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
Image from Renee's Garden Seeds
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
Image from Renee's Garden Seeds
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
Image from Renee's Garden Seeds
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
Image from Adaptive Seeds
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
Image from Adaptive Seeds

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. 


  1. Yikes!

    You can get those roots - celeriac, rutabaga and parsley root to size up enough to use? I've mostly given up on roots - don't have a long enough cool season.

    1. Yup, most root vegetables do well here. I've gotten some monster sized celeriac before, when I remember to sow them and get them into the garden at the right time. Rutabaga and parsley root are new challenges.

  2. You are growing lots of new things. The only variety that I am familiar with is the potato Blue Belle.

  3. I have never seen the purple pea before, so interesting

  4. Lots of interesting new varieties there in your list plus a few familiar ones. Tatume was very prolific for me, and we especially liked it sliced and grilled. And Madeley makes giant smooth leaves, which I am guessing you will find creative ways to use! The Amsterdam spinach did well for me too. I am surely looking forward to your pepper list too.

  5. I was wondering how the Beni Houshi Mizuna turned out?


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