Planning for Old and New

Growing something you’ve never grown before can keep the gardening experience fresh. Last year, I grew Shishito Peppers for the first time and loved them. This year I have seeds of a red Italian onion I’ll soon be planting on my grow table. But I also plan to plant Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas. I remember planting them with my mother when I was a preschooler 50 years ago. Choosing seeds is a January garden activity.

I’ll plant Shishito Peppers again because they were prolific and versatile. When young and green they are mild. They are often used beside sushi at this stage. Occasionally you get a green one with considerably more heat. Peppers that stay on the plant longer develop more heat. Shishitos never get as hot as Jalepenos and by discarding the seeds heat can be avoided. They are great grilled or fried at the green stage. They ripen red and have thin skins that make drying easy. Mature Shishitos have a rich pepper flavor with mild to medium heat.

A new variety I’ll try this year is the red onion Tropeana Lunga. I ordered this variety from Baker Creek Seeds. Onions are categorized as long or short day. Long day varieties are recommended for the north where summer days are long. The dividing line is the 35th parallel which is the southern border of Tennessee. So Chattanooga is about on the dividing line. Tropeana Lunga is an intermediate day so hopefully will be a good choice here. Onions thrive in rich soils with high organic matter. Onions survive in Chattanooga area ground. This variety comes from Italy where most soils are rocky so I’m hopeful. Red Onions provide anthocyanins as well as flavor.

Planting peas next to the chicken coop is my earliest garden memory. The variety my mother selected was Dwarf Grey Sugar. They are an edible pod pea so there is no need for shelling. Planting this variety as soon as the soil dries in  the spring provides peas to harvest when strawberries are coming in. When the heat of summer ends pea production, okra, corn, or sweet potatoes could follow. Something I haven’t tried with Dwarf Grey Sugar is eating the other edible parts of the plant. The pink blossoms and the leaves may also be used.

These are three hierlooms worth trying.

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