Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm Sow Happy

I've started sowing summer veggies and another round of spring veggies as well. Here's a classic garden blogger shot of soil filled pots.

Most of these are sown with summer vegetables including bush beans in the paper pots plus some peas for pea shoots. I don't have room in the garden to set up trellises for climbing beans or peas yet so all of these are low growers. The 4-inch pots covered with plastic are mostly sown with peppers and eggplants, I keep them covered with plastic until the seeds start to germinate. The tomatoes were quick to germinate, I sowed nearly all the solanums on the 5th and the tomatoes started popping up yesterday. This morning I spotted the first eggplants to germinate. Once the seeds germinate I start putting them outside during day and then schlep them back indoors to spend the night inside where it's more warm.

I do have a seed starting setup with heat mats and grow lights, but since I've begun starting my summer veggies later in the spring I've found it easier to just put them on a heat mat near the windows (southwest facing) and then put them outside during the day as soon as they germinate. The yogurt "pots" on the right in the top photo are zucchini. I've sown 4 pots but only 2 will go into the garden. I always sow extra seeds to be sure I've got enough plants. I've also got a couple of pots with spring brassicas that will be transplanted directly to the garden when they are large enough.

Here's what I'm trying to start so for this year:


Amish Paste, a proven winner in my garden. Thomas shared seeds with me a few years ago and they became my favorite paste tomato. They produce well in my cool summer climate, seem to be pretty disease resistant, and most importantly make excellent tomato sauce, puree, and paste. I purchased fresh seeds this year from Fedco, I hope they turn out to be as good as the old ones.

Isis Candy cherry tomato, another long time favorite that my husband adores. They are moderately productive, not too much (like sungold), nor too little, just enough to keep the two of us happy. They are tasty and pretty.

Sweet Gold cherry tomato, a new one this year. My standby favorite yellow cherry tomato, Galinas, was a dud last year so I'm giving this one a try. It's supposed to be early and productive.

Chianti Rose, a pink beefsteak that did well for me last year.

Potiron Ecarlate, a red beefsteak that was new for me last year and also did quite well.

Jaune Flamme, back for the third year, a small orange tomato with an internal pink blush that has become one of my favorite tomatoes. It's utterly delicious when harvested at the proper time. It's easy to pick it too early because it turns orange and looks ripe but it doesn't sweeten up until it develops that pink blush.

Black Krim, sort of new, I haven't grown it in years and not in this garden. It has a reputation for doing well in cool climates so I want to try it again.


Bonica, year two for this variety, it's large classic big purple globe eggplant with few seeds, great texture and flavor. It was incredibly productive last year.

Salangana, year three for this one, it's an elongated purple eggplant. This one also has few seeds and tastes great and is possibly even more productive than Bonica.

Sicilian, year two for this one, a white with lavender blush globe type eggplant. Even more finely textured than Bonica, absolutely beautiful and delicious but more moderately productive.

Peppers and Chiles:

Not so crazy this year, but still a lot...

Lady Bell is back for the third year. This sweet red bell pepper is the best one that I've found that does well in the cool summer weather that is the norm here.

Giallo di Cuneo is new this year. This pepper is from alpine Northern Italy so I hope that it will do well in my cool climate garden and I hope that it's tasty. I've yet to find a yellow bell pepper that does well here and that I like so I hope this will be the one.

Odessa Market is also back for the third year. This pointy pepper is thick fleshed and sweet when red but it is also very good green (unlike bell peppers) and it's a pretty lime green. It's also well adapted to cool climates.

Shephard's Ramshorn has become one of my favorite peppers. It's a pointed pepper like Odessa Market, but larger and more productive. It's fabulous roasted and is also good either green or ripe.

Stocky Red Roaster is new in the lineup. Another pointed sweet red pepper that's more tapered than the other two pointed peppers in the lineup. It's supposed to be very productive and good for Northern climates so it should do well in my climate.

Piment doux long des Landes is one of my favorite frying peppers. It's thin fleshed and thin skinned, delicious green or red, raw or cooked, and also dries well. My original seed stock is getting old so I want to grow this out to save seeds this year.

Sonora is a mild Anaheim type chile pepper. I've lost my appetite for spicy peppers so this chile fits the bill for me. It produces fleshy flavorful green peppers that are perfect for roasting. The first peppers on the plants tend to be quite large but succeeding fruits are smaller. It's also very productive.

Tarahumara Chile Colorado was one of my favorite Southwestern chile peppers from the many that I trialed last year. It's mild and tasty either green or red. It has thick enough flesh to be roasted when green and makes an excellent dried pepper for grinding into a mild chile powder. I also found that I could soak the dried chiles and scrape the flesh from the skin and use the resulting pulp to flavor sauces and such. It's a nice multi-purpose chile.

Topepo Rosso. I'm trying it again this year. It's a thick fleshed sweet pimento type pepper. I didn't make good use of my crop last year and I want to give it another try since I liked what I did manage to use last year.

Padron. The pepper line up would not be complete without Padrons. I was disappointed with my crops last year. I used a different seed source and the plants were not as productive and the peppers didn't seem as tasty. This year I've gone back to my old seed source and I'm hoping for a better year.

Christmas Bell. This is a slightly spicy baccatum type pepper. I've grown it a number of times over the past few years and am missing it. It has a unique fruity flavor and is good for many uses. I like to harvest the ripe peppers and use them fresh, they can be sliced and used in salads, or chopped and used in salsas. They are also good pickled whole and they dry well. They produce earlier than most baccatums and they are fairly cold hardy so they can overwinter in my garden with some protection if we have a mild winter.

Aji Angelo. This is my favorite baccatum pepper. I love baccatum peppers but they tend to not do well in my cool climate. This one is an outstanding exception. It is highly productive and very cold hardy. I've got one potted plant that has made it through 2 (or maybe it's 3) winters with no protection other than being near the house. But it's not just the productivity and hardiness that makes it a favorite, I wouldn't bother with it if it wasn't tasty. This is the pepper that I turn to these days when I make salsa (I think jalapeƱos and serranos are highly overrated) and it's one my favorite peppers to dry for making chile flakes.


It's too early to direct seed beans but I'm pretty sure they will do ok if I start them in paper pots. I've pretty much given up on direct seeding beans anyway. I couldn't wait for space to open up in the garden to plant pole snap beans so I dug into my stash of seeds and found Slenderette and Royal Burgundy bush beans. I generally grow my snap beans as climbers because the harvest is longer, but I can't wait.

Black Coco, a versatile bean that is supposed to be good as a green bean, a shell bean, or best as a dried bean that's good refried or in soup. I'll be letting these go to the dry stage.

Rosso di Lucca. A dry bean that's rosy red with dark stripes and speckles. It is supposed to be productive and early, rich flavored and good with strong flavors such as garlic, sage and olive oil - right up my alley.


Romanesco. This huge and hugely productive variety returns for a second year. It's incredibly resistant to powdery mildew as well, a big plus in my garden where PM tends to run rampant.

San Pasquale. I know, one huge productive zucchini plant should be enough, but Romanesco doesn't produce any male flowers after the first couple of weeks so I'm trying San Pasquale which is supposed to produce a lot of male blossoms and but not too many zucchini. Plus, the female flowers hold well enough to pick small zucchini with the flowers attached. We'll see!


Amazing Taste cauliflower. This is my first attempt at cauliflower in many years. It's supposed to be extra early and mild with a nutty-sweet flavor.

I'm also experimenting with some new Asian greens including Green Lance gai lan and Tokyo Bekana baby chinese cabbage. And I've also direct seeded more of the Purple pac choi and Purple mizuna that have done so well for me the last month or so and are now about finished. In addition, I direct sowed a cut-and-come-again Mustard mix that I plan to harvest as baby leaves to add to my salads. Oh, I forgot that I sowed more Green Fortune pac choi. I waited too long to harvest my winter sown plants and they weren't fit to eat so I'm trying again.

That's it so far, but there will be more to sow in the coming weeks. I need to clear out some space to sow carrots and I'm trying to be better this year about succession sowing for salad veggies. The butter head lettuces are all ready to harvest now so I need to start more of those. The romaine lettuce will be coming in hard on the heels of the butterhead so more of those will need to be sown soon as well. Then I'll get a bit of a breather until the favas and alliums are finished in late spring and early summer at which time I'll have to transition those spaces to pole beans, cucumbers, corn, and brassicas for fall harvests. Ah, but I'll worry about that then.

If you want to know where I got the seeds for most of the veggies mentioned above I've got them listed on my 2014 Planned Veggies page where you can find links to the sources.


  1. Wow, what a great range of veggies! Lots of varieties I have never even heard of. Funny that you say that Christmas Bell matures early for you. Here in my garden last year it was the last chilli of all to ripen - very close to Christmas time! I empathise with you over the in-out-in-out routine of the seedlings too.

  2. It looks like a wonderful list of veggies. I'm busy seeding things too. Mostly outside right now.

  3. "I'm sow happy" haha i loveeed it :) oh my godness how many different crops... I am only starting in this world so this list sounds amazingly long and varied to me... I'll keep reading you along and try to learn! Best luck with the seeds!!

  4. Clever title, I "sow" understand. It is nice to grow things again. Finally, most of the snow has melted here in Maine and I can begin preparing the garden for this growing season. Daphne shared some Amish Paste Tomato seeds with me a few years ago and I love them. I purchased some fresh seeds from Fedco this year too.

  5. All those peppers make me drool already, Amish Paste didn't do well for me here, maybe it's too hot for it, maybe it's the seed source.

  6. You're an inspiration! I love your blog!!

  7. We've really cut down for the coming season, and am glad to have your vegetable garden to enjoy vicariously!

  8. I'm glad you're still growing the Amish Paste! That makes me so happy. It's one of our favorites as well. I also love Isis candy and Black Krim. BTW - I still grow the Portuguese Dairyman's kale you gave me a few years ago. This year, I'm growing it both to full size and closely planted as a baby kale. Someone had me try baby kale not too ago and it was tender and delicious. I'm hoping that this variety will taste good grown this way.


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