Friday, April 15, 2016

New Varieties for a new farm and a New Season

Here are some of the new things we are planting this year.

Thai Red Roselle:
 From Baker Creek
(Hibiscus sabdariffa) A valuable plant for making cranberry-flavored bright red beverages, jelly, pie and tea. Much grown in Asia and the mid-east as the flavor is wonderful. A tasty sauce can be made by boiling and sweetening the fleshy calyxes; the leaves are also used to make a drink. The entire plant of this Hibiscus is red and very beautiful. Start early, unless you live in the far-south. Citrus-flavored flowers are delicious on frozen deserts. This plant has too many uses to name here. Collected in Thailand.

 It just looked too interesting not to have in our garden somewhere, We do have room! Plus it is good for tea and that is a plus for us as we remove commercial drinks from our life.There seem to be a lot of things you can make with this plant.

Litchi Tomato:
Baker Creek
(S. sisymbriifolium) This was a favorite with customers who saw and sampled it in front of our store one summer. Large plants grow to 5', and are covered with thorns; sweet red fruit and large white flowers. Lovely to look at, but be careful with the thorns! We enjoyed the fruit all summer right from the plant. They're about the size of a cherry and taste like a cherry crossed with a tomato. A very pretty and attractive plant that originated in South America, but has been naturalized in many countries. Start plants as you would a tomato. 

 Perhaps these would be a perimeter barrier for the garden that also produced food!

Huckleberry Gold Potato
Wood Prairie Farms
Huckleberry Gold is a beautiful purple skinned yellow flesh potato from the University of Idaho breeding program. A medium yielding potato, Huckleberry has good antioxidant levels and is good for boiling and baking.
It also has a low glycemic index so it should be  healthier for us to use. We planted a lot of these and they are part of our green sprouting experiment.

Eritrean Basil
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Family heirloom from an Eritrean exchange student. Introduced by SESE 2008.] Compact plant with beautiful, purple-tinged green foliage, stunning in flower. It has a strongly attractive and spicy odor, and is much used in African cuisine.  

We want to use more fresh basil in our daily meals so this year we are trying a lot of new, at least to us, varieties of this marvelous plant.

Le Rouge Royal Red Pepper
IGA and My seed saving
We found this incredible pepper at the IGA in New Castle. For a store pepper it tasted right out of the garden. The nest day we went back and I asked for the name of the pepper, Le Rouge Royal Red. It was developed in Israel at Ben Gurion University in 1983. These are some of my first seed saving attempt so we hope for results!

Chimayo  Hot Pepper
Baker Creek
 Legendary, thin-walled drying type from northern New Mexico. Uniquely complex flavor have earned this a small but faithful following. So singular that it is offered as a unique type in local markets, and was well known throughout the Southwest in the late 1800s. Heat is typically very mild. Ripens green to red, and dries a distinct deep red color. Rare and very special! 
 Last fall in the drying madness of Ralph's produce buying I dried our own peppers, I dried them as a mixed bunch and this winter as I used the blends of dried Peppers I found them wonderfully flavorful. With the mix of flavors and heat levels they are turning into something I want more of. This pepper will be perfect to mix in for added heat in winter stews!

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Mexican herb with decorative round 2 in. leaves (wider than the Bolivian type). The unique, complex taste is most often compared to cilantro, but also sometimes to arugula, lemon, and even rue. Generally used raw; great in tacos, salsa, and many other Mexican dishes. Like cilantro, it is loved by many and hated by a few, although many prefer one to the other. Once established, papalo grows quickly and easily. One planting can provide fresh greens for months. May self-sow in warm areas. 
This is a herb one of the local Mexican Restaurants actually uses. We found their salsa to be especially good and they had this in it.

Chestnut Chocolate Tomato
Baker Creek
Great flavor, high yields, and marked disease resistance. The indigo coloring (high anthocyanin content) tops it off, making this new release from Brad Gates a wholly superior new offering. Cherry-sized fruits weigh 1-2 ounces and offer the sweet, rich flavor you’d expect from such a dark-fruited type. Great keeper too, whether on the shelf or right on the vine.

The more research we do into healthy eating the more we find out about anthocyanin and how it is important to health, so these, aside from the color and disease resistance are a must

Wagner Blue Green Tomato
Baker Creek
80 days. This great “Blue” tomato comes from renowned heirloom/OP breeder Tom Wagner. Color is an incredible blue, with green flesh! We were impressed with its beauty and great flavor! The round fruits are around 3 inches in diameter, and are very smooth and blemish-free.

I cannot imagine not trying these, I mean just look at the colors! They get dark when they are exposed to the sun and lighter with less light. We are suckers for a pretty face!

White Horehound
Baker Creek
This is the traditional remedy for coughs, having earned its place in the herb garden! Mounds of silvery foliage, around 18 inches tall and somewhat broader, last all season long in most climates. White flowers in season are pretty but not really showy.

 I have always loved horehound candy, even before I knew it was a cough candy or fairly healthy!

Neither one of us have grown it before so although it is not a "new" herb it is new to us. I have so much to learn about infusions and tinctures and the like but we want to be able to make our own cough treatments so this was a good choice.

We are looking forward to the results of these new varieties and I have to admit there are more that we are trying out but there isn't time or room to post them all! The gardens are broken and waiting for the weather to settle down a bit, we also need the new breaking to rot a bit as this is farmland that has not been used for anything but hay production in at  least 15 years.

The land that Ralph worked with the Grillo and Rotary plow is looking wonderful and we have Sweet Loraine and Broad Windsor Fava Beans us. The tendril peas are doing well and we are pleased with the progress of the Garlic.

Now its time to clean the chicken coop and then get to work on the herb garden is in design stage 999.....sigh

God Bless you all and be safe


  1. Looks like a great selection. Good luck with your garden :)
    My husband has been trying for three years to get some paw paws to produce, hoping this year we see some progress.

    1. Akkk Thank you for reminding me...we need PAW PAWS! One thing about gardening is it is never dull and we are always filled with excitement and hope each time we plant or plan.

  2. What unusual and beautiful plants! I hope to be back out in the garden soon. We love Horehound candy too. Before my Mother died, every year she gave us a box of old fashioned Horehound candy sticks. Thank you for visiting my blog.

    1. I enjoyed your blog! I will be posting some of the horehound experiments here.

  3. My goodness, where do you two get your energy! I got my beautiful bag.....thank you. I will use it for farmers market and think of you Hug

    1. Well Ralph is a little bit crazy:)
      These are not being planted in large amounts, well the Thai Red Roselle will be. It makes great tea and we want the option of home made drinks. I am glad you like the bag!

  4. Nice selection of new-to-you choices; I'll be looking out for some of that white horehound myself. Curious as to how big your garden is- do you aim for a years worth or...?

    1. 4 gardens...well one is a herb garden that will have areas for perennial herbs as well as self sowing herbs. 1 is the fall-winter garden. The main garden is 80x200, it will handle the summer produce. Then the kitchen garden has garlic, peas, and lettuces. We are building our food stores this year and finding out about what grows here. Oh we are also growing peanuts! :)

  5. Those are some beautiful tomatoes. I'm still on the fence for a garden this year. Thinking I'm not going to...but I'll probably cave ;-).

    1. Well a small one in pots for fresh salads and stuff like that? Plus you do have a source in Kentucky ;)