If there is a silver lining to the crazy cold weather we experienced this week, it is that it provided me the luxury of slowing down enough to spend some quality time with a nice stack of seed catalogs and garden books. It was the perfect escape from the ugly reality of wind chills and worrying if the car would start the next morning.
As I have been jotting down varieties and ideas over the past week, it also got me thinking: In past years, I haven’t shared many specifics about my garden plans until they were final (or, you know, as “final” as garden plans ever can be). I don’t know if there’s a good reason why, other than the fact that they are constantly changing from these earliest days of planning until the garden goes in, but this year I thought it might be fun to share a little more of the process and have something to look back on later to see the evolution from a collection of ideas to a garden.
I decided to start out by picking from my lists the top 14 new (to me) varieties that I really want to try this year. They are all varieties that I have not grown before, so if you have any firsthand experience or growing advice, please share! They may or may not make the final cut, but obviously I’m hoping that there is a place for them alongside the must-grow-again varieties. Who knows, some of these might be on that must-grow list next year!
Here are 14 new-to-me varieties that I would like to try in 2014:
- Purple Russian Tomato: I love the rich, complex flavor of black/purple tomatoes, so of course I’m slightly obsessed over the idea of a purple paste tomato that is supposed to be exceptionally flavorful.
- Green Globe Artichoke: This artichoke variety is apparently one of the more successful varieties for growing artichokes (as annuals ) this far north.
- Joe’s Round Pepper: These little round hot peppers are supposed to be one of the best peppers for pickling and excellent in fresh salsas. They’re pretty cute, too!
- Rue: An herb that supposedly deters Japanese Beetles? How am I only finding out about this now!?!?
- Russian Pickling Cucumber: After years of growing only slicers, I’ve got the pickling bug this year. Since Russian varieties typically do very well here in Minnesota, this one seems like a good choice.
- Kyoto Chinese Cabbage: Because a certain nappa cabbage and pickled rhubarb salad has been haunting me for the past 6 months.
- Munchener Bier Radish: The name alone brings me back to our Oktoberfest Honeymoon in Munich – maybe an authentic Oktoberfest spread is in order for our 5th wedding anniversary this September?
- Five Color Silverbeet /Rainbow Chard: I will admit I don’t have fond memories of eating chard when I was younger, but I think I’m ready to give it another chance (the amazing colors will be my consolation prize if I’m wrong)
- Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg Beans: I like that these pretty pink and maroon speckled dry beans are bush habitat instead of pole.
- Moon and Stars Watermelon: This one has been on my want-to-grow list for a few seasons now, and this is the year I want to see its beautiful spotted foliage for myself (maybe just not at the community garden!).
- Mexican Sour Gherkin: Go ahead and judge if you must. Yes, I am totally being sucked in by the trendy “baby watermelon” cucumbers.
- Fish Pepper: I’ve always been curious about this hot pepper with colorful fruit and variegated foliage. It is supposed to be a great spice pepper, especially for seafood (hence its name)!
- Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch Kale: This kale variety is hardy enough to overwinter (with the help of a good layer of mulch, I presume) in zone 4!
- Silver Edge Squash: This winter squash is grown primarily for its seeds (most reviews say the flesh is unpalatable), which are not only quite pretty, but large and easy to hull, too.
How about you? Are there any new-to-you varieties that you would like to try this year?