Seed Catalog Roundup: What's New for 2011

We know it's still winter (they're predicting snow in San Francisco!) but it's also time to start dreaming ahead to summer when those of us fortunate enough to have a bit of land to cultivate will be enjoying the bounty of a summer veg patch. Read on for some highlights from the 2011 seed catalogs.

First, a confession. I won't have that bit of earth to cultivate this year as I will be moving and in transition well into the summer. But I have enjoyed the winter ritual of seed catalog perusing in the past and I know very well its seductions. So this post is a more about my seed catalog lurk, as I will only be dreaming of the possibilities and not actually purchasing anything. But I vicariously wish for you, dear readers, much joy and bumper crops this summer!

Looking through Johnny's Selected Seeds, I would have been tempted to heat things up with Joe's Long Cayenne, an organic seed that grows 10"-long peppers and the Spicy Micro Mix. These Granadero tomatoes look promising and I'm always interested in Toscano Kale.

At Seeds Savers Exchange, check out the Bunte Forellenschluss lettuce, a bright green butterhead that splashed with maroon speckles or the Turkey Craw Bean good for snap bean or drying, said to have been found in a wild turkey's caw!

Over at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, they're especially excited about new tomatoes this year. Check out their Icicle Series from the former Soviet Union and Chocolate Stripes, a mahogany-colored slicer with bright red stripes.

Renee's Garden is featuring a new smaller cabbage called Pixie, a Wine County Mesclun Mix and Garden Ferns lettuce on their New Introductions page.

The Cook's Garden is featuring a lovely, pointed purple cabbage called Kalibos, a deep green, super sweet cherry tomato called Green Envy, and Orion, a compact fennel variety perfect for smaller places.

Related: Planning Your Vegetable Garden: The Seed Catalog Roundup

(Image: Seeds Savers Exchange)

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.