This year’s seed orders have arrived, compact cardboard boxes from Johnny’s and Fedco holding white paper seed packets printed with the company logo, vegetable variety, germination data and planting and harvesting advice. Neither company goes in for color photos or line drawings on their seed packets—their catalogs provide the visuals—so the names are what I rely on to conjure the potential of the seeds inside.
Some names are new to me, varieties I’m trying this year for the first time. Others are familiar from last year, ordered again because they were great. And finally there are old favorites I reorder every few years. In the quiet of my study, as I organize seed packets by planting date, it’s lovely to imagine the garden time and the meals that lie ahead.
In less than a month I’ll be planting Red Round turnip, a colorful new companion to white Oasis that I’ve planted for the past few years and loved. And I’m adding new radishes—multi-colored Easter Egg, red and white French Breakfast and green-outside-red-inside Red Meat, aka Watermelon Radish—to my standard Cherry Bells. Radishes tasted really good last year and I’m looking forward to eating more this year.
I’m planting kohlrabi for the first time in years, Kolibri and Early White Vienna, just a short row it see how it tastes.
Indoors over the next few months I’ll start some new varieties of tomato, eggplant, winter squash and pumpkin. In my ongoing search for the perfect cherry tomato, I’m trying Gardener’s Delight, parent of Sweet 100, an old favorite. And in the search for a wonderful paste tomato, I’m trying Vilms, reputed to have excellent flavor and roasting potential. For a new eggplant, I ordered Galine, an early, purple bell-shaped variety to join favorites Diamond and Rosa Bianca. Eastern Rise and Nutty Delica are two new winter squash varieties to plant with my favorites Buttercup, Sibley and Delicata. And for something completely new, I’m trying Kakai pumpkin for its hull-less seeds and the promise of roasted pepitas.
Outdoors when real spring comes to stay, I’m planting a new corn variety, Spring Treat, to compare to my standard Seneca Horizon and, showing remarkable restraint, I ordered only one new bean this year: Silver Cloud Cannellini, advertised as an “absolutely superb shell bean.”
For the winter garden, I’m trying a Canadian rutabaga variety, Laurentian, and a wild arugula, Sylvetta.
Among last year’s new varieties that I’m repeating this year are Lancer and Javelin parsnips, winners for quick and even germination and rich sweetness. Another new variety I tried last year and will plant again is Nautic Brussels Sprouts, cold hardy and delicious. And Rattlesnake pole bean and Drabo dry bush bean were tasty additions to last year’s beans and two to plant again.
Finally, old favorites that I reordered this year are the original Sugarsnap snap pea for its perfect pea flavor; Mokum carrots, crisp and sweet at all sizes; Purplette onion for spring onion roasting and Copra and Redwing onions for winter storage; King Sieg and Bleu de Solaize leeks for their winter hardiness; Gourmet pepper for a sweet and spicy orange bell; Brandywine tomato for classic tomato flavor; and Indigo radicchio, pleasantly bitter grilled or sliced raw.
For all my other favorite vegetables, I have enough seeds left from past year’s orders or seeds I’ve saved, so I’m set for now. Then again, it’s still early in the seed-buying season and there are more catalogs, websites, and friends’ recommendations to tempt me.