This is the day! I have spent a lot of time since Christmas paging through an ever-growing pile of seed catalogs with Post-it notes at the ready. I finally have made my selections, based on experience, expectations, optimism and highly colored illustrations - not necessarily in that order.
Some decisions were easy.
For a number of years, I have grown Gotta Have It sweet bi-colored corn from Gurney's. This is by far the best I have ever tried. The plants are shorter than average and sturdy enough to stand up to blustery winds. Once picked, the ears hold up well in the fridge.
GHI is the most expensive corn in the catalog at $6.99 a package, but it is well worth it. It will be a long time yet until the frozen snow-covered soil warms up to the 60 degrees needed for germination, but I will be able to look at the packet and anticipate the miracle within. This corn is disease-resistant, allowing none of that frightful corn smut that horrified me the first time I saw it.
A sh2 variety, it needs to be planted well away from all se and su types to prevent cross pollination. When I sow the seed, I always tuck a few extras into peat pots, which will be ready to replace any seedlings stolen by the crows who share my love for corn.
Other decisions are not so easy. I have some favorite tomatoes (Brandywine, Big Beef and German Johnson), but this year, I am going to be a bit whimsical. I am ordering a packet of something called Heirloom Rainbow Blend, which contains yellow, pink and red Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, White Wonder and orange Nebraska Wedding.
If these do not grow well, I always can buy plants from one of our excellent local nurseries when I also get my traditional two grape tomato plants.
Noah and Owen consume an entire container of small tomatoes at Sunday dinner every week and, before we know it, baby Sophia will be big enough to join them, so I have to be well prepared. These plants live in containers on the back steps all summer, and the boys help themselves to a few whenever they come or go - in addition, of course, to a handful of raspberries in season.
Peppers are the next choice to be made. I like them green, yellow and red as they ripen, and I have decided on Gurney's Giant Hybrid. It tests one's patience to see these seedlings snoozing cosily under the lights in the basement while tougher vegetables are growing well outside, but the soil needs to be at least 60 degrees before the peppers go in, or they will not prosper.
I also am getting three ready-started ornamental peppers to dress up the central bed in the garden with tiny multi-colored peppers growing in a container.
Then there are green beans. I like Trofeo bush beans, which have a very heavy yield. Bush beans bear once and then are finished, so it is important to have a variety that freezes well.
The pole beans, on the other hand, continue to produce all summer long. I saved some seeds from Wisley Scarlet Runner that came from England last spring, and also will plant Purple Pod, which are easy to see on the vine, and the always-reliable Kentucky Wonder.
Other picks are Fairy Tale Hybrid eggplant, Bright Lights Swiss chard, Sweeter Yet hybrid cucumbers, Medley Blend summer squash and Sugar Ann snap peas.
I don't have room here to write more about them, so will take care of that in my blog, Gardens Etc. which can be found online at www.advertiser-tribune.com.