Garden dreams? The snow will be gone before you know it

By Connie Mehmel
WSU Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener
January 26, 2022

Bunch of carrots on green cloth on table.
Carrots are usually orange but they come in many colors, including red. Try growing a new variety in your garden this year. These carrots were planted in late summer, mulched heavily as the weather got cold and harvested in December.
Provided photo/Connie Mehmel

Connie Mehmel
Connie Mehmel – WSU Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener – Provided photo

January is a time to reflect on last year’s garden: what went well, what do you want to change, and what new things do you want to try. Maybe you want to try some vegetable or herb you haven’t grown before, or maybe it’s time to try a new cultivar.

If you love growing a salad garden, try out some new lettuce varieties. The butterhead variety Milagro (Spanish for “miracle”) has a large, upright, dark green head with good resistance to powdery mildew. Truchas is a mini dark red Romaine variety that matures in 45-55 days. An even more exciting Romaine is Flashy Trout’s Back, an Austrian heirloom sporting dark green leaves with maroon speckles. My personal favorites are the leaf lettuces that can be harvested many times. This year I want to try Shirane Sky, a new red leaf variety that is slow to bolt and can be grown throughout the season.

Carrots are a staple of many home gardens. They can be planted in early spring to harvest in summer, planted in early summer for fall harvest, or kept in the ground through the winter under heavy mulch and harvested as needed in cold weather. Orange is the color we usually expect in a carrot, but what about red, yellow or purple? Carrots have been cultivated for over 1,000 years, and early carrots came in many colors. Interest in multi-colored carrots has been revived in recent years. How about planting a row of Rubypak, Yellow Moon, Purple Sun or White Satin?

Tomatoes are the most popular garden vegetable in the United States. The varieties are nearly endless, so if you enjoy growing tomatoes why not try a new one this year? If you like big beefsteak tomatoes, take a look at Captain Lucky. Bred by an independent breeder in North Carolina, it ripens green with red streaks. If you prefer cherry tomatoes consider Apple Yellow, an All-America Selections winner in 2020. It bears bright yellow apple-shaped fruits in abundant clusters. For a new red cherry tomato, try Sweet Aperitif. Introduced in 2013, fruits are smaller than a dime, prolific and very sweet.

Last but not least, consider some new herbs. Have you tried growing stevia to sweeten your desserts or anise for its licorice-flavored seeds? Another interesting garden herb is cutting celery, a variety of vegetable celery but easier to grow. The leaves are used to flavor soups and stews or added to salads. They can also be dried for winter use.

It’s always a good idea to keep a garden journal, especially when you try something new. How many times have you tried a new variety or new technique, then forgotten what you did by next year?

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