Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year, New Plants

Right on cue, seed catalogs are clogging my mailbox. Within a few days I have received Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, Burpee Seed (I don't remember signing up for this one), The Cook's Garden (who are now Burpee), Kitchen Garden Seed, Osbourne Seed (how did they get my name?), and Johnny's Seed.

My eyes get bigger and bigger as I browse each catalogue, pen in hand to mark the ones I can't live without. The glossy photos shout at me endless possibilities! Do I want repeats of good performers? Or should I through caution to the wind and try all new crops this year?

I decided to do a little of both. I will select those crops that have shorter days for maturation. Remember my Brussels sprouts? I learned just a couple weeks ago 'Falstaff' requires 100-150 days. I live in Seattle where summer can be a gamble. I may be jipped out of another summer and would rather not be disappointed again.

However, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds tempts me with their catalogue. They are in Missouri where it's more hot and humid than the Pacific Northwest. And, they collect seed from Thailand, Mexico, and other lovely warm places. One new crop I will try this year is Pepino Melon. I tried a slice from the salsa guy at the Columbia City Farmers' Market. It was so delicious! It was like eating a pear-flavored mango: the texture of mango but the flavor of pear. I asked Amando (of Tierra Bonita: Olympia's Salsa) to write down the scientific name for me: Solanum mauricatum. It's surprisingly related to tomato, eggplant, and potato--all memebers of the Nightshade family.

The other crop I will try this year is Thai Red Roselle. Techincally a hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), it is recommended by the folks at Baker Creek for making cranberry-flavored beverages, jelly, and pie. The plant is strikingly red and they claim there are too many uses for them to list. Zonal denial has set in and I'm sold.

Over the next few weeks, I will keep you up-to-date with my wish list and from where I will be buying the seed to complete my veggie garden. I'm already dreaming of peppery radishes, purple eggplant, and ruby-red tomatoes.

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