Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Employee Favorites—we tried to keep the list short.

When chatting with a customer whether it be on the phone, via email, or in person, we are often asked which variety is our favorite to grow. If the customer can’t decide which variety to grow they will ask for our help, and it can often be hard for us to choose as well! When you talk to someone who works for Territorial you are talking to a fellow gardener, and our list of favorites is not a short one!

We have compiled a list of employee favorites—some from people who have been here as short as a year and some who have been here since before the company was bought by our current owners, Tom and Julie Johns.

In their words (some in more words than others) they tell you what they love to grow every year and why. Enjoy!


Christina B—with the company for 1 year.

There is nothing like the super snappy juicy flavor of a Super Sugar Snap pea to start the gardening season. Their trellising brings instant height to our raised beds and these peas provided a plentiful tasty harvest.

Korist and Delicacy White kohlrabi are tried and true, no-fuss staples in our garden that are always a part of our veggie platters. They are easy to grow and provide a crisp flavor with a hint of apple that is tasty at any stage.  

We have June bearing, Tristar and Seascape strawberries that seem to always bear an abundance of super sweet, juicy, mouth-watering, flavorful, delicious, lip-smacking good berries—could I say more?—that always ring in the warm days of summer. 

I love the bright red vivid colors and the tender sweet savory taste of our Red Ace and Merlin beets. They taste just as good young or mature. They are great raw, steamed or roasted. I tried Falcon from our trial grounds this summer and kept asking for more. Their sweet, earthy and amazingly tender flavor is unsurpassed. I can’t wait to sow them in my own garden!

Bye-bye grocery store carrots thanks to Rodelika and Yaya. We have a continual harvest throughout the year and thoroughly enjoy their deliciously sweet tender flavor that produces the right amount of crunch in every bite.

A fresh, mouth-watering melon from the garden is so lusciously sweet and juicy that it doesn’t seem like our summer would be complete without an abundance of scrumptious, yummy Athena cantaloupes. We absolutely love ‘em!

Everything about Delicata, Sweet Meat and Red Kuri squash is lovely. From watching the bees forage in their big white flowers in between our planted Borage to their mixture of colors at maturity dancing in the garden is always a pleasure to see. They are a great vegetable for storage, and their creamy wholesome flavor is wonderful in soups, pies and a mash with sweet potatoes, which is Molly's (my dog) favorite.

Our garden would not be complete without the wonderful taste of summer in full swing with home-grown tomatoes. There are so many flavorful varieties to choose from and new ones available to tempt our taste buds every year. Our favorites would have to be Sungold for their pop-in-your mouth delightful sweetness and abundant harvest; and Black for their all-around meatiness with just the right hint of sunshine sweetness to add to any summer salad.


Aaron J—with the company for 1 ½ years.

Oxheart carrot: While this carrot is not the fastest to mature, it has phenomenal ability to hold without splitting. I also like this variety because it’s the easiest carrot to harvest! No digging required to pull these gems up. This works well for the toddler who likes to help harvest!

Michal eggplant: This is a great performer in my garden and makes the best eggplant Parmesan. I like to put a few extra plants in containers so I have enough when my sauce tomatoes are ripe.  This way I almost have a complete meal from the garden when I make my eggplant parm.

Ambition shallot: An outstanding variety I grow every year.  Shallots are prized in my kitchen as they can store for a long time and I prefer the flavor. I always use these with sautéed collard greens.   

Flashy Trout’s Back lettuce: When other lettuces have bolted or become bitter, this variety just holds on. It is a family favorite for summer Caesar salads for its buttery flavor and vibrant colors.

Wega parsley: While every gardener should grow lots of different herbs, I always have parsley around. Whether a garnish or for flavoring, the glossy leaves have a great look and clean flavor to match. I often use chopped parsley with garlic chives for an herbed cream cheese spread on bagels.

Mellow Star pepper: An early and prolific pepper that has earned its spot in my garden. These peppers are thin walled and great in stir fry, tempura, and even lightly seared on the grill. I’ve grown these for several years and am always impressed by how many peppers I get.

Mrs. Wrinkles pumpkin:  I am pretty picky about my pumpkin preferences, but this gal takes the Halloween cake. I love the dark orange color and the crazy amount of ribbing on the pumpkins. It certainly gives my fall decorations a unique look that stands out from the rest of the neighborhood.

Cuore di Bue tomato: If I was stranded on an island this is the one tomato I would take with me. A great sauce or slicing tomato that rewards the gardener with loads of pleated delicious fruit. Whether its BLT’s, caprese salad, or spaghetti sauce this tomato has served me well. 


Andrea M— with the company for 5 years.
These are a few of my favorite things......(la la la la)

Tromboncino squash: This is such an amazing, productive plant and it's really cool to grow and the flavor is sweet and delicate to boot!! I love to grow these over hog panels that I arch over a garden bed, the vines grow up and then a few weeks later little delicate squashes start to hang down like exotic jewels. I've had them get up to 5 feet long and still remain very delicate and tender!!

Cardoon: Artichokes are such a visually striking structural plant for within the landscape. I especially love cardoon for its silvery green foliage and the intense purple flowers that draw bees in a frenzy. Cardoons get so massive that they look "otherworldy" and I get so many questions about "what is that plant?" I've never actually tried to eat them, as I just love the look so much, but it's cool that I could if I wanted.

Veronica cauliflower: It's a cauliflower! It's a broccoli! It’s both! I grew this variety for the first time a few years ago. I went into the garden in the late fall surveying what was available to eat. Kale and unknown brassicas were all mixed about, (the labels having long gone away), a few plants looked "suspicious" so I peered a bit closer and inside the folds of the leaves was the coolest, most unusual green spiraled Romanesco cauliflower!!  I watched it continue to grow and finally, it was large enough to harvest and we just ate it raw!

Bora King radish: This is a large radish with a sweet spicy flavor. The coloration of the roots is stunning! The purple rays into the center and when you cut them into a salad the presentation is striking! Pretty and delectable.

Galeaux D'eysines winter squash: Very productive, I once had this and Banana Pink Jumbo in a front yard gardenit was a mass of interwoven squash vines! Towards the end of the season I started noticing these strange "warty" squash peering out from the leafy mass. That year, I harvested 5-6 full-sized heavily "warted" winter squash! I even took some to the local Fair. These French heirloom squash provided me with food all winter long.


Kat B—with the company for 11 years.
 
Black tomato: Love at first bite! I tend to favor heirloom tomatoes, and this one never lets me down. Its silky flesh, sweet flavor and huge fruit make it a staple in my garden. My first year at Territorial saw me growing 27 different varieties in my garden, and Black outshone all the others. It’s been my favorite ever since. My garden is slightly sun-starved, but these are always my first to ripen after the cherry tomatoes. I love serving it on fresh, homemade pizza crust—fresh sliced tomato topped with basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with asiago, then cooked in a fast oven. Heavenly!

Moon & Stars watermelon: I’m a sucker for variegation, and this star-studded watermelon stole my heart. Embraced in long vines of freckled foliage, you couldn’t ask for a more ethereal plant. The big, globe-shaped melons have a blood-red heart that absolutely overflows with the sweetest, most refreshingly delicious flesh on earth!
 
Whitewater Acanthus: Again with the variegation. In my shady yard I’m always looking for plants that create their own light. This luminous Bear’s Breeches does that and more. Its grand stature and glossy foliage make it a magnificent structural plant to build the landscape around. It fits beautifully surrounded by native sword ferns, hardy fuchsia, golden St. John’s Wort and heucheras.

Red Tiger Abutilon: Abutilon are among my favorite flowering plants, and Red Tiger’s golden-veins against its deep crimson, crêpe-like flowers are truly eye-popping. I keep these plants in large containers, so they can be admired up close on the patio or walkway and taken to an unheated cold frame for the winter. If you have the light and space, they can move indoors in winter. Who wouldn’t want a Red Tiger in their living room?

Borage: I couldn’t live without this amazing plant. If I planted it just for the bees it attracts it would be worthwhile, but given its beauty, flavor, history, and ease of cultivation, it’s indispensable in my garden. A self-sowing, hardy annual, this throw-and-grow plant will gladly re-seed year after year. The seedlings are easy to spot and remove if they are ill-placed, but I allow a selection to grow among the squash and cucumber. The sky blue, star-shaped flowers are irresistible to pollinating insects, so they make great companions to cucurbits. The blooms are also edible and have a flavor reminiscent of cucumbers, so they’re perfect for garnishing a plate, decorating cakes, tossing in drinks or adding color to salads. Historically they were used as a spirit elevating herb when served floating in white wine. I tell my guests that if the borage flowers don’t actually elevate their spirits, hopefully the wine will.

Royal Queen Iochroma: A magnificent centerpiece plant covered in clusters of slender, trumpet-shaped blooms in a deep, purple blue that’s so rare and stunning. This brugmansia relative is a heavy drinker and feeder, so daily doses of liquid fertilizer keep the plants happy and blooming.

Strawberry Spinach: Another throw-and-grow plant, Strawberry Spinach lives up to its confusing name by producing delicious, nutty leaves and berry-like fruit that have a sweet flavor. A coworker introduced this vegetable to me, comparing the flavor of the fruit to the candy Boston Baked Beans. I was sold! It’s been growing in my garden ever since.

Vegetable Spaghetti squash: I could eat this every day. Easy to prepare, substantial and satisfying, versatile and long-storing, I grow as much of it as I can fit in the garden. Steamed or baked, it cooks up fairly quickly and makes a great, non-starchy pasta replacement. I love it dressed down with olive oil and pesto or dressed up with sun-dried tomatoes, vodka sauce and grated cheese.


Stephany G- with the company for 16 years.
Although I try to grow something different and new each year, my favorites are varieties Territorial has sold for quite a while.

Thelma Sanders' Sweet Potatonot a sweet potato but an acorn squash! Most acorn squash varieties are stringy but this wonder is more textured like a sweet potato! I store these in my garage and have cooked them in late spring and they were still just as good as when cooked in late fall.

I know most of you will say Sungold is your favorite cherry tomato and for good reason. I grow this one every year – it is that good. Very sweet with a little tang.

Cherokee Purple tomato was recommended to me by a coworker. I love the rich, almost wine-like flavor this one offers. It also looks so pretty sliced on your summer plate.

I love salads with lots of texture, color, and diversity. With the Tangy Mesclun Blend I add a few tomatoes, sliced cucumber and my salad is complete. I learned this lunch time trick from daughter: put your salad toppings in the bottom of your bowl then add the Mesclun blend. At lunch time, add your salad dressing to the bowl, cover and shake. Quick, crisp, flavorful salad ready to eat!


Tim R—with the company for 18 years. 

Ascent pepper is an excellent yielder, and produces longer in to the season than others. My favorite pepper for drying.

Purple Sun carrot is unlike other purple carrots. It's tasty eaten fresh and when cooked it doesn’t lose its purple color.





Superschmelz kohlrabi gets very large without getting woody. It has a crispy, sweet flavor that’s perfect for coleslaw or as I like to call it “kohlrabi-slaw”. I also love it grilled.

Duganski is my go-to garlic. A large-bulbed hardneck with excellent rich garlic flavor. It stores well and I use it in everything!


Kathy L—with the company for 31 years.

German Butterball potato: SUPER delicious, fluffy, buttery bakers and this year I harvested HUGE tubers from my kind of late planting.

Ancho Magnifico pepper: Always have a great harvest of large dark green peppers that make wonderful mildly spicy stuffed peppers.

Striped Roman tomato: I always plant this one for making sauce/paste. The flavor is SO rich and the sauce has a nice deep color.

Jade II bean: I can tons of beans in the summer and I love the yields I get from this one as well as how good their flavor is after canning.

Aargh! Now I'm hungry for stuffed peppers with green beans and potatoes on the side!!!


Matthew K—with the company for 34 years.

Nero Di Toscana kale: Big productive plants that reliably make it through the winter.

Pizza pepper: Lots of fruit. Nice thick walls. Matures early enough to get a lot of red peppers.

Cuore di Bue tomato: Big fruit. I've had a lot that weighed close to a pound. Dense flesh, small seed cavity, great for drying.

Belstar broccoli: Large head, tight buds, lots of side shoots after initial harvest.

Mammoth Sweet Basil: Huge leaves!





There you have it. Our list could go on and on—but hopefully this gives you a good idea. Happy gardening!

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