I started innocently enough with an inventory of my current seed collection. Some experts say to start with fresh seeds every year, or they provide a chart of how long which seeds will be viable. I find they grossly underestimate the potential in those tiny plant factories, but I did cull some of the oldest. (BTW, I keep my seeds in zip lock bags in the refrigerator, which may explain their longevity.)
Then came some hard decisions about what to grow. The Brussels sprouts did really well this year, despite the ground hog living under the shed, but no one really likes them (even the pickled ones were kind of meh), so they were cut. I usually grow a lot of marigolds in the vegetable garden as a companion plant, but their value in this regard is questionable, so I plan to replace some of them with bee's friend. Fewer pepper plants and more Irish potatoes are on the ticket; the sweet potatoes will go back into containers, as they did not do well in the ground this year. And I want to grow more root vegetables and crucifers (other than Brussels sprouts).
And then came the fun part of picking the varieties of each plant. I'm not wedded to any particular variety of anything, e.g. I always grow paste tomatoes but not always the same kind. This year I also cross referenced my selections with recommendations from Eating on the Wild Side, a book by Jo Robinson that describes the evolution of the food we eat and lists the varieties and characteristics of the varieties that are most nutritious. Of course, the most nutritious vegetables and fruits are the ones we are willing to eat, but since I find most to be delicious, I am willing to try purple potatoes, beans, and asparagus.
In fact, from perusing the catalogs, it looks like it would be possible to have an all-purple garden. Some veggies, like purple-podded shelling peas, are purple on the outside but green on the inside. Others are purple until cooked, but a few retain their color even after cooking. Usually, the more colorful the vegetable, the more nutritious it is, so go purple!
Here are some of the colorful varieties I have selected for 2014 (subject to change):
- Red Zeplin onions (a red storage onion)
- Purple Pod pole beans (turn green when cooked)
- Adirondack Blue potatoes (pale blue throughout, retain the color with cooking)
- Adirondack Red potatoes (pale red throughout, retain the color with cooking)
- Black Cherry tomatoes (thanks, Jason, for recommending this)
- Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes (operative word here is "wild")
- Abraham Lincoln tomatoes (sold only by RH Shumway)