Korridor Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is an odd vegetable: not a root, not a fruit, not a leaf, but an enlarged stem. (The leaves are edible, too.) When grown under good conditions, the flesh is crisp and sweet, somewhat reminiscent of an apple. Peeling the skin is optional, though it is sometimes a bit tough. Delicious eaten as chunks for a snack, grated into slaw, or used in stir fry, to name a few possible preparations.

Kohlrabi is a cool-weather crop. We tend to grow them in spring.

We’ve tried a number of open-pollinated varieties of kohlrabi, but we have often had difficulty with poor growth and development of woodiness in the stem, making the result pretty unappetizing. Kohlrabi seems to be a vegetable that benefits greatly from hybrid vigor, which is not surprising given that brassicas are generally outbreeding plants. So, we’ve settled with buying hybrid seed for kohlrabi, and Korridor is one of the varieties with readily available certified organic seed.

Seed is available from High Mowing Organic Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Hakurei Turnip

This is a hybrid turnip that grows quickly to form nice, uniform white roots. The flavor is quite sweet and mild for a turnip, and may appeal even to those who do not consider themselves turnip-lovers (like Joanna). Roots are good both raw and cooked, and the greens are nice cooked. These are great diced and sauteed with other vegetables in dishes like stir fry, fried rice, frittata, and more.

We generally prefer open-pollinated varieties to hybrids, but we finally tried these in 2012 and certainly agree that this variety is a winner.

Organic seed is not available for this variety. Seed is exclusively sold by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Monstrueux de Viroflay Spinach

An excellent spinach for overwintering. Winter flavor is sweet & candy-like. Spring leaves can grow quite large. This is an open-pollinated variety.

A September 2011 planting provided some harvestable yield in each month from November through the following April. Growth habit in the winter requires tedious leaf-by-leaf harvest, as the leaves are positioned parallel to the ground. In spring, growth habit becomes more upright and it is easier to harvest by knife.

Seed source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Sparkle Strawberry

Sparkle is a strawberry variety that has superb flavor and sweetness, short shelf life, and small- to medium-sized berries. The short shelf life means that they are unsuitable for most marketing, but once they make it to the hands of the eater there’s little worry that any will be left around long enough to go bad.

Plants flower in April. Our first tend to ripen around the middle of May and they are usually done by early-to-mid June. We generally pick daily during the peak of production. We’ve found that protection from racoons is critical; a few low-strung lines of portable electric wire fence has worked for us.

The plants are rather difficult to manage because they runner aggressively, but produce plenty of material for expanded plantings. The biggest berries are produced on plants that are well spaced, a result that we’ve found is more easily achieved by establishing a new planting than by thinning an old one, which tends to fill itself in again quickly.

Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Pepper

Though it may look like a hot pepper, Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Pepper is actually a very sweet, flavorful pepper. The flesh is relatively thin. They’re great raw, cooked, or dried for later use. We quite often eat these straight off the plants in late summer when we’re hungry and need a snack. This is Eric’s favorite sweet pepper.

This is an open-pollinated, heirloom variety that the Slow Food organization has recognized as being exceptional by including it on the Ark of Taste list.

Organic seed source: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Carrot, Danvers 126

A relatively short, pointy variety that does well in heavy soils. Very sweet in cold weather (fall/winter harvests). Spring plantings also have good flavor. Our standard carrot.

Organic seed sources: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; High Mowing Organic Seeds.