Though it seems way too early, garden catalogues have begun arriving in our mailboxes. For me, this always begins the process of planning for next year, if only in thought.

One thing that has lain dormant in my mind is the lack of space for (for me) specialty items. To that end, I have decided to add another raised bed to my gardening mix. Here are some of the things I want to grow in it. Mind you, I’m not thinking of large quantities of anything, but just a representative number so as to satisfy my cravings.

First, I love onions and have mostly been content with buying those bags of yellow found everywhere, from variety stores to supermarkets. These are the workhorses of the onion family, suitable, but not always ideal, for almost any use. Sure, I could continue to use these ho-hum onions and not bother growing my own. Besides, commercially-grown onions are relatively inexpensive, and widely available.

But those ads in the catalogues paint a different picture. Onions of different shapes, different sizes and different colors, intriguing and even a bit mysterious. Here are a few of the writeups for some onions. “Candy Hybrid. Bulbs grow as big as softballs with sweet, mild flavor, white flesh. Good keeper.”

Bigger than softballs? Good keepers? I want some of them.

Next, consider Red Candy Apple. “You can grow this onion anywhere across the country with great success. Produces large, uniform onions that are deep red and sweet as candy. So sweet, in fact, that some enjoy it like an apple.”

Well, I love sweet onions and what could be better than one advertised as being so sweet that you can eat it like an apple? Sounds good to me.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. There’s a wide world of onions out there and it seems a pity not to take advantage of it.

Radish Varieties

Since my main garden beds have little or no extra space, radishes rate as an out-of-reach luxury. But with a new bed devoted to varieties I don’t normally grow, why not indulge my fondness for radishes? Besides, I have recently learned a few things about radishes that make them even more desirable.

First, radishes keep in storage far longer than you might think. I have in my fridge, some French Breakfast radishes that a friend grew back in June. It is now December and the radishes remain fresh and crunchy. That alone would warrant a few rows of radishes in my new garden bed. But there’s more.

I enjoy pickled foods; from eggs to beets, these condiments add much to a meal. But pickled radishes? Yes indeed. A recent breakfast with my gardening friend Tony Wieman let to an eye-opening discovery. Tony waxed eloquent about some pickled radishes another friend gave to him.

“They’re more like a dessert than a pickled food,” Tony said. “You could easily sit down and eat a whole jar of them,” he said, smiling from ear-to-ear. Tony’s and my tastes share many similarities, so when he talks food, I listen.

According to Tony, a simple pickle of white vinegar and a small amount of sugar transforms plebian, sliced radishes to an exotic, gourmet dish. Truly, I never heard anyone wax so eloquently over radishes. There truly must be something special to all of this.

Tony plans on giving me a jar of pickled radishes and if they taste half as good as he portrays them, I want to grow my own.

Turnips and Kohlrabies

I’m not talking a lot here, but I also want a few short rows of turnips (not rutabagas, but real, purple-top turnips) and kohlrabies. I enjoy both these crops, but somehow never managed to find room for them. If all goes according to plan, that is going to change, and very soon.

Tom Seymour, of Frankfort, is a homeowner, gardener, forager, naturalist, registered Maine Guide, amateur astronomer, magazine and newspaper columnist, and book author.