Lost in luscious narratives

Ooohhh … there’s purple beans and white cucumbers; blushed red lettuce and ‘diminutive, spoon-shaped’ greens; bi-color sweet corn with ‘soft-crisp texture and ambrosial flavor’ and don’t forget those ‘perfectly round’ pumpkins with ‘fine-grained flesh and superb flavor.’  Nix the sugar plums – they’re yesterday’s dreams – I have visions of freshly picked salads dancing in my head.

Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog-1 01-10 I spent a few hours last night curled up on the couch with John Scheepers – and my husband didn’t even react when he walked in and found us there.  All he saw was a bunch of seed and plant catalogues spread about, and since he’s been through this process with me for a few years now I’m pretty sure he knows my brain is already conjuring up visions of spring and summer gardens.  And what better way to cultivate a gardener’s imagination than to read through the descriptive passages of the peas and beans and tomatoes and flowers sold by Kitchen Garden Seeds.  I went though 14 separate sticky notes to highlight a vegetable variety I either must have again or want to try anew.

purple and yellow bush beans 8-09 The must haves include Purple Queen and Sequoia Bush Beans.  Last year I tucked a few of each in a perennial bed and in pots – but not till late in the growing season – and I still picked enough of these tender purple beauties to combine with other bean varieties and give us many delicious bean-laden meals.  I can’t wait to see how well they will do when I get them planted early enough to reach their full potential.

Then there’s Blushed Butter Oak Lettuce which grew extremely well in last year’s cold wet conditions.  I wholeheartedly agree with Scheepers’ description: open, butter-soft, broad, oak-shaped leaf tinged luminous brick-red with the best flavor of all the lettuces their testers tasted.  I found its beauty matched by its flavor.  I also can’t pass up Snowflake Pea Pods.  I managed to pick a few of these sweet, crisp pods before the voles pulled all the vines into the ground for fodder.  This year I’ll grow Snowflake Peas in pots.

For 2010 I’m considering Purple Podded Pole Beans, described as an heirloom discovered in an Ozark garden in the 1930’s.  I’m intrigued by the idea of growing purple-tinged vines and I’m really stuck on the beauty and flavor of the purple beans I’ve already tried.  Can anyone give me some feedback on experiences with this variety of purple pole beans – especially those living in zone 6?

Other lettuce varieties I’d like to try include Jericho and Rouge d’Hiver Romaines and Rough Grenoblois Batavian Lettuce.  Sheepers’ White Wonder Cucumbers also tweaked my interest, as did the thought of a large pot holding tall bamboo poles covered with tall vines showing two-toned purple flowers and lemon yellow pods of the Indian heirloom Golden India Edible Pea Pod.  Doesn’t that just sound delightful?  Again, anyone with past experience growing these lettuce and pea varieties, please share your experience with me.

Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog-3 01-10 Kitchen Garden Seeds is one of my favorite winter reads.  The illustrations, by artist Bobbi Angell, are delightful.  Plus, the verbal sketches of their seed offerings are interspersed with planting tips from Barbara Damrosch of The Garden Primer and Four Season Farm fame, as well as delicious sounding recipes.  Kitchen Garden Seeds is truly a garden-to-table reference, and if you’d rather save the paper and read it online, you get the same dreamy seed descriptions there.

15 comments for “Lost in luscious narratives

  1. January 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how yummy they make everything sound? I find the same thing in restaurants, sometimes it sounds better than it tastes.

  2. joenesgarden
    January 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Yes, Deborah … and Kitchen Garden Seeds makes everything sound so delicious! But I must say, the seeds I’ve purchased from them so far have all lived up to their catalog descriptions.

  3. January 5, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Tis the season to cuddle up with our gardening catalogs and daydream! I have purple beans on my must have list this year too but I’ll grow mine in a container on my deck so the local wildlife stays away from it.

  4. joenesgarden
    January 5, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I agree, Debbie, container gardening looks better and better as the creature population grows.

  5. January 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Reading this post was as good as reading a seed catalogue – they all sound yummy. I have a weakness for purple beans and other highly colored veggies. They are beautiful, and the deep color is always a sign of good nutrition.

  6. joenesgarden
    January 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Deborah, I’m looking forward to trying those yellow podded peas I wrote about, and I’m so anxious to be able to eat some fresh red leaf lettuce. Maybe it’s in my head, but the more colorful veggies always seem to taste better.

  7. January 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I smiled when I saw your article. .. seems many are doing the same as you. I just finished cataloging all my new seeds and can’t wait until we get started.

  8. joenesgarden
    January 6, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Diana. I’m not as far along as you … many more catalogues to read through before I start pruning my list.

  9. January 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    A different set of catalogues here but the same ‘luscious narratives’ – reading them is pure pleasure on winter evenings 🙂

  10. joenesgarden
    January 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Your right, Anna. And with light snow falling and very cold temperatures, I plan to spend more time this evening getting lost.

  11. January 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I’ve been going through the catalogs the last few days, too. It’s great fun thinking we’ll be getting started before too long. 🙂

  12. joenesgarden
    January 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    It’s not only fun, Kate, it’s very welcome.

  13. January 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I grew purple pole beans last year, but am not sure which variety!!!

    I love to mix them with butter beans. You get a really pretty dish.

  14. joenesgarden
    January 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Like you, Alexandra, I like to mix the purple beans with other varieties. I also love to watch the purple beans turn green in the steamer.

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