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In the Garden: Explore seed catalogs for veggie varieties

Sun., March 9, 2014, midnight

There are a lot of new varieties of vegetables worth trying out this season. (Susan Mulvihill)
There are a lot of new varieties of vegetables worth trying out this season. (Susan Mulvihill)

I’ve been creating an awful lot of work for our amiable postal carrier and UPS delivery guy lately. For the past three months, they have been delivering stacks of seed catalogs, numerous seed orders, garden products and books.

The growing season is rapidly approaching and I couldn’t be happier. Perusing the seed catalogs to find out what’s new is one of my favorite winter activities. I thought you’d enjoy hearing about some new veggie varieties.

Bean: For those who grow veggies in containers, Mascotte is a stringless dwarf bush bean that you can begin harvesting in 50 days (Harris Seeds).

Broccoli: Diplomat demonstrates good heat and cold tolerance. Because broccoli likes to bolt to seed at the first sign of warm weather, that’s a good trait. It can also be grown as a late summer crop to harvest in the fall. Pick in 75 days (Harris).

Cabbage: Caraflex has small, cool-looking pointed heads, crunchy leaves and a mild flavor. It matures in 68 days (Johnny’s Select Seeds).

Cauliflower: For something different, why not try one with a bright orange head? Cheddar matures in 58 days and doesn’t lose its color when cooked (Johnny’s).

Cucumber: Bush Pickle takes up less space in the garden than vining types and produces large yields of 5-inch cucumbers. Start harvesting in 45 to 50 days (Territorial Seed). Another offering is Bush Slicer, a container cucumber that matures in 55 days (Renee’s Garden).

Eggplant: Diamond is considered ideal for growing throughout the Northwest, which can be a challenging region for eggplant. This variety should produce plenty of tasty fruits no matter what kind of weather we have this summer (Uprising Seeds).

Lettuce: Yugoslavian Red is a butterhead lettuce that, as the catalog puts it, “grows to a foot across, with deeply puckered, apple-green leaves tinged with pomegranate red.” Wow (The Cook’s Garden).

Muskmelon: Since the Inland Northwest has a short growing season of 120 frost-free days, I’m always looking for varieties that will mature earlier. Goddess ripens in 68 days and produces 4- to 6-pound fruits (Harris). An early-ripening Tuscan melon, Napoli, matures in 75 to 80 days (Renee’s).

Okra: I’ve never grown okra before, but Burgundy is a new cultivar too pretty to pass up. The flower has creamy-yellow petals and a red eye, and the okra is burgundy in color, instead of the traditional green. It matures in 55 days (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

Pea: Purple Podded is a shelling pea that features fragrant pink flowers and beautiful deep-purple pods filled with tender peas. Start picking in 55 days (Cook’s).

Winter squash: I haven’t found acorn squash to be the most prolific in my garden so I was pleased to find two bush-type cultivars. Sweet REBA (the acronym stands for “Resistant Early Bush Acorn”) was developed by Cornell University, where it consistently produced four to six squash per plant. It matures in 90 days (Uprising). The other is Cream of the Crop, a white acorn that grows on a bush-type plant and can be harvested as a summer squash in 55 days or as winter squash in 75 days (Baker Creek).

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at Visit her blog at susansinthe or her Facebook page at www.facebook. com/susansinthegarden for more gardening information.

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