Finally, a chance to peruse seed catalogs and plan for the new gardening season to come. Here are a few selections to consider, from some of my favorite seed sources.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
This Maine-based company introduces a new heirloom green tomato this year– ‘Cherokee Green’ has medium size fruit that mature green with a hint of orange, and a bold, complex tomato flavor.
‘Amethyst Improved’ is a new dark purple basil with nearly-black leaves. They are thick just like the classic green variety, ‘Genovese.’
John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds
Scheeper’s sources intriguing European selections, such as ‘Gourmet Rainbow Radish Mixture,’ which they suggest “for eye-popping salads and crudite extravaganzas.” The mix includes seven of their most colorful (from purple to yellow) as well as crisp and delicious ones.
‘Runaway’ Arugula – A unique, deep green, serrated-leaf variety that is fast-growing, productive, and doesn’t turn bitter even when mature.
Beet ‘Golden’ forms tender sweet beets that truly are golden-orange throughout.
Chard ‘Italian Silver Rib,’ with crinkled green leaves and wide silver-white ribs is favored by discerning Italian cooks.
Renee’s list has always included wonderful greens and lettuce mixes. This year, they include ‘Monet’s Garden Mesclun,’ ‘Farmer’s Market Blend’ and ‘Paris Market Mix,’ presenting difficult, but tasty choices. Each blend is carefully balanced-and on Renee’s website you can see exactly what they’ll look like when harvested.
Territorial always has some good new ideas. Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ is a color breakthrough featuring prolific burgundy flowers on drought-resistant plants.
Tomato ‘Zebra Cherry’ has striped skin, dark pink interior. Generously-sized for cherry-tomatoes, these are unusually full-flavored also.
Melon ‘Alvaro’ is a French Charentais type; its early-ripening, 5” fruit are tan with green striping and have flavorful, salmony-orange flesh.
Pepper ‘Merlot’- 5” by 4” blocky, thick-walled fruits are both very sweet and beautiful—nearly black/purple. High-yielding plants are resistant to Tobacco Mosaic Virus and Bacterial Leaf Spot.
Tomato ‘Sheboygan’ – Introduced in the early 1900’s by Lithuanian immigrants, this Wisconsin heirloom has heavy yields of pink, paste-type fruit that are meaty and full of juice, making it an exceptional canning choice.
It’s tempting to start seeds too early—particularly when you have a whole greenhouse waiting. Just do the math first—most seed packets will give you the number of days to harvest, so if you’re eventually moving plants outdoors, base calculations upon the last frost date in your area! Fortunately, it’s never too early to make plans…