What shall I grow this year? Even better, what new things should I try this year? I always make a point of experimenting with new plants, or at least new varieties of plants I like.
For my vegetable garden I have purchased seeds for Kohlrabi Superschmelz, which promises to stay tender even when it gets big…I’ll let you know. I haven’t grown Kohlrabi for a few years because I kept forgetting to harvest while it’s still young and tender, then nobody would eat it because it was tough and woody! I just like growing it because it looks like a fleet of vegetal alien spaceships has landed in my garden!
I’ve also ordered a winter squash from West Coast Seeds called KaKai. They say it’s an Austrian type pumpkin (whatever that may be), with completely hull-less seeds. I adore pumpkin seeds, and the hull-less ones are absolutely delicious! Last year I grew a variety of pumpkin called Triple Treat which was supposed to be hull-less, good for pies and for carving, but it came up a bit short for me. Germination was poor and the seeds, while plentiful and tasty, weren’t completely hull-less, they were encased in a thin, soft shell. I don’t know how one would carve such a small pumpkin, I didn’t even attempt to whittle a scary face into the approximately 1 kg fruit, and while the flesh was sweet and flavourful for my pumpkin muffins, there was precious little of it.
Of course last year was a poor season for growing pumpkins, being too cool and wet, so I will give Triple Treat another chance, but I have high hopes for Kakai and look forward to snacking on yummy green pumpkin seeds.
I’m planning to buy a Black Cherry tomato plant for my husband, who enjoys cherry tomatoes much more than I. My co-workers at the garden centre rate it the tastiest cherry tomato and they’re the experts so…
I’m sure I will end up with a few new varieties of tomato in my garden, I can’t resist! But I do intend to plant several of my favourite; Big Beef. This indeterminate beefsteak has proven reliable, disease resistant, and prolific in my garden over many seasons.
I also love Costoluto Genovese, even though it needs heat to produce well. The fruits are so heavily lobed they look odd, but when you slice them along their equator, the slices look like flowers – crimson, juicy, flavourful flowers.
Last year I grew Imperator carrots for the first time and was impressed with the large roots. Carrots are difficult here. They don’t refer to Vancouver Island as “the rock” for nothing. Our soil is full of ‘em, and when a young Daucus carota encounters a rock, the rock wins! The soil in my garden is all rock and clay, heavy and wet, which is not especially hospitable to the tasty orange root.
I used to love to grow a carrot called Mokum, it’s super sweet and exquisitely tender but it has one flaw; when you harvest them, more often than not the top breaks away from the root so that you have to dig the roots out. Because I grow carrots intensively in a block rather than a row this meant I was constantly grubbing around trying to remove the carrot I wanted without damaging its neighbours. And they were little, topping out at around 6 inches.
The Imperator carrots were twice that size, and slid nicely out of the ground, intact. Maybe they weren’t quite as sweet, but they still put supermarket carrots to shame for flavour and freshness.
So I have bought my Imperator seed, along with a new (for me) variety called Napoli. This variety is touted as being one of the best tasting carrots, maturing quickly (55 days), and possessing strong tops. Napoli is also recommended for summer sowing to harvest in winter. If it lives up to this billing I will be impressed.
So far these are the new vegetables I plant to experiment with this year, there will likely be others. When the new plants start rolling into the garden centre I will undoubtedly be tempted, and I have no willpower to resist new plants.