Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

The 2013 Seed Review

It’s the time of year for garden dreaming—and searching through catalogs. Whether you’re about to begin seeding in the greenhouse, or just planning ahead for the warmer days we’ll eventually enjoy outdoors, you might be interested in these recent catalog introductions.

Serious set-backs in our tomato-patch last season have caused me to focus exclusively on varieties with excellent disease-resistance. I’ve chosen ‘Defiant PHR (F1)’ which, in Johnny’s Selected Seeds is described as “bred for both disease resistance and flavor. ” Totally Tomatoes also enticed me with ‘Fletcher Hybrid VNTSW V’ and their ‘Sophya Hybrid VGGAStTSWV’ (all those letters actually stand for the diseases each variety is resistant to—one’s fluency does improve with practice) Then there’s ‘Grandma’s Pick,VF1NSt.’ This disease-resistant strain has heirloom flavor and a high lycopene content. In paste tomatoes, I’m trying ‘Heinz 2653,’ which Territorial Seeds lists as VW and FW- resistant.  I’m also finally trying the grafted tomatoes that catalogs have featured in recent years—Totally Tomatoes offers some interesting varieties grafted onto disease-resistant root stock. They claim that these plants outperform standard seed-grown plants; but it’s the disease-resistant part of the equation that really interests me. I’ll report back on my two.

Tomatoes may be serious business, but when it comes to the rest of the garden, I’m just having fun. There’s the purple Brussels Sprout, ‘Rubine,’ which Territorial promises has “rich, old-time flavor.” They also offer ‘Redventure,’ a red-stalked celery. I’m going to give space-saving cucumbers another shot with ‘Patio Snacker,’ which reportedly stays in a 3’ radius! And for an ambitious pickling season, cucumber ‘Double Yield,’ will have the opportunity to prove itself. Also from Territorial, a yellow Polish radish called ‘Zlata’ promises to jazz up the spring garden.

I was so impressed with the flavorful ‘Carnival’ squash I bought at farm stands last fall that I’m going to grow some myself this year. Its vines are described as “semi-dwarf” so I hope to tuck them into a corner of our deer-fenced area. We usually devote an extravagant amount of space there to two sprawling crookneck squash plants—my husband’s favorite. But for one reason or another, their yields are always disappointing. So, I’m ordering ‘Delta,’ which promises to “produce an uncanny amount of tender and delicious buttery yellow fruit.” ‘Delta’ is apparently resistant to downy mildew– the downfall of many a vine in the past.

You might think I don’t have room in the garden for flowers, but that’s not true. Just not enough room in this column!