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With spring almost here, it’s time to start thinking about planning out our vegetable gardens. I always enjoy seeing the new products that seed companies and growers offer. Mostly, they’re just improved varieties of standard vegetables but some companies like to throw in a bit of whimsy to keep things interesting and this year is no exception. Have you heard of miniature kale, stick cauliflower or Japanese bitter melon? 

Territorial Seeds

Territorial Seeds — among other seed houses — is offering three varieties of miniature kale, cleverly called Kalettes. According to the catalog, “Melding the flavor, texture and beauty of kale and the upright form of Brussels sprouts, we bring you Kalettes. These little beauties are bite-sized, loose heads of frilly kale lined up on Brussels sprout-type stalks. The mini kale florets are a beautiful green and purple bi-color.” Territorial offers three varieties that will each mature at a different time to prolong the harvest. How cool is that?

Territorial Seed Company, territorialseed.com

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is offering a pure white bitter melon called “Jyunpaku.” Picture a pure white, warty elongated gourd and you’ll get the idea. The catalog says it has a mild flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked in soups.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, rareseeds.com

Stokes Seeds

Harris Seeds

Speaking of warty gourds, “Minwarts” hybrid pumpkin is the new kid on the block over at Stokes Seeds. It’s a miniature, orange pumpkin covered with black and whitish-green warty protrusions. Ooh, spooky and perfect for Halloween. Harris Seeds offers a similar black-warted gourd called “Hoargarth.” With treasures like these, our fall decorating will win the stylish award.

Stokes Seeds, stokeseeds.com. Harris Seeds, Harrisseeds.com

Log House Plants

Log House Plants, based in Cottage Grove, is a wholesale grower but their plants are available at many nurseries. One of their new offerings this year is cauliflower stick type “Fioretto 70.” Rather than a head of cauliflower, this plant produces several light green stems, up to 8 inches long with small, white florets. “Perfect for serving raw for dipping.” I’m getting hungry just thinking about this one and wouldn’t this be great for children?

How about a purple edible snow pea? Log House is also offering a dark and seriously gorgeous purple pea called “Beauregarde.” Touted to be high in anthocyanin, the same antioxidant found in blueberries, these nutritious morsels will hold their color when cooked. It is recommended that you wait for small peas to develop before harvesting to enjoy the full flavor potential.

Log House Plants,

loghouseplants.com

Tomatoes

Since the number one garden edible is the stately tomato, I thought I’d feature two that have intrigued me. First, from Territorial: “Ruby Crush” grape tomato sounds very appealing. It is a compact, determinate, high yielding plant with scarlet tomatoes measuring 1 ½ inches long and 1 ¼ inches wide. Of course, it promises to be sweet eating and is perfect for growing in a large container.

Similar to Ruby Crush is “Nugget,” an orange plum type tomato. “The ¾-ounce fruit has a perfect ratio of sugars and acid with a lovely beefsteak flavor.” The Territorial catalog says that it is always among the first to ripen on determinate plants, developed by Dr. Jim Baggett at Oregon State University. This assures us that it will succeed here in the Pacific Northwest. 

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