Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Browsing seed catalogs is one of my favorite winter pastimes. Today I'm dreaming of Sun Gold tomatoes and I can't wait to grow Sugar Snap peas for a tasty stir-fry. There are many great seed companies out there, but my favorites last year were the Franchi brand seeds at growitalian.com. Our family grew 6 types of their Italian heirloom tomatoes that included Maremmano, Cuor Di Bue, Principle Borghese, A Groppoli, S. Marzano, and Red Pear Sel. All were delicious, but I was most impressed with their Red Pear Sel, an unusually shaped medium-big size tomato with a lot of flavor, great in a salad and also as a sauce.
I've already done a little early seed shopping at Reneesgarden.com and am excited to grow a few new things this year. Amstrdam Seasoning Celery is a beneficial insect plant that attracts the good insects, they eat the bad ones that prey on your nice vegetables. The package says it resembles a large flat leaf Italian parsley plant but has a strong celery flavor. I also bought some Alpine Strawberry seeds and we are hoping to pop a few fresh berries in some cereal or a shake.
If you are looking for something unusual to grow I'd suggest growing a Carosello Tondo Di Manduria which is an Italian cucumber/melon by Franchi, again at growitalian.com. Last year I was given what I thought was one of those varieties by a nice gardener on a NeighborSpace community garden tour. Some grew very big and one even weighed over 4 lbs! I ate them like apples, they were sweet, and also in my salad with some dressing. I've read that the longer they remain on the vine the sweeter they get. Just think, harvest them early if you want cucumbers or harvest them later if you want a crispy sweet melon.
Happy seed shopping!