As we mentioned in the last post, the winter months are the perfect time to dream of next year’s garden. We’ve been poring over seed catalogs for the last few months and finally managed to narrow down our seed selections for this year!
Our garden is over 1,200 square feet and growing. There’s simply never enough time or space to grow everything we initially write down. Growing up, I always assumed a tomato was a tomato and corn was corn. Who knew there are hundreds of different varieties?! In fact, when we bought seeds for our first garden, we were so confused because we could not find “green beans” anywhere! Contender, Kentucky Wonder, Fortex, those all sounded nice, but we just wanted green beans. Yeah, unfortunately, that’s a true story.
Well, we finally figured out not all green beans are created equal, and tomatoes are about as diverse as people. Almost all of the vegetables we grow are heirlooms, which basically means they are all-natural. Any vegetables grown by our grandparents were most certainly heirlooms. Below are listed all of the varieties we plan to grow this year. Most varieties are from Baker’s Creek unless there’s an asterisk (*) next to the seed name.
- Chinese Red Noodle
- If anybody would have shown us this purple variety back when we were struggling to find “green beans,” we might have given up all future garden aspirations. Now, this variety is one of our favorites. Not only does the purple color stand out against green foliage, making harvesting much easier, but the fact they can easily grow 12 to 18 inches and still taste great means you get more “bean” for your buck!
- Mammoth Red Mangel
- Mammoth beets are aptly named. We grew several that were over six pounds last year! Plus, our meat rabbits loved them. They ate them like you would an apple, except there’s no core left behind. Supposedly they can reach 20 pounds! Dwight Schrute would be proud.
- Zentaur Fodder
- Cosmic Purple
- We have great hopes for carrots this year, especially this purple variety. Does color matter? Yes, actually. Purple (and blue) produce is packed with powerful antioxidants.
- Danvers 126 Half Long
- De 18 Jours
- The name literally means “18 days.” Radishes aren’t necessarily our favorite garden snack, but it’ll be worth growing these little gems just to see something alive and growing in the garden so soon after planting.
- Dakota Black Popcorn
- Fresh popcorn has become a requirement in our garden. Last year, our popcorn was just about ready to be harvested when some varmints got to it all!
- Golden Bantam
- Heirloom corn is not quite as sweet as we’re used to in the 21st century, but it is so much healthier than modern corn commonly found in supermarkets. There is a lot more to this debate we may need to discuss in another post.
- Early Xtra-Sweet Hybrid Corn* & Kandy Korn Hybrid Corn*
- These varieties are not heirlooms, but they are still a non-gmo, organic variety. Plus, they’re a bit sweeter than most heirloom varieties.
Our fascination with kale is without a doubt one of our more “crunchy” attributes. Any gardener who has never grown kale does not know what they are missing. It goes great in a salad, (we’ll eat salads with no other greens but kale), is super healthy, and to top it off, is possibly the easiest and most abundant crop we have ever grown.
One of the main reasons we often have salads consisting of nothing but kale is because we haven’t been too successful with growing lettuce. We’re hoping this year will be different.
- Banana Pepper
- Emerald Giant
- Golden Marconi
- We grew this last year with great success. They were heavy producers and had a wonderfully sweet taste.
- Jimmy Nardello
- There is some discrepancy here at Novel Farm about this variety: Chelsea sees them as just another pepper, but I, Dustin, think they are the best tasting pepper I have ever eaten. The taste is not overwhelming, but is very sweet. They are not very abundant and take a long time to mature, but their flavor has earned their place on the Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. I cannot imagine a garden without these guys!
- Black Beauty
- Squash vine borers have officially declared war on our summer squash efforts in past years, but at Novel Farm, we don’t give up without a fight!
- Green Striped Cushaw
- This is another Slow Food’s Ark of Taste variety and our favorite squash. They are resistant to the squash vine borers that gradually take over our summer squash and provide large fruit by the end of the summer. Another garden mainstay!
- Long Island Cheese
- Also on the Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, this was a new variety last year that performed very well.
- Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck
- Juliet F1*
- This is another variety that is not an heirloom, but their productivity last year was unlike anything we have ever seen!
- Martino’s Roma
- Black Cherry
- This deliciously reliable tomato is another variety we could not imagine our garden without! The thought of eating one of these fresh from the garden on a sunny summer day is enough to make my mouth water.
- Break O Day
- Chadwick Cherry or Camp Joy
- Cherokee Purple
- Another Slow Food’s Ark of Taste variety, this is our favorite slicer. If you’re only familiar with red tomatoes, then you have to try this kind.
- Green Zebra
- Hawaiian Currant
- These tiny tomatoes are the sweetest tasting vegetable we have ever eaten. We did not grow them last year, but after tasting them from a relative’s garden, there will be a special spot in our garden reserved for this gem!
Well, there it is. Our vegetable list changes every year, but there are definitely some varieties that are becoming our favorite. What about you? Are there certain varieties you just have to grow to make your summer complete?