10 August, 2009
The Garden in August Part III: Some Suggested Varieties for the Fall/Winter Garden
Seeds of this onion will soon be harvested so we can sow them for onions next year's crop. We don't save seeds of everything and those we need to have for fall planting must be ordered now. Here are varieties I have used with success, but it shouldn't limit you! Plant as many varieties as you have space to allow! In some years one will do good and the next year not so good, so hedge your bets and try to plan for a longer harvest by planting varieties that mature at different times. This is a good strategy for almost all vegetables - especially our fall crops! Some suggested seed houses will be published later this week!
Artichokes (a perennial)
Green Globe – one of the more productive varieties, Green Globe is usually one of the varieties available in the farmers' markets and groceries.
Violetto – is not so often seen in the market. Not quite as productive but still quite acceptable. Like the name implies, it has a good splash of purple in it. Each leaf tip possesses its very own, very sharp spine. But I think they are worth it!
Burpee’s Golden – there was a time when 'Burpee' was synonymous with seeds for the home gardener. While this is no longer true, way back there in that faraway time, Burpee bred a lot of wonderful crops that we still find useful today. This beet has lower germination rates than other beets, but boy oh boy! They are worth it! From the mere fact that they don't bleed red beet juice all over your fingers (and clothes!), Golden beets are very sweet. Sauté in orange juice.
`Chiogga – another heirloom. Very productive and sweet, not as sweet as the Golden, but running a close second. One of these beets, cut in half before being cooked, reveals alternating rings of a light red and white. They keep those alternating rings when roasted.
Premium Crop (62 days) and Early Dividend (43 days) are two of the better hybrid broccoli varieties. If you are gardening in pots, Early Dividend is a great selection.
Nutribud (58 days) and Waltham (85 days) are the heirloom varieties available today. Of these two, Nutribud is the one for container gardening. The days listed behind each variety is the 'days to harvest' from the catalogs. This refers to an approximate day by which you may expect to harvest the broccoli heads from the day you set them into the ground (transplanted out). It is an estimate only – weather conditions and other factors speed it up or slow it down, but in these four varieties above you have the idea that Early Dividend will come in first and Waltham last, all other things being equal.
Bubbles – 88 days. Brussels Sprouts are a largish plant but have the added advantage of providing a rather continuous harvest over many weeks. They also can be a pain if they get aphids or whitefly because they are very difficult to police.
Danish Ballhead – A late season cabbage – not so good for containers, but a reliable producer for those who wish to preserve some of their cabbage. Note that all these cabbages are not savoyed cabbages. Those crinkled leaves of the savoyed variety hold dirt and also make very opportune homes for slugs – and one gets a lot of slugs in long season cabbage anyway.
Point One – An early cabbage that is a delight. The 'early' cabbages are usually smaller headed and more useful in succession planting and for containers as well.
Surprise – Another early cabbage – like the name implies, this is not a round cabbage, but forms a pointy little head of cabbage.
Ruby Perfection – For those who want a red cabbage. Small heads and early. I've found red cabbage much more difficult to grow.
Little Finger – A small carrot that is good for containers – an early harvest and you haven't had a carrot fresh from the garden, you don't know what you're missing! Sweet!
Mokum – This has been my number one carrot over the past five years. Productive and delicious.
Thumbelina – Little round carrots that are considered THE container carrot, but I like Little Fingers better thinking they are more sweet. Still, many folks will plant these and be perfectly happy.
Yaya – This may well be my new number one carrot. Bright orange six inch blunt roots, with a great flavor and will hold in the ground for a long time – which means I don't have to sow carrots in succession.
There are many different colors of carrots to think about growing as well – Pinetree Garden Seeds sells a carrot mix that includes a number of different varieties and colors!
Early Snowball – is an open-pollinated and is the earliest and tastiest of all the cauliflowers available. Other varieties are out there that are tasty but I think this one takes less work and compares well with the others. There are, though, several varieties that are quite colorful, Green Harmony is, of course, green; Graffiti is purple and Cheddar is yellow. Not sure how I feel about them, but then I'm not a huge cauliflower eater.
Large Prague Celeriac – I'm not even going to list celery. In our climate, I don't think it's possible to get a sweet celery that isn't as tough as a sisal rope! Celeriac, on the other hand, has that delicious celery taste, is easy to grow and works as well as or better than celery in soups and other dishes. You can't fill it with peanut butter or cream cheese like you can celery, but how healthy is that anyway? And if that's the only advantage, stick with celeriac!
Five Color Silverbeet – All the chards taste about the same to me, so I like to plant this chard to get all the different colors – some of them are quite wild. (Australians call chard “silverbeet” which is a nod to the fact that chard and beets are the same exact species of plant.) Dependable and beautiful, you can't beat this one in the garden or the kitchen.
Delfino – A new variety that puts the old 'Slo-Bolt' to shame. Holds better than older varieties in heat (cilantro does not like to grow in heat) and the plants are a little larger for a better and longer harvest.
Windsor – Though not the only fava out there, this one is probably the premier fava bean for a home garden. Not for those of us with very little garden space, a typical fava plant can get to be four and half feet tall or more. One plant, happily tended, will provide enough fava beans for two folks unless they really intend to chow down on favas! (Fresh grated parmesan cheese on fresh raw fava bean seeds marks you as a dedicated fava eater and you will need more than one plant!)
Florence Fennel (bulbing)
Fino – Usually used raw or cooked in Italian cuisine for its sweet, anise-like flavor, don't let it go to seed or you'll have this all over your garden as well.
Garlic (this is a long season crop, plant in Fall harvest next Summer)
Chesnok Red – The three varieties listed here are all heirloom varieties. This variety doesn't store so well, but the taste it holds even after cooking is worth the trade off!
Music – A slightly spicy, incredibly flavorful garlic, this is one of the most popular types around.
Spanish Roja – I grew this hard neck garlic for years – one of the finest flavored garlics I know. Not just hotter, the subtle tones that weave through the taste allows this garlic to compare to the common garlic in the supermarket equal in flavor as a fine Cabernet compared to a 'box of wine.'
Dinosaur – Also called Tuscan Black Palm or Lacinato. A unique kale with very large, rounded, well filled, meaty leaves. Plants are large, hardy, and vigorous, and the flavor, if you like it is 'bold' and if you don't like it, it's 'overwhelming.'
Nero di Toscano – A three feet tall plant with dark, meaty, puckered leaves, the color of a blue spruce. The striking ornamental leaves have a fine flavor harvested young and cooked simply in olive oil.
Carina – Leeks have been divided into 'over-winter' and 'summer' leeks. Over winter are usually larger and take something like 110 to 130 days. In cold climates, these leeks stay in the frozen ground to be harvested out from under a blanket of snow. We usually don't have to dig them out from under the snow, but the slower growing leeks are larger.
King Richard – A 'summer' leek, this one grows nicely in our winter and quickly makes a decently edible leek in something like three months. To get a longer white part of the root, bring up the soil around the base of the plant – even though the catalogs say we don't need to do this, if you do, you will be rewarded with more usable root.
more varieties than you can shake a stick at – or grow a mix! There are many different colors and types, get as many as you have room for! Ha! I usually can't keep myself to less than 10 varieties at a time!
Onions (also a long season growing; find “short-day” varieties)
Italian Red Torpedo – Peaceful Valley Farm Supply has these as 'sets;' young plants to set out. This is my very favorite onion. Onions are difficult to grow by seed unless you plan on taking two years to get a good onion.
Italian Flat Leaf – A brighter, more intense flavor.
Super Sugar Snap – I admit that I've mostly given up on peas. They take lot of space and don't exactly overwhelm a person with production, they get mildew and croak early and I'd rather grow another row of fava beans which are much more productive.
Yukon Gold – A ton of varieties are available, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply will have seed potatoes available in mid-October.
French Breakfast – The standard radish for dependable crops. All radishes are easy to grow and are very quick to harvest – usually around 20-25 days.
Easter Egg – A fun radish that is great for children (and the young at heart!) with white, red, purple and intermediate colors between those.
Purple Plum – A lovely purple skin with white flesh – milder than most of the rest.
Bonilla – Onions are a hassle (and don't really cost that much in the market), shallots are easy to grow and replace the expensive shallots one would need to buy at the store. This hybrid shallot is quick and easy from seed. I got a remarkably good crop with little effort in my first year to grow them -even though I got them in rather late! Dried, they make a good long term storage item.
Olympus – Another easy to grow shallot from seed. This one is white and also stores well.
Melody – A semi-savoyed spinach. Most of the spinach we remember from way back were all savoyed spinaches, but savoyed (wrinkled), holds dirt better than smooth so I'm all for leaving the savoyed spinaches behind.
Space – A smooth spinach that is easily cleaned and has that taste of fresh spinach I didn't like until adulthood. Now I love it.
DeMilano - A lovely flattened turnip – the best for container garden and very productive.
Purple Top White Globe – Will get to be the size of a small foreign country if you let them, but they are better when small.
You can also plant perennial herbs and perennial flowers. Try some fun annuals like calendula, larkspur, poppies (bread, California or Iceland types), sweet peas, and venidium.