A peak into some new varieties we’re excited to grow in 2020


grated root vegetable salad

One of our favourite things is growing new varieties our customers may not be able to find anywhere else. We love growing crops with incomparable flavour and unique beauty.

Here are a few of the crops we’re especially excited to grow this year:

*As we aren’t yet growing these, we don’t have our own pictures. Photos are mostly from the seed companies we purchased from, all are labeled as to where we found them.

New varieties of Vegetables:

Cherokee Carbon tomato
from High Mowing Seeds

Cherokee Carbon tomato:

This new variety takes 2 really tasty heirloom tomatoes and combines them. Black tomatoes always have such a great, rich flavour and we think this one will be incredible on sandwiches or just sliced with salt and pepper.

Midnight Pear tomato
from High Mowing Seeds

Midnight Pear tomato:

This is a purple pear-shaped cherry tomato. We wanted the flavour of large black/purple tomatoes but in a cherry form. We’ve always grown another cherry tomato called Black Cherry, which we love the flavour of, so we’re excited to grow this one with a different shape.

Balena Celeriac
from High Mowing seeds

Balena Celeriac:

Last year, quite a few people asked us for celeriac in the fall. It takes a full season from planting to harvesting so we couldn’t exactly just start planting it then. But, we always remember when people ask us for things, especially when we’re asked a few times. We grew celeriac in our first year here but it wasn’t the most successful. Well, we’ve come a long way since then and have built healthier soils and improved our ability to irrigate by 1000%, so we’re hoping that our celeriac this year will be beautiful.

Merengo celery
from High Mowing Seeds

Merengo Celery:

We also grew celery early on but our irrigation capacity wasn’t great – celery loves water! It always surprises us when we notice that it doesn’t fly off the shelves at market stands. Perhaps it seems quite common and easily available at the grocery stores – organic celery is one of the most frequently available veggies in grocery stores’ organic section. It is not the easiest veggie to grow though and we personally also want to buy it when we can find it local AND organic. So, we’ve finally decide to grow it again. Our plan is not to harvest it as a full head, but rather to cut long stalks from each plant as they grow and bunching those together. I don’t think most customers care about the base on the bottom and this way the plants can continue growing and producing over a longer period of time.

Nettuno sugarloaf
from Osborne Seeds

Nettuno Sugarloaf Chicory:

Chicories are not the easiest sell at our market (except for some Italian customers or people who’ve spent more time in Italy, where it’s a popular family of greens). But we have fallen in love with the sweetly bitter flavours and we think that, as folks try them and learn to prepare them, they will too. In fact, now, when the weather is cool, I CRAVE the sweet bitterness. If we harvested them when the temperatures (soil and air) were too warm, the bitterness is not pleasant. So, we taste them consistently in the fall, waiting for the flavour to develop from just bitter to sweet bitter.

A chicory salad topped with nuts, apple slices, gorgonzola cheese and a warm balsamic vinaigrette is EVERYTHING in the fall. It feels like exactly what my body needs to prepare for the changing seasons. Sugarloaf is a type of chicory that we can grow earlier in the season and should still be able to develop that sweet bitter flavour. It’s milder than other chicories so we think it will be a great “gateway” chicory for those early in their chicory experimental phase (which is most people!).

red king daikon
from Osborne Seeds

Red King daikon radish:

We grow a lot of winter radishes for fall harvest. They’re delicious but also so beautiful! As soon as we saw this red daikon we knew it would be the perfect addition to add colour in beautiful fall and winter salads.

Just to show you how inspired we are by colourful root veggies, the photo at the very top of this blog post is of a salad we took to a recent potluck. It’s colourful julienned root veggies (our rainbow carrots, watermelon radish, plus purple, white, and green daikon radishes) that we added a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette to. Bryan took some daikon and made “ranunculus flowers” out of them which he geekily called “Raphunculus” because the latin name for radish is Raphanus (at the bottom of this post there’s a picture that shows the flowers closer up). It’s a beautiful salad for sure, but I can’t wait to include red daikons in the mix!

Tetragonia expansa
from William Dam seeds

Tetragonia spinach:

People ask us for spinach all season at the market. But spinach is really a cool weather plant so they are both harder to grow in warmer weather and the flavour isn’t great. Last year we tried every variety of summer-adapted spinach we could find but we didn’t love any of them. So, this year we’ll be growing“spinach” that is in a completely different family of plants. It will be different but have that same green spinach-y flavour and can be used any way spinach is used. As it’s a warm weather plant, it’s also better adapted to growing and gathering up nutrients from the soil when it’s warmer – so it will be a super nutritious and flavourful alternative.

New Varieties of Flowers:

Anemone
from Unicorn Blooms

Anemones:

We have often thought about growing anemones because they are gorgeous and an early spring bloom. But we’ve held back because the corms (bulbs) aren’t cheap and we were worried that the learning curve could be pricey. They’re not a cheap flower to buy generally and they also don’t grow as tall as most of our other flowers. But, we were at a flower farmer roundtable at the recent Farmer-to-Farmer Gathering and another flower farmer brought some extras to sell. So, maybe crazily, we decided on the spot to give them a go. Since then, we’ve been researching as much as we can about how to grow them to get a high degree of success – fingers crossed they do well, and they might just become a staple crop for us.

Ranunculus
from Unicorn Blooms

Ranunculus:

The ranunculus story is the same as the anemone one in terms of how we decided to grow it. Though I’m perhaps both more excited about it (because its beauty is really incomparable) and more nervous (because it’s less hardy to cold temperatures and our weather in early spring can be very unpredictable). Both ranunculus and anemones will be planted in our unheated tunnel, but it can still be very cold in there. I’m really hopeful that these do well and in the future I can’t even remember why we didn’t do them (that’s how it went for tulips with us).

Chater's double mix hollyhock
photo from Marshalls seeds (where I did not buy the seeds, the company Geo Seeds I bought them from has no photos).

Chater’s double hollyhock:

I really love hollyhocks in general though we’ve only ever grown the singles. I think these double hollyhocks are incredible and I’m excited to have them at the market and also around the farm. Hollyhocks are tall plants and they used to be used for beauty (and privacy screens) around outhouses – in fact apparently folks could look quickly spot the outhouse if they saw a row of hollyhocks. I’m intrigued with this idea and, if we ever get our outdoor solar shower finished, I’d love to plant these hollyhocks around it. Hollyhocks are also edible flowers and these ones would look extra amazing on a big salad or a wedding cake!

cantaloupe calendula
from Geo Seeds

Cantaloupe calendula:

Calendula flowers are very versatile. Beautiful in spring bouquets, mild edible garnish to add to salads or desserts, and incredibly medicinal and soothing both topically on your skin, and internally for the lymphatic system among other things. I love growing diverse colours, shapes, and sizes of calendula and this new variety is one I’m really excited to see in bloom.

When I first started farming, medicinal herbs were my initial interest, I remember working on an herbal farm in Oregon, spending full days harvesting calendula and ending up with the sticky hands they give you. I was grateful to be able to get the plant’s medicine via my skin in this way, and I also learned that it’s hard to wash off. Here’s the tip I learned: don’t try to wash that sticky resin off with water, but rather “wash” your hands with soil first. Once the soil has helped with the sticky resin, then you can wash your hands with water to get the soil off.

Apricot Lemonade Cosmos
photo from Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Apricot Lemonade cosmos:

I love cosmos! They are so bright and cheery. Whenever I see a new variety that offers a different colour, I’ve never been able to avoid trying it out. I mean, c’mon, look how pretty this one is – who could resist?

Wallflower Tall Mix
photo from Marshalls seeds.

Wallflower tall mix:

I’ve never grown any wallflowers before. I hadn’t even heard about them until I read a profile on a wallflower grower in Martha Stewart magazine. I wasn’t sure they would be tall enough for our bouquets but this variety is called “Tall Mix” so I’m hopeful.

Hairy Balls Gomphocarpus
photo from Joyful Butterfly Seeds

Hairy balls gomphocarpus:

The name of these doesn’t really make you think of a beautiful flower arrangement, does it? And they don’t have a typical beauty. Rather, they offer something unusual and unique to a bouquet, something you won’t miss and others will ask you about. Plants like these help showcase the diversity in the world and I’m so excited to grow them. They are also a long-season grower and I’ve already started the seeds, though I won’t be harvesting them until late summer/early fall. This plant is in the Monarch family so will also benefit Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

New Varieties of Herbs:

photo from Sweet Valley Herbs who passed on their brand to Jolly Farmer from whom we bought the plants

Apple mint:

When we leased land from Windhorse Farm, there was loads of apple mint. I loved it and always wanted to plant some on our farm here, but it can be tricky finding the right spot for mints in general. Now, after 8 years, we’ve identified the fields that we are not planning to use for annual rotations and so, can plant perennials – including some perennials that could get out of hand, like mints. Apple mint is not only a nice, mild tasting mint for teas or in meals, but it’s also offers stems of beautiful soft foliage to add to bouquets. People don’t always think of it right away, but the foliage (or greenery) in our bouquets really showcase the flowers and create that image that you’ve brought a piece of the garden into your home.

French Tarragon
photo from Sweet Valley Herbs

French tarragon:

This is one of the finest tasting herbs, though often hard to find. A big reason we haven’t grown it before is that you can’t grow it from seed. It needs to be grown from cuttings. Not many people grow it and it’s not usually available in grocery stores so a lot of people haven’t had it before. I had never tasted it until I tried it at a farm I visited who had some growing. Tarragon is one of the fines herbes in French cooking, it’s known as The King of Herbs in France. It’s the seasoning in béarnaise and hollaindaise sauces. French Tarragon doesn’t taste great after its dried so you want to get it fresh.  

Chocolate Mint
photo from Sweet Valley Herbs

Chocolate mint:

I remember working on a farm one year with both chocolate mint and stevia growing. I’d go and pick one leaf of each, put them both on my tongue and it tasted exactly like I was eating one of those After-8 mints. Since we also grow stevia, I’ve been waiting to do this again, but just needed to find the right spot to plant this mint. I think it will also be delicious in desserts of all kinds, in chocolate cake or cookies, in smoothies, and in herbal tea. I find mints in general to be incredible  – there are so many different kinds that truly do taste unique. We’ve grown banana mint in the past and were shocked at how banana-y it tasted. This year, another mint we’ll be growing is Strawberry mint which I think will be extra refreshing in iced herbal teas through the hot days of summer.

This is only a partial list of the new things we’re growing in 2020, in addition to our beloved varieties that we already grow.

We are very excited to harvest and bring these to the Dieppe Market and we hope you are too!

Thanks, as always, for your support of us. You are our inspiration to grow the tastiest, most nourishing, and beautiful veggies, herbs, and flowers that we can!

Your farmers, Shannon and Bryan

daikon radishes carved into ranunculus flowers

P.S. You can also see what we were excited about in 2015 here and 2017 here. So many are still varieties we love!

You can also read about how we choose varieties to grow, here.

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