by Randall D. Schultz, Content Editor of HomeGardenandHomestead.com
It’s time to think about planting vegetable seeds. It is too early to plant seeds in my vegetable garden right now—and quite likely too early for you to plant seeds in your garden, too. But it’s the perfect time to start seeds indoors. I don’t have a greenhouse yet (that’s a future blog post for sure), but I do have a sunroom that warms up nicely in the afternoons.
So I’m going to clean out two of my Grow Box containers (www.agardenpatch.com), which are my favorite growing containers for starting seeds and growing vegetable crops. I will probably have to set up a supplemental light source to make sure my seedlings don’t get too tall and spindly. But I am confident that I will soon have the beginnings of a great garden crop growing indoors.
Seed catalogs and websites introduce new vegetable varieties every spring, and this season I’m going to try several of the most enticing new offerings. I love homegrown cucumbers, so the cover of this year’s Park Seed catalog with a giant photo of a new cucumber called Gateway got my immediate attention. Gateway Hybrid cucumbers grow 8-9 inches long, and the plants have resistance to powdery mildew and other diseases that can plague some older varieties of cucumbers. A packet of Gateway Cucumber seeds sells for $3.50 from www.parkseed.com. Growing Tip: Cucumbers can grow on the ground, but for longer, straighter fruit (and to save garden space) try growing cukes on a trellis or a tomato cage).
Tomatoes are the rock stars of the veggie garden, and this year the new variety I’m going to grow is Atlas Hybrid Tomato from Burpee (www.burpee.com). What makes this beefsteak tomato plant unique is it was bred to be bushy and compact. Burpee says Atlas is designed to grow in containers, so I’m going to grow two plants in a Grow Box and put this new variety to the test.
According to Burpee, ‘Atlas’ tomato plants produce a bountiful harvest of one-pound tomatoes in any sunny spot. The ripe tomatoes deliver old-time flavor with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. Burpee sells seed packets for $6.99 or three starter plants for $16.99.
Here’s a quick list of the other new varieties I’m going to plant:
- Blue Belle Potato. This new variety is a mid-season potato with pale yellow skin and purple splashes around the “eyes.” The tubers are oval-shaped and have medium yellow flesh. The plants are resistant to powdery scab and silver scurf. Exclusively from irisheyesgardenseeds.com. (And every Blue Belle seed potato order comes with a free recipe book.)
- Basil Romanesco. This new Sweet Basil has a higher oil content than the typical basil, so it’s more aromatic and flavorful in sauces and pestos. Basil Romanesco is a vigorous grower, and plants reach 32” tall with large leaves. parkseed.com.
- Stuff Enuff Hybrid Sweet Pepper. This new variety yields lots of big sweet peppers that a perfect for stuffing. The whopping 14-ounce fruits will delight your taste buds—and make you feel like an expert gardener. burpee.com.
- Malbec Carrot (Pelleted Seed). I love carrots, but the seeds are so small they are hard to sow. This year I’m planting pelleted Malbec Carrot seeds. Each seed is encased in a pellet, making it easier to plant accurately. Malbec carrots have a beautiful red color, and the 10-inch-long carrots are the perfect size. A packet of 250 pelleted seeds sells for $4.95 from johnnyseeds.com.
- Cosmos Capriola. This new cosmos is going in my flower beds. The 3-inch blooms are white with magenta edges. Cosmo Capriola will re-seed itself in the garden, so I hope to be enjoying these blooms for years to come. www.parkseed.com.
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