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Summer is Just a Dream Away

Snowed in and snuggled up, I’m studying several summertime snapshots, searching and selecting sufficient seed for sowing this soon-to-come spring. I must be on every seeds company’s list of who to send a catalog to. so, while winter weather wrecks her havoc, I’m safe and sound by a warm fire, envisioning rows and rows of picture perfect vegetables.

Blue Lake, Roma and Cherokee Wax beans are our green, Italian and Yellow beans respectively. Will try Forkhook and Henderson’s Lima beans this year. A hundred years ago, butter beans, as Lima’s are affectionately called, were second only to potatoes as the most common vegetable people grew. In my effort to grow old timey crops, I ordered five pounds of White Half Runners, too.

Detroit Dark Red is our standard beet, and we also grow an Italian heirloom called Chioggia and another old one called Cosby’s Egyptian. I’m going to try a yellow beet called Touchstone Gold. For carrots we stick with good old Danvers Half Long and Scarlet Nantes.


Decicco is an Italian heirloom broccoli that puts out lots of small side shoots. I don’t like broccoli as much as the cabbage loopers do, but I thought I might get by with a fall crop of it this year. The worms also discourage us from growing regular cabbage, but I love chinese cabbage. This year they will be China Express, Bilko, Rubicon and Michihili.Most of our sweet corn will be the bi-color G-90, but I’m going to plant a patch of the open pollinated Country Gentleman. It’s also called Shoepeg because the kernels grow randomly all over the ear and not in uniform rows. I suspect we’ll grow Incredible, too.

Marketmore 76 is the standard slicing cucumber for us, but I’m also going to try Green Slam and Green Finger. For pickles we like Home made pickles, and are going to try Bush Pickler. Dukat is the name of the dill variety we like.

Orient Express is a slendor Japanese-style eggplant, and for our big purple ones we’ll try Black King. Our own garlic seed is already in the ground, along with Music and German Porcelin. We also save our own Kale seed, but will plant a curly one called Siberian.

There must be a million varieties of lettuce, but when I want a salad I reach for Nevada or Buttercrunch. Others we grow are Magenta, Winter Density, Jericho Summertime and Red Sails. I’m going to try Tropicana, Concept, Crispino and Mottistone this year. The farm does variety trials every year to try and learn about new, and old, kinds of crops I’ve never tried before.

We saved seed from Honey Rock cantalope and will replant that one, but I’m going to plant Green Nutmeg, too. It is a green fleshed melon that Thomas Jefferson grew. As my readers know, his ideals of a nation of small farmers and small businesses, free of control by government and big businesses, is dear to my heart. For watermelons it will be  Junilee, crimson sweet, Sugar Baby, Kecklys Sweet, Tender Sweet and Amish Moon and Stars.

Copra is the best storage onion. We will also try these intermediate day varieties: Candy, Red Candy and Superstar. The parsley we grow is Forest Green for the curly type, and Italian Giant for the flat leaf. Sugar Hollow Crown is the parsnip for this year.

Sugar Snap peas and Oregon Sugar Pod are the edible-podded peas we like. I’m also going to grow English peas for shelling. Little Marvel is an heirloom, and Freezonia a newer variety.

Carmen pepper is by far our favorite. We also like Gypsy. For hot ones we grow Joe’s Long Cayenne and Early Jalapeno. A spicy but not hot one is Pizza pepper. We also grow Hungarian Wax peppers, both the sweet and hot, and routinely get them mixed up and can only tell the difference with a tongue.

A couple of unusual vegetables I want to try this year are Scorzonera, a black salsify or oyster plant, a New Zealand spinach, which is not a true spinach but a summer growing green. I don’t grow the pretty, colored Swiss chards. Instead, I opt for French Swiss chard, a better tasting variety.

Early Prolific Yellow Straightneck is a mouthful, which supplies our customers with many mouthfuls of summer squash. We’ll grow two other heirlooms, Yellow Bush Patty Pon and Black Zucchini. Gold rush is a yellow zucchini. I’m going to try, and also a green and yellow crookneck called Zepher. Trombocini is the long summer squash the climbs along our fence.

Waltham Butternut and Table Queen Acorn will be planted by the pounds. Other winter squash include Delicatta, Sweet Dumpling, Scarlet Kabocha, Small Wonder Spaghetti, Bonbon Buttercup and Carnival.

And finally the Tomatoes, with an eye for disease resistance, I chose Celebrity, Big Beef, Pink Beauty, Early Girl and Jetsetter, all hybrids. San Marzano is our favorite paste tomato. For heirlooms we’ll grow Mortage Lifter, Japanese Black Trifele, Bradley and probably many others I’ll be wanting to experiment with.

With my mind full of all these summer vegetables, I was surprised to look out the window and see white, not green. It’s those lazy, hazy days of winter, but summer is just a dream away.