of Oklahoma since about 1890. ‘Phebe Vinson Heirloom’ lima is from seed Phebe Vinson’s mother gave to her when she married and left home in 1919. ‘Martin’s Carrot’ hot pepper has an interesting history that may date from the 1800s. ‘Sweet Fall’ squash dates to the 1930s. ‘Mamie Brown’s Pink’ tomato dates to the 1930s.
While there are no pictures available to me, there are photos in the seed catalog. If you are a gardener who likes to grow heirloom varieties with a history, and seeds you can pass along to your family and future generations, consider Seed Savers Exchange.
Burpee has long been the standard of seed catalogs that we look forward to scanning the pages of vegetables. If you like meat tomatoes for sauce and salsas, SuperSauce Lycopersicon esculentum is a new hybrid that could be called a superhero. Weighing in at a whopping 2 pounds, it measures 5 ½” tall and 5” wide. This seedless tomato is easy to grow and is indeterminate.
Super Sauce tomato Lycopersicon esculentum - Photo courtesy National Garden Bureau
Caracas baby carrot is another hybrid with gorgeous deep-orange color, 2-3” long. This ‘Chantenay’ is perfect for container growing.
Caracas baby carrots - Photo courtesy Burpee
Good as Gold is a hybrid golden-orange 7” Italian pepper. It is extremely tasty, savory and robust, use fresh or cooked. It is a beauty.
Good as Gold peppers - Photo courtesy Burpee
I hope you have fun ordering from new and unfamiliar seed catalogs along with your usual catalog selection. This year try a new vegetable variety or two and enjoy the rewards.
My next blog will be about small space gardens that produce big yields. Until then, enjoy the vision of your summer garden.
For a list of seed catalogs and all the varieties they have to offer go to www.postagestampvegetablegardening.com
© Copyright 2013 by Karen Newcomb
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