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Catalogs for your green thumb

Given that January is National Mailorder Gardening Month, it comes as no big surprise that catalogs have begun trickling in.

Burpee's new catalog is sporting a beautiful tomato-themed cover, with delicious-looking fruits of yellow, red, orange and white gracing its first page. New Burpee exclusives include the Razzle Dazzle Hybrid Tomato, described as having a silky smooth texture, balanced flavor and shiny, deep raspberry color on tomatoes up to 12 ounces each. Fruit is promised in 75 days.

Tangerine Mama Hybrid Tomato (68 days) is being touted as the first yellow paste tomato that keeps its hue when cooked. The Italian Ice Tomato (65 days) are 1 to 11/2; inches small, like cream-colored cherry tomatoes. The Boxwood Basil is as ornamental as it is functional, mounding tightly in bushy plants with small leaves that resemble boxwood plants. It's being recommended for use in pesto.

The Cook's Garden intrigues with a new, colorful butterhead lettuce called Yugoslavian Red. Heads grow a foot across and boast green and red marbled leaves. Bean Parisian promises haricot verts with "a more complex flavor than typical green beans."

If you're tired of blowing $5 on a thimble-size glass of wheat grass juice at the health food store, why not try growing your own? The new red winter wheat from Thompson & Morgan resists mold and is being touted for its reliable germination and vigor.

At Seeds of Change, which sells only 100 percent certified organic seeds, new introductions include Quinoa Brightest Brilliant, which packs quite a protein punch. The grain plant also is gorgeous to look at, with rich burgundy, orange, yellow, white and pink flower head spikes. And Artichoke Imperial Star has been bred to produce artichokes in the first season, if exposed to three weeks of below-50-degree temperatures.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service