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2024 Garden: My New Seed Varieties

07. March 2024

Have you started your garden planning yet? Don’t wait until the last minute to buy seeds online. You may find your favorite varieties sold out. That’s the predicament I found myself in last season when I went to purchase my shelling peas. Sometimes the popular varieties sell out early on. I’m planting just a few new things this year with some of my old favorites. Here’s a quick run down of all the garden seeds I’m planting this year.

 Garden Plot |


Shelling Peas

I’m not a huge fan of peas, but my husband is. I figured if I grew a small batch of peas, that would replace a few bags of frozen store bought peas. I wanted to purchase the same pea variety I planted the year before last. While I like testing new varieties, I felt I was pretty darn successful with my first year planting peas. So I wanted to stick with what worked. But, I waited too long to buy. Womp womp.

Two seasons ago I planted a shelling variety called Maxigolt. Pea pods are around 3-4 inches with 6-8 peas per pod. I got my garden in late that year, yet I still had a great harvest of peas. And I only planted a small pea patch too! The patch was about 2’ x 3’, so that certainly looked small. Yet I got three harvests of peas that totaled a few cups each time.


Maxigolt Shelling Peas |

Maxigolt Shelling Peas


It turns out garden fresh peas taste really amazing!!! They are so much better than frozen peas (which are oodles better than faded and smooshy tin can peas). So I was looking forward to planting Maxigolt again last year. BUT that variety was SOLD OUT online from many of my usual online vendors. I did find a few in stock on a couple of other websites, but the cost was really high for the seed count.


Maxigolt Shelling Peas |


So last year I planted a new variety called PLS 595. Wow, what a non-sexy name! This is an organic variety that has Afila-type vines. These type of vines produce many tendrils with fewer leaves. The plants do not need a trellis, they will trellis themselves as they grow. The lack of leaves is supposed to make them easier to harvest since the peas are easier to locate. This variety gets to be 4 - 4 1/2” with 10 to 11 peas in each pod. It’s resistant to Fusarium wilt races 1 and 2 and powdery mildew. It has intermediate resistance to downy mildew too. While Maxigolt did really well for me, it did get some mildew on it. While it was a trellis variety with many leaves, although it wasn’t too difficult to harvest at all.


Vining Peas Versus Afila-type Peas

Vining Peas Versus Afila-type Peas |

Above is a photo showing a vining pea on the left (Maxigolt) versus an Afilia-Type variety on the right (PLS 595). The vining peas require a trellis for support (there are some short-vining varieties that do fine without a trellis though). The leaves hide the peas a little, so it’s always possible to miss a few pods when you harvest.


The afilia-type peas grow with far fewer leaves. There are a massive amount of tendrils that cling together. So while it’s easier to see the peas, I didn’t think they were easier to harvest. I had to really dig into massive clumps of clingy, matted tendrils to pick the peas. No big deal really. And while the peas didn’t need a trellis, they eventually did lean over in my garden. So they don’t grow completely straight upright.

Peas are cool weather crops, so you can sow in early spring and fall. Even though I’m traditionally an impatient gardener who likes to get everything in all at once, I succession planted my peas last year. I planted a patch once a week for a month. The theory here was that I would extend my pea harvest. But I was honestly a bit surprised to see that many of my peas still came on at the same time!! Perhaps doing 2 plantings spaced 2 weeks apart would’ve been better.


Heirloom Tomatoes |



My tomato varieties from Johnny’s Selected Seeds are Blush, Juliet, Grandero Plum, Black Krim, Sungold Cherry. I have planted all of these varieties before with great success. I got a new variety this year called Tasmanian Chocolate. And as usual, I will plant a mix of determinate and indeterminate varieties.


Blush Artisan Tomato |

Blush Artisan Tomato


Blush is a yellow-red marbled Artisan grape tomato. It has a fruity taste great for snacking. It’s an indeterminate variety that’s prolific like other vining grape tomato plants. The skin on this variety is a little thinner, and my tomatoes last year were cracking some . I began harvesting them earlier before the skins split, so problem solved, duh! Since the skin is so thin, they worked really well roasted and made into skillet sauces pureed with an immersion blender. I did initially try to peel them by blanching the skins. Since the skins were so thin, it was hard to remove them without getting a lot of flesh off too. BUT, since I don’t waste anything, I dried the skins in my dehydrator to make tomato powder. Win!


Blush & Juliet Tomato Comparison |

Juliet (left) and Blush (right). Most of my yellow Blush tomatoes grew a little longer. The Juliet tomatoes range a little in size and shape. Some can be a little blocky, but most are standard grape tomato shape.


Juliet is a highly sought after hybrid variety because it is so disease resistant. While I love to plant heirloom tomatoes, it’s always nice to have a few backup hybrids that can really churn out the fruit! This plant can get 12-18 tomatoes per cluster, wow! These roma style tomatoes also have a long shelf life (several weeks & longer). Last season this plant was incredibly prolific in my garden. I was actually overrun by the tomatoes. How overrun? Well, don’t even think of harvesting them in your scooped up t-shirt. Forgetaboutit! Every time I harvested, I came in with a 2 gallon bucket filled up. And that was just from a few plants. Every few days. For the entire season. Even into the fall I still had a massive amount left on the plants. I picked a big tub of green tomatoes that eventually ripened weeks later. I experience NO cracking with this variety either.


Roasted Blush & Juliet Tomatoes |

Both Juliet & Blush are great roasted. Slice in half or roast whole with the skins on. It’s easy to pinch the skins off after they cool down. Save the skins to dry for tomato powder. Alternatively, you can roast with the skins on, then use an immersion blender to make skillet sauce. You can also remove the skins with a food strainer (then save the skins to make tomato & seeds for tomato powder too).


Tomato Powder Made From Dried Skins |

So why on earth would you save all the tomato skin? Well, waste not, want not for starters! While the skins are often tossed out, they are great to dehydrate and grind up for tomato powder. You would be surprised how much powder you can get in a season’s worth of ‘maters. Last season I got 1.5 quarts of tomato powder. I saved the skins for each canning project, then dehydrated along the way. It doesn’t take long to dry thin skins in a dehydrator. And you can even dry and grind up the seed and pulp too. I use a mini food processor to chop up. Then I put them in my coffee & spice grinder to make into a powder. If you have a high-powered processor, lucky you, you can powder those skins faster than me!

I use the powder to thicken sauces and add an extra tomato zing to side dishes. It’s also great added to various spice mixes and salad dressings. And you know those irritating cooking recipes that call for 1 tablespoon of tomato paste? Now I can just reconstitute some powder to make a small amount of tomato paste. That means no partially filled cans in my fridge or freezer. Woot! 


Heirloom Tomatoes |

I guess I didn’t have a photo of just Granadero Plum. But you can probably pick it out on this tray… it’s the one that looks like a standard plum ‘mater! The other varieties are Mushroom Basket, Dark Galaxy & Black Krim.


Granadero Plum is a great hybrid variety for sauces. It is thick skinned without a ton of juice or seeds. It’s pretty resistant to disease such as blossom end rot, powdery mildew, and multiple wilts. I’ve planted this variety many seasons, and plants are always loaded with fruit. Its yield is like many other paste, plum, and roma varieties. It is a determine bush variety, so it won’t grow as out of control as some varieties. You know the ones I’m talking about. The vining plants where you have to build new supports onto already tall supports. And the plant still reaches up into the sun and curves around your entire garden. We call ‘em Tomato Monsters round these parts!


Sungold Cherry Tomatoes |

Sungold Cherry produces tasty little orangish fruit. While it yields a hefty amount of fruit like many cherry varieties, the TASTE is the sweetest I’ve ever had. It’s an indeterminate vining plant, so be prepared for it to take over your garden! Plan your trellis and supports carefully, ha! Otherwise you will end up with one of those Tomato Monsters I mentioned earlier. I discovered this plant by accident years ago. I’m sure I would’ve gotten around to trying an orange cherry at some point. But this was an accidental purchase, the result of grabbing the “wrong” plant at the garden center. I don’t tend to buy plants locally now and instead grow my own from seeds. That way I can try more unique varieties. But Sungold Cherry should be easily found in many garden centers since it is such a star performer.


Black Krim Heirloom Tomatoes |

Black Krim is my all-time favorite heirloom tomato. I fully endorse this variety! 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. The scarring I see often is concentric circles going around the top portion of the fruit. It’s actually quite pretty. The scars on my fruit have never been very deep. So I often won’t even pare out the scars when slicing for sandwiches. My Krim plants are usually loaded with fruit.


Black Krim Heirloom Tomatoes with Cat Facing |

Black Krim doesn’t seem to cat face as much for me. But when it does cat face, boy howdy is it EPIC. Do you all see ZIGGY in the pic on the left? If I do, I’m sure someone else out there does too!!


Carbon Tomato |

Carbon heirloom black tomato.


Last year, I tried a different heirloom black tomato called Carbon. It didn’t do as well for me compared to Black Krim, so I won’t plant again this year. The taste was comparable to other black tomatoes, rich and meaty. I did harvest a few whoppers. But the plants were not as prolific as Krim. It’s an indeterminate, but my plants were smaller and less crazy compared to what I’m used to. That shouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s nice to have a mix of determinate and indeterminate varieties. Especially if you lack the trellis and cage supports! Not to mention the time involved for keep vining varieties under control.

And that leads me to the reason I chose a new variety this season. Tasmanian Chocolate is a determinate, open-pollinated tomato variety. Since I have so many sprawling varieties to plant this year, I wanted to choose a smaller tomato with less of a garden footprint. This was developed as part of the Dwarf Tomato Project and only needs a standard cage support. It’s suited for patios and even container growing as well. It looks like it will make a great slicing tomato.


Be sure to read our other blog posts on tomatoes to increase your yield in the garden (and the kitchen).

Grow Prolific Tomatoes Using Japanese Rings Staking Method

Trench Planting Tomatoes for Epic Root Growth & Strong Plants

Banana Peel Fertilizers for the Garden (great for tomatoes)

Read all of our Tomato Blog Posts

Grow Prolific Tomatoes Using Japanese Rings Staking Method |



Free Printable Tomato Canning Labels & Tags |

With a bumper crop of tomatoes comes a slew of canning recipes to try! I always put up multiple batches of salsa. Last year I had so many tomatoes that I got to try a bunch of new recipes. I canned tomato soup and pizza sauce for the first time. In total, I preserved about 100 jars of just tomato products. A banner year! Checkout my Tomato Canning Recipe roundup that includes the BEST SALSA RECIPE EVER (the one I make every year). Plus the blog post has FREE PRINTABLE canning labels & hang tags to decorate your canned goodies.


Rainbow Carrots |

Rainbow Carrot Mix. This is all the same carrot variety that produces different color variations.



Rainbow is my favorite pelleted seed carrot variety that I plant yearly. 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. When grown in containers, carrots can grow long and straight.


Planting pelleted carrot seeds compared to regular seeds |

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. 


If you want to plant carrots faster and easier, look into Pelleted Carrot Seeds. This photo above shows pelleted seed versus regular carrot seeds. Pelleted seeds have a white coating around them which makes tiny seeds easier to see and handle. Yeah, I’m looking at you, carrot seeds! When I plant pelleted carrot seed, I place the seeds evenly spaced 1.5" apart on the soil surface. Then I push the seed down into the soil with my finger about 1/4" deep. Pelleted seeds also work well in mechanical planters because they are less likely to jam. With regular carrot seed, you would sprinkle seed onto the soil and barely cover or not cover at all. If spaced properly, you do not usually need to thin seedlings from pelleted seed. SO again, this is a big time saver in the long run. 

According to seed distributors, pelleted seed has a shortened seed shelf life. So it’s recommended to use the pelleted seeds in the first growing year. However, I once had leftover pelleted seed, so I planted them the following year as a test. I planted them a little closer together in case the germination was low. I was surprised to see that I had at least an 85% germination rate though. WOOT! 

You can buy pelleted seeds for lettuce, carrots, flowers, and more. I've found that Johnny's Selected Seeds has the largest selection of pelleted carrot seeds.


Want to grow perfect carrots? Read our blog post:

Planting Carrots in Containers with Homemade Potting Soil Recipe

How to Grow Perfect Carrots in Containers |


Lettuce Varieties |


I usually have multiple packs of lettuce leftover from one season to the next. It’s great to plant a mixed variety perfect for salads. This year I’m adding a new Romaine called Chalupa. And yes, I did pick it out because of the name. Who the heck wouldn’t?


This will be my first time intentionally planting watermelon. I went with the old timey fav Sugar Baby. My husband is not thrilled about this. He thinks it will take over the yard and garden. Like, what watermelon plant ever did that?!?


I only planted broccoli once in the past. My impression of it was that it was so much smaller than heads that I got from the store. But, so what? I guess. I’m going to try again with two varieties. Imperial is a heat tolerant variety. Happy Rich is a MINI Broccoli variety. It produces jumbo-sized florets that look like small heads of broccoli. There will be many side shoots to harvest regularly for a continued production.

Staro Chives

I planted a standard issue garden nursery chive last year. It was a thin-leaved plant that I dehydrated into pretty small pieces. This Staro Chive variety is supposed to have much thicker leaves. So I think that will make for a more spectacular baked potato topping!

Swiss Chard

I’ve grown Barese Swiss Chard several seasons now. It’s a compact dwarf variety that is supposed to mature a little earlier than others. BUT, in my experience, that has NEVER happened. Swiss Chard is slow to grow, but worth it. The stems of Barese are more flattened compared to most chard varieties (which are shaped more like celery). So this makes the stems easier and quicker to clean. The leaves are more smooth than most varieties too. So that makes them easier to wash off as well.

Barese & Giant Fordhook Swiss Chard Comparison |


Free Printable Garden Markers |

That fancy garden marker is made out of an old canning lid and coat hanger. You can get a DIY Garden Marker Tutorial on our blog to make some. Then hop onto our Printable Garden Markers post to print a full set of vegetable labels for your garden. Get labels for tomatoes, carrots, chard, beans & more!   


Fortex Pole Beans |

Pole Beans

Fortex Pole Beans grow up to 11” long. They are also long and straight beans and still remain tender once they get big. And of course they are stringless (there’s nothing nastier than getting tough strings in beans)! I have grown this variety multiple seasons. It’s a popular variety, so I try to order early before seed sells out.


Grow your own food! Get gardening tips, canning recipes & food preservation tips. Follow our Grow It, Can It, Eat It Pinterest Board.

Grow It, Can It, Eat It Pinterest Board |

Shop for canning labels to decorate your homegrown and canned food!

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Have you planned your garden or started your seeds yet? If so, what are you planting? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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