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Bespoke Vegetables: 7 Very Special Edibles Every Cook Should Grow

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Bespoke Vegetables: 7 Very Special Edibles Every Cook Should Grow

November 16, 2018

Chef Dan Barber has a thing for gourds—and tubers, and peppers, and … well, just about any vegetable he serves at his sustainable-foods restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

For the recent launch of Row 7, his new seed company, Barber and co-founder Michael Mazourek came up with a list of seven edible plants that are the best-tasting versions of themselves. If you plant Row 7’s Koginut squash seeds, you won’t just be growing squash. You’ll be growing a cross, specially bred by plant-science professor Mazourek at Cornell University with “a flavor that’s sweet, intensely squash-y and totally delicious.”

Here’s a cheatsheet to Row 7’s first crop of bespoke vegetables and very special trial varieties:

Flame Beets

A packet of 0 seeds of Badger Flame Beets is $3.50.
Above: A packet of 100 seeds of Badger Flame Beets is $3.50.

WhyBeta vulgaris triumphs above all others: “All the vegetal sweetness of the beet, without the polarizing earthiness—the brilliant Badger Flame is here to redeem the beet’s dirty reputation.”

How: Direct sow (four to five weeks before the last frost) ½ inch deep. Or start seeds indoors five to seven weeks before last frost and transplant seedlings at two to three weeks.

When: 80 days to maturity (55 days if you like to harvest small beets).

New Potatoes

Currently sold out, a pound of Upstate Abundance Potato starts is $9.95.
Above: Currently sold out, a pound of Upstate Abundance Potato starts is $9.95.

Why: Not just an everyday Solanum tuberosum: “Cooks coveted its exceptionally creamy texture and nutty flavor.”

How: Direct sow 2-3 inch deep in mid to late spring (“will tolerate cool soil and frost”).

When: 100 days to maturity; (harvest at 75 days for new potatoes).

Koginut Squash

A packet of data-src=
Above: A packet of 12 Robin’s Koginut Squash seeds, certified organic, is $4.95.

Why: This Cucurbita moschata  is “an arranged marriage between two of our favorite squash, this stately little pumpkin offers the best of both: sweetness, smooth texture, storability, yield and a built-in ripeness indicator.”

How: Direct sow (after the last frost) ½ inch deep. Or start seeds indoors and transplant seedlings when soil temperatures reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

When: 110 days to maturity.

Cucumbers

A selection of  seeds of 708
Above: A selection of 20 seeds of 7082 Cucumber is $3.50.

Why: This experimental variety of Cucumis sativus is “a stubbled green slicer of modest stature but memorable flavor.”

How: Requires well-drained soil and warm temperatures; sow  ¼-½ inch deep after last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least 70˚F.

When: 58 days to maturity.

898 Experimental Squash

A packet of data-src=
Above: A packet of 12 seeds of Experimental 898 Squash is $4.95.

Why: Your new Curbita moschata crush, this is a mini butternut squash that “packs concentrated sweetness, flavor, and beta-carotene into a squash that fits in the palm of your hand.”

How: “Cover young plants to increase early growth and protect from insect pests. Remove covers at flowering to ensure pollination and fruit set.”

When: 110 days to maturity.

Habanada Peppers

Produced in New York,  seeds of heatless Habanada Peppers is $3.50.
Above: Produced in New York, 20 seeds of heatless Habanada Peppers is $3.50.

Why: These Capsicum chinense are related to habanero peppers, but without the tongue lashing: “Heatless—the result of a natural mutation in the field.”

How: Peppers need support to grow; provide trellises and cover young plants against the cold (until temperatures surpass 85 degrees Fahrenheit).

When: 100 days to maturity; (harvest at 70 days for green peppers).

Butternut Squash

Trial Variety Butternut 66data-src=
Above: Trial Variety Butternut 661 seeds are currently sold out.

Why: This is a Curbita moschata worth waiting for: “Designed to bring the best qualities of the Honeynut to the processing industry, Butternut 661 offers the same concentrated flavor, dry matter and beta-carotene in a larger, longer-storing package.”

How: Currently available to trial for “large-scale processors.”

When: 110 days to maturity.

Starting a vegetable garden from scratch? See more growing and design tips at Edible Gardens: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. See our archives of Plant-Based Diet recipes and read more:

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