How to get excited about the 2015 growing season

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This week is the coldest week of the entire winter so far. This morning it was -18 Celsius, feeling like -27 with the wind chill. That is crazy cold, even for a Canadian girl. Hubs and I bundled up and stopped at McDonald’s for a Two Can Dine breakfast before we parted for work. My too-hot coffee chilled quickly during my five minute walk to the shop.

There is no better way to forget about the cold weather than by receiving seed packets and thinking about the upcoming growing season. I ordered seeds last week and they have arrived! This year I went a bit crazy and ordered a lot of seeds from Solana. I was very happy with the seeds I ordered last year. The tomato plants and the entire section of pepper plants were so productive that I went overboard and expanded my selections.


I’m not entirely sure how I will be able to fit all of these plants on my ‘farm’, but I know I will come up with a creative solution. I haven’t ruled out convincing my neighbours to allow me to use their decks.

Cuor di Bue (Oxheart): Large oxheart type in the shape of a strawberry, or a top, or, as you might have guessed, an oxheart (“cuor di bue” meaning “oxheart”). Pink-red fruits, large size, with ribbed shoulders. Very good flavor. Also known as  “Cuor de Toro”, “Oxheart”, “Bull’s Heart”, “Italian Oxheart” or “Oxheart Giant”. 85 days. From Italy, brought to immigrants in America in 1925.

Chianti Rose: Wow! Without a doubt, one of the best tasting tomato around! Incredible flavor, delicious and bursting with taste. To be ranked up there with Brandywine and Prudens Purple. Potato-leaf type. Beefsteak style tomato, medium to large, with deep pink-reddish skin. Early enough to be grown in the north, at around 80 days. Said to be tolerant to cool or bad conditions. Exceptional taste.

Isis Candy: A very nice little candy literally packed with nectar. One of the sweetest cherry tomato offered. Wonderful coloration combining yellow, orange and red. Appetizing and delicious. 70 days.

Green Zebra: Striking lime green fruits with green stripes. Salad-size, 4 to 6 cm in diameter. Fresh, lemony or zesty flavor. Great in salads with other tomatoes. A favorite of chefs and specialty markets. Selected by Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seeds. 86 days.

Habanero: One of the hottest peppers in the world, 20 to 50 hotter than Jalapeno! Lantern-shaped, wrinkled dark green fruits turning orange when ripe. Burning taste with fruity, apricot undertones. Cut peppers with gloves to prevent burning. Remove veins and seeds to lessen heat. Popular in the Caribbean. 90-100 days.

Trinidad pepper: Highly fragrant peppers but with only a hint of heat. Like a tamed habanero: you get all the spicy, fruity flavor, but without the hellish fury. Golden yellow fruits, 4-5 cm, lantern-shaped. Interesting flavor, similar to Aji Dulce. 90-100 days.

Biquinho: Small brazilian pepper with distinctive shape and medium heat. Nice aromatic flavor, fruity and spicy. If you like Aji Dulce and Trinidad peppers, you will love this one. Small fruits, about 3 cm long, growing in large numbers. Ornamental and delicious. Uniquely shape, like a small beak. Brazil. 100-120 days. Limited stock. New seeds, tested Nov. 2013 (germ: 90%)

Shishito: Very productive dwarf japanese variety yielding dozens of wrinkled hot peppers. Shishito is a japanese frying pepper with medium heat, also used to flavor tempuras and other meals. Also known as Sweet Wrinkled Old Man. Early, ripen quite fast. Very thin walls, easy to dry. Well branched plants, about 35 cm high.

Fresno: Jalapeno-style peppers with a slightly more conical shape, thinner walls and an upward growing habit. Versatile, can be used for a number of preparations (salsa, nachos, canning, etc.). The green pods are moderately hot (Jalapeno), but when they turn red, they step it up a few notches. An early variety well adapted for northern gardeners. 75 days.

Padron: Spanish heirloom served traditionally in tapas bars, cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Most of the time, it shows no heat, only a nice green pepper taste and a mild bitterness. But sometimes, you get a real fiery one. Thus its nickname: the “russian roulette pepper”. These peppers are picked ideally when they are very young, at only 4-5 cm long. If you picked them later, they will become quite hot. Deep green pods, 4 to 10 cm long, thin walls. “Pimiento de Padron”. Northwest Spain, Galicia. Early, about 65 days (green).

Cumari do Para: Brazilian variety packing a lot of flavor into a tiny pepper: intensely sweet, fruity and hot at the same time! Small, lemon yellow peppers, around 2 cm long. Oval to oblong. Late (100 days or more). First fruits start ripening in September in southern Quebec. Start early and/or grow in pots (and overwinter for a larger crop on the 2nd year). From the Brazilian state of Para (amazonian bassin).

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