By Staff
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The frost reaches its gnarled fingers deep into the dark
earth . . . and on windless, crystalline nights trees creak
as temperatures plummet. The garden, wrapped in winter’s
dreamless sleep, awaits next spring’s awakening


warmth. Get out the new seed catalogs, and–as the
family basks in the wood fire’s glow–plan next
summer’s successes.

Here’s a summary, arranged by climatic zone, of the
earliest planting dates for spring crops. The letter “s”
indicates that seedlings can be set out at the time
specified . . . “J” stands for January . . . and “F” for
February. Zone 10 (last frost about February 1): beets J/F,
broccoli s J, brussels sprouts s J, cabbage s J/F,
cantaloupe late F, carrots J/F, cauliflower s J, celery J,
collards s J/F, corn F, cucumbers late F, eggplant s F,
endive F, kale J, kohlrabi J, leeks J, lettuce J, mustard
J/F, onions early J, parsley J, peas J/F, peppers s F,
potatoes J/F, radishes J/F, spinach J/F, summer squash F,
Swiss chard J/F, tomatoes s F, turnips J/F. Zone 9 (last
frost about March 1): beets F, broccoli s F, brussels
sprouts s F, cabbage s mid-J/F, carrots F, cauliflower s
mid-J/mid-F, celery F, collards s mid-J/F, endive F, kale
F, kohlrabi F, leeks mid-J/mid-F, lettuce J/F, mustard F,
onions early J, parsley J, peas J/F, potatoes mid-J/F,
radishes J/F, spinach J/F, Swiss chard F, turnips
Zone 8 (last frost about March 15): beets mid-F, broccoli s
mid-F, brussels sprouts s mid-F, cabbage s F, carrots
mid-F, cauliflower s F, collards s mid-F, endive mid-F,
kale mid-F, kohlrabi midF, leeks F, lettuce F, mustard
mid-F, onions F, parsley mid-F, peas F, potatoes F,
radishes mid-J/F, spinach mid-J/F, Swiss chard mid-F,
turnips F.
Zone 7 (last frost about April 1): cabbage s mid-F,
cauliflower s mid-F, leeks mid-F, lettuce mid-F, onions
mid-F, peas mid-F, potatoes mid-F, radishes mid-F, spinach
F, turnips mid-F.
Zone 6 and north: Bundle up and keep on planning.


New varieties for the 1982 gardening season abound, and
we’ll start our annual survey–as usual–with the
All-America selections. This year the winning vegetables
are a toothsome pair of squash. A new bush scallop variety,
called Peter Pan, matures five days earlier than other
“patty pan” squash . . . sets large numbers of meaty fruits
on compact, runnerless plants . . . and is resistant to
many kinds of weather stress. The second of the two Bronze
Medal winners, Jersey Golden Acorn, is a dual-purpose fruit
(much like the popular Kuta) that can be eaten young as a
summer squash or allowed to mature on the vine and stored
for winter feasting. The summer version of the Jersey
Golden–which is table-ready just 50 days after
sowing–tastes like sweet corn . . . while the fully
grown fruit is sweet and tender, with less fiber than green
acorn squash.

From the Corn Belt orchards of Henry Field comes a
remarkable new pear that offers a double harvest. When
picked in August, about two months before maturity,
Turnbull Giant pears have the tart flavor and crisp, juicy
flesh of a fine apple . . . with none of the grainy texture
or tough skin usually associated with unripe pears. Leave
some on the tree, though, and in a couple of months you’ll
have a crop of sweet, butter-smooth fruit, dripping with

Burpee’s 1982 catalog features six vegetable introductions
for 1982. There are two new squash: Richgreen zucchini (its
open habit helps you spot the dark green fruits before they
reach baseball-bat size) and Early Acorn Hybrid (a
semi-bush variety that matures a good-sized crop close to
the plant’s crown). Zippy Hybrid pepper is mildly hot and
resembles a cayenne in all but pungency. Bonanza broccoli
puts forth a strong central head and then follows with lots
of side shoots. Two Seasons Hybrid Chinese cabbage holds
forth the promise of both spring and fall crops for those
who can’t get enough of the delicious green, and the Basket
King tomato bears clusters of four to seven fruits on its
cascading branches (it’s ideal for pot culture).

One of our favorite small mail order houses, Epicure Seeds,
has combed the European catalogs and brought back a handful
of new varieties. There’s Pirat lettuce (a speckled-leaf
butterhead known in Germany as Sprenkel) . . . the Di
Brindisi melon from Italy (delicious as an antipasto dish
when accompanied by prosciutto) . . . the succulent
Meraviglia di Venezia yellow pole bean . . . Winter Density
lettuce (a cross between butterhead and romaine, with the
sweetness of the former and the vigor of the latter) . . .
and a French cut-and-come-again lettuce that’s easier to
eat than it is to pronounce: Feuille de Chene Blonde.

Joseph Harris Seeds has long been known for its trustworthy
cultivars. This year the company is featuring four new
vegetables: Bush Kentucky Wonder snap beans (with all the
flavor of the pole type, but on sturdy 20-inch plants) . .
. Silver Prince corn (it’s similar to the highly popular
Silver Queen but earlier, more vigorous, and with a
freshness-preserving “sugar extender” gene) . . . Sugar Rae
snap pea (abundant crops on vines 26-30 inches high) . . .
and Symphony Bicolor sweet corn (combining the tenderness
and flavor of hybrid types with the sweetness of the “super
sweet” kinds). See page 166, for the names and addresses of
these and other mail order firms.