Planning for the 2013 Garden

Though it’s certainly time to start ordering seeds, I’m still working out the final plans for my 2013 vegetable garden. It’s going to be a little different this year since I finished my garden fencing and expansion project late last year. I do know some of the new things I am going to try, and I wanted to share some of them now even though I’m still in the planning phase and I may find more new things to try in the days to come.

snowy garden in late December (click on any image to enlarge)

Tomatoes are many gardener’s favorite crop, mine included. I always like to try one or two new varieties every year. There are thousands of varieties out there, and it would take a lifetime to try them all. This year I’m trying a slicer called Italian Heirloom, which was a favorite by taste testers at the Seeds Savers Heritage Farm last summer. I’m also going to try two paste varieties I got from a seed swap with blog reader Jeanne (Ludmilla’s Red Plum and Ten Fingers of Naples). I am looking to find an open pollinated paste type that does well here in our garden, and these two sound promising. Amish Paste is a so-so producer here, and I would like to find another one that performs a bit more reliably for me.

seed packets

Peppers are another favorite crop with us, and I’m trying the O.P. variety Purple Beauty this year. Other gardeners have good luck with it (Robin aka The Gardener of Eden gives it a thumbs up as did Clare at Curbstone Valley) so I have high hopes it will do well for us also. This variety is reportedly one that was developed through the dehybridization of the F1 hybrid Purple Belle pepper. More than just a novelty, the purple color is a result of Anthocyanin pigments that have powerful antioxidant properties, so this one is healthy as well as pretty to look at!

I’m going to try growing Amish Pie pumpkin this year, another Seed Savers favorite. It’s a large one, and good for processing for pies. I’m also giving Boston Marrow and Kumi Kumi another shot this year, since they fizzled out in 2012. Boston Marrow is an early type with a bright orange-red skin, while Kumi Kumi is a New Zealand heirloom with ridged skin that is usable while both young and when mature. Winter squashes are a staple for us, and it would be nice to find some new additions to go with our old favorites like butternut, delicata and Gold Nugget. Another one coming back for a second chance is the baby Persian cucumber Green Fingers, which melted in the hot greenhouse last spring. I’ll try it in the main garden this year where hopefully it will do better.

Amish Pie pumpkin

Something new and different I want to grow this year is amaranth. A relative of quinoa, both the leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible. The tiny seeds are high in protein, and a good source of the essential amino acid lysine. I have seeds for planting Hopi Red Dye, which is  a variety used by the Hopi tribe for a source of a deep red dye. We already use amaranth seeds and amaranth flour in the kitchen. You can pop amaranth seeds much like you do popcorn, and use the puffed seeds for cereal, in baking, and even sprinkled on fruits and salads. It should be fun to grow, and the plants are ornamental as well as useful.

amaranth seeds raw(L) and popped(R), next to pinto bean seed

With the additional garden space this year, one thing I really want to grow is beans for drying. I want to plant Jacob’s Cattle bush bean plus Good Mother Stallard and Cherokee Trail of Tears pole beans. When I had a larger garden I grew a lot of different dried beans, and it will be fun to have them again. Their yields don’t really make for the most productive use of garden space (compared to other vegetables), but it is nice to grow some of the different varieties that aren’t always available in the grocery. And there are so many heirloom varieties that it’s possible to find ones that are suited to your own tastes and uses. The Cherokee Trail of Tears beans seem to do well in a variety of climates, including Daphne’s (Daphne’s Dandelions) in the NE, and I am looking forward to giving them a shot.

Good Mother Stallard bean seeds

Another new variety this year that I got from a seed swap (from blog reader KJ) is the Golden Sweet snap pea. I’m looking forward to trying that this spring. Though many grow peas as a fall crop, they usually do better for me in spring, though early hot weather can shorten the harvest season. This variety has bright yellow edible podded peas on 6ft tall vines, and rumor has it that they are one of the varieties that Gregor Mendel grew for his famous pea breeding experiments. I’m anxious to see how they do in my garden!

Golden Sweet Pea seeds

Thanks to all of you who swapped seeds with me this past year or sent me seeds. I’ve found some great vegetable varieties that way, and it’s always fun to share growing results with fellow gardeners. I don’t always have extra seeds available, but I’m usually willing to share when I do. So if something I grow sounds interesting to you or if you have something you think I might like just leave me a comment or send an email and we’ll see if we can work something out. I love to experiment and try new things and I know a lot of you do too.

That’s a little peek at some of the new things I will be trying in the garden in 2013. What about you, are you trying anything new in your garden this year? If you are then I’d love to hear about it!

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10 Responses to Planning for the 2013 Garden

  1. Jenny says:

    I haven’t tried italian heirloom tomato, but i did grow purple pepper and love the flavor of it. It’s purple from the start and gets sweeter as it matures. Definitely planting more of it this year. We’re also introducing few more varieties of tomatoes as well so hope it will be a good year. One thing that I’m looking forward to eating is Velour beans.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for the info on the pepper. It’s good to have another favorable opinion! I’ve never tried the Velour beans. They sound like a skinny filet version of my favorite Purple Queen beans.

  2. Daphne says:

    Trail of Tears is one of my favorite beans. It just tastes so good. Next year I plant to give it more room. I think I’m going to grow fewer varieties and just the tried and true growers.

    • Dave says:

      I’m scaling back on a lot of things too. I still want to experiment with a few new things, but I want to grow more of my old standby varieties.

  3. Robin says:

    As usual, I’m going to try a couple of new varieties of tomatoes. My big thing this year is experimenting with several new varieties of broccoli and cauliflower for spring and fall. We just love them and I need to find varieties that grow well here.

    I’m with Daphne about the Trail of Tears dried beans. They have a great flavor and are so so pretty. As far as dried bush beans go, I plant mine as a second crop after a spring crop.

  4. I hope Purple Beauty does as well for you as it did for us. Of the purple peppers I’ve tried to grow, that one was a star in our garden.

    I’m also looking for a better paste tomato. Everyone here grows San Marzano, which is ok, but this year I’m trying Opalka instead. We’ll have to compare notes at the end of the season 🙂

    We’re also giving Amish Pie a whirl this year. I’m sorry Boston Marrow didn’t do as well for you. It’s a monster producer here. Perhaps the drought last year was too much for it, and it will do better for you this season.

    I’ve been scared to grow Amaranth, as I’m afraid, like our Mizuna, it will try to take over, but we’re a bit cramped on space here. Can’t wait to see how it grows for you though! Happy planting!

  5. Norma Chang says:

    Didn’t know one could pop amaranth seeds, learnt something new, thanks. What is best way to pop them? I do not have a popcorn popper.

    • Dave says:

      I pop them in a deep pan, with no oil added. About 1 tbsp at a time is plenty. They will jump around and fly out of the pan though!

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