Many vegetable seed companies are serving up more organic options in response to gardener demand, and some even offer an exclusively organic line.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a few new organic tomato cultivars that caught our eye. ‘Carbon’ is a productive, purplish-black heirloom that resists cracking and catfacing. If you’re looking for an early tomato, determinate ‘Glacier’ produces small, flavorful, red fruits and is especially tolerant of cool spring temperatures. It’s well-adapted to northern regions. ‘Skyway’ is a reliable beefsteak hybrid with broad disease resistance that’s newly available as an organic option.
New this year from High Mowing Organic Seeds, an all-organic seed company, is ‘Matador’ spinach, an open-pollinated cultivar that’s especially cold-tolerant. It was among the three top-yielding cultivars out of 19 in the company’s trials. Also check out ‘Dolciva’ carrot, a Swiss-bred cultivar noted for its exceptional keeping qualities and for staying incredibly flavorful after months of storage. Bred by High Mowing itself, the new ‘Picnic’ pepper collection brings organic, open-pollinated options to a segment dominated by hybrids. Available in red, yellow, and orange, these snack-sized peppers have a super-sweet, rich flavor, and the plants stand up straight for easy harvest.
Love okra, but think you don’t have room for the towering plants in your small garden? Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) may have your answer. New ‘Shows’ okra, a Mississippi family heirloom, produces abundantly on compact 4- to 5-foot plants. (This cultivar is categorized as “Ecologically Grown,” a designation SESE gives to small, family growers who follow environmentally-friendly practices but aren’t USDA Certified Organic.) Also new from SESE is organic ‘Top Hat’ sweet corn, which has reliable emergence in cool soils and good husk coverage on the ears, which helps deter pests. Kernels are sweet and tender.
Fedco now has incredibly fast-maturing ‘Tokyo Bekana’ Chinese cabbage seeds available organically. In just 20 days, you can have tender baby cabbages to add to salads and slaws. The plants will regrow for multiple cuttings.
Hudson Valley Seed Co. has new ‘North Georgia Candy Roaster’ winter squash that lends a unique caramel flavor to pies and baked goods. The fruits are pinkish-orange and oblong, and their texture is dense and creamy. The squash stores well for up to five months. Also take a look at Hudson’s ‘Scarlet’ kale, a purple cultivar that’s extremely cold-hardy, and its ‘Mayan’ habanero pepper that ripens in shorter seasons, such as the U.S. Northeast.
This is only the tip of the 2017 garden-catalog iceberg. If you’ve got gardening fever like we do, you’ll have a blast poring over your favorite seed catalogs and websites to find other interesting newbies for the year.