- Keep a balance between more practical vegetables that are easy to grow and prepare and exciting ones that boast bold flavors and colors.
- Choose the "good sports," the vegetables that can thrive in varied weather and don't need to be picked or watered too often.
- Go for heirlooms. Save and share the seeds they produce. As Anna says, that is the epitome of knowing where your food comes from.
With these criteria in mind, here are Anna's seed picks for the upcoming summer:
Cylindra Beet: A cylindrical variety that can be planted close together. The result? Less space and more crop. These are also better for slicing.
Golden Beet: A big hit last year. They are sweeter and milder then purple varieties, and don't stain your hands and other food!
Beam's Yellow Pear: Incredibly prolific.
Cherry Roma: Exactly as it sounds. These paste-type cherry tomatoes are handy for cooking.
Tommy Toe: A prolific, heavy bearing variety. Delicious.
Beefsteak-type or Slicing Tomatoes
Crnkovic Yugoslavian: A beefsteak variety. Juicy, huge, and resistant to cracking.
Dr. Wyche's Yellow: Golden, meaty, and gorgeous.
Italian Heirloom: Excellent full tomato flavor. These are ideal for slicing and canning—very little waste and easy to peel.
Hakucho: An early yielding variety—just 65 days between planting and harvesting. This is a dwarf (1ft) and doesn’t take up tons of space like the others. The pods grow in a very concentrated fashion, and because they all mature at the same time, you can harvest whole plant at once.
St. Valery: A long, tapered variety (not stumpy!). Gourmet quality.
Witloof: A compact variety that is sweet and crunchy and can be grown in a tight space. Eat it raw leafed into a salad or grill it and serve it with heirloom tomatoes. If you have a basement, the roots can be saved for next year.
Empress: These have an amazing bean flavor and heavy yields.
Tendergreen: Very productive over a long season. These produce even in hot weather.
Royalty Purple Pod: When raw, a gorgeous purple. Green when cooked. These add a nice contrast and are stringless, which means less work to eat! They also germinate in cool wet soil and can be planted in the beginning or at the end of the season.
Burgess Buttercup Winter Squash or Waltham Butternut: Two varieties that are more resistant to squash vine borers than others.
Looking for seeds? Anna's recommendations for heirloom seed sources are: Sage Thymes, Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Seeds, Fedco, Annie’s Seeds, Victory Seeds
P.S. If you want to learn more about the Full Circle Food Project or get involved with Anna's work, visit the project website here. For a quick pick-me-up, make sure you take note of the countdown to Spring at the top of the page. We're almost there!