Last week I wrote a post (this one) about four things you can to do get your garden ready for the New Year. Yet I must confess, I haven’t completed any of those tasks myself. So, I’m taking my own advice and am getting my garden in gear.
The first thing I suggested in that aforementioned post was to make a list of the things you like to eat and grow before logging on to your favorite seed catalog’s site and breaking the bank. Today’s post is my list. Of course, I did a lot of seed saving last year so I’ve already made a lot of seed decisions, but I thought it would be fun to take stock of the vegetables I love the most. These were my favorite, tried-and-true seed varieties and recipes from 2012. You better believe they’ll be making a comeback in my garden and to my table.
A la Dave Letterman, we’ll start with number 10 and work down to my number one favorite!
10. Sugar Snap Peas
Why? Because I love the satisfaction I get from being able to put these seeds in the ground so early in the year. And I love staring into the vines with a bowl on my hip, trying to see the camouflage pods. Irish Eyes: Sugar Daddy Snap Peas
Favorite recipe: No recipe for this one since this was my favorite snack of the year – a container full of fresh snap peas with a side of tamari-roasted almonds helped me get through the day many times.
9. Lettuce – Tom Thumb
Why? Of all the lettuce I grew last year, the little Chartreuse heads of lettuce I got from this Tom Thumb variety were the best, sweet and delicious. Of course, I always grow a few others to make my salads a little more interesting, but Tom Thumb is a mainstay these days. Baker Creek: Tom Thumb
Favorite recipe: Simple salad – these small heads of lettuce are the perfect size portion for one hungry girl. I’d cut the root off of the bottom, which would release all of the leaves, wash them and dress them with a simple vinaigrette.
8. Beets – Bull’s Blood
Why? Even though I think it’s actually more economical to just buy these from the farmers’ market, especially considering my beet-growing track record, I can’t help but try again. I love eating beets and even if the roots themselves don’t grow up to my standards, I can still take advantage of the greens, which is reason enough. Baker Creek: Bull’s Blood
Favorite recipe: Beet Green Smoothies and Oven-roasted Beet Salad with Blood OrangesÂ
7. Nantes Carrots
Why? I’ve had the best luck growing this variety. While my purple carrots fizzle out, these Â always grow beautifully. I’ve learned to grow them in deep containers and to thin them so they have room to grow. Seeds of Change: Scarlet Nantes Carrots
Favorite recipe: Cumin Seed Pickled Carrots
6. Arugula (Rocket)
Why? Because I’ve missed it so much. I didn’t grow it last year or put my first crop in a place where it could grow and reseed itself. My salads were just not the same. Lesson learned. Baker Creek: Arugula
Why? Partly because my cilantro plants that I let go to seed last year produced so much coriander (cilantro seed) that I have to plant it again. A girl just cannot eat that much coriander, even if she tried! This is a double-duty plant – you can eat the tender cilantro leaves and then use the seeds as an edible spice. Although it’s likely the plant dropped enough seeds on its own to produce another bumper crop. Seattle Seed Company: Slow Bolt Cilantro
Favorite recipe: Creamy Cilantro Dressing – turns out, mixed with some lime-drenched shredded cabbage, this dressing makes the best side dish for carnitas.
4. Trail of Tears Black Beans*
Why? Because I think it’s super cool to be able to eat a pot of black beans that I grew in my backyard. These beans are another double-duty plant – can be eaten and canned as green beans or dried and eaten in a taco. Saving seeds from these beauties is effortless. Plus, I love my bike trellis and these beans like to climb. Baker Creek: Cherokee Trail of Tears Black Beans
Favorite recipe: Butternut squash tacos with black beans
3. Bright Lights Chard
Why? Because it is tasty, nutritious and a sweet addition to my smoothies. Plus, they don’t taste bitter when they bolt. Score! Baker Creek: Silverbeet Chard
Favorite recipe: Simple saute – with a little olive oil, garlic and a hefty squeeze of lemon.
Why? Because dark, leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses and this baby loves our climate. I’m still harvesting pounds of kale from the plants I started in late summer. Seattle Seed Company: Lacinato Kale and Red Russian Kale
Favorite recipe: Raw Tuscan Kale Salad – I could eat this for days.
1. Stupice Tomato*
Why? Of all the tomatoes I grew, the Stupice was the first to produce, the first to ripen (In June, Seattle people. In June.), and the most productive. Baker Creek: Stupice Tomato
Favorite recipe: The Bomb Tomato Concentrate (a.k.a. tomato paste goodness) – this recipe was by far the best use of my tomatoes and will probably be the way I put up the bulk of my tomatoes next year. It’s fantastic because you can use pretty much any kind of tomato, including cherry tomatoes, and can freeze them using an ice-cube tray. The result is the perfect size of tomato goodness to add an amazing burst of flavor to almost anything you make. My lentil soups have never tasted so good.
Seeds marked with a * are seeds that I grew and saved in 2012. Those not marked will be purchased or a prior purchase of said seeds will be used up. Also, this list does not include the volunteer edible flowers that will inevitably come up from the seeds they dropped. I can’t seem to get enough nasturtiums or calendula.
More seed resources: