It would be impossible to have a complete overview of 2018 seed catalogs, without delving into Burpee’s botanical imagination. Based in Warminster, in my home state of Pennsylvania, for many, the name Burpee is synonymous with victory gardening.
I often buy a lot of Burpee seeds at our local Walmart, where smaller packets are sold at lower prices than I find in the catalog. Since we farm only one quarter of an acre, and fresh seeds are always best, the Walmart and/or grocery store packets are attractive choices for us.
However, there is a downside to relying just on local choices and neglecting the catalog. I tend not to see some of the more unusual varieties that I want to try out. A few years ago, Walmart sold a multi-pack, featuring an amazing cherry white cherry tomato called “Italian Ice.” White tomatoes are rare. This tiny white tomato was the whitest I had ever seen with a milky quartz-like quality. Now, where has Italian Ice gone?
I can’t find it in this year’s catalog but will search for it online and update you in my weekly gardening blog.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at ten notable garden selections that you might want to try. Frugal gardeners take several deep breaths, and think “investment.”
- Atlas Tomato: This full-sized, indeterminate beefsteak tomato has a habit compact enough to be grown in containers. In effect, this tomato was engineered precisely for that purpose. Atlas promises traditional flavor, and so the plant size is what really should entice a gardener to spend $6.99 for a package of 25 seeds. Tomato seeds tend to germinate and grow well. This new variety promises city and small-space gardeners an abundant harvest.
- Party Dress Morning Glory: Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not a morning person. Yet, morning glories have always given me inspiration to try to be one. “Heavenly Blue” is my eternal default morning glory; however, this year, I’d like to have “Party Dress,” a magenta bloom with a bold white center, climbing my fences, trellis and mailbox pole.
- Confetti Hybrid: Small, multi-colored munchable peppers are trending. And with good reason! They make bright additions to crudité platters, with this variety ranging from “green-striped to red.” Burpee describes them as “chameleon-colored,” and I love that description. There is considerable poetry in this pepper, combining the promise of a confetti shower and chameleonic colors.
- Mashed Potatoes Hybrid Winter Squash: This winter squash cooks up to look just like mashed potatoes! I want to try it as a mashed potatoes alternative since I need to curb carbs. (Yes, I am diabetic.) The outer appearance of this novelty seems to me that of an acorn squash; however, it’s vanilla ice cream white.
- Strawberry Blonde Marigold: I recall when white marigolds made us quake with marigolden excitement. Yet white was not the end of the rainbow for this old-time, cherished flower. The “Strawberry Blonde” marigold comes in shades of “yellow-pink” and “pink-plum,” according to the catalog description.
- Albion strawberry (plant): Store-bought strawberries are often bitter, making it necessary to add sweetener to bring out the berry’s ambrosial flavor. This variety promises sweetness, and three seasons of fruit-bearing! Given those qualities, $19.99 for 25 bare root plants weighs in as a bargain.
- On Deck Hybrid corn: Get your containers ready for this petite marvel. Nine seeds go into each 24-inch container, so literally you can grow corn on an apartment balcony. While we haven’t grown corn in many years due to our space limitations – and we don’t live in an apartment – this variety offers me hope of growing sweet corn again.
- All Blue potato: Last year we grew potatoes in recycled Tidy Cat cat litter buckets. We harvested tiny, new potatoes, with extraordinary, fresh-earthy flavor. In the past I have grown amethyst purple potatoes and rare pink-fleshed ones. I found them to be persnickety crops, frankly, but at the same time, I was really happy to glean a mini harvest. The true-blue color of this intriguing potato appears genuinely blue rather than violet or indigo. Imagine sky-blue mashed potatoes! Imagine the phytonutrients hiding in this hue! Blue, purple and pink potatoes give even a carb-evader an excuse to indulge.
- Sky Series petunia (plants): These blooms encompass pink petunias with white flecks, and the “Night Sky” variety, an opulent purple with the same striking white splashes. Petunia lovers will want to invest in these new flowers.
- Black Cat petunia (plants): In ancient Egypt black cats were the most treasured color of cat, said to be bringers of the best fortune. Europeans later got this tradition horribly and tragically backwards. Black flowers are among the rarest in nature. Finding these rare petunias at your local greenhouse will surely be your good luck. While I have seen them planted locally, I have not been able to find them at any of the greenhouses.
Growing up with Burpee
I have been gardening since I was a small child, digging into this hard-Appalachian dirt with a kitchen spoon, back in the day when seeds cost little more than a bag of penny candy. The seeds in this catalog are not cheap, even by 2018 standards. With shipping and handling, and depending on what you order, three packs may run $30, or more. You may want to check out Walmart or grocery store selections before ordering from the catalog, if you only want to purchase a limited amount of seeds.
It is important to put the price of these seeds in perspective. First, you are purchasing the Cadillac of seeds, much horticultural history, and many hybrids, which are more labor-intensive and expensive to produce. I plan to purchase the Atlas tomato, whose seeds I may or may not find at local stores. Even at just under $7 a pack, and more if I need to get it shipped, I will probably harvest several hundred dollars’ worth of tomatoes for fresh summer eating, salsa and sauce making, and dehydrating.
Over decades, my favorite Burpee seed selection has been the “Long Keeper” tomato. This one-of-a-kind love apple ripens slowly (here) and stores beautifully into November — and sometimes until December! Imagine stretching your fresh tomato crop, here in the North, until Christmas. It is quite possible.
“Long Keeper” is nothing new, but for many of us, it remains a must-have.
W. Atlee Burpee Company
300 Park Avenue
Warminster, PA 18784
Seeds, plants and gardening supplies for home gardens – Large, exclusive selection: Heirloom and organic seeds and plants. Vegetable, flower, herb, fruit, perennials …
copyright 2018 by Maria Jacketti