I spent the cold dark days of winter pouring over my seed catalogs and dreaming of spring. The flowering quince are just ready to bloom, which tells me it’s time already to start seeds (Portland is in USDA zone 8).
Here’s a rundown of the seed varieties I ordered this year:
- Beans, bush – Dragon Tongue does well as either a green bean or dried bean, giving me versatility in case I neglect harvesting it on time
- Beans, pole – Scarlet Runner is a favorite of mine because it’s tasty and those bright red flowers are lovely in the garden. Blue Lake is an excellent green bean here in the Willamette Valley
- Beets – Bull’s Blood is a rich heirloom; Golden is a new one for me this year
- Broccoli – Calabrese is an Italian heirloom that produces good side shoots, extending the harvest season
- Cabbage – Cour di Bue is early to mature and compact for our small family
- Cauliflower – Snowball has been tried-and-true for over a hundred years
- Celery – Utah Tall is tried-and-true as well. You haven’t tasted celery until you’ve had homegrown celery.
- Carrots – Nantes is sweet and quick to mature; Purple 68‘s color runs to the core
- Cucumber – Tendergreen Burpless is quick to mature and good all-purpose (fresh or pickling)
- Eggplant – Diamond Eggplant produces smaller fruits faster than others; Listada de Gandia is gorgeously striped and delicious
- Kale – Nero di Toscana is my absolute favorite with great flavor and thin leaf stalks
- Lettuce – Green and Red Caesar Duo, Flashy Trout and Buttercrunch for a lovely mix
- Melon – Petit Gris de Rennes is sweet, perfumed and quicker to mature (85 days); Blacktail Mountain watermelon is great-tasting and quick to mature (70 days)
- Peas – Sugar Daddy is stringless and sweet
- Peppers – Emerald Giant has heavy yields; Golden Cal Wonder is good for northern climates
- Radish – French Breakfast, Daikon and several other stray varieties. They are all fun, ripen so quick and I just mix up which ones I replant all season
- Pumpkin – Rouge Vif D’Etampes is my favorite heirloom for both looks and sweet flavor, also called the Cinderella pumpkin
- Spinach – Bloomsdale is a classic heirloom
- Squash, summer – Black Beauty Zucchini is prolific; Green Tint Scallop is adorable
- Squash, winter – Spaghetti, Delicata, Waltham Butternut all perform well
- Tomatoes – Sungold cherry for the kids; Orange Oxheart is dense and delicious; San Marzano is my paste of choice; Black Krim is a new one for me this year
I like buying seeds from Territorial Seed Company, Baker Creek Heirlooms and Seed Savers Exchange. I occasionally pick up seed from Renee’s Garden and Botanical Interests as well. I try to balance my selections to include a mix of well-known heirlooms, rare seeds to increase plant diversity, early to mature varieties to fill the harvest basket early and usually a couple new-weird-unusual things I’ve gotta try.
We are increasing the amount of low-protein vegetables in our garden this year to accommodate River’s PKU, which requires a low protein diet. I’m growing crops I don’t often include, like cabbage and cauliflower. I am growing a lot more carrots, summer squash, eggplants and broccoli. He’s just starting to try solid food now, so I’m hoping to pack the freezer for next winter when he’s eating a lot more.
There will be follow up posts over the coming weeks that show my vegetable garden plan for the year and a planting chart I have been working on. I’m excited to share those with you soon.
In the mean time, tell me what you are planting! Any new varieties? Sticking with the basics? Tell me about it in the comments below!