In my January post last year, I wrote: “As 2021 ended in the ten-degree days and fierce winds of late December, I turned for comfort to 2022 and the garden year ahead. As I do every year, I began with an inventory of my vegetable seeds and then opened seed catalogs to find refills of favorites and read about enticing new varieties.” Remarkably similar, 2022 also ended in bitter cold days, fierce winds, and lots of snow, a welcome ten inches that insulated and protected the winter kitchen garden vegetables. And as I did last year, I turned for comfort to seeds and seed catalogs and the pleasure of thinking about the 2023 garden year ahead.
Now the orders are in, seed packets are arriving and here are some of the vegetables I’m looking forward to in the year ahead.
Beets: I’m trying Cylindra and Golden Grex, two open-pollinated beets, both new to me, for a change from Kestrel and Touchstone Gold.
Broccoli Raab: Raab, aka rapini, was the surprise star of late fall and winter greens this year, pungently delicious, productive, and amazingly cold hardy. I grew Quarantina and Sorrento and am adding Novantina this year. I grow it for a fall and winter crop because I rely on the seed buds of kale and other brassicas for a spring taste of raab.
Brussels sprouts: Gustus is no longer available, but I’m happy to switch to Divino.
Cabbage: I’m trying Deadon (105 days) in addition to January King (180 days) for a late fall/early winter savoy cabbage.
Carrots: I planted Purple Snax last year because seed of my favorite purple carrot Purple Haze wasn’t available. Purple Snax is delicious, so I’ll grow both this year.
Chard: In 2021 and 2022 I grew Adaptive Seed’s Bietola a Costa Fine, an Italian chard. Described as “somewhere between a giant spinach and a small Swiss Chard leaf” with “little to no oxalic acid flavor at all,” it’s a sweet, mild change from traditional chard. It won’t replace my old favorites Fordhook or Rainbow, but I’m going to keep growing it.
Cucumber: I’ve grown Marketmore 76 for the past few years and liked it, but my sister Sarah gave me seeds of her favorite cucumber, Pepinex, and I liked it so much I’ll grow it again this year along with some Marketmore 76.
Onions: I was happy to be able to buy seeds of Clear Dawn this year, an open pollinated storage onion bred out of my old favorite Copra, sadly no longer available.
Peppers: I ordered more seeds of Carmen. It’s my favorite all-purpose red pepper, delicious fresh, sauteed, or roasted. Roasted Carmen peppers also freeze beautifully. If I could grow only one pepper, this would be the one.
Summer Squash: I’m trying Cocozelle because seeds of my very favorite Costata Romanesca aren’t available. I’m also trying Blonde Beauty, a yellow summer squash, for some color variety.
Tomato: I grew Purple Zebra last year, tempted by the Territorial Seeds claim that “our trials tasters unanimously agreed that it’s the best tasting new tomato we’ve had in years.” I agree. It’s the best new tomato I’ve tried in years too. Two tomatoes that tempted me this year are Marzinera, a 2-3 ounce small plum that I want to grow along with Fiaschetto di Manduria, Juliet and Aosta Valley as a roasting tomato, and Chocolate Stripes, a 10-15 ounce slicing tomato that tempted me with the claim that it is “delicious with a complex fusion of sweetness and earthiness.”
We’re now enjoying some mild mid-January days with a few minutes more of light each morning and evening. Time to start thinking about planting some seeds.