New year, new catalogues, choices aplenty

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Happy New Year! The new seed catalogues are here.

Those of us addicted to gardening were getting pretty antsy for a fix. I got a chance to read through three of my new catalogues and I’m thrilled with the selections.

Many of you may not start things from seed. Perhaps you don’t grow a big enough garden. Many of you grow just a few things in containers. Seeds are still a great way to start your garden when you want.

We all know that we have a lot of winter yet to go before we turn that first shovel. It’s hard to wait.

One of the great things about starting plants from seeds is that you have the plants you want, when you want them. I harvest most of my own seeds, but I still like to branch out and try new varieties. This year, I was thrilled to see traditional seed companies add more organic seed to their selection.

In “Territorial’s” new catalogue, almost all of the lettuce and potato offerings are organic. Many of its new organics have been around for a while. They’re just new to its selection. Some of them I’ve tried and some are new to me.

I’ve never tried the bean called Black Coco but it sounds exciting. It’s a bush variety that works well as both a snap bean and a shell bean.

The catalogue said, “Black Coco’s 5-inch-long, round pods are easy to pick from 22- to 24-inch tall plants. They make a good snap bean, or wait a couple of weeks longer to harvest a traditional black, dry shelling bean tucked inside.” I’m intrigued.

They also had a greenhouse cucumber called Cruiser that caught my eye. They grow to 6 inches and are spineless. We could be eating fresh cucumbers right now if we had these started in the fall.

I’m a finicky lettuce eater. Keep in mind that my father’s idea of a salad was a big wedge of iceberg lettuce with a tablespoon of Miracle Whip plopped on top.

I don’t like many of the strong lettuces. I’m a butterhead and iceberg fan. That’s why I was excited to see the Flashy Butter Oak. This offering says it’s a blend of both butterhead and oak leaf for a great flavor and crisp crunch.

Loose leaf lettuces are a good choice for the garden because of the long harvest period.

I’m always on the lookout for a good potato. I love my red new potatoes and have planted Sangrias for years. They’re very prolific and they steam really well. They stink for mashed.

“Territorial” had a new listing that I’m going to try this year. It’s called French Fingerling and it is supposed to be great for any kind of preparation.

It’s still a pink, thin skinned potato. You just dig them when they’re new for the small ones and hold off on digging if you want the bigger fingerlings.

“Seeds of Change” is my catalogue of first choice. I love the company. They really test their seeds. I saw some cool peas and squash that I wanted to try.

I still have pages and pages to fawn over. I usually make a big list and then whittle it down to an affordable price. Seeds aren’t very cheap any more.

Like everything else, they’ve gone up. If you get a plant from every seed though, they’re still way cheaper than buying the plants.

Now go drool over your own catalogues. They’ve got lots of color. I saw a new, bright red Echinacea that knocked my socks off.

Flip through the pages and dream of warm, sunny days with light evening rains. It sure beats slugging through sleet and snow any day.

Happy growing.

E-mail Cheryl Steenerson at cheryl@theandersonnews.com.