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From the Hort Desk

New Veggie and Flower Introductions

We are pleased to have guest author, Yvette Henson, CSU Extension Director in San Miguel County, contribute a timely article on upcoming vegetable varieties for the new year. Thank you, Yvette!

It’s that time of year again: Garden seed catalogs are arriving in mailboxes, post office boxes or email inboxes. Most seed companies highlight new introductions for the year. I recently attended a webinar about veggie introductions for 2024 and wanted to share some of the new varieties that were mentioned. As a CSU Extension employee, I cannot recommend one seed company or variety over another. This is simply to inspire you to try something new. Do your own research with your own growing goals, your own specific growing conditions, and your favorite seed companies in mind. I get many seeds from a local seed company called High Desert Seeds. All their seeds are grown regionally. This year, I want to try their ‘Blue Star’ mustard. I want to use it like a southern stewing green (my hubby’s request) but it can also be used young in salad mixes. In the south, they grow mustard greens in the winter months, but I will have to grow mine in spring and fall.

Left: Haku Chinese cabbage; Top: Green River komatsuna; Bottom: Whitaker cauliflower. Photos:

Johnny’s Seeds are popular with small farmers and gardeners. They have many talented breeders on staff. Each year, I like to grow something I haven’t grown before, and this year I am planning on growing two of their new introductions in the Asian green category: ‘Haku’(F1) Chinese cabbage and ‘Green River’(F1) komatsuna green. They are also offering what they claim is the first white Romanesco cauliflower called ‘Whitaker’(F1). Baker Creek also offers a white spiraled cauliflower that is open pollinated called ‘De Jesi’. The standard Romanesco has the equally beautiful and tasty chartreuse green spirals, so white is more unique. While I will give one of the white ones and a green one another try, I have found cauliflowers difficult to grow, especially the beautifully fractaled Romanesco varieties. The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek must be purchased, but it may be worth it because it contains interesting articles with history, growing conditions and recipes for a select number of crops. The regular printed catalog is free, and they have a website where you can find all they offer. Most of their seeds are open pollinated so it makes it easier to save your own seeds. In this year’s Whole Seed Catalog, one featured plant is Couve Tronchuda, a Portuguese semi-heading kale, Brassica oleraceae var. viridis. It is more closely related to sea kale than to the kale we generally think of. It is traditionally used in soup.

Left, Portuguese kale, Couve Tronchuda, Photo: Top, Limonata celosia, Photo: Floret Flower Farm. Bottom, Japanese indigo, Photo:

When we visit our grandsons in California, I often go to a local health food store and peruse the seed rack from Redwood Seed Company. I usually buy one or two packs of seeds and have had success with them. This year they are offering Japanese indigo, Persicaria tinctoria, a dye plant. I live at 8,200’ with cool nights but I think it is worth a try since it is the leaves that produce the dye, and it is supposed to mature in 80 days. It can also be started early indoors and planted out when it is warm enough. This may give it a jump on the season.

Mission Giant Orange marigold, Photo: Burpee

Floret Flowers is a cut flower/seed business that has gotten into breeding certain lovely flowers in atypical colors. They have their own lines of celosias, dahlias and zinnias. I want to try growing their ‘Limonata’ celosia. It is another warm season variety that may be a bit difficult to mature in my garden. I will start them early and grow them outdoors as well as in my high tunnel greenhouse. Check out this beautiful ‘Mission Giant Orange’ marigold for 2024 exclusively by Burpee Seed Company.

Be sure to check out all the new introductions in the catalogs, both in print and online as you plan your 2024 growing season.

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