The snow is covering the ground, yet we who are lovers of the dirt long to see the earth come alive once again. Spring is so near we can feel it in the warmth of the suns rays as it shines graciously down upon us.
Many home gardeners who dwell where cool climates currently reign are trying to get through the next couple months cheerfully!
Now is the time when gardeners yearn and long for the arrival of those beautiful seed catalogs! As they begin to appear in our mailboxes we gather them together, cozy up with a fuzzy blanket on our favorite chair, a cup of java and notebook ready to start making our lists of ‘new’ varieties!
We flip the pages longing for the life that spring and summer bring. We pine away for the first shoots of rhubarb, then all too soon the green stalks of asparagus spring forth. Memories of summer… prickly cucumbers, the scratchy leaves of that notorious zucchini plant and getting our hands stained green from picking those luscious Heirloom tomatoes… oh my!
We only use Heirloom varieties on my farm. Heirlooms in my opinion and I believe in most who grow them would testify to their overwhelmingly better flavor. If you ever eaten a grocery store tomato and then a fresh, home grown one, you know the difference. What most consumers don’t realize is that those perfectly shaped tomatoes in the grocery store were picked rock hard GREEN, packed and put in the back of a semi and then gassed to ripen on ‘the road’. That’s why they are flavorless!
Hybridization has been utilized for making veggies travel worthy. For example, Brandywine tomatoes have extremely thin skins, therefore making them terrible ‘travelers’. As a market grower, I don’t grow Brandywines for market because they’ll crack and split before I have a chance to sell them. Uniformity in shape and size is also a must for grocery stores, not so for market. I love putting several different sized and colored Heirloom tomatoes in a quart container- it’s simply beautiful.
Here are some of my personal favorite Heirloom varieties for home gardening:
Beefsteak: Pineapple, Brandywine- all colors, Paul Robeson, Dr. Whyche’s, Hillbilly
Roma’s: Super Italian Paste, Plum Lemon, Roman Candle, all the Icicles, Striped Roman
Salad types: Green and Red Zebra, Woodle Orange, Rose De Berne, Stupice, White Tomesol
Cherry & Grapes: Reisentraube, Violet Jasper, Blondkopchen, Red & White Current, Chocolate Cherry, Sungold, Yellow Pear
Broccoli: Calabrese, Waltham 29, Green Sprouting
Cauliflower: Purple Of Sicily, Giant of Naples, Snowball Self Blanching
Peppers:Sweet: Jimmy Nardello- my personal favorite- long, sweet frying pepper, Red & Golden Marconi, Purple Beauty, Sweet Chocolate, Hot: Early Jalapeno, Anaheim, Hungarian Hot Wax
Peas: Mammoth Melting Sugar, Sugar Snap, Lincoln