Friday, February 13, 2009

It Came On Tuesday

OK, let's call this meeting of SJA (Seed Junkies Anonymous) to order!

My name is Michelle and I am a seed junkie. I fell off the wagon in a big way this week.

I've been in seed junkie heaven for that last few days. The much anticipated Seed Savers Exchange 2009 Yearbook came, all 502 pages, and I dove right in. It's been sooo hard to restrain myself. See all the yellow post-its? They mark the page for every seed variety that I'm requesting, self restraint, HAH! But, (whine) I didn't request a single seed last year.... and, I only ordered 35 varieties out of a possible 13,263! Well, perhaps I did show a little restraint. And I'm doing a good deed, almost everything I ordered is not available in a commercial seed catalog, including a number of heirlooms, at least in the US. And maybe I'll be a really good girl and save as much seed as I can. So, wanna see what I got?

Oh, and one reason that I did order so many varieties is that I've learned that if you see something interesting and unique in the yearbook, order it, it may not be listed again next year, or ever again. Most of the seeds that I ordered will maintain at least 50 percent viability for 3 or more years if properly stored. If I don't get around to planting everything this year the seeds should still be ok next year.

Here's the list, complete with descriptions, if any, by the listing members.

Beet, Dewing’s Early Blood Turnip - Violet-red skin, sweet red flesh with paler rings, blood turnip is an old term for beet, Sauer’s Herbal 1774 says cook them in red wine and honey.

Afghan Purple - Selected for more uniform color, all were purple.

Daghestan White - medium size roots of white, yellow or orange, compact plants resisted bolting through the hottest days of summer (1.3 years in southern CA until seed set!), roots stay tender even in August, nice var. to try in southerly regions, from, from Dhagestan region of the former USSR, which has hot, dry summers and cold winters.

Early Scarlet Horn - 60 days, stump rooted, 2-6” long roots with red shoulders, good for baby carrots and forcing, can be pickled, canned or frozen, from, oldest cultivated carrot still in existence, named for Dutch town of Hoorn, 1610.

Rouge Sang Violette - Beautiful reddish violet skinned roots with orange core, savory sweet, striking in salads, from Southwestern France.

Celeriac, Dolvi - Smooth tasting, fine grained, flavorful, good keeper. (Web search indicates it is an improved selection of Giant Prague).

Florence Fennel, Red - Danish variety similar to bronze fennel, excellent for producing aromatic seeds, spring re-growth makes a good vegetable, very winter hardy and perennial, from a small Biodynamic herb seed company Urtegartneriet in Denmark.

Kale, The Kale Coalition - diverse genepool mix of 17 oleracea kales and their crosses, Nick Routledge trialed the 17 kales collected on our 2007 Seed Ambassadors trip and this is what happened the next spring, this Grex contains a lot of very interesting diversity of kales not available in the US, NOT just curly green kales, a combination of Hoj Amager Grunkohl (DK), Madeley (UK), Westphalian (UK), Westland Winter (UK), Westlander Winter (DE), Asparagus Kale (IR,UK), 1,000 Headed kale (DE), Roter Krauskohl (DE), Altmarker Braun (DE), Baltic Red (SE), Blonde Butter of Jalhay (BE), Butterkohl (DE), Nicki’s Cut’N’Come Again (IE), Shetland (UK), Hellerbutter Kohl (CH), Cavolo Nero di Toscana (IT), and Ostfriesische Palm (CH).

Parsley, Cilician - Good flavor, tolerates dry, hot summers, winters over in zone 5, rare medieval parsley from former Armenian Cilicia (now Turkey), found in 1963 in a garden in Temblos, Cyprus. – Grows best in partial shade.

Goldkonigen - has. 106 cm. tall, red flowers, 624 Heat Units, 6 dimpled seeds per pod, light-brown with some purple flecking, Netherlands, SSE PEA 232

Green Beauty Snow - 80 days, bicolor purple flowers, vigorous vines to 8’, 7-8” green snow pea pods, bred by Peace Seeds, found by Carl Jones in among hundreds of plants, all different, all crosses, from 1 plant.

Kefe Beinwil Snow - 61 days, “kefe” means snowpea, vines 4.5’, need support, diminutive pods 2.25” long, delicate flavor, beautiful burgundy and pink blossoms, moderately productive, early, from Pro Specie Rara 2001, Swiss var. grown for generations in Beinwil, Aargau.

Magnolia Blossom Snap - 75 days, hardy, prolific vines to 8’ with bicolor purple flowers and fine tasting 4” green snap pods with a purple stripe, original breeding from Peace Seeds.

Opal Creek Golden Snap - 75 days, bicolor purple flowers, yellow-tinted foliage, vines to 5’ with an abundance of yellow podded 4-5” snap pods, one of the only yellow podded snap cultivars, leaves, particularly ones surrounding the main stem, are remarkably sweet, a delightful addition to salads, bred by Peace Seeds, named in commemoration of the struggle to maintain our old growth forests.

Spring Blush Snap - Sweet sugar snap type, light green pods with a nice purple stripe, amazing hyper tendrils and tall 8’ vines, good heat tolerance, bred by Alan Kapuler of Peace Seeds. Bear lots of purple/red flowers, more productive than Oregon Sugar Pod II, some vines survived into late Oct. with regular 28 degree F and below dips, pods are deliciously sweet with a subtle nose-clearing sensation.

Note, peas are easy to save seed for since they self-pollinate before the flowers open. It is possible to get cross-pollination from bees, but this tends to be minimal.

Bogyiszloi - 80 days, smooth skinned, thick walled, wedge shaped fruit, 1.5-2” wide at top x 2-2.5 long, nice sweet/hot flavor, mildly hot, great on melted cheese sandwiches, ripens to orange-red, from Geza Korbely, Hungary.

Cayenne, Iberian Long - SSE PEPPER 1587

Corazon de Paloma - SSE PEPPER 1505

Puerto Rico - Mild, seeds hot, little caps, crinkled, from Puerto Rico Exp. Sta., SSE PEPPER 74

Tlostenna Dunajska Krajova – unusual plant, mildly hot fruit, .5 x 4” long, tapered to a point, green > red, use only for drying and grinding, makes a nice fruity, very mild paprika, from USDA, PI 288949 (Hungary), donated 4/22/63.

Viego Arruga Dulce – name translates “sweet wrinkled old man”, pointed fruit, .75 x 3”, sweet with mildly hot veins, green > red, thin skin, best used for drying for sweet pepper flakes or paprika, Italian pepper.

Peppers/Sweet Bell, Madrid Bell Sweet - SSE PEPPER 373

Peppers – Sweet Nonbell:
Donkey Ears - 90 days, sweet and delicious fruit, ripens red, 1.75 “ wide x 7” long, productive later, collected from farmer in Butan, Bulgaria. Description #2: very sweet horn shaped red fruit up to 8” long, 3” dia. at top, flesh about .25” thick, for drying and stufffing, large plants may need support, matures late from transplants in southern MN

PI 593480 (Morocco) - SSE PEPPER 1986

Pimiento Cuerno de Cabra Chorrizero - 80 days, this appears to be a Spanish red pepper with the meaning ‘Shaped like a Horn’, fruit is 1” wide x 10-12” long, slightly curved and wrinkled, very sweet, used to make sauces or flavor and color meat, plants grow to 24” high and are prolific.

Pimiento, De La Vera - SSE PEPPER 1924

Pepper – Other Species:
Aji - (chinense) Rocotillo, intense flavor, 1” peppers, slight hot (sometimes), from Mexican food store, SSE PEPPER 123

Chile Congo de Nicaragua: SSE PEPPER 1568 (appears to be chinense, tiny pod, very hot)

Puerto Rican Turban - from Puerto Rico, SSE PEPPER 2031

Scotch Bonnet Tobago Sweet - 90+ days, scotch bonnet shape without the heat (well a wee bit) but with the great smoky taste, 1 x 2” fruit, green>red, great fresh or dried and fresh ground.

Rhubarb, Early Champagne - Perennial, beautiful, ruffled leaves, pale green stems, very productive over a long season, not stringy, originally used for sparkling ruhbarb wine, seed only, pre-1860 English variety.

Note: Rhubarb seed does not produce plants that are true to type. Start 20 or more plants and select those most resembling desired variety.

Runner Bean:
Aleppo Arab - Used as a dry bean, documented in Aleppo, Syria, circa 1575.

Blackcoat - 2-3 seeds per pod on vines 7’ or more, a sweet flavored snap bean of fine quality in spite of some strings, reddish orange flower attracts bees and butterflies, one of the earliest referenced heirlooms from the 1800s.

Note: Runner Beans will cross easily with other Runner Beans. Blossom Bagging or Caging required. Not able to self pollinate without insects “tripping” blossoms – depress bottom portion of new flowers to trip.

Tomatillo, Plaza Latina Giant Green - Super tall plants that benefit a lot from support, 3-4” wide green fruits, much higher culinary value than the smaller yellowish varieties, seed originally saved from imported Mexican fruit purchased at the Plaza Latina Market in Eugene, OR.

Miscellaneous, Arugula, Tuscan - Big thick leaves with excel. flavor, some plants strap like, others lobbed, from Agricultori Custodi, a seed preservation group in Tuscany, Italy.

So, there you have it, the confessions of a seed junkie! There's going to be a lot of variety in the garden this year. And if I manage to save some seeds, well... we'll see. I hope you noticed that there are no tomatoes or beans (other than those Runners) on the list, got enough of those already, and I didn't have another week to spend wading through the selections.

And hey, to the rest of you seed junkies, there's still time to become a member of Seed Savers Exchange and get your own Yearbook. There's a link over there on my side bar. Go on now, just do it, I won't tell.


  1. "Start 20 or more [rhubarb] plants"?! You aren't kidding around!

  2. I was thinking about joining the seed savers exchange. I may have to do it!

  3. I'm being so good by only ordering one from that catalog. The catalog really is evil. I started looking through the lettuces and found a whole bunch I'd like to try. Then the selection of tomatillos started calling me. Then the mustard family. Sigh. It's no fun being good. Next year I'll save a few more items for when the catalog comes out.

  4. Daffodil, Well, I don't have to keep 20 plants, just the best ones!

    flowrgirl1, check them out, it's a super organization and they're doing a grand job of saving endangered varieties. You can get a peek at the listings in the yearbook on their website, they have a searchable database of the 2009 yearbook under the Membership tab on their website.

    Daphne, I can't believe how incredibly good you're being this year. I've got a lot of pent up gardening in me right now. We moved 2 years ago, a process that took a year and a half, during which time I didn't feel like putting in a garden for someone else. And then it took over a year to get my new garden going. Whew!

  5. Good LORD woman! That is going to take up about 3 acres of space! Do you really have room for all of that? Or are your eyes bigger than your plot? :) Congrats to you if you can get it all out and harvested and dealt with. You are one energetic gardener! Afghan purple carrots and real arugula from Tuscany... you did a great job of selecting!

  6. Oh Karen, you nailed me! But, my gardening philosophy is a little bit of a lot of different things. And, I'm only feeding 2 people. Really... Sheeze, I am a junkie. Besides, I'm in Calleefornya, land o' year round veggie gardens. Stay tuned!

  7. Wow, will definitely check the Seed Savers. Have a whole list compiled of seed provider sites to look through lol. I love purple. I don't know if I could eat those carrots. I'm planting opal basil this year, can't wait to get my seeds started. If Artistic Gardens ever finishes processing my order......

  8. Heaven's above, you need to come and use our field for all that lot! Happy sowing.

  9. What a wonderful post Michelle, seed porn :-)

    Have a lovely weekend/ Tyra (a seedaholic)

  10. Michelle you are a troublemaker! LOL I am going to be so all over the board in what I'm growing. You have certainly broken me of staying with the same ol' thing.

    Okay now I have to make a confession... I'm currently growing fennel and it looks and smells great but really what the heck do I do with it?

  11. Hi Polubing, thanks for following! Purple is lovely in the garden. A number of the peas that I requested have purple flowers, can't wait to try them.

    Jan & Steve, I almost wish I had your field, but if I did I might never get out of the garden!

    Tyra, it is porn to a junkie like me :)

    Oh Ang, I'm sorry I'm such a bad influence on you! ;) Is it the bulbing (Florence) fennel with the fat base? One thing I like to do with that is slice it thin and put it into salads - yummy with pears or beets and some nuts. Or you can quarter it and braise it until it is tender and use it as a side dish - my husband likes it that way because that mutes the licorice flavor. Or you can chop it up and put it into veggie soup.

  12. I saw the red Florence Fennel too and wondered if it was still a bulbling fennel as it said it was similar to bronze fennel?? I'll look forward to seeing how yours do.

    Yes, I think I have almost (need parsnip seeds) all the seeds that I can possibly shove into my garden... at least I think so I am staying away from nearly all future seed stores and events. ;)

  13. Ottawa, I wasn't sure about the red Fennel either, but I love fennel seeds so good bulbs would be a bonus, and the red color could make it a star as well. I'm kind of a sucker for unusual veggies!

  14. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one afflicted by this disease! Great list, can't wait to watch it all grow :)

  15. I am tired just looking at that list! LOL!

    Oh wait, I think my list is almost as long...which I blame on your inspiring blog, of course. ;-)

  16. Another seed junkie! I was looking for more info about Westphalian Kale and found your blog :-)

    I'm growing it for the first time this year.



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