2019 Garden: This Year's New Heirloom Garden Seeds20. March 2019
Spring has sprung! Do you have your garden plans finalized yet? I’m still working on my final tweaks, but I have my plant varieties all picked out. Here’s a quick run down of all the new heirloom garden seeds I’m planting this year.
The gardener's dilemma: How to narrow down the tomato list, and what new varieties to grow. I painstakingly decide on two new varieties. Brad's Atomic Grape Tomatoes will surely produce tons of Instagramworthy photos, and that's what it's all about, right? These techno-colored grape tomatoes are a fan favorite. This Wild Boar Farms variety won best in show at the 2017 National Heirloom Expo. Woot! Mushroom Basket tomato looks like a winner too. This is a large pleated determinate variety from Russia with very few seeds. It should be a great slicer.
Above photo: Dark Galaxy, Sungold Cherry, & White Tomesol
I’ll plant two of last year’s seeds again: Goldman’s Italian-American Tomato, and Dark Galaxy Tomato. Sungold cherry tomatoes and Black Krim tomatoes are my all-time favorite varieties. If you grow any tomatoes, I fully endorse these two! Both are highly prolific. If you’re nervous about planting black tomatoes, don’t be. First off, Krim doesn’t look nearly as black as Black Beauty or other purple varieties. It’s a darker red with hints of green. This variety holds up well in wet weather. It can get some minor scarring, but I’ve never had large cracks even when it’s super wet out. And they don't seem to cat face much for me either.
See all of the tomatoes I grew last year in my past blog post..
I’m trying pelleted carrot seeds as a first-time experiment. The photo above shows pelleted seed versus regular carrot seeds. They have a coating around them which make tiny seeds easier to see and handle. Yeah, I’m looking at you carrot seeds! The only downside I’ve read about pelleted seed is that it can shorten seed shelf life. So it’s recommended to use the seeds in the first growing year. I have several new varieties of seed and only one is pelleted. So if they don't work out, I have backups! And I’m planting lots of different colored carrots too. If you want to know more about colored carrots, read my past blog post on the History of Carrot Colors.
Rainbow is my new pelleted seed carrot variety. This is actually a single carrot variety that has color variations of orange and yellow. So it will mature uniformly unlike colored carrot mixes created using several different varieties. Most of the mixes I’ve tried in the past have resulted in 95% orange carrots. Bummer. So when I found this mix, I got excited.
I’m planting a yellow carrot called Amarillo. The lemon yellow roots should reach about 8 inches in length. This is the first time I’ve planted a yellow carrot other than when I’ve planted carrot mixes.
Kyoto Red is a new red variety I’ll plant in the fall because it is not supposed to do well in the spring. This is a Japanese kintoki type red carrot that can reach up to 12 inches long. I’m planting it in my deep carrot container that I made from a plastic Christmas tree storage container. This container should allow the roots to reach long lengths. That would certainly be an accomplishment for me to grow a foot long carrot.
Above photo: Cosmic Purple & Kuroda orange carrots
My past winners include Cosmic Purple Carrot, Kuroda, and the super sexy Black Nebula Carrot. I had great success with planting carrots in containers last year. The key is to have a great soil recipe. You can read my past blog post for a good DIY potting soil recipe for containers. A proper soil mix allows roots to grow straight and long.
Above photo: Black Nebula, Kuroda orange, & Cosmic Purple carrots
I’m planting beets for the first time this year. My two varieties are Early Wonder and Chioggia which looks very pretty. I only recently discovered that I liked beets. But it’s worth noting that I’ve only eaten them pickled. Pickled beets are a hot mess to make though. And why on earth do beets smell so terrible? It's more than likely due to an organic compound called geosmin. This is the source of beets’ “earthy smell”, and is also what you smell in the air after a rain storm. While the “rain smell” is pretty much universally liked, the thought of eating something with that aroma is quite polarizing. You don’t find many people ambivalent about beets. My husband has outright declared his hatred of beets.
Did you know that beet stems and leaves are edible? Seriously, waste not want not! I chop my stems up and sauté them with onions in bacon grease. Then once softened, I toss in the leaves until they wilt. I finish them off with a pinch of salt and splash of apple cider vinegar. Substitute beet greens for spinach, swiss chard, or other greens.
Yes, I bought dandelion seeds! Am I crazy? I don't know. Does a crazy person know if they're crazy? Serious question there! I'm going to grow these in a deep container so I can more easily harvest the roots. And if I'm successful (seriously, how could you fail at growing them), I'll roast the roots for a coffee substitute. Is there any such thing as a coffee substitute? I'm skeptical, but willing to try! I'll use the coffee recipe from The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook. There are 148 recipes in this cookbook separated by the part of the dandelion used (leaves, flowers, buds, roots, and even stems). So if you want to eat this superfood, this recipe book is a great place to start. You can read more about dandelion recipes and nutrition on our previous blog post.
I'm planting Lunix Lettuce which is an oak-leaf type of lettuce. The leaves are a darker red, and it is supposed to be slow to bolt. I hope the photo is true to the plant. If it is, it’s going to be a stunner in salads. I have other lettuce seed left from last year. Red Wing Lettuce Mix, Salad Blend and Devil’s Ear Lettuce both did very well for me last year. Ice Queen Lettuce was a real dud. It’s an iceberg variety, but it never formed a head when I grew it. I kept waiting for it to develop, but it bolted. Ugh. I’m on the fence on whether to try this again. I much prefer leaf lettuce to head anyway.
I’m growing Barese Swiss Chard this year. It’s a compact dwarf variety that is supposed to mature a little earlier than others. The leaves are slightly curled and taste more like spinach. I’ll grow Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach again too.
I’ve always grown green beans, but this will be my first year planting shelling beans. I decided on Black Turtle Bean which is reportedly very productive. I’m semi-nervous about this variety though. It’s listed as a bush bean, but I read a review online that said it’s more like a pole bean! Yikes! I hope not. Red Swan Bush Bean is a super colorful variety with pretty pink flowers. Yeah, I pretty much selected this just so I could show it off on Instagram. Content baby! I’ve planted Contender Bush Beans for many years. It’s a great stringless variety that is prolific too.
I’m not great at planting flowers. I concentrate on planting things I can shove into my mouth. I mean, I eat dandelions, but they grow themselves. If you’ve never eaten dandelions before, read my past blog post on eating dandelions for nutrition and medicine. I made an impulsive buy while flower shopping in the Baker Creek Heirloom seed catalog. I splurged on Keiryu Mountain Stream Morning Glory. 10 seeds for $10. Wow. Just wow. Now, if this plant doesn’t germinate, I’ll be honked off. If a squirrel digs up my flower pots, I will murder all squirrels in my neighborhood. Actually, that’s not possible. There are a million squirrels here. I wouldn't be able to get them all. The leaves and flowers of this morning glory are variegated and quite showy. This variety doesn’t produce a lot of seeds, hence the price point I’m guessing.
Queen Lime Zinnias look pretty amazing. I chose the Lime Blush & Red varieties. If I recall, zinnias are an easy enough flower to grow. The key will be to keep my dog out of the flower beds. Tuna Fish Joe loves to lay in flower beds. He’s lucky he’s so darn cute. But it will NOT be cute if he flops onto my very expensive Keiryu Mountain Stream Morning Glories.
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What new seed varieties are you growing this year? What are your tried & true varieties? And what varieties will you NEVER plant again? Let us know in the comments below.