I’ve been putting together a list of seeds to order for next year’s garden, and as part of that, I’m thinking a bit about what varieties to order for each vegetable. For example, I know I want to grow lettuce next year, but what kind of lettuce? I’ve been thumbing through seed catalogs, and there are an enormous number of choices.
To narrow it down, I’ve been looking for suggestions from other gardeners, and I ran across one book which was especially helpful in picking great-tasting varieties. Here’s a picture of it sitting on my living room table. It’s The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables: The 100 Easiest to Grow, Tastiest Vegetables for Your Garden by Marie Iannotti.
One reason I was excited about this book is that among the plants listed as top picks are several that I’ve planted in past years, and they were in fact great-tasting and easy to grow. Three of those are ‘Paris Market’ carrots, ‘French Breakfast’ radishes, and ‘Lacinato’ kale. (I may never grow any other kind of kale, I love both the taste and texture of ‘Lacinato’.)
So, after checking out this book, I’ve added a few more varieties to my list. Going back to my lettuce question I want to try two new ones from this book: ‘Deer Tongue,’ supposed to be especially tender and flavorful, and ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’, which apparently has a long season.
I’ve also been looking for entirely new-to-me vegetables, and there are a lot! In particular, I’ve been trying to learn more about Asian vegetables, and found a great book to help with this called A Cook’s Guide to Asian Vegetables by Wendy Hutton.
It’s not really aimed at people who are growing these vegetables, but it was extremely helpful in learning more about vegetables I might want to grow (and eventually cook).
Wait, did I say I never wanted to grow another kind of kale besides ‘Lacinato’? Uh, that was before I saw ‘Chinese Kale’ (and to be fair, it is actually a different plant from kale). This vegetable is also called kai-lan, gai lan, and Chinese broccoli, and it looks like a great addition to stir-fry.
I also want to try growing shiso, which is used as an herb in Japanese cooking.
Will I be able to find these vegetables and varieties. Yes! While they may be new to me, they’re not hard to find online. I found seeds for all of these plants available from multiple sources, and all were listed in my favorite seed catalogs.