Grow Your Own
January is the month to order seeds, if you didn’t have a chance in December. Many plant breeders are concentrating on producing new vegetable varieties that are nutritionally superior to our old standards. The deep purple Pusa Asita black carrot, high in anthocyanins, and the Pusa Rudhira red carrot, high in both beta carotene and lycopene, are new open-pollinated varieties available at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). Another item to consider for your garden this year is the yellow cabbage collard, recommended by Dr. David Shields, author of Southern Provisions. Cabbage collards form loose heads and are more tender than other varieties. You can find cabbage collard seeds at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: (www.southernexposure.com).
Microgreens, nutrient-dense seedlings that are used in salads and as garnishes, also are increasing in popularity. Johnny’s Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com) has expanded their line of microgreen seeds to include collards, edible marigold, cutting celery, and a wide variety of herbs.
February is time to order potatoes for planting in March. A regional supplier of seed potatoes is New Sprout Organic Farms in Black Mountain, NC (www.newsproutfarms.com). We’ve had great luck with their Rose Finn, Kennebec and All Blue potatoes. This month, you can also plant peas, mustard greens and radishes. If your garden space is limited, any of these vegetables can be grown in containers. Tom Thumb is a wonderful dwarf pea, tagged by Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org) as the best for container gardening. It can withstand a hard frost and produces in less than two months.