I was at Soergel Orchards interviewing Dave Will for an upcoming Post-Gazette story exploring professional's favorite garden tools.
We had a wonderful discussion about this cool stirrup hoe and then the subject turned to organic gardening. Dave grew up gardening without chemicals and is a kindred spirit when it comes to the subject.
I couldn't believe my luck when two of my favorite varieties were in the rack.
'Astro' arugula was the most prolific variety I grew last season. I'm an arugula fanatic, planting five or six types every year. 'Astro' has large rounded leaves and will keep churning them out all summer when other varieties either go to seed or shut down until things cool off.
It can take some cold weather, but wasn't quite as hardy as the smaller, wild arugulas I grow. The spicy flavor of the leaves is wonderful and it's great to be able to pick plenty of them through the season.
'Chioggia' beet is also a favorite. This heirloom from the 1800's is named after an Italian fishing town. I've always wanted to try the improved variety 'Chioggia Guardsmark.' It's more uniform and bolt resistant than the original. It will be fun to compare it with its cousin.
I'll never forget the day my wife cut open her first 'Chioggia' beet, she called out to the garden and then brought the halved vegetable to me to show off the amazing, pink, concentric rings over white flesh.
It's the most beautiful beet in my opinion.
These are the first seed packets I've purchased this season and it makes me long for the spring when I can get the seeds started in the greenhouse.