Today’s post can be heard on the public radio show Crop to Cuisine, hosted by Dov Hirsch.
If you’re distracted around friends or unable to focus at work, you’re probably a gardener. The new varieties and excitement of the coming season make us poor company at this time of year, and my advice to your friends and employers is: you’ll just have to wait it out.
We’re dreaming of blooms and butterflies instead of paying attention in meetings, creating planting plans instead of reports, and we keep getting startled by people snapping fingers and asking “Hey, are you listening?”
The answer is no. We’re wishing the meeting would end, so we can get back to important things like searching for special varieties and getting our seeds started on schedule.
The warm weather does nothing but distract us, and everywhere we look, we see advertising or articles that fuel our obsession. Browse a seed catalog and you’ll find a cornucopia of vegetables promising to make your table the talk of the summer. Visit a store – even for groceries – and you’re staring at displays seducing you to buy seedlings and soil amendments.
Take a peek a few new vegetables driving me crazy this season, and you’ll understand why obsession is growing:
- Caraflex cabbage, a mini in the garden, perfect for slaws or smaller appetites. But the best part is that these tiny cabbages grow like a teardrop, so shape and flavor make eating them fun.
- ‘Spanish Padron,’ are hard-to-find, one-bite little peppers, that make throwing a Spanish-style Tapas party easy. This vigorous little bush produces an abundance of spicy peppers you can toss in salads or skewer for kabobs.
- ‘Cajun Belle’ peppers are both sweet and savory. The fruit are petite bell peppers about 2-inches by 3-inches with 3 or 4 lobes. Early to mature, harvests start for green peppers 60 days after transplanting into your garden. If left on the plant, fruit will change color from green to scarlet and finish a beautiful red. ‘Cajun Belle’ plants are high yielders, growing vigorously and with excellent fruit set. Try these compact plants in containers; they only get two-feet tall and wide.
- ‘Cosmic Purple’ carrots, are a unique purple on the outside and orange on the inside. It has characteristics of both Nantes and Imperator type carrots, growing 6 to 7 inch long roots. But these carrots aren’t all show – nutrition fans will love their high antioxidants and vitamins.
- Golden Sweet Pea is a must-have for me. A vining pea, the edible pods are lemon yellow. Adding to their sweet flavor is the bonus of beauty: the vines sport two-toned purple flowers that, along with the yellow pods, will be a stunner in the garden.
- ‘Hansel’ eggplant, an All-America Selection widely available at local retailers, lives up to its promise of big yields of finger-sized fruit. If your summer gets away from you and you forget to pick the young eggplant, don’t worry – the secret to this plant is in its tender sweetness, which remains even if the fruit gets bigger.
For smaller spaces crying out for containers, Renee’s Gardens has Sweetie Baby Romaine lettuce, a compact, delicious lettuce that’s perfect for patios. Put your container in a dapple shade area; though this lettuce is slow to bolt, our sun could still be too intense.
Increase your garden this year, and you’ll be delighted to join the ranks of the rest of us: distracted, obsessed, and unable to focus. On anything other than gardening, that is.