Like many other gardeners I know, I really enjoy garden planning. For me it’s a pleasant task on a cold winter’s day, though actually my planning starts way earlier than that. I take notes throughout the year on how things are doing and new things I want to try. I get a lot of ideas from reading other garden blogs. And I get ideas from my own eating experiences, as well as my wife’s.
For instance, last year she went to an art class and the food they served included okra, which she loved. It had been roasted and mixed with other veggies in a dish and wasn’t the least bit slimy, and she couldn’t wait to tell me about it when she got back home. As for me, I love okra in all ways, slimy or not. I grew it every year in my old garden, and in our area it’s a fairly easy to grow veggie since it loves our hot summers. So this year I have decided to grow it again. I’ve already ordered seeds for one of my favorite varieties, Louisiana Green Velvet, which has 6 to 7 inch pods on tall plants that grow 7 feet or taller. I also want to grow another variety that’s familiar to me called Emerald which was developed by the Campbell’s soup company to use in their soups. It has long green smooth pods which also grow on tall plants. Stewart Zeebest is one I’ve grown here and I may try again. I’ve grown okra here at Happy Acres but it has been a while. I did grow the red podded Candle Fire as an ornamental as couple of years ago but unfortunately the deer ate all the plants before they could bear.
Tomatoes are always a big deal in my garden. Last year I tried a few varieties of blight-resistant tomatoes and I will continue that testing in 2019. So far I don’t have blight issues, but I believe the blights are coming here eventually and I would like to be somewhat prepared. Defiant and Damsel are two slicers I grew that did well and are highly resistant to late blight disease. I also want to try Mountain Merit, Rugged Boy and Peron Sprayless again. The large heirloom tomatoes were a total bust here last year, and I only plan to grow a couple that have done well for me in the past, Captain Lucky and Vinson Watts. Several hybrid tomatoes with heirloom parents did quite well for me including Perfect Flame and Big Brandy and they will be back. I’m also looking forward to growing the 2019 AAS Winner Chef’s Choice Black, which I’m guessing has some heirloom tomato in its parentage. And Big Beef, a 1994 AAS Winner, is coming back to the garden.
Jasper is a blight-resistant cherry tomato and 2013 AAS Winner that was outstanding last year, and Plum Regal is a late blight resistant Roma type that also did great here in 2018. And of course my favorite tomato Juliet will be back this year, since I can always count on it to produce loads of fruit. Juliet has intermediate resistance to both early and late blight, which is another plus for me.
This year I want to try a new hybrid from the University of Florida Klee Lab. It’s called W Hybrid, and it has 6 ounce fruits with a high lycopene content. I also plan to grow their Garden Gem and Garden Treasure varieties which have done well for me in the past. With our summers getting hotter, and climatologists predicting even hotter weather in years to come, I am looking for more heat-tolerant veggies to grow. I’m thinking if these tomatoes do well in Florida they will likely do well here too.
Usually I have a lot of new pepper varieties I want to try growing, but this year my grow out list is full of mostly tried and true names like sweet peppers Carmen, Escamillo, Cornito Rosso and Cornito Giallo plus hot ones like Biggie Chili and Aji Angelo. I do have three more Korean peppers I want to grow called Amazing 2 (a hybrid), Lady Han and Kunja. I also want to grow the Peachadew, which is an orange colored version of the Malawi Piquante (aka Peppadew) pepper. And for sweet peppers I do want to try the italian heirloom Melrose and the 2019 AAS Winner Just Sweet, which is a yellow mini bell. I’ll also grow Jimmy Nardello which is one of the tastiest peppers I grow, and Dolce di Minervino which was a big hit last year. I plan to continue growing my Sweet Happy Yummy and it’s hot cousin. For paprika I have settled on Dulce Rojo, Hungarian Magyar and Nora. And for chile powder I am fond of the o/p Guajillo pepper plus the hybrid Minero.
I’ve found a pretty good mix of summer squash already, and I plan to grow many of the same ones this year including Spineless Beauty and Sunstripe zucchini and the heirloom White Scallop. Last year the star summer squash was a hybrid yellow crookneck called Tempest that may be the best tasting yellow squash I have ever grown, and I’m looking forward to growing it again. For winter squash, based on our love for Thelma Sanders and Gill’s Golden Pippin acorn squashes I want to try other acorn types including the heirloom Table Gold and a hybrid called Mashed Potatoes. Turkeyneck will be back since it is my favorite for processing into puree, plus it is super productive.
Speaking of potatoes, I only want to try one ‘new’ sweet potato this year and that’s an old variety I’ve grown before called Centennial. It has orange flesh and it’s another one like Beauregard that it popular with market growers. If you live in the U.S. and have bought sweet potatoes at the grocery, you have likely eaten one or both of these two. Another popular market variety is Garnet, and it has failed miserably here two years in a row so I won’t be growing it again.
I won’t be growing several things at all this year, including the large bulbing onions. The multiplier onions like I’itoi and Yellow Potato do much better for me and I’ve already planted more of those last fall. I’m also about to lose my patience with growing heading broccoli. I seem to have better luck with the non-heading broccolini types like Apollo and Artwork. With that in mind I want to grow the non-heading type Happy Rich again as well as Piracicaba.
I grew collard greens last year, and while they didn’t size up like they should, the small amount we got made me want to grow them again. This year I plan to set them out at least a month earlier to give them more time to grow. I’ll try the ones I grew last year, Yellow Cabbage Collards, Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collards and White Mountain Cabbage Collards plus a hybrid called Tiger. In the past I’ve grown mostly hybrids like Top Bunch or Flash, but I want to give some of the heirlooms a try again too.
I love to experiment with growing new things, so my growing list is always long. And there are always last-minute changes to my list too. Varieties I am growing for the first time are marked with an *.
Asian Greens: Bopak pac choi, Koji tatsoi, Kyoto mizuna, Miz America mizuna, Mizspoona Salad Select, Mei Qing Pak Choi, Senposai, Summerfest Komatsuna
Basil: Amethyst, Aurelia, Corsican, Italian Pesto, Profuma di Genova, Siam Queen, Sweet Thai
Beans (bush): Derby, Jade*, Red Swan*
Beans (pole): Bertie Best’s Greasy Bean, NC Market Greasy Cut Short, Musica, North Carolina Long Greasy, Robe Mountain, NT Half Runner, Seychelles, Turkey Craw
Broccoli: Apollo, Artwork, Burgundy, Green Magic, Happy Rich, Gypsy, Piracicaba, Santee (PSB), Summer Purple
Cabbage: Conehead, Deadon, Farao, Kaitlin, Melissa Savoy, Minuet (napa), Omera*, Primo Vantage, Red Perfection*, Soloist (napa), Stonehead, Tendersweet
Collards: Groninger Blue*, Jernigan Yellow Cabbage Collards, Tiger*, Yellow Cabbage Collards, White Mountain Cabbage Collards
Cucumber: 7082, Corinto, Diva, Excelsior, Harmonie, Itachi*, Manny, Nokya*, Socrates, Tasty Jade, Vertina
Eggplant: Aretussa*, Clara, Dancer, Fairy Tale, Farmer’s Long*, Fengyuan Purple*, Galine, Machiaw*, Nadia, Patio Baby, Shoya Long*
Garlic: Early Portuguese, Idaho Silver, K’s Backyard, Killarney Red, Lorz Italian, Nootka Rose, Red Janice, Red Toch, Russian Red, Russian Inferno*, Sicilian Silver, Siciliano, Silver White, Simonetti, Uzbek, Xian
Greens: Adagio arugula, Apollo arugula, Esmee Arugula, Pink Lettucy Mustard, Speedy arugula, Vibrant Joy mustard
Kale: Black Magic*, Darkibor, Dazzling Blue, Portuguese, Purple Russian*, Red Ursa, Starbor, True Siberian, Tronchuda Beira, Western Front, White Russian, Wild Garden Mix
Kohlrabi: Beas*, Kolibri, Konan, Korist*, Kossak, Terek
Lettuce: 21st Century Fire, Bambi, Big Island, Cardinale, Cavendish, Elf Ears, Jester, Kilauea, Lava Lamp, Mayan Jaguar, Pele, Red Evolution, Red Sails, Red-Tinged Winter, Salad Bowl, Salanova, Sierra, Simpson Elite, Slobolt, Slogun, Spritzer, Tall Oaks, Tango, Wavy Dory Romaine
Okra: Candle Fire, Emerald, Louisiana Green Velvet, Stewart’s Zeebest
Onion: I’itoi, Yellow Potato
Parsley: Georgian Flatleaf, Giant From Italy, Hungarian Landrace, Splendid
Pepper(hot): Aji Angelo, Aji Golden, Aji Rico, Aleppo, Amazing 2*, Anaheim, Bastan, Biggie Chili, Cayenneta, Chili Pie, Czech Black, Emerald Fire, Flaming Flare, Gochugaru, Guajillo, Honeypeno, Hot Happy Yummy, Holy Mole, Jalapeno JB*, Kaleidoscope, Kimchi, Kunja*, Lady Choi, Lady Han*, Mad Hatter, Malawi Piquante, Minero, Mosquetero, Red Ember, Senorita Jalapeno, Sugar Rush Peach, Sugar Rush Red*
Pepper (sweet): Carmen, Cornito Giallo, Cornito Rosso, Dolce di Minervino, Dulce Rojo, Escamillo, Friggitello, Glow, Hungarian Magyar, Jimmy Nardello’s, Just Sweet*, Melrose*, Nora, Orange Blaze, Sweetie Pie, Sweet Happy Yummy
Radish: Alpine, April Cross, Bora King, Green Luobo, Mantanghong, Rido Red*, Summer Cross #3, Sweet Baby
Shallots: Conservor, Sante
Squash(summer): Astia, Bossa Nova, Clarimore, Flaminio, Green Griller*, Raven, Shrek*, Spineless Beauty, Sunstripe, Tatume, Tempest, White Scallop
Squash(winter): 898 Butternut*, Baked Potatoes Acorn*, Gill’s Golden Pippin, Honey Bear, Honeyboat Delicata, Jester, Naked Bear*, Table Gold*, Thelma Sanders, Tromba d’Albenga, Turkeyneck, Zeppelin Delicata
Sweet Potatoes: Beauregard, Bonita, Centennial*, Gingseng, Korean Purple, Murasaki, Purple
Tomatoes: Amy’s Apricot, Bellota, Better Boy, Big Beef, Big Brandy, Black Cherry, Brandy Boy, Captain Lucky, Celebrity, Champagne Cherry, Chef’s Choice Black*, Chef’s Choice Orange, Chef’s Choice Pink, Chef’s Choice Red, Chef’s Choice Yellow, Damsel, Defiant, Fire Fly*, Five Star Grape*, Garden Gem, Garden Treasure, Golden Rave, Granadero*, Green Bee, Health Kick, Indigo Kumquat*, Jasper, Juliet, La Roma 3*, Madera, Mexico Midget, Midnight Snack, Mochomo, Monticello, Mountain Magic, Mountain Merit, Perfect Flame, Peron Sprayless, Plum Regal, Red Racer, Red Torch*, Rugged Boy, Scipio Ibrido, Sun Gold, Sunpeach, Sun Sugar, Tasti-Lee*, Valentine, Vinson Watts, Viva Italia, “W” Hybrid*
Turnips: Alamo*, All-Top*, Hakurei, Mikado, Topper