Hartley Magazine

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

Vegetable Seeds

One good thing about bone-chilling weather is that it provides a chance to peruse this winter’s crop of seed catalogues indoors. I’ve only begun, but my list is growing long…

Johnny’s Selected Seeds have long-supplied Northeastern market gardeners with the best in vegetable seeds; they offered organic seeds before they were readily available elsewhere. I’ll be ordering another packet of their special strain of ‘Yellow Crookneck’ squash-newer hybrids simply don’t have the flavor, although they may yield more. Johnny’s also is a good source for disease-resistant tomatoes, such as ‘Defiant PhR,’ especially if disease has struck your patch the last two seasons.

Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog features the delightful line drawings of Bobbie Angell. Always interested in a new Swiss Chard, I’m looking forward to the “glowing tangerine-orange midribs” of “Orange Chiffon.”

Renee’s Garden doesn’t print a paper catalog, but their offerings are easily accessed online. Along with a new crop of themed collections, they continue to offer topnotch European strains selected for home-gardeners. Renee’s beautiful seed packets provide comprehensive planting information – this info is easily located on their website along with great recipes. I look forward to trying some ‘Watermelon Radish,’ an Asian heirloom with red flesh, and ‘Nasturtium Buttercream,’ whose mounding habit they recommend for containers.

Territorial Seed Company’s catalog features the gorgeous pleated Italian heirloom eggplant, ‘Prosperosa’ but I’m going to go with ‘Millionaire,’ which promises to be “extra-early maturity and high productivity- will make you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot.” I never have enough eggplant, and besides, “Prosperos’ produces a tall, vigorous plant, which I really don’t have space for. Their pickling cuke, ‘Agnes’ was outstanding last summer- in addition to planting it again, I might try the new sweet pepper, ‘Crème brûlée,’ touted as a super-productive variety- with peppers that aren’t huge, but have sweet flavor and a concentrated seed cluster to make slicing easy.

I am a big fan of the Totally Tomatoes catalogue—definitely a comprehensive tomato selection. Last year I tried ‘Japanese Black Trifele,’ now appearing in other catalogs as well. This distinctive Russian selection bears pear-shaped fruit that are deep purple-black with pronounced green shoulders. The catalog copy mentions it cans well, but we ate each one fresh- they were so delicious! I also highly recommend their ‘Red Alert,’ an outstanding tomato for containers. It produced buckets of beautiful and tasty, golf ball size fruit all summer long.

Have fun looking through your catalogs!