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January 21, 2011 - Janet DelTurco
In my column that will appear next Friday, January 28th, I have written about selecting vegetable seed for this spring's planting, but I ran out of space after considering corn, tomatoes, green beans and peppers. There are a number of other decisions that had to be made, and I am lucky to have this extra space to write about them.

Eggplant is not a favorite of most of my family members, but they will eat it smothered in cheese and tomato sauce until the original vegetable is hardly recognizable, and I enjoy it cooked any way, so it makes the list. I have chosen Fairy Tale Hybrid this year. It has small fruits, striped lavender and white, and is pretty as it grows as well as cooking up fast and being very tasty. Five or six plants will be enough, and as there are about 20 seeds in the packet, there should be plenty for the Master Gardener plant sale in May. Like peppers, eggplant appreciates warm soil, so there is no hurry to get seedlings started under the lights.

I love Swiss chard, and the variety I have grown for many years is Bright Lights. The dark green leaves are set off with stems in bright red, yellow and orange as well as green, and like most of the other vegetables I grow I take appearance into account. Swiss chard tastes just like spinach, but does not shrink up as much when cooking, and grows well all summer Unlike most of my vegetables it is seeded directly into the soil, and will last almost until frost. (Looking out of the window as I write at the snow and ice that seem to have been around forever, I don't know why I even mention frost coming nine months from now!)

I haven't decided yet whether to go back to potatoes after two years without.The trouble is, I can't decide what kind to grow. I enjoy big potatoes to bake, but am too impatient to wait for them to acheive full size. And I like the little fingerlings, but they take ages to scrub before they are ready to cook. So I usually end up with Kennebec or Yukon Gold which are relaible but boring. That decision will wait a while yet.

I always receive offers of zucchini, usually more than I can use, so I am not going to take up space growing them. But I like the miniature summer squash and am ordering a mixture called Medley Blend. If it lives up to the illustration in Gurney's catalog I should be getting yellow, green and orange baby squash in many sizes and shapes. And the vines will not take up as much space as the larger varieties. I am going to try to train the sprawling vines up a trellis on the garage wall to save even more space.

Then there are cucumbers which can also be grown vertically, and I like the long English types, the expensive ones that are wrapped in plastic in the grocery store. I like the dark green, thin skin and the minimal seeds, and I am buying Sweeter Yet Hybrid.

And finally I need some peas. The early Sugar Ann snap peas are always good, and they are so early that I can use their space for peppers or eggplant once their harvest is over.

So there it is. A summer's worth of vegetables, great fun to grow and watch all through the season, and plenty to fill the crisper drawer in the fridge for the family from just a small garden.

Regular readers (if there are some) will find this easier to read. An expert from the blogging overseers suggested to me that I do two line spaces between paragraphs, and that has solved the "all squooshed together" problem I have had all this time!


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