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Phunque’s Desk - Next year

I am going through the most delicious uncertainty. I can’t decide exactly what I will plant in the garden next year. I have a 142-page catalog filled with pictures and enthusiastic words. Everything in it has wonderful flavor. Well, maybe not all the flowers, but they are all beautiful.

I probably shouldn’t give Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds any more free advertising, but I can’t seem to help myself. They have everything I planted last year except early girl tomatoes. I can’t make it without early girls. Oh, and Nippon Taka peppers. They don’t have those.

So I’m starting on page

11. It’s alphabetical and the first offering is amaranth. But I’m starting on “Chinese multicolor spinach.” In the description it says, “A heat and drought tolerant green in spectacular splashes of color. Leaf amaranth is popular in Asia, eaten raw, stir fried, or steamed. The young leaves make a perfect spinach substitute; intricately colored leaves are juicy and succulent. The go-to green for mid-summer when all others have bolted.” I’m down $3.50 but shipping is free.

Beans take up seven pages. I ordered some “calima” green beans last year because that previous catalog said they have superior taste. This year’s version has not a word about taste, but they were better beans than blue lake, which has been my bean of choice for a long time.

Beets are next and I made the mistake of ordering a variety with concentric circles two years ago. That didn’t go over worth a hoot with the family’s beet lover. It’s Detroit Dark Red only. It has to look like a beet should look.

You can buy carrot seeds that produce any color of carrot you can think of. I will not sway from orange colored carrots. Last year I planted from a packet of free seeds this same company sent. Bugs ate all but one carrot and I neglected it until it was three inches through. I took one bite. It was so strong my eyes crossed.

Oh and sweet corn. I plant Olathe. They have several kinds and I try to plant three that have different maturity dates. They don’t have Olathe at Baker Creek.

I will plant several kinds of cucumbers including Armenian. You don’t have to peel them. Just eat em’.

They have “salad blends” mixed in with the cabbage and I guess that’s okay. I will plant a short row of salad blends even though the lettuce I grew this year went to seed and I think I will have a row of volunteer lettuce two feet wide. I better plant some anyway. You never know.

I’m always tempted to buy some onion sets down at the local feed store, but for several years I have resisted. When I grew onions, I dug them, put them in the pantry and several months later, threw them away. They just shriveled up and went away.

My hot peppers were a disaster last year. Well maybe not completely. I had about a pint of cayenne peppers that I ground up in the blender after they dried, but I need better jalapenos. I planted Craig’s Grande Jalapenos last year and they were not Grande. They were puny.

The catalog lists 33 kinds of hot pepper. I think I will get my seeds somewhere else. There are 26 varieties of sweet peppers.

The bugs ate my radishes last summer, too, so I’m really low on radishes. This next year I will try what the catalog calls Chinese Shawo Fruit Radishes that are said to taste like pears and are best after they have frozen.

One thing I had plenty of last year was summer squash and I will again. This next year’s experiment will be Yuxi Jiang Bing Gau.

I can see already that this is going to have to be a continued column. I’m already at 640 words and haven’t reached “tomato” yet.

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