My 2023 Garden: New Seed Varieties & Carrot Container08. February 2023
Spring isn’t here just yet, but most gardeners have started planning their gardens already. Hopefully most have purchased seeds because sometimes the popular varieties sell out early on. I waited too long to purchase a few things, and some of the varieties I got last year were sold out. So I decided to try a few new varieties along with some of my old favorites. Here’s a quick run down of all the new garden seeds I’m planting this year.
Last year was the first time I planted shelling peas. I’m not a huge fan of peas, my husband is. And yet I’ve only planted sugar snap peas once many years ago. I suppose if I liked peas more, perhaps I would’ve grown them more often. And if my husband helped with the garden more, perhaps he would’ve had more peas planted for him! Yep, that’s how it works! Well last season 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, 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.
It turns out garden fresh peas taste really amazing!!! They were so much better than frozen peas (which are oodles better than faded and smooshy tin can peas). So I was excited to plant them again this year…. but Maxigolt was SOLD OUT online from many of my usual vendors. I did find a few in stock on a couple of other websites, but the cost was really high for the seed count.
So this year I will plant my leftover Maxigolt seeds (which is not many) along with 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 fewer leaves with many tendrils, so 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 too. 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 last year, it did get some mildew on it. It was also a trellis variety with many leaves, although it wasn’t too difficult to harvest at all.
Peas are cool weather crops, so I may try to sow in spring and fall. And even though I’m traditionally an impatient gardener who likes to get everything in all at once, I may try succession planting my spring peas. I have a larger plot of peas planned this year, so I will try planting a patch every week for a month. If this works well, it should extend my harvest quite a bit!
A few seasons ago I planted Fortex Pole Beans. Regretfully they didn’t do well for me. But that was because they had a terrible beginning thanks to a pesky groundhog. So I’m trying them again this year. The small harvest I got from them years ago was wonderful. The 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)!
Flowers & Gourds
I’m not a big flower person, but I usually plant Morning Glories and Zinnias. Nothing overly exotic or fancy. This year I saw Blue Queen Butterfly Pea and had to give it a try. This vine produces indigo-colored double blooms that can be used as natural food dye or cooked in tea, rice, or desserts. And much like Violets, the flowers have a magical color-changing property. Once steeped in hot water, the deep blue tea will turn purple with the addition of lemon juice. oooooh, magic! Just checkout our violet color-changing video!
For years I have wanted to plant Luffa Gourds. My grandpap used to plant Luffa when I was a kid which I thought was really neat. Most people grow them to harvest the inside sponge which is used as a natural dishcloth. I was surprised to read that the gourd is actually edible when young. Apparently they can be a substitute for zucchini (which I routinely fail at growing). Now, if this plant can go unnoticed by squash bugs, I’ll be in heaven!
If you’re interested in eating flowers, read our blog posts:
Blush is yellow-red marbled grape tomato with a fruity taste great for snacking. It’s an indeterminate variety, so it will hopefully be as prolific as other vining grape tomato plants. In the past when I’ve gotten overrun with cherry or grape tomatoes, I will roast them (skins on) to make pizza sauce. And if I’m sick of harvesting and cooking, I’ll pick green cherry or grape tomatoes to pickle them.
For several seasons I have attempted to buy Juliet seeds, but they were sold out. Luckily they were in stock this year at Johnny Seeds. I’ve read this is a highly sought after 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.
After at least a decade of only planting Black Krim tomatoes, I decide to try a new black variety called Carbon. This variety resists cat-facing and cracking better than other black varieties. Black Krim is notorious for suffering those maladies along with scarring (which is actually very pretty since it is concentric scarring). So I will give this a try to see if it could possibly live up to Black Krim… which is my all-time favorite tomato!!
Black Krim tomato sliced (left), a perfect Krim tomato (top right), Black Krim with concentric scarring (bottom right)
Common Cat-Facing on Black Krim tomatoes. The left tomato looks like Ziggy, right? Right??? That’s not just me that sees it, right? :D
I will also plant several of the new varieties I had last year that did very well. Celebrity tomato was a highly prolific producer! The fruits were medium to large, all perfectly shaped, with no cracks or disease. I also planted Striped German, a yellow orange variety. This heirloom had some pretty massive tomatoes. There were some cracks and blemishes, but the insides were meaty and had a good taste.
Striped German (left) & Celebrity (right)
Be sure to read our other blog posts on tomatoes to increase your yield in the garden (and the kitchen).
Read all of our Tomato Blog Posts
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.
Rainbow Carrot Mix. Both photos are the same carrot variety, just different colors.
Last year we built a new carrot bed using salvaged boards from our old deck repair job. This was to replace the plastic carrot container we created many years ago. When we tried to move it off the deck, it cracked! So we needed a new carrot bed. And we just so happened to have some old wood boards laying around! If you’ve ever had issues growing carrots before, raised beds or containers with a DIY soil mix are a great solution. You can read my tips and tricks for growing carrots in containers in my past blog post.
This new carrot bed is the first thing my husband and I have ever “built”. I was quite proud of our accomplishment even though it is far from perfect. Tuna Fish Joe supervised our work and was NOT impressed.
It probably took us a thousand times longer to build than someone with real woodworking skills. I’m sure it would’ve been easier with new boards. But we made do with scraps we had! Some of the boards were bowed and the final box was not plumb. I lined the inside with thick heavy plastic to help extend the life of the boards and keep soil from leaking out of some of the gaps. I did a lasagna layer of sticks, leaves, compost, peat moss, and good soil on top. Last year’s carrot crop did well in the new bed.
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My new varieties from Baker Creek Seeds are Merlot and Cosmic Crimson Mix. Merlot is supposedly the darkest lettuce in existence, so it should have plenty of anthocyanin (antioxidant) content. It is wavy and crispy, has good bolt-resistance and cold tolerance. We’ll see about that! Once the weather turns hot, I’ve found “Bolt-resistant” varieties still bolt!
This Cosmic Crimson Lettuce Mix is a pelleted seed. If you’ve never planted pelleted seed before, I super endorse it! These seeds have a coating which makes them bigger, easier to see, handle and plant. Yeah, looking at you carrot and lettuce seed!!! This will be the first time I’ve planted pelleted lettuce seeds before. In the past I’ve only planted pelleted carrot seeds. Another big benefit to pelleted seed is that you can spend less time thinning your plants. Normally I sprinkle tiny seeds when planting. But it’s easier to space out pelleted seeds (so you’ll save seeds too). The coating also helps with germination and use in mechanical planting machines. 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 used leftover pelleted seed the next year with lower germination rates.
I’m not sure what varieties are in this Cosmic Crimson lettuce mix. It looks like a basic mix of red and green romaine, flashy trout, and other frilly varieties. The downside to a pelleted lettuce mix is that I won’t get to see the ratio of light and dark seeds! It’ll be a complete surprise when they germinate. But I imagine it will taste like most lettuce mixes. The only time a mix tastes “different” is if it contains other “greens” like mesclun or arugula that can be more hot tasting.
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.
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