Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Garden on February 7, 2018

Unseasonably warm weather and sunny skies are prompting spring-like growth in the garden. What a difference a year makes. My February Update for 2017 was all about how incredibly WET it was, complete with a video of a gopher tunnel gushing water. It's not official yet but I have no doubt that we're stuck in drought mode again. The latest long range forecast hints at rain for SoCal next week but won't commit to saying that we too might get some of the goodness.

Here's a sign of the weird times, tomatoes ripening in February. I've NEVER had this happen in the 20+ years that I've been growing veggies.

Piccolo Dattero Tomatoes

The tomato plants are certainly tired looking but look at all the ripening tomatoes on them. Would you be able to cut them down? On the contrary, I think I'll feed them.

Piccolo Dattero Tomato Plants
The rest of the 2017 tomato plants are long gone and the space that they occupied is now devoted to favas and a new experiment that is in progress. I've added Golden Sweet snow peas to the mix. They can share the trellis with the favas.

I started both the favas and the snow peas in paper pots. This is the first time that I've started favas in paper pots, I usually direct sow them, but I got the tomato plants out so late that I wanted to try to give the favas a faster start and it seems to have worked.

Golden Sweet Snow Pea Seedling
Pepper plants still linger in one corner of the bed. I'm trying to get low growing snap and snow peas and chickpeas started in paper pots to plant in the rest of the bed. The next round of snow peas have germinated but I've killed off two rounds of snap peas, they keep rotting. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, are snap pea seeds more susceptible rot?

You can see in the next bed on the far right that I've got the cage draped with lightweight Agribon fabric. A summer tactic in February, shading the cool weather crops to try to protect them from sun and heat. The lettuces are looking really good but I sure hope they don't get the urge to bolt.

The overwintered peas are in full bloom.

Peas are setting. These are shelling peas.

The Pink Lettucy mustard doesn't seem to suffer from the warm weather and neither does the Batavia broccoli. But the poor broccoli is still being attacked. I think that this time it's birds, they are after the developing (too early) heads. So after I did the photo shoot I covered most of the rest of this bed with fine netting.

Cabbages are growing quickly, especially the napa cabbages.

I can start harvesting Tronchuda Beira.

Broccolini isn't happy with the heat. The netting will provide a bit of shade.

One of the cabbage plants died so I set out 2 that were held in reserve but I think they stayed in pots a bit too long.

I want to save seeds for Syrian Medieval chard, a quick growing, quick bolting, but delicious variety. A minimum of 20 plants is required to produce seeds to maintain a genetically healthy strain of seeds and I don't remember how many I planted but it's more than 20, many of them are doubled up.

My attempt to force the celery to grow upright and produce longer stalks is working to a degree. I've used newspaper to do the same thing before but that produces a cozy place for the ants to take up residence and farm aphids. Blocking the light would also blanch the stems and I don't want to do that with this celery because of its lovely pink hue.

The cover crop in bed #3 is growing well. I'm still keeping it cover with lightweight Agribon fabric both to protect it from the birds and to help keep it from drying out. I've turned the drip system back on but I'm keeping the time on at a bare minimum.

The overwintered pole Frieda World snow peas are ready to start harvesting.

That's the latest, not a complete tour, just what's new since the last one.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Harvest Monday - February 5, 2018

The weather has taken a turn for the weird again. Or is it the new "normal". It's warm, warm, warm, and dry, dry, dry. The big "D" word is on our lips again. It's scary.

The garden continues to produce in spite of, or perhaps aided by, the weirdness.

Pink Lettucy Mustard
The Pink Lettucy mustard had quite a growth spurt. I barely blanched that bunch, just a quick dip in boiling water, and then chopped it and sauteed it with some minced garlic, tomato paste, and fermented Aji Angelo pepper flakes. They were a nice contrast to a couple of baked super sweet purple skinned white fleshed (name unknown) sweet potatoes that I bought at the farmer's market. That and some Duck and Mushroom sausage made for a delicious and filling Sunday Night Supper.

Gustus Brussels Sprouts
The Brussels sprouts look far more impressive in the photo than in reality.

Batavia Broccoli and Broccolini
Same goes for some broccoli and broccolini shoots.

Petite Snap Pea Greens
But the photo of the Petite Snap Greens leafy tendrils does them no justice. I've been enjoying those in salads and even stuffed some in a couple of veggie wraps that Dave and I enjoyed on a big hike this past Saturday.

Pink Plume Celery
I whacked the runty Pink Plume celery plants way back.

Bora King and Mini Purple Daikon Radishes
Here's a harvest that I was quite impressed with, and of course the photo does them no justice. These small daikon radishes may be small so far as daikon radishes go, but the roots alone average over 1/2 pound each. Nice. I saved the greens too since they are not at all prickly and should make a nice mess of sauteed greens.

Orion Fennel
And I got yet one more nice fennel bulb from the root that has been lingering in the garden for the better part of a year now and has a couple more bulbs coming along. Wow.

The chart below shows the high and low temperatures for the past week. The temperature scale is on the left. February? Winter? Really? The same is forecast for at least the next week. From the National Weather Service: "Still no clear indication of when we can expect to see the pattern substantially changing. Long range CFS and ECMWF continue to highlight a potential return to rain starting around the 20th." Rain in 2 weeks. Maybe. Elsewhere in the forecast is mention of "elevated fire weather concerns". Fire. February. F***. Unreal.

Be sure to head on over to Our Happy Acres where Dave has resumed as host for Harvest Monday. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Grow List for 2018 - New Peppers

If you've read my blog for a while you probably know what a pepper junkie I am.  I love all sorts of peppers so long as they aren't too flaming hot. (125 pounds of love last year). Capsicum baccatum peppers have become especially dear to me. They typically have a very fruity flavor and are very aromatic. They range from completely sweet to blistering hot. Their faults are few, in my opinion, mainly that they can be late to very late to ripen and they can be very large plants. Their propensity for lateness is offset by their tolerance for cold weather. In my mild climate that means that with a bit of protection I can be harvesting peppers in the dead of winter. Their cold hardiness also makes it possible to keep them going for a couple of years and occasionally longer.

Once upon a time I fell in love with mild Capsicum chinense peppers, kin to Habaneros, because of their incredible complex flavors and aromas. But I fell out of love with them when I moved to my current home where the climate is cooler and where they just aren't happy growers. Chinense peppers are not at all tolerant of cold weather and are also more prone to falling victim to fungal diseases and they tend to ripen late. So that lateness coupled with their low tolerance to cold equaled rather disappointing harvests. I gave up on them years ago but last year I experimented with a couple of new ones and had some success so this year I'm trying yet one more mild habanero.

Sweet Capsicum annuum peppers are also high on my must grow list. These are to be enjoyed fresh in season or preserved. I love roasted sweet peppers and enjoy them straight off the grill or frozen or dehydrated. A lot of my sweet pepper crop ends up sliced and dehydrated. I've grown quite a few sweet peppers over the years and have settled on a good variety of them that are well suited to my climate and that are excellent eating so I don't feel compelled to experiment with growing a bunch of new ones so there's only a couple of new ones on my grow list this year.

I'm also a fan of what I call seasoning peppers, meaning that rather than eating them fresh I typically process them in some way to use to season a variety of dishes. These come from all three species and can range from totally sweet to hot. The main methods I use to process them are dehydrating them for powder or flakes or for reconstituting for sauces. Or my latest passion which is fermenting them to make hot sauces, pastes, or flakes. And of course not all the peppers that I grow are good for just fresh eating or seasoning, particularly the sweet peppers, I've been making wonderful fermented pepper pastes with sweet peppers.

The two new sweet peppers are Mehmet's Sweet Turkish and Relleno Ecuador Sweet. Mehmet's Sweet appears to be similar to the unnamed long sweet Turkish pepper that I grew in 2017 and I want to grow both of them in 2018 to compare them. One difference though is that Mehmet's starts off more yellow than the unnamed pepper. I've been looking for a pepper like this that will be good in the green stage for fresh eating or frying. I really liked the unnamed one in the green stage so it will be fun to compare. The other new sweet pepper is Relleno Ecuador Sweet. That one just grabbed my attention when I was trying to fill out a minimum order for live plants that I purchased from Cross Country Nurseries this year.

I'm not going to go into detail about why I chose each and every new pepper but here's a few highlights.

One reason why I sprang for some live plants this year is because they have Aji Cacho de Cabra and I've never seen seeds offered for that variety. I've been searching for Cacho de Cabra ever since I took a hiking trip in Patagonia a few years ago and was introduced to Merkén which is a spice blend featuring smoked Cacho de Cabra peppers. Well, after placing my order I realized that what I ordered is a baccatum pepper but Cacho de Cabra pepper is supposed to be an annuum. Oh well, it just means that I get to try a new baccatum pepper and the search for the real Cacho de Cabra continues.

Now about some of the new baccatums! One of them turns out to be a California heirloom, supposedly brought from Chile during the Gold Rush and widely used for many years to make Italian canned Wax Pepper pickles. They are supposed to be especially good when they are green, pickled or not. So it's fun to find something that's a slice of California history and I'm looking forward to not having to wait until the end of the year to enjoy this particular baccatum. More of the story follows in the description below.

I'm also very intrigued by the Sugar Rush baccatums, Red and Peach. They are supposed to be very sweet with tropical flavors. My only reservation is the heat level which may be higher than I typically like, but on the other hand, many hot peppers don't reach their full heat potential in my garden. I've also been dealing with some pretty hot peppers lately by removing the cores, ribs, and seeds and that brings the heat down to a level I can enjoy. So I'm looking forward to trying these sugary treats regardless of how spicy they turn out to be.

Here's a summary by species of the new peppers that I'm trying. Photos and descriptions from the seed and plant sources follow. All of the peppers that are on my potential grow list are on my list of 2018 Planned Varieties.

Capsicum annuum
: Aleppo (3), Berbere (3), Mehmet's Sweet Turkish (2), Polvadera (1), Relleno Ecuador Sweet (3), Urfa Biber (3), Yesil Tatli (4)

Capsicum baccatum: Aji Banana (3), Aji Cacho de Cabra (3), Aji Marchant (1), Queen Laurie (4), Sugar Rush Peach (2), Sugar Rush Red (4)

Capsicum chinense: Cheiro do Norte (3)

(1) Adaptive Seeds
(2) Baker Creek Seeds
(3) Cross Country Nurseries
(4) Refining Fire Chiles

Here's the details on all the newbies listed in alphabetical order.

Aji Banana - medium; Andean Aji; 4 to 5.5 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thin flesh; matures from green to orange; pendant pods; green leaves; 30 to 36 inches tall; Very Late Season (90+ days); from S. America; C. baccatum.

Aji Cacho de Cabra - hot; Andean Aji; 3.5 to 4 inches long by 0.375 to 0.5 inches wide; medium thin flesh; matures from green to red; upright pods become pendant; green leaves; 30 to 36 inches tall; Late Season (80-90 days); from Chile; used by the Mapuche Indians to make Merken (Merqueen) spice blend; C. baccatum.

Aji Marchant (Organic) Capsicum baccatum. Hot. 65 days green, 80 days red. A very rare, northern adapted C. baccatum species of hot pepper. 3″ long, waxy-yellow fruit ripen to a classic orange-red pepper color. Aji Marchant is usually harvested under-ripe when still green and used for pickling. The immature peppers are especially flavorful with a unique earthy-citrus bite that is not overly spicy. An excellent frying pepper at all levels of ripeness, they also make tasty dried pepper flakes after ripening to a bright red. It is one of the best northern adapted examples of this species we have found. Aji Marchant has the tantalizing history of being used in some of the Italian wax pepper pickles made by the California canning industry during the early and mid-1900s. Known by many different brand names, our variety came to us with the name Marchant. The story goes that Chilean immigrants brought these seeds with them when they moved to California during the 1849 gold rush. Also known as Chileno peppers, they quickly became a favorite in northern California and the Central Valley. At the time, northern California was a cultural melting pot and soon Italian immigrants adopted the peppers and renamed them Italian Wax peppers. They were canned and sold by many names including: Marchant, Sierra Nevada Chileno, Lone Pine Peppers, Vallecito Peppers, and California Italian Wax peppers. It is unclear if these are synonyms or genetically distinct yet related varieties. Now rare, Aji Marchant is only grown by a few farms and gardeners in the Central Valley of California, the Sierra Nevada foothills, and the the San Francisco Bay area. We are happy to reintroduce the seed commercially in hopes of preserving it for future generations. For more history check out:

Aleppo - mild; 3.5 to 4 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Drying, Powder; from Syria; aka Halaby pepper; C. annuum.

Berbere - medium; 3 to 4 inches long by 0.5 to 0.75 inches wide; medium thin flesh; matures from green to brownish red to red; upright pods become pendant; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); from Ethiopia; C. annuum.

Cheiro do Norte - mild; Habanero Elongated; 2.5 to 3.25 inches long by 1.25 to 1.5 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from pale green to pale orange; pendant pods; green leaves; 18 to 24 inches tall; Late Season (80-90 days); from Brazil; C. chinense.

Mehmet’s Sweet Turkish 65-70 days. Introduced by Dr. Mehmet Oztan of two seeds in pod heirlooms, this incredible pepper hails from Turkey. These sweet peppers are long, green, yellow turning to red. The fruits are tapered and crunchy, averaging 7-8 inches long. Best for grilling or fresh eating.

Polvadera (Organic) Capsicum annuum. Medium Hot. 65 days green, 80 days red. A quintessential example of the New Mexico chile. Flavor is true to type with an earthy sweetness, notes of dried cherry, and a slight acidic bite that is punchy but not super hot. When compared to Chimayo, Polvadera has much larger fruit with thicker walls making it a great pepper for green chile dishes such as chile verde pork. However the fruit wall thickness is not as thick as the modern NuMex processing types, which makes Polvadera easier to dry. When ripe and dry, the color is a deep translucent red. Originally from Polvadera, a community located 65 mile south of Albuquerque. Every village and town in New Mexico seems to have its own local type of chile. It is a wonderful tradition that is important to New Mexico’s identity. We graciously received this variety from Travis Mckenzie of Grow The Future, located in Albuquerque.

Queen Laurie (Capsicum baccatum) - The Queen Laurie pepper is from Peru. It ripens from green to orange. It is very crunchy and sweet. It has a heat level above a jalapeno. The fruit of the Queen Laurie can get over 4 inches long and about a 1/2 inch in diameter. The Queen Laurie chile plants like other baccatum varieties can get over 5 feet tall. This is a great medium sauce pepper. Also great for being used like a jalapeno popper!

Relleno Ecuador Sweet - sweet; 4 to 6 inches long by 0.75 to 1.25 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Roasting, Fried/Stir-Fried; from Ecuador; C. annuum.

Sugar Rush Peach A sumptuous snacking pepper, Sugar Rush Peach is by far the most fun pepper to eat. The long, peach colored fruits are packed with loads of super sweet, tropical flavor, and the seeds bring a smokey, complex heat that when used together, creates a wild flavor experience unparalleled in any pepper we have tried. This exciting new open-pollinated variety was bred by hot pepper prodigy Chris Fowler of Wales. Chris credits this amazing variety as being a happy accident courtesy of adventurous pollinating insects buzzing between various varieties of capsicum baccatum, or Aji Peppers. The result: super early, high yields of these exquisite sweet hot peppers.

Sugar Rush Red (Capsicum baccatum) - This is the original Aji Sugar Rush variety that comes from South America. The Peach and Cream variants were discovered by Welsh Grower Chris Fowler and come from the Red. The Sugar Rush Red like other Aji types is very fruity and sweet with a heat level below habaneros. They are very prolific and need a long season. The peppers ripen from green to dark red and are elongated. They are about 4 to 6 inches in length. They are excellent for salsas, roasting and stuffing. The Sugar Rush Red chile plants usually need staking to support and can grow over 5 feet tall.

Urfa Biber - mild; Blocky; 4 to 6 inches long by 1.5 to 2 inches wide; medium thick flesh; matures from green to red; pendant pods; green leaves; 24 to 30 inches tall; Mid Season (70-80 days); Uses: Drying, Large Stuffing, Powder; from Turkey; C. annuum.

Yesil Tatli (Capsicum annuum) - A very rare sweet variety from Turkey thats usually dried to make a sweet seasoning powder. It's also called Yesil Tatli Biber. The plants produce fruits that are about 6 inches long and just under an inch in diameter. The peppers taper down to a point. The Yesil Tatli peppers ripen from green to yellow to red. They can also be roasted, fried and made into a nice sweet sauce. The Yesil Tatli chile plants grow just over 2 feet tall.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Grow List For 2018 - What's New

I'm going to do two posts about the new varieties of veggies that I've chosen for 2018 because I got a bit carried away. I'll post about peppers separately but first you get to see everything else.

In alphabetical order of veggie type, descriptions and photos from the sources follow. These are just the new varieties I'm planning to grow in 2018. To see the full grow list click HERE. Seed sources for all the vegetables that I'm growing are shown on the full list.

There's a few things that I'm particularly interested in this year. I'm giving soybeans/edamame another try. I love edamame but it seems to be impossible to find ones that aren't imported from China. Really? We grow TONS of soybeans in the US, why not Edamame? Anyway, I gave up on them in previous years because they were guaranteed to attract bunnies. Now that I've surrounded my entire veggie garden with hardware cloth I'm going to try one more time.

Doucette d'Alger is a cornsalad/mache relative that likes heat. I'm hoping that it will fill in the salad greens gap that I usually experience in late summer and early fall.

Beni Houshi mizuna is a stunner, how could I resist.

Hilmar parsley root is decidedly homely looking but I hope it adds more interest to the winter veggie scene along with Improved Helenor rutabaga.

So here's the lineup.

Asian Greens: Peking Ta Ching Koo Pai Tsai

Beans: Malwai Malachite Green dry beans, Hank's Xtra Special Baking Bean, Panther Soybean/Edamame, Castandel bush snap bean, Gold Nectar pole snap bean.

Beet: Sweetheart

Cabbage: Filderkraut, Violaceo di Verona, Pai Tsai napa

Carrot: Kyoto Red

Celeriac/Celery Root: Prinz

Chives: Polyvit

Cilantro/Coriander: Indian

Collards: Yellow Cabbage

Corn Salad: Doucete d'Algers

Cucumber: Little Potato

Kale: Madeley

Lettuce: Queen of Crunch Crisphead, Tennis Ball Butterhead

Mustard/Mizuna: Beni Houshi mizuna

Parsley Root: Hilmar

Pea: Magnolia Blossom Snap, Royal Snow

Potato: French Blue Belle

Rutabaga: Improved Helenor

Spinach: Amsterdam Prickly Seeded, Little Hero Spinach

Squash: Tatume summer, Doran Round butternut

Tomatillo: Cisineros

Tomato: Brad's Atomic Grape, Cesare's Canestrino di Lucca Paste, Pigletwillie's French Black, Rose Hill Pink Plum, Tasmanian Chocolate

Peking Ta Ching Koo Pai Tsai
Image from Seed Savers Exchange
Peking Ta Ching Koo Pai Tsai Brassica rapa. This prolific, easy-to-grow Asian Green is one of Seed Savers Exchange advisor David Cavagnaro’s favorites from his time as SSE’s farm manager. The greens can be prepared like any other Brassica greens, such as collards and kale. Growing to more than three feet tall, this variety bears lovely, large purple leaves that have an ornamental quality as well as great taste. 45 days to maturity.

Hank's Xtra Special Baking Bean Obtained from Peg Lotvin, this variety was grown by her father, Hank--and many other folks in Ghent--for many years. It was harvested and delivered to Flossy, a town resident, who took advantage of the beans' tender texture and sturdy skins to produce dishes of baked beans that were creamy on the inside but held their shape well. Through our partnership with Glynwood, Hank's Xtra Special Baking bean has now bean added to the Slow Food Ark of Taste varieties, and will be introduced to regional chefs. Medium-large sized white beans with a spot of yellow and a very slight kidney shape. Bush habit.

Malawi Malachite Green
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Malawi Malachite Dry Beans The Malawi Malachite Green beans were brought to Malawi by German colonizers in the 1800s who grew them as the Malachite Bean. They have a beautiful iridescent green shimmer like malachite. The seeds are brought to us by William Woys Weaver, an internationally known food historian, author, and heirloom gardener living in Devon, Pennsylvania. His Roughwood Seed Collection began informally in 1932 by his grandfather H. Ralph Weaver (1896-1956). When William discovered this seed collection in a freezer many years later, he decided to grow out the rare and unusual plants his grandfather had accumulated. While our original seed came from Malawi (Africa), we later discovered that this highly productive bean was developed at the former Royal Agricultural Academy in Hohenheim, Germany. It was later exported to Africa while the German Empire maintained colonies there prior to World War I. Dating to the 1850s, this unusual bean was known commercially in Europe as the Malachite Bean due to its unique blue-green color similar to the mineral of the same name. The 4-inch pods on 6-foot vines ripen brownish-yellow with 5 to 6 beans per pod. Try this bean for an unusual green bean soup! Terrific flavor. A portion of each sale will go to support the work of Dr. William Woys Weaver.

Panther Soybean This terrific edamame variety was sent to us by Jack Algiere of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, near Tarrytown, New York. He's been saving it for many years, as the variety is no longer available in catalogs. But now we've got it--and we can report that it is really lovely. The beans are bright green with a hint of purple when at the ripe green edamame stage and then mature to deep black when dry. (Any color in the fresh beans fades upon cooking.) If you've never grown soybeans in your garden, it's worth a shot: in addition to fixing nitrogen and yielding tasty beans, the plants sport velvety green leaves that are very attractive.

Gold Nectar Snap Bean
Image from Adaptive Seeds
Gold Nectar Pole Snap Bean (Organic) Phaseolus vulgaris. Round Yellow Pods. 70 days.
Yellow/wax bean yields lots of crunchy beans with excellent sweet and beany flavor. The 9″ long straight pods are ½” wide with a semi-flat shape. Anne Berblinger of Gales Meadow Farm in Forest Grove, Oregon, says about Gold Nectar, “We have been searching for a yellow pole bean with outstanding flavor. This one is it.” It starts fairly early and produces tender beans until late in the season, drying down seed very slowly. This trait is great for delicious snap beans but is a challenge for our seed production. We collected this variety at a seed swap in Belgium; unfortunately we don’t know much about its history, although it might be related to the variety Neckargold.

Sweetheart Beet
Image from Seed Savers Exchange
Sweetheart Beet This variety was released in 1958 after being developed at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station by Dr. Albert F. Yeager and Prof. Elwyn Meader. It is a cross between the Detroit Dark Red table beet and U.S. #225 sugar beet, resulting in a red table beet with the sweetness of a sugar beet. This heart-shaped beet produces sweet roots with dark purple-red flesh. Late-maturing and a good keeper.

Filderkraut Cabbage
Image from Seed Savers Exchange
Filderkraut Cabbage This historic variety is documented in the United States as early as 1872 by the Henry A. Dreer seed company of Philadelphia, PA. Dreer’s 1872 catalog describes the variety as “A new variety from Stuttgart; a favorite German variety, with solid conical heads.” This is a long-season variety that does best when planted in the spring. Donated to SSE in 1999 by Garrett Pittenger of Ontario, Canada.

Pai-Tsai Chinese Cabbage
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Pai-Tsai Chinese Cabbage A quick growing, non-heading Chinese cabbage, this variety is absolutely scrumptious. The stalks and leaves are both very refreshing and mild, with a mild nutty flavor. An added bonus, the flowers of this variety have a candy sweet and nutty flavor, so the plants occasional bolting can be a real treat!

Violaceo di Verona Cabbage
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Violaceo di Verona Cabbage A vintage heirloom cabbage that originated in the region of Verona in Northern Italy, with stunning, lightly savoyed violet and green leaves that get more vibrant as the cool fall and winter weather set in. Thanks to an appreciation for traditional cuisine, Italians have preserved this variety from antiquity. Perhaps it is the impressive heat and cool tolerance of these hardy plants, or the beautiful violet leaves that have kept this treasured heirloom alive despite general downsizing of seed diversity. Medium sized round heads mature 120 days from seeding. With violet colored wrapper leaves and yellow-green inside leaves, they are an ideal choice for a fall/winter harvest. It is frost hardy, and in warmer areas can be harvested until New Year.

Kyoto Red Carrot
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Kyoto Red Carrot (For fall planting only.) This is a Japanese kintoki type (sweet red) carrot. These silky red carrots are grown near Kyoto, Japan, where they are traditionally eaten on the Japanese New Year, often carved into the shape of a plum blossom to represent fertility in the coming year. These carrots have an exceptional texture and sweet flavor. A perfect variety for late summer, fall or winter gardening, the bright red color becomes much darker when grown in the winter. (This variety may not do well if planted in the Spring) Long tapered roots grow to 10” to 12” inches long.

Prinz Celeriac
Image from Renee's Garden Seeds
Prinz Celeriac A European staple gaining popularity here, celeriac (a.k.a. celery root) produces big, solid knobby roots just above the ground. Once peeled, the white flesh has the flavor of mild celery and parsley. Our German-bred Prinz offers nutty, sweet flavor, fine texture and reliable, big yields that hold for harvest well in the garden. Shred celeriac for salads with a mayonnaise, lemon and mustard dressing, or cut up and simply roast or braise or add to soups and stews. 

Polyvit Chives
Image from Adaptive Seeds
Chives, Polyvit (Organic) Allium schoenoprasum. Perennial in zones 3-10. Produces bunches of dark green, pungent, onion flavored leaves that are very versatile in the kitchen. Plants grow to about 12″ tall. Very hardy plants withstand neglect, can grow in sun to part shade, and are great for containers. In midsummer, plants produce pretty, little, light purple, globe-shaped flowers that are also edible, are pretty enough to grow as an ornamental, and provide a good nectar source for beneficial insects. Chives deserve a place in every perennial herb garden. Not only are they good in salads, sauces, and many other dishes, but you can substitute them for onions in a pinch. This is an improved variety, known for uniform, robust growth.

Yellow Cabbage Collards
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Yellow Cabbage Collards 45 days to maturity. A rare gem, these scarce seeds are highly coveted and have been passed down for many generations in the Carolinas, where this tender collard green reins supreme. Yellow cabbage collards were first cultivated by Colonel Joe Branner in his Asheville, Carolina, greenhouse in 1887 where he noticed his collard greens were much more tender and less bitter than other collards he had tasted. Over many generations of selection for super tender, buttery greens, this variety is unparalleled in taste and texture.

Seeds for this beloved variety were widely available in the Carolinas until about 1970s when they became much more scarce and only remained in the hands of super dedicated old time southern seed savers. With thinner leaves and a more mellow flavor, this non-heading variety is more reminiscent of spinach but with the impressive heat and humidity tolerance of collard greens. Grows to about 2 feet tall and wide, and matures in about 45 days

Indian Coriander
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Indian Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) Highly scented with a citrus top note. The dark green leaves are regularly cut to prevent this fast growing variety of Indian Coriander from bolting. Once bolted, the seeds are a must in Indian dishes and are especially good when used still “green” and tender.

Little Potato Cucumber
Image from Seed Savers Exchange
Little Potato Cucumber (aka Khira Balam) Originally from India. Introduced into the 1997 SSE Yearbook by Indiana member Robert F. Bruns who got his seed from the USDA. Nearly round 3" fruits with brown russetted skin are borne heavily on robust semi-bush plants. Delicious lemon flavor. Stays crisp in storage. 70 days.

Doucette d'Algers
Image from Adaptive Seeds
Doucette d’Algers / Horn of Plenty (Organic) Fedia cornucopiae. 30-40 days. A delicious walnut flavored, tender salad green. Doucette d’Algers is a cousin of corn salad with larger leaves and can be used in a similar manner, however it is a hot weather loving plant that thrives in mid-summer. Flowers are an attractive rose color that bees find highly desirable. While rare in North America, it is a wild edible in the Mediterranean and can be found growing in olive groves and grain fields. Native to Northern Africa, our seed originally came from Patrice Fortier of La Societe des Plantes in Saint-Pascal, Quebec. Aka, African Valerian, Algerian Corn Salad.

Madeley Kale
Image from Adaptive Seeds
Madeley Kale (Organic) Brassica oleracea. 30 days baby, 60 days full. An extremely vigorous flat leaf, heirloom green kale from England. Hardy, tender and sweet. This kale frequently outgrows every other kale we plant in the summer, and out-produces most other kales through the winter as well. Justin Huhn of Mano Farm in Ojai, California, writes, “Madeley really is the star, just producing a ridiculous amount of food. Madeley kale is the backbone of our CSA.” Related to Thousand Headed kale. Multiple growth tips produce plentiful sprouting kale raab in the spring to fill the hunger gap. Given to The Seed Ambassadors Project by the Heritage Seed Library in England.

Queen of Crunch Crisphead Lettuce
Image from Renee's Garden Seeds
Queen of Crunch Crisphead Lettuce If your family likes really crispy lettuce, new Queen of Crunch is for you! These crunchy, juicy green leaves really shine in mixed and chopped salads, stand up in tacos, add something special to sandwiches, and are perfect wrappers for meat and cheese. Queen of Crunch is a heat tolerant, sturdy lettuce that grows quickly and matures into attractive heavy rosettes that keep well. Pick the whole head, or harvest the outside leaves over a long period.
Tennis Ball Butterhead Lettuce
Image from Seed Savers Exchange
Tennis Ball Butterhead Lettuce Small rosettes of light green leaves measure only 7" in diameter and form loose tender heads. Grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. According to Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by SSE member William Woys Weaver, tennis ball lettuces were often pickled in salt brine during the 17th and 18th centuries. Black-seeded. Butterhead, 50 days.

Beni Houshi Mizuna
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Beni Houshi Mizuna is a new, vibrant twist on an ancient crop, and the bright purple stems set it apart from any other mizuna. The succulent stems are rich in anthocyanin, the same powerful purple antioxidant present in blueberries. This recently developed open-pollinated variety has been making a splash on the high-end culinary scene in Japan. The greens are excellent raw in salads; the purple stems and dark greens make a lovely contrast, and the delicate flavor is unparalleled. Mizuna is well adapted to both heat and cold extremes and is suitable for several harvests, in fact becoming more tasty and cool-adapted with each successive cutting.

Hilmar Parsley Root
Image from Adaptive Seeds
Hilmar Parsley Root, (Organic) Petroselinum crispum. Pure white, 8” half-long shaped root vegetable with a mild parsley flavor. Roots are broad at shoulders, tapering to a point. Very aromatic and great in soups or roasted in the oven. Hilmar really shines as a winter vegetable when it sweetens up after a frost. Plus it’s very cold hardy – it was one of the crops that overwintered outside during our record cold snap in December 2013 (lows of 5° F)! Leaves can also be eaten. Of the several varieties of parsley root we have tried, Hilmar is hands down the most vigorous – important for a root vegetable that, like parsnips, is relatively slow to start. Big strong tops make for good weed competitiveness, easy harvest and are nice for bunching. Sow in early June for harvest in October through February. 

Magnolia Blossom Snap Peas
Image from Renee's Garden Seeds
Magnolia Blossom Snap Peas This highly productive, 5-8 foot tall vining snap pea has eye-catching bicolored purple blossoms that really shine in the garden. These pretty flowers are soon followed by an abundance of well filled, crunchy-sweet, plump pods. Keep the succulent pods picked (they are delicious right off the vine) and the vines will keep producing pods over a long harvest season. Sow again mid to late summer for fall harvest. Magnolia Blossom vines easily twine up any vertical supports making it quick and easy to harvest them.

Royal Snow Peas
Image from Johnny's Seeds
Royal Snow Pea Deep purple pods. Part of the Calvin's PeasTM Collection. Attractive pods avg. 3-3½". Flavor is pleasant, though mildly bitter. Makes a nice addition to salads, coleslaws, or may be used as an edible garnish. Best used raw but may be lightly steamed, microwaved, or sautéed. Stays purple if lightly cooked but will become "muddy" colored if overcooked. Pods that are overmature, or exposed to high temperatures, may diminish in color to a mottled purple. Attractive pink flowers. The 30" vines can be grown with or without support.

French Blue Belle Potato
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French Blue Belle Potato Originally from the rich soils of Bretagne, these handsome, oval potatoes have a pastel skin with violet-purple splashes around the eyes and succulent creamy yellow flesh. The superb flavor of these unique tubers is making quite a splash with chefs and foodies both here and abroad, and you can expect to see Blue Belle being featured on menus and in the press.

Versatile Blue Belle can be roasted, boiled, baked or mashed. Tubers are meltingly tender, and make perfect light and fluffy mashed potatoes. When simply steamed, their texture is moist and smooth with a sweet, delicate flavor. These vigorous plants produce many tubers that bulk up rapidly for early harvests you will relish for weeks. Blue Belle is resistant to powdery scab and splitting. These potatoes produce abundant, reliable harvests.

Improved Helenor Rutabaga
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Improved Helenor Rutabaga This easy to grow Dutch rutabaga (a.k.a. swede) has a fine texture and warm, rich flavors like apples crossed with turnips. High yielding Helenor roots develop good color early, with creamy exteriors splashed with violet and yellow interior flesh. This mainstay root vegetable is ready to harvest and enjoy from tennis to softball size to use as needed from the garden. You’ll love them tossed in olive oil, then roasted or sautéed to bring out their natural sweetness.

Amsterdam Prickly Seeded Spinach
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Amsterdam Prickly Seeded Spinach Traditional crop in Europe for generations. This type was grown by Thos. Jefferson in the early Nineteenth Century. In 1806, Bernard McMahon of Philadelphia said it was “the hardiest kind,” and that may well be true to this day. Leaves are more pointed and arrow-shaped than the common type. The sturdy plants yield over a long season, producing flat, tender, medium-green leaves with red-tinged stalks. Slower to bolt than ordinary spinach. Traditionally sown in late-summer or early fall for harvest through autumn and into winter.

Little Hero Spinach
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Little Hero Spinach Little Hero is perfect for growing in containers and small spaces with crunchy-sweet leaves that are easy to harvest at baby size for scrumptious fresh spinach salads. The crisp, but tender-textured smooth leaves have a mild, nutty flavor with no metallic overtones. Plan on going right into the garden with your salad bowl to pick the deep green oval leaves at their fresh flavor peak. This vigorous and fast-growing spinach is highly ornamental in containers.

Tatume Squash
Image from Baker Creek Seeds

Tatume Squash 65 days. A must in Mexican cuisine, and also popular in certain parts of Texas. This old heirloom is picked small and used like zucchini, but these are so much better than standard supermarket zucchini! Round to slightly elongated, flavorful fruits are green in color; vigorous vining plants are fairly resistant to disease.

Doran Round Butternut Squash
Image from Adaptive Seeds
Doran Round Butternut Squash (Organic) Cucurbita moschata. 100 days. Small round butternut from the Netherlands. Unique compared to other butternut types as it looks more like a buckskin-colored, squat pie pumpkin than a butternut. Very delicious sweet flavor develops more in storage and the flesh is a deep orange color. Some fruits are very round while others have slight ribbing. When properly stored (room temperature and dry) they can keep for over a year. Given to us originally by Lieven David, a plant breeder and seed saver we met during our first Seed Ambassadors trip to Europe in 2007. Days to maturity is fairly late for the PNW at around 100 days, but the 2-4 lb fruit can be picked earlier and cured inside with great results.

Cisineros Tomatillo
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Cisineros Tomatillo (Organic) Physalis philadelphica. 75 days. A large, green tomatillo, similar to Plaza Latina Giant Green but a little earlier to mature and not quite as big. Fruit are 2½” wide and a great choice for market farmers and gardeners. Under-ripe fruit are apple-green and a nice tart addition to salsas, but we also like sweetness that comes with yellow-green ripe fruit. Sprawling plants benefit from a trellis, but will crawl around on the ground happily. Always have more than one tomatillo plant in your garden, as they are usually self-sterile.

Brad's Atomic Grape Tomato
Image from Baker Creek Seeds
Brad's Atomic Grape Tomato 75 days. Elongated, large cherries in clusters. The color (and flavor!) is a full-blown assault on the senses—lavender and purple stripes, turning to technicolor olive-green, red, and brown/blue stripes when fully ripe. Really wild! Fruits hold well on the vine or off, making this amazing variety a good candidate for market growers. Olive green interior is blushed with red when dead-ripe. Crack-resistant fruits are extraordinarily sweet! Wispy foliage looks delicate but belies these plants’ rugged constitution and high productivity. This release from Wild Boar Farms won best in show at the 2017 National Heirloom Expo! These range some in size from a large grape to plum-sized.

Cesare's Canestrino di Lucca Tomato
Image from Hudson Valley Seeds
Cesare's Canestrino di Lucca Tomato A rare heirloom sauce tomato brought to the US by Chef Cesare Casella from his hometown of Lucca, Italy. A very unique flavor profile with a discernible funk, Cesare's Canestrino di Lucca is a very dry sauce tomato with a deep, rich red color. This is the first time seed for this variety is being offered for sale to the public through our seed grower partner Zach Pickens of Farm Tournant.

Pigletwillie's French Black Tomato
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Pigletwillie’s French Black Tomato (Organic) Solanum lycopersicum. Maroon/Brown. 75 days. Indet. Sometimes a name is all you need to decide to grow a variety. Amused enough by the name, we were on the fence about growing this variety when a customer sent us seed a few years back. But since that customer is John Miller from the Old Schoolhouse Plantery in Vermont, who as a nurseryman, has an eye for good varieties (and is our original source for the Cilician Parsley that we love so much), we decided to give this one a go. John’s hunch is that this tomato originally came from former garden blogger Pigletwillie, when he was on vacation in France some years back. Dark, 2-3” fruit weigh 2-3 oz and have a full-bodied meaty taste. Not a true black tomato, but very dark red with chocolate shoulders. Fruit ripens in clusters of 4 or 5 and can be harvested by snipping the cluster stem. Aka, Piglet Wille’s French Black.

Rose Hill Pink Plum
Image from Seed Savers Exchange

Rose Hill Pink Plum Tomato Donated to SSE by Jean Patten of Kansas who obtained the variety from Jesse MacKay of Rose Hill, Kansas. MacKay acquired this tomato from her father-in-law who grew it for many years before her and “used to bring these tomatoes to [his neighbors] by the bushel.” Patten expressed the local popularity of this tomato in her donation letter, writing, "Most of the gardeners I know grow them." Plants are extremely productive and bear 1 ½” oval fruits that are pink, juicy and sweet.

Tasmanian Chocolate
Image from Renee's Garden
Tasmanian Chocolate Tomato Strong-yielding, short, sturdy vines offer beautiful, plump mahogany red/orange, faintly striped tomatoes with delicious, well-balanced flavor. Great for pots and small spaces.