Hot Heirlooms for Northeast Gardens: What to Plant in Your Garden Now

Sustainable Seed Company's "Farmer John" Fendley shares his favorite vegetables for the Northeastern region.

After a cool spring, many Northeast gardens are just beginning to come alive. We caught up with "Farmer John" Fendley of Sustainable Seed Company, an online heirloom and organic seed company, and asked what three seeds we could plant in June in the Northeast.

"There are a lot of options now that spring is in full swing," Farmer John says. "Before you plant, I always remind people to ask themselves what they like to eat. Otherwise, you'll be wasting a lot of time and effort for the compost heap."

According to Farmer John, many people plant the same things year after year out of habit, and it's not always about what they like to eat. "Food prices are on the rise and quality is on the decline, so it makes sense to grow as many things as your family enjoys."

Fendley suggests taking a good look in your refrigerator and spice rack to see what you eat and cook with, and grow as much of that as you can. "I'm originally from Texas, where we ate a lot of okra and melons in the summertime, which might be out of the box for some northerners, but there is never a better time to try something new then when you grow it. The trick is to choose the right variety for the soil and climate." 

Farmer John's seed company offers more than 1,600 varieties of seed, many well suited for Northeast soil and climate.

Here's Fendley's top picks for what should be planted right now:

1. Watermelon Radish is beautiful with a bright pink center and pale green outer flesh. Originally from China, this gorgeous radish is stunning sliced in salads or pickled, and kids eat them up because of the color!

2. Japanese Red Kuri Squash's small size and big flavor make it perfect for the home gardener. Sometimes called "Baby Red Hubbard," this bright red teardrop-shape squash averages 5-8 pounds. Highly sought after by chefs, the sweet flesh has a delicate nutty flavor and is excellent in soups, desserts, tarts, cakes, blinis, pancakes, lasagna, risotto, vegetable stews and gratins. Very prolific and early to fruit, it's a must for Northeast gardens.

3. Minnesota Midget Melon is a fantastic melon that produces in only 70 days, making it perfect for Northeast gardens. Sweet and delicious, it's great in sorbet, fruit smoothies, or served with a dollop of fresh homemade ice cream, this midget melon packs a giant flavor punch!

No matter what you have in your garden, Farmer John says the important thing is to grow your own food. "We're only one generation removed from when almost every backyard had a garden," he says. "It's important for our children to see where they get their food from -- and the backyard is the perfect place to start."

Visit Sustainable Seed Company's website for more hot heirlooms to grow in your Northeastern garden. 


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