- True Red Cranberry bean: An heirloom shelling bean–a pole bean–that supposedly goes back to the Native Americans. The beans are glossy, maroon, acorn-shaped things–really beautiful. And the flavor is just incredible. Why bother growing a shelling bean when you can buy a bag of them for a dollar in the grocery store? One bite of chili made with this one and you’ll get it.
- Blue Coco bean: A pole bean so beautiful I’d plant it as an ornamental. But its attractions go beyond its lovely lavender flowers and purple pods. It is also absolutely delicious at every stage–including the just rip them off the vine and stuff them in your mouth stage.
- Amplissimo Viktoria pea: a pea for drying that makes a really sweet, tasty hummus.
- Jarrahdale pumpkin: a beautiful grey-blue pumpkin with dense, vibrant orange flesh that makes the creamiest possible pies.
- Pineapple tomato: A red-streaked yellow variety that produces giant tomatoes a little too watery to be great fresh eating. This one is, however, a complete standout when roasted in a hot oven for 45 minutes and then tossed with loads of olive oil, sauteed garlic, and rosemary over pasta. I blame these tomatoes for at least four of the seven extra pounds I’m carrying this winter.
- Japanese Hulless corn: While the roadside stands near me sell such wonderful corn for corn on the cob that I don’t bother growing it, this variety is fun because it makes great oriental-style baby corn.
- Sangre potatoes: Not the tastiest right out of the ground, but an amazing keeper. We’re still eating them out of my not-so-cool cellar.
- Patty pan squashes: Beats the pants off of zucchini for tenderness and flavor.