January: A Time for Planning
When the cold winds of January sweep over us, we know it’s time to start planning that spring garden. We break out the gardening journal (if you don’t use a gardening journal, we recommend that you do) and draw-up plans of how we’d like our garden to be laid out this year as well as a list of seeds that we’d like to grow and what area of the garden will be dedicated to them.
It’s a perfect time to be thinking about what kinds of crops and which varieties you’d like to grow this year, especially peppers and tomatoes since they will need to be started indoors within the next 4-6 weeks. This can be a really fun process since there are so many different varieties out there to choose from. We recommend planting a few varieties of the same crop as they might react differently to your specific growing season.
For example, the Supersweet Hybrid 100* cherry tomatoes have tremendous yields and will do well whether the season turns out to be long or short, whereas, larger tomatoes strains may have trouble reaching full ripeness if the season doesn’t turn out long enough. With that being said, we think it is a great idea to plant a reliable strain alongside a couple strains unique to your garden. Here are a few unique strains of familiar tomatoes and peppers you may want to try:
- Pineapple – A yellow-skinned, red-streaked heirloom that can weigh up to 2 lbs when mature. Gorgeous when sliced. Has a sweet mild flavor.
- Supersweet 100 Hybrid – These sweet, bite-sized tomatoes grow in clusters along the vine producing reliable yields all season long.
- Rainbow Cherry (organic) – A colorful mixture of cherry tomatoes, including red, greed, and yellow. Reliable and tasty!
- Green Zebra (organic) – Small 2-inch tomatoes that mature into plump yellow tomatoes with dark green stripes. Tangy and flavorful!
- Hillbilly – A big heirloom beefsteak tomato with a vibrant mixture of pink, yellow, orange, and red throughout the skin and flesh. Succulent and flavorful.
- Mortgage Lifter – This giant plump tomato has been a staple heirloom for home gardening since 1932! Full of flavor and character.
- Ancho Grande (hot) – This large heirloom pepper ripens from green to rust, roughly 2 ½ inches wide at the shoulder, tapering to a blunt point. Medium to hot (1,000-2,000 Scolville Units).
- Hungarian Yellow Wax (hot) – These long yellow waxy ripen to an orange-red hue. This heirloom is ideal for drying and adding to sauces (2,000-8,000 Scolville Units).
- Mariachi Hybrid (hot) – Try this large cone-shaped chili that has an unusually fine flavor and a marvelous yield (500-600 Scolvile Units).
- Bhut Jolokia Ghost (wicked hot) – If you are truly brave, give the Bhut Jolokia a try! One of the hottest peppers we carry, second only to the Scorpion. They ripen from green to scarlet red (855,000-1,041,427 Scolville Units).
- Chocolate Beauty (sweet) – This non-pungent variety performs much like a typical bell pepper but bears green to deep brown color. Heirloom and a personal favorite among staff!
- Cute Red Stuff (sweet) – These small sweet peppers shaped like bell peppers produce high yields even during short seasons. Great for snacking!
If you are looking to try growing something new altogether, we recommend strawberries, specifically either Berri Basket White Hybrid or Berries Galore Pink Hybrid. In the past, if you’ve wanted to get large berries comparable to the ones you buy in the grocery store, you’d have to transplant an already-started strawberry plant. Starting from seeds resulted in small, sometimes insignificant yields. But with these two new hybrid seeds, you can produce fruits ½ to 1 inch in diameter. Start them indoors and transplant just after the last frost.
Needless to say, now is the time to envision the garden you want for yourself in the spring and to begin gathering and prepping for that future garden. Check out the 2017 Mountain Valley Seed Catalog for new seed varieties, full seed descriptions, and growing instructions!
*Hybrid, yes. GMO, no. We know most of our customers are knowledgeable enough to know that Hybrid does not mean GMO, but just in case a few have been misled by the uninformed internet echo chamber, none of the hybrid seeds offered by Mountain Valley Seeds are GMO.
- Jordan Freytag