Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Picking out a few things for my veggie garden - Growing Challenge

I really would like to have more variety in our stored dried beans this year, so I'm going to pick out a few new beans to try. I'm particularly interested in pole varieties - pole beans do well here and we can fit more into the space we have because of the trellising. The thing is, a lot of dry beans are bush types. I have had some good luck finding pole dry beans by looking at heirloom seeds, however. I even found a pole pinto bean!

Here's one place I plan to order from: Heritage Harvest Seed Company. They have a huge number of heirloom beans, many of them pole types. Also on my list to try this year are parsnips and rutabagas, and they have some really interesting sounding heirloom varieties. The thing I've worried about when it comes to the parsnips is that they grow very, very long, deep roots and we have very heavy clay soil here. I'm not exaggerating - I think you could have actually made pots from some of the stuff we've dug up in the past. It's way better now in most places - the garden in particular has been amended for about four years now with all the organic matter we could throw into it and last year you could actually push your hand several inches deep into it weeks after we last turned it. But it's still probably not deep enough or loose enough to grow really long parsnips. However, the company linked above offers a "turnip rooted parsnip" that has a large turnip-y bulb near the surface instead of a longer root like a carrot. (Yes, that's a picture of it at the left there.) I think I'm going to order some and try them out. I'll probably also plant some regular parsnips alongside, too, just to see how they do. And some of the heirloom rutabagas, just so I can try this recipe.

All of this has me thinking about the wonderful variety of vegetables we still have available in this country, if you know where to look or can grow your own. There has been a lot of effort put into saving some of this variety by the seed savers movement. I'm a seed saver from way back, but I haven't been doing as much of it lately. I'm hoping to begin to remedy that lapse this year. Maybe I'll start with saving the seed from my new turnip rooted parsnips.

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