Email from White Flower Farm in Conn. Commercial advertising, yes, but I like their list of 10 heirloom vegetables and herbs you won’t find in the supermarket.
“IT’S SMART TO PLAN YOUR EDIBLE GARDEN NOW
“Perfect for the home cook – grow White Flower Farm’s veggies and herbs for the best-tasting food
The country has been in a deep freeze, digging out from snowstorm after snowstorm. And it’s only January! White Flower Farm ( www.whiteflowerfarm.com <http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/> ) says winter is the perfect time to begin planning your edible garden. After all, homegrown produce and herbs simply taste better than store bought. Your taste buds deserve the best! So, grab your favorite cookbook or food magazine, and think about all the great summer meals you can cook using your own edibles.
“It’s smart to plan your edibles now,” says White Flower Farm’s nursery manager Barb Pierson.” The growing season can be short. Go through catalogs and websites now when you have the time. Choose interesting varieties — not the ho-hum kind that you’ll also be stuck with if you wait until the last second. Be prepared to start planting as soon as the warm weather arrives.”
There’s no question that freshly picked, sun-ripened vegetables and herbs have the best flavor. White Flower Farm says other top reasons for growing your own include convenience, saving money, and enjoying varieties that aren’t readily available locally. Each year, White Flower Farm trials plants at their nursery and offers a wide selection of delicious veggies and herbs for home gardeners (over 130 tomatoes and 40 peppers for 2010). See below for this year’s top 10 picks.
Some tips for beginning vegetable gardeners: be sure to choose a location in full sun, and for your first time out, start small. Gain experience and then expand. Try a few plants in containers on your deck to make harvesting and caring for your plants convenient.
Grow the types of veggies and herbs that you use in favorite recipes. Order plants early for the best selection and to ensure they arrive at the right time for planting. Avoid lost time or disappointments come spring!
White Flower Farm’s top picks that you won’t find in the grocery store:
1. ‘Mortgage Lifter’ Tomato – An heirloom, large pink tomato with a classic rich beefsteak flavor. Fruits weigh 1 to 2 pounds! Cross-bred during the Great Depression by a radiator repairman, sales earned him enough profits to pay down his mortgage.
2. ‘Cherokee Purple’ Tomato – Another heirloom beefsteak, this one with rosy purple fruits. Once grown by the Cherokee tribe, it’s great for slicing and gives a sweet, rich taste to burgers.
3. ‘Sungold’ Tomato – Everyone’s favorite tangerine-orange cherry, ‘Sungold’ is as beautiful as it is sweet. Prolific and mouth watering, and perfect for salads if the fruits make it into the house!
4. ‘Ancho 101’ Pepper – A mildly pungent chile, considered an essential Mexican culinary pepper and used in making mole sauce. The 4- to 6-inch, tapered fruits ripen from green to red.
5. ‘Cubanelle’ Pepper – This thin-walled, yellow-green frying pepper has a mildly sweet flavor and is a favorite in Mediterranean dishes.
6. ‘German Butterball’ Potato – With flaky, buttery yellow flesh ideal for roasting, frying, baking and mashing, this variety is an all-purpose potato. It matures late in the season and is an excellent keeper.
7. ‘Holland Red’ Shallots – Shallots are smoother and sweeter tasting than onions or garlic. ‘Holland Red’ delivers the mellow, quintessential flavor of shallots in a fat, round bulb.
8. Zucchini ‘Bush Baby’ – A true baby zucchini, these adorable little fruits are dark green with gray-green stripes. Use sautéed or grilled with onions.
9. Summer Squash ‘Magda’ – This Lebanese-style summer squash has short, plump, light green fruits with white flesh. Nutty, sweet flavor.
10. Basil ‘Spicy Globe’ – Small, yet aromatic leaves with a pungent bite. Plants stay compact, 6-12 inches tall, and are as ornamental as they are flavorful.