Find out which new veggies the author of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener and Groundbreaking Food Gardens is making space for.

‘Purple Sun’ carrots. Photo courtesy of Renee Shepherd, Renee’s Garden. Used with permission.

With spring approaching, I’m now in full planning mode, trying to figure out how and where to fit all the new vegetables I want to grow into our 2,000-square foot garden. We always find room for family favorites —  ‘Sungold’ tomatoes, ‘Lemon’ cucumbers, ‘Caribe’ potatoes, ‘Emerite’ pole beans — but part of the fun of “growing your own” is experimenting with the diverse selection of edibles found in seed catalogs. This year I will be adding several dozen new and new-to-me crops to the garden. Here’s a sneak peek at my picks for this year:

‘Bear Necessities’ kale (60 days) I’m always on the lookout for new varieties of kale and this year, I will be testing a handful of new-to-me selections, including ‘Bear Necessities.’ This is a cross between Russian kale and mizuna, a mustardy Asian green (and kale cousin) with attractive serrated foliage. The result? ‘Bear Necessities’ is a super frilly kale with purple-green leaves and is said to be cold tolerant, mild flavored, and productive. In the past, I’ve found that highly serrated or extremely curly varieties of kale (like ‘Winterbor’) are less appealing to the cabbageworms. Fingers crossed!

‘Lemon Drop’ tomato (80 days) Recommended to me by Craig LeHoullier, the author of Epic Tomatoes, ‘Lemon Drop’ is an indeterminate heirloom that is said to harbor some natural resistance to tomato blight. Plus, the highly productive plants yield long chains of translucent yellow, cherry-sized fruits. The flavor is said to be sweet-tart and the plants can tolerate cool, wet climates. Sounds like a perfect fit for my Nova Scotia garden.

‘Purple Sun’ carrot seed packet artwork courtesy of Renee Shepherd, Renee’s Garden. Used with permission.

‘Purple Sun’ carrots (80 days) When my daughter was young, there was a summer when she only wanted to eat purple foods. Isn’t it fun trying to reason with a three-year-old? That year, the garden was purple-themed — purple potatoes, purple kohlrabi, purple tomatoes, purple cabbage, purple beans, and purple carrots. To this day, she still loves purple carrots and was excited to see ‘Purple Sun’ listed on the Renee’s Garden website. This variety has a little yellow sun at the core. The roots grow about 10 inches long and are said to have a very sweet flavor.

Niki Jabbour

Niki Jabbour is the award-winning author of Niki Jabbours Veggie Garden Remix, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, and Groundbreaking Food Gardens. Her work is found in… See Bio

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