Seed catalogs have been trickling into gardeners’ homes over the past month or so, and they can be very helpful in planning the spring garden. I am using the seed catalogs stacked up at my house to plan what I hope will be some amazing salads.
Descriptions of the numerous varieties of salad greens offered in the seed catalogs are helping to narrow my search for my next new favorite lettuce (for example).
To be honest, I already have a short list of favorite lettuces for spring: ‘Tom Thumb’, ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’, ‘Bronze Arrow’, and ‘Slobolt’. The first three are exceptionally beautiful, with good flavor and texture, and they grow well in my yard. The last in the list, ‘Slobolt’, isn’t delicious, and its leaves are tougher. It works well when sliced into ribbons for tacos and sandwiches, but I think it just isn’t as good as the base of a salad as the others.
The real benefit is that ‘Slobolt’ holds up so much better in a hot Southern spring than the others, resisting the turn to bitterness that many lettuces take as the weather heats up. Of course, there are also those tacos and sandwiches.
I currently am considering the heat-tolerant varieties ‘Jericho’, ‘Dov’, and ‘Olga’ as possible replacements for ‘Slobolt’. However, as I keep reading through the catalogs and checking information online, that list could change. Wish me luck? (Side note: I have a different list of favorite fall lettuces, because those need to stand up to freezing weather instead of to heatwaves.)
The other new salad-green I want seeds for is the rocket that was in all the salads I ate when visiting Italy last summer. A mild, non-spicy rocket in nearly every salad provided a nutty flavor that was just lovely.
I am growing one version now, indoors, from seeds described on the packet as “Arugula, Wild ‘Rocky‘ Diplotaxis tenuifolia” (rocket), from the seed company Botanical Interests. The little leaves have that strong nuttiness that I am looking for, but they also, at just a couple of inches in height, already are slightly spicy.
Multiple varieties of rocket seeds are listed in multiple catalogs this year, and I plan to try seeds from more than one, to compare, even though technically they should be about the same.
I will not be spending the entire rest of my life in Italy, but it should be possible to recreate here at home, at least partially, one of those salads. Since my local grocery stores do not tend to stock unusual salad greens with specialized flavors and a short shelf-life, I will need to grow that flavor at home.
What special flavor will you be growing this spring?