Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Claire's Top 10 List of Exciting Varieties for 2011

My first round of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds arrived yesterday, which means onion, eggplant, and peppers will be seeded tonight! As I sorted through the packets on my coffee table last night, I realized I'm growing an especially exciting array of produce this year! So, I thought I'd highlight some of my favorites here(all pictures and variety descriptions taken from

10. Organic Miyashige White Daikon Radish - Popular Japanese daikon that can average 2-6 lbs each while remaining crisp and tender for pickling, fermenting or storage. Pure white with a pale green shoulders when exposed to sun. Best grown for fall crop.(Raphanus sativus)

I've heard so much about these radishes, but I've never actually tried one! So, I decided I have to figure out what all the fuss is about!

9. Organic Sweet Chocolate Pepper - Early maturing and high yields! Appreciated not only for its unusual color, but also for its remarkable earliness, heavy fruit set, and tolerance of cool nights. Medium sized peppers are uniformly long and slightly tapered with long stems. Developed by Professor Elwyn Meader at UNH.(Capsicum annuum)

Anything with chocolate in the title gets my full attention! That combined with the unusual color and heavy fruit set makes this a must-grow for this season!

8. Organic Lemon Cucumber - HEIRLOOM Specialty variety prized by discriminating salad chefs for its delicate flavor and crunchy bite. Round 3” fruits turn from pale greenish yellow to lemon yellow (the best eating stage) and then bright golden yellow (when it most closely resembles a lemon). Easy to grow and does well in short summers. Fruits perform well in cool conditions. Works well in large containers.(Cucumis sativus)

This variety was recommended by my Grandmother in Oregon. She's been growing these for a long time and told me I wouldn't regret giving them a try... by george that woman was right! If you can find a more tender, beautiful cucumber I dare you to try (thanks Grandma!!)!
7. Organic Musque de Provence Pumpkin - HEIRLOOM - Gorgeous French variety also known as Fairytale. Richly colored green background and orange glow become increasingly buff when ripe. Fruits are large, often weighing 15-25 lbs, flat in shape and deeply ribbed. This edible pumpkin, often enjoyed cooked, is also traditionally eaten fresh. Cut from the middle like a wedge of cheese and slice very thinly. The flavor is exceptionally complex and sweet with a nice light crunch. May sound strange, but it will surprise you!(Cucurbita moschata )

This pumpkin has a Cinderella kind of feel to it, which I love. Anything that sets the fairy-tale mood is fine by me.

6. Organic Arava F1 Hybrid Melon - GALIA - This green-fleshed tropical melon is deliriously aromatic, sweet and crisp. Arava is a reliable producer year after year in High Mowing’s trials and one of our staff favorites. Galia melons were developed by crossing a honeydew to a cantaloupe, resulting in a perfectly round melon with smooth, netted skin that turns yellow when ripe. Medium-size melons average 2-3 lbs.(Cucumis melo)

People have demanded more sweetness, so here I am with a delicious melon to soothe your pallet in the middle of the August heat... it's just one of a handful of varieties I'm trying this year.

5. Organic Beta Mix - A mix of the best baby leaf varieties from our beet and chard groups. This mix will revolutionize the way we think about our beta greens, showcasing them as tender and delicious with the texture of spinach (without the oxalic acid) and the sweetness of Russian kales. The mix includes Bull’s Blood and Early Wonder Tall Top beets and Golden and Silverado chard.(Beta vulgaris)

People rave about beet greens, and I have to admit they are a little foreign to me! I feel like if I am to take myself seriously as a farmer I need to be fluent in the language of the beet... here goes nothing!

4. Organic Hon Tsai Tai - Dark green leaves with purple veins and stems have petite florets that are best harvested right before the bright yellow blossoms open. Similar to broccoli raab in culture and use, with a much sweeter flavor and delicate texture. Young flowering shoots add a sweet, mild mustard flavor to fresh salads, lightly steamed, in stir-fries, or in cream-based pasta dishes. Best grown in mid to late summer when the days are becoming shorter and stems elongate.(Brassica rapa var chinensis)

I love the color combination here as well as the promise of mustard flavor... can't wait to saute this one...

3. Organic Yellowstone Carrot - Something new for the lunch box! Sunflower yellow carrots are long and slender averaging 9” at maturity with strong, feathery tops. Yellowstone is extremely productive and adaptable to many growing conditions. Beautiful when mixed with other specialty varieties for a colorful display. Pick early for a tender, mild flavored treat! (Daucus carota subsp. sativus)

People have seen orange, they've seen purple, but have they seen yellow in their bunch of carrots? I'm gonna go ahead and argue no... so here I am, widening people's definition of "carrot"... you're welcome.

2. Organic Baby Doll F1 Watermelon - Yellow icebox type. Early maturing melons are slightly oval in shape with medium and dark green stripes. Fantastic bright yellow flesh with small brown seeds. It’s sweet, crisp flavor topped our taste tests. Fruits are very uniform and productive, weighing 10-15 lbs each. Harvest promptly as fruit has a tendency to split when ripe in the field. Excellent variety for direct markets or shipping. (Citrullus lanatus)

I was obsessed with watermelon for the better part of my pre-teen years... needless to say when I saw High Mowing offering a yellow watermelon I jumped right on board... can't WAIT to taste this one!

and last but not least...

1. Organic Red Kuri Squash - Also known as Baby Red Hubbard and Orange Hokkaido, these teardrop-shaped, strikingly red-orange squash from Japan have very smooth, sweet, dry flesh with deep orange color. The most reliable yielders even in cool, short seasons. Fruits are 3-4 lb size. Improved HMS strain with greater uniformity than other strains.(Cucurbita maxima)

What can I possibly say about this perfect specimen? The flavor of this squash is perfect... It's my new favorite winter squash and I'm confident you'll love it too.

No Top 10 List is complete without at least one honorable mention... this year's recipient is a favorite from the first year of the farm. I loved the tenderness and presentation of this variety, but didn't grow it last year because I couldn't seem to find organic seed anywhere... When I saw High Mowing offering this gorgeous little head I couldn't resist... So please offer a warm "Welcome Back" to...
Organic Caraflex F1 Cabbage - Green “sweetheart” cabbage for fresh market. Caraflex is well known for its thin, sweet leaves that are delicious eaten raw or in stir fries, slaws or egg rolls. Small heads average 1.5-2 lbs. Plants are extremely uniform and have good wrapper leaves for insect and sun protection. (Brassica oleracea)

Well folks, that about does it for Claire's Pre-Season Top 10 List... However, stay tuned! I'm still waiting on potatoes from FedCo... I ordered over 100lbs of seed potatoes this year, that's more than triple what I ordered last year... I'll have everything from blue potatoes to fingerlings to storage potatoes... more on that when they arrive.

If you haven't ordered your CSA share yet, there's still time! Send me an e-mail, ( or give me a call(802-522-6877) to reserve yours!