Thursday, February 18, 2010

Plottings of an Overambitious Home Vegetable Gardener

Or, true confessions of a vegetable seed junkie.

I've been enjoying reading all the posts by various garden bloggers about their seed acquisitions for the coming gardening year. And all along I've been busy collecting a bunch of new seeds myself and staying rather quiet about it. You did get a glimpse of my pepper program, and I was (and still am) quite proud of myself for not adding very many new seeds to that part of my collection.

But now...


The rest of the plot.

Here I reveal all the new seeds that I've acquired, so far...

And you will also see the return of some favorites that I already have seeds for...

But wait, there's more!

I've also dug into the seed collection to retry a couple of varieties from years past.

Here we go, and please keep in mind that I garden year round, this would be a hopelessly huge list of vegetables if I had a short growing season. I also grow small amounts of most vegetables since I aim for fresh consumption to feed 2 people and I don't do much preserving except for tomatoes and peppers.


Not too many new ones, I'm planning on far fewer tomato plants this year. Last year I picked 200 pounds in a 2 week period, and that's just the portion of the harvest I kept track of. Even though it seems like I'm constantly digging into the frozen, dried, and canned stash of 2009 tomato products, I seem to have hardly made a dent. So, I just don't need to grow as much this year.

New seeds:
--Aunt Ruby's German Cherry Tomato (Baker Creek)
--Galinas Cherry Tomato (Adaptive Seeds)
--Katja Tomato (Sustainable Seed)
--"Not Wes" Yellow Tomato (Christina)
Seeds on hand:
--Ananas Noir
--Andine Cornue
--Chocolate Stripes


The Diamond eggplant that I grew last year was an all around winner. It grew well in my cool climate, it produced lots of beautiful fruits, and the eggplant were delicious and never bitter. I did miss having a long Asian type of eggplant though, so that's the new eggplant for this year.

New seeds:
--Malaysian Dark Red Eggplant (Baker Creek)
Seeds on hand:


One plant should be plenty to meet my tomatillo needs this year. Last year I had two varieties, both of which were very good, but I'm opting for one plant of the less productive variety.

Old seeds:
--Plaza Latina Giant


I struggled a number of times with two fresh packets of seeds to grow Burpee's golden beets and just couldn't get them to go. So, when I saw a packet of golden beet seeds on the rack of Renee's seeds I took a look. There's no claim to being an heirloom (so they aren't Burpee's) but neither are they F-1 (Renee's always clearly labels the hybrids). So I gave them a try. It took only 16 days from the time I sowed the seeds in paper pots to the day I planted them out in the garden. A good start so far! The other new beet variety that I'm trying is a British heirloom that is supposed to produce pink roots.

New seeds:
--Golden (Renee's)
--Devoy (Adaptive Seeds)
Seeds on hand:
--Dewing's Early Blood


I have had a hankering to try Spanish Black Carrots ever since I read about them and saw a picture of them on the Carrot Museum's website. Unfortunately, they are just not to be found in North America. The only sources I could find are in the UK and they don't ship to the US. When Emma, who happens to live in the UK, emailed me about swapping some seeds I asked her if she could perhaps, pretty please, get her hands on some seeds and send them along. Bless her, that's exactly what she did. I'm going to have to learn how to save carrot seeds this year, or perhaps next year since they will probably need to overwinter.

New seeds:
--Muscade carrots (Baker Creek)
--Napoli Carrots (Jennifer)
--Spanish Black Carrots (Emma)
Seeds on hand:
--Rouge Sang Violette
--Amarillo Yellow


A new vegetable in my garden. I love parsnips but have never tried to grow them. In my usual fashion, I'm trying the unusual, a beet shaped parsnip.

New seeds:
--Kral Russian Parsnip (Adaptive Seeds)

Onions and Leeks

I'm hoping that I can get a semi-permanent patch of bunching onions growing on the other side of the deer fence. There's a patch just outside the garden where I've been trying to improve the gritty, crappy native soil with compost, old potting soil, chicken poop (fresh from the girls!) and the oak leaves that fall from the nearby tree. It should be as good to go as I can get it by the time my little seedlings are ready to plant out. The rest of the onions go into the protected part of the garden because the soil is much nicer there and should produce better roots.

New seeds:
--Flat of Italy Onion (Botanical Interests)
--Red Beard Japanese Bunching Onion (Kitazawa)
--Welsh Bunching Onion (Emma)
--American Flag Leek (Botanical Interests)
Old Seeds:
--none, they aren't germinating (and they aren't that old)


How could I resist a purple podded sugar snap pea? I also want to try some of the peas that I grew from a spring sowing last year as a late summer sowing this year to see how they over winter.

New seeds:
--Sugar Magnolia Purple Snap Vine Pea (Peace Seeds)
--Yellow Giant Snow Pea (Pam)
Old seeds
--Green Beauty Snow (Peace seeds)
--Magnolia Blossom Snap Vine Peas (Peace Seeds)

My Petaluma Gold Rush beans (an old California heirloom bean that is almost impossible to find seeds for) got off to a very slow start last year, but in spite of that I managed to get quite a few good quality seeds. Thank goodness, those were the last of the seeds that I received from an SSE member a few years ago. This year I hope to grow a lot more plants so that I can get enough for both eating and to be able to offer seeds. I also got new seeds for an Italian flat bean that I had grown before and really liked and then could no longer find a place to buy the seeds. So, I'll see if I still like them. Plus, an exchange netted me an heirloom bean with a very interesting story (I love vegetables with stories).

New seeds:
--Garrafal Oro Pole Bean (Seeds From Italy)
--Petaluma Gold Rush Bean
--Turkey Craw Bean (Nancy)

Lettuce and Salad Greens

Caesar Salad is a favorite around here and I'm really resenting have to purchase romaine lettuce these days. So when I spotted a mixed pack of red and green romaine lettuce on the Renee's seed rack I just had to buy it. Fortunately, one seed is black and the other white so I could sow an equal number of each variety in paper pots to be planted out later. I also received some lettuce in exchanges and I'm willing to give them a try. And there's a few other new salad greens to help fill the salad bowl. One thing that I harvest but never sowed seeds for is Claytonia, it grows wild around here and seeded itself in the vegetable garden, lovely!

New seeds:
--Caesar Duo Romaine lettuces, Noga and Cimarron (Renee's)
--Green Butterhead Lettuce (Jennifer)
--Orient Red Curl Lettuce (Pam)
--Gala Mache (Renee's)
--Mizuna (Baker Creek freebie)
Old seeds:
--Tuscan Arugula
--Olive Leaf Arugula
--Vit Mache
--Golden Corn Salad
--Pancalieri a Costa Bianca frisee


I'm going to try something new this year, a Chinese cucumber. Last year I started with Serpent cucumbers which are closely related to Armenian cukes. They were a dismal failure, all the plants succumbed to some kind of root disease before I could harvest anything. I dug into my stash of seeds and planted a Japanese cucumber which, even though I started them rather late, went on to produce a bumper crop of delicious cukes. This year I thought I would try something new (there still some seeds of old reliables in the stash, just in case).

New seeds:
--Suyo Long Cucumber (Baker Creek)


I'm returning to a zucchini that I tried the first year that my new garden was established. They didn't do as well as I would have liked, but to be fair, that season nothing in the garden did as well as I would have liked. Now that I've vastly improved the soil I'm willing to give them another try. The attractive feature of these zukes are that they are supposed to produce lots of male blossoms and fewer zucchini. My husband loves zucchini blossoms in any way that I present them to him, so this variety could be a winner. I also got new seeds for one of my absolute favorite winter squash.

New seeds:
--Marina di Chioggia winter squash (Baker Creek)
Old seeds:
--Zucchino da Fiore


I know it's probably not warm enough here to grow melons, but I can't resist trying, at least once. The variety that I've chosen is a California heirloom that has been grown for years by the same family near Santa Rosa. I know that area, grew up not far from there, and am pretty familiar with the weather there. My weather may be similar enough to give me a chance to ripen a melon or two.

New seeds:
--Crane Melon (Sustainable Seed)

Brassicas, non-Asian

I guess I'm stuck in a rut, nothing new other than a cabbage that I received in an exchange, although I did buy new seeds for my favorite kale. I'm also trying to save seeds for one of the kales I grew this year, a variety that I got from an SSE member who is not offering it this year, I'll put those under new seeds since I'll try sowing some late this summer.

New seeds:
--Cavolo Nero (Lacinato) Kale (Seeds From Italy)
--Portuguese Dairyman's Kale, aka Smooth Leafed Kale From The Azores
--Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage (Pam)
Old Seeds:
--Even' Star American Rapa
--Olive Leaf Rapini
--Piracicaba Broccoli
--Romanesco Broccoli
--Romanesco Natalino (really old but doing great)
--Azure Star Kohlrabi
--Gigante Kohlrabi

Asian Greens

I received a few Asian greens through exchanges this year and I felt inspired to expand on that selection when I came across the Kitazawa seed rack a favorite nursery.

New Seeds:
--Bok Choy (Josh)
--Green Rocket Napa Cabbage (Kitazawa)
--Hon Tsai Tai (Josh)
--Kosaitai Purple-Flowered Choy Sum (Kitazawa)
--Saisai Purple (Pam)
--Tatsoi (Josh)
--Thai (RW) Tender Amaranth (Baker Creek)
Old Seeds:


I'm inspired by Daphne's chamomile harvests to try growing some of my own since I do love chamomile tea. And the new basil variety from Renee's seeds is supposed to be bred to do well in containers and I thought it would be nice to grow to have closer to the kitchen or to give as gifts. The poppy seeds have a lineage going back to the vegetable garden at Monticello, and it seems that they don't grow it or at least offer the seeds to the public anymore so I'm honored that Christina passed some seeds along to me.

New seeds:
--Cameo Basil (Renee's)
--German Chamomile (Sustainable Seed)
--Gigante di Napoli Parsley (Seeds From Italy)
--Monticello Poppy (Christina)
--Turkish Parsley (Peace Seeds)
Old Seeds:
--Profumo di Genova Basil
--Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Miscellaneous and Flowers

--Paragon Rhubarb (Baker Creek)
--Yellow Wonder Strawberry (Baker Creek)

--Chocolate Flower (Botanical Interests)
--Summer Snowflake Marigolds (Peace Seeds)
--Dwarf Powder Puff (Pam)
--Joe Pye Weed (Tatyana)

There are a few other seeds that I received in exchanges that I've elected not to list here since I just can't figure out where to squeeze them into the garden this year.

This is not the end of the story, I haven't had a chance to have some quality time with the new Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook.


  1. Great list, Michelle ! There's no doubt in my mind your space can take it. Can't say the same about mine !

  2. Thanks miss m. The space may be able to take it, but can the gardener keep up? LOL, sometimes I wonder...

  3. I was happy to help a fellow seed addict :) What a wonderful list! I hope your garden is blooming and bountiful this year.

  4. Lots of interesting varieties in your list. It will be fun to watch your garden grow this coming year.

  5. I can't tell you how happy I am that you mentioned Adaptive Seeds. I love their mission statement and will be giving them some of my business...I had never heard of them before. I am very intrigued with the Kral Russian parsnip and might try to order some for our garden. You always have such an interesting selection of seeds, I'm glad you posted your list.

  6. Hi Emma, thanks again for sending those carrot seeds! I hope I'll be able to save some seeds so that I can share the bounty. Hope your garden is everything you want it to be this year.


    kitsapFG, I hope it will be more fun that frustation this year. I'll try not to think about gophers and bugs and birds right now...


    Mr. H., Adaptive seeds is a wonderful seed source. I first learned about them because they also offer seeds through the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook. They offer so many unusual heirloom varieties and I love that they grow all their own seeds.

  7. This is quite an impressive list Michelle. Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of varieties that I've accumulated in my short gardening career so far. We'll see how this year goes. I think if I have to trim things down, I will stick with vegetable varieties that are hard to find in our farmer's markets.

  8. Mmm, mmm! I was thinking you lived too close to Renee for comfort--then realized that if you were still in Marin you'd be too close to the new Baker Seeds store in Petaluma! Can't win (or lose).

  9. Thomas, I know that feeling. When you find out how wonderful and gratifying it is to grow your own vegetables you want to try everything. You've got to draw the line somewhere and a choice like yours is nice because it allows you to still support your local small farmers. I tend to to the same thing, I grow things that the local growers don't grow or that I want to have a fresh as possible.


    Daffodil, Renee's seed racks are everywhere around here, even the grocery store, so tempting. And Baker Creek, I'm not completely out of harms way, there are friends and family that live near there and I'm overdue for a visit.

  10. I'm having some quality time with the yearbook too, but I'm coming up short. I really want a snow pea that is about 3' tall and yellow podded. So far lots of ones that are tall, but I'm tired of doing the limbo to get by the plants. I want them short this year so I'm stuck with green podded ones.

  11. Nice list! I think we share the same compulsion ;-) Liking those purple snap peas & the strange parsnips. I was exchanging e-mails with a guy that was breeding purple snap peas. He was going to share some seed but then got sick and gave them all to SSE. I will have to check out peace seeds although I don't think I can fit one more thing in this year.

  12. This year I'm just reading the yearbook. I hope to get more next year. The purple peas sound terrific. I'll enjoy reading your trails and tribulations with all these varieties.

  13. This all sounds fantastic! I'm surprised you haven't grown melons before - we manage to ripen some every year of the Charente variety from western France. We usually buy plants from a local grower who sells them in our village market, so we haven't saved seeds, but maybe next year I can send you some if you like.

  14. A very extensive list Michelle. I'd have thought you could grow melons ok, we manage to produce half a dozen and our growing season isn't very long. Good luck!

  15. Wow Michelle, that's a pretty impressive seed habit! Love your blog, but I do have acreage envy at times.

  16. Daphne, You should try the Golden Sweet snow peas that Pinetree carries. I grew those last year, and although they do grow taller than 3' they are not as bushy as other snow pea plants. They were easier to keep in bounds.


    Dan, We're both charter members of Seed Junkies Anonymous! Peace seeds actually lists a lot of their seeds through the SSE yearbook, that's where I first found them. I just planted out some of the purple podded snap peas to replace the yellow snap peas that I had hoped to overwinter and harvest this spring.


    Stefaneener, Smart girl! So far I only read also, I've not sent out a request, although I've already received one and filled it.


    chaiselongue, I have grown melons before, but not to my satisfaction. I need to find a variety that I like that will ripen here. Perhaps your local variety would do well here ;>


    Jan, I've not completely given up on the melons yet. We'll see what happens this year!


    Jamie, Impressive or insane, I'm not sure which! I have to admit to acreage envy at times also - I would love to have the space to have a big patch of winter squash and corn, and more fruit trees. But then, I would never get out of the garden or the kitchen...


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.