The Year of the Carrot
by Holly Boettcher
Seed catalogs are arriving in the mail, so I have time to cozy up with dreams and schemes of what to plant this spring. It has become an obsession with me as I plan my vegetable garden.
Each season, I choose one vegetable that I can learn and grow with my experiences. I look for different varieties that will give me new colors and tantalizing tastes.
Last year, it was all about the beets. I grew Chioggia beets, which had white rings inside of red flesh and Golden beets, which are only 55 days from planting to plate. Albino Whites are so sweet, and Bull’s Blood beets offer deep, reddish-purple leaves. All are edible and highly nutritious. What I found interesting is each had a different texture, and the flavors were unique. How delightful to roast them, marinate with balsamic vinegar, then arrange them on a platter.
Prior to that, I grew different types of eggplant. Some of my selections included Black Beauty, Little Fingers, Edirne Purple Striped, Casper White, Turkish Orange, and Thai Long Green. They come round, oblong, and everything in between.
I had fun a few years ago growing okra and planted Burgundy, Star of David, Alabama Red (blossom is pictured), and Jing Orange. Who knew their blooms would be so large and fragrant?
The sky is the limit! You can explore numerous salad blends, cucumber and squash varieties, many sizes, colors, and shapes of radishes, a multitude of beans, and even green beans that grow up to a foot long!
If you have been reading my articles, you know how enamored I am with different varieties of tomatoes. My all-time favorites are Dr. Wyche’s Orange, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, and Great White. A reminder if you are planting tomatoes: you need to start them (indoors) from seed in March, so they have a jump start and ample time to ripen before fall.
Do you wonder where I locate all these exotic seeds? My favorite place to order from among my parade of catalogs is Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Their website is www.rareseeds.com, and you will find seeds from all over the globe.
This year, I’ve decided on carrot seeds – lots of carrot seeds! On order is Purple Dragon, Amarillo (a yellow carrot), Black Nebula, Kyoto Red, Little Finger, and Lunar White. Oh, and I might just grow some orange carrots, too. My mouth is already watering over the thought of freshly harvested roots, wrapped in bacon, and grilled for dinner!
One of the real joys of gardening is challenging yourself to try something new. Each winter, as the catalogs arrive, I ponder what I’ll grow in the spring.
You know the saying, “variety is the spice of life,” so try something different in your garden this year. I promise you will be thrilled with what you can plant, nurture, harvest, and put on your table.