I’m patiently waiting for the weather to warm up here in Pennsylvania, but in the meantime I wanted to share some of the new arrivals and introductions that are planned for the garden this growing season:
First up are a number of ornamental edibles that were actually planted last autumn; two Juneberries, three filberts, and another elderberry plant were added to brighten the landscape and provide more fruit and even some nut crops. It looks like they all survived the winter, with the exception of one juneberry that’s showing no signs of life at this stage.
Adding a Variety of Ornamental Fruits and Nuts to the Landscape
Filberts are very attractive shrubs/trees in my opinion and hopefully they will grow and bear fruit without spreading or becoming too invasive. I’m already taken in by the new elderberry, a variety called Black Beauty that has dark, purplish leaves which are deeply cut and very ornamental.
Currently on order with expected delivery at the end of this month are a collection of blackberry plants that will be planted in a section of the garden that I’m in the process of converting into a perennial fruit and vegetable bed. All of the blackberries are thornless varieties; Triple Crown, Apache, Chester, and Loch Ness with an additional thornless Loganberry.
Also planned to join the blackberries in the new edible perennial bed will be asparagus, strawberries, and a rhubarb plant or two. I’m looking at several asparagus varieties including an heirloom and a variety that produces spears with a reddish or burgundy exterior. The rhubarb will be Crimson Cherry, but I’m still undecided about the type of strawberries and would welcome any recommendations.
New Recruits on their First Tour of Duty in the Organic Garden
On the vegetable scene there are a number of “new” heirlooms that I’m excited about trying out this year, the descriptions are excerpts borrowed from the heirloom seed suppliers where the seed was purchased:
- Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato – this will grow anywhere there is sun, a species of wild tomato, which means it is like a parent of all the small tomatoes you ever saw. Very sweet, tiny cherries, huge yields, and superb flavor. (Amishland Heirloom Seeds)
- Amazon Chocolate Tomato – rich brown in color like deep chocolate, and quite large as the fruit can grow to one pound or more. Distinctive winey, deep, smokey, rich, taste and fabulous color from this rare Ukrainian tomato! (Amishland Heirloom Seeds)
- Sutherlin Kale – true heirloom “Scotch Kale” that is nearly extinct. Sourced from Real Seeds, Wales who got it from 93 year old Elizabeth Woolcombe, she got it form Angus Simmonds about 50 years ago. Especially welcome to bridge that hunger gap period in spring when fresh produce out of the garden is scarce. (Sustainable Seed Company)
- Kamo Kamo Squash – ethnic heirloom pumpkin of the Maori people of New Zealand. New Zealanders say this is the best of all squash, for the young fruit can be boiled, fried or baked, and they have a rich, nutty flavor that is quite delicious. Let the green speckled squash ripen, and they are good as a winter squash. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
- Bitter Melons – Chinese Long White produces beautiful, long, white fruit that are mild and tasty, a must for stir-fry. Early producing plants are disease resistant and vigorous. Americans miss out by not growing these delicious, medicinal and ornamental plants. The bumpy white fruit are great for decorations, too! (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)
- Solar Flashback Calendula Mix – a distinctive new family of flash, selected to highlight contrast between bright light yellows, pinks, and solid red or maroon. A special treat for those who love calendula, but want a rest from orange. (Wild Garden Seeds)
- Red Aztec Spinach – if you’ve tried amaranth, lambs quarter, or goosefoot as salad or micro-greens, you should try this. Young seedlings begin bright red, then look like lambs quarter with reddish undersides and a crisper leaf. Gives the salad mix a wilder look and taste. Leaves and seed heads become bright red with maturity. (Wild Garden Seeds)
- Golden Grex Beets –green tops, lush growth, somewhat elongated Lutz shape and enormous roots that remain mild and sweet even as they grow up to 6–7″ long and 3-1/2″ wide. Roots are golden orange with a blushed orange hip on the top of the beet. When cut open some, but not all, interiors will have beautiful alternating concentric rings of yellow and red similar to a Chioggia. (Fedco Seeds)
Well that’s a taste of the unique fruits and vegetables that will be introduced to my garden this growing season. In addition to the sources cited above, I also obtained planting stock from Raintree Nursery and Edible Landscaping Online. Feel free to comment on any especially interesting edibles that you are excited about growing in your own garden for the first time this year!
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