Growing Together: Your Seed Picks

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“Growing Together” is a series I launched in November, 2014, providing an opportunity for other bloggers and everyday gardeners to share their knowledge and experience with this community of readers. My first request solicited fruit and vegetable variety recommendations from growers like you… I’m happy to share them with you today! I for one am still pouring over the seed and nursery catalogs, and many of these recommendations are likely to gain a spot in my garden in the upcoming year. Enjoy!

 

Tomatoes

Phillip T is a fan of ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry,’ a tall (10 feet!) and prolific cherry tomato introduced to him by High Mowing Seed Company. He reports that it is resistant to blight (according to High Mowing, both early and late blight!), and is just a tough tomato all around — even surviving a few light frosts. Another hardy tomato with a “wild” name is ‘Wild Texas Cherry’ — Andrea S reports that it survived spider mites and a hot Texas summer amidst water restrictions.

If you grow tomatoes for saucing, Amanda M recommends ‘San Marzano’ (I heartily agree!). And if you’d like a paste tomato that can pull double-duty as a salad tomato, Peggy S recommends ‘Ella’s Pink Plums.’

Prefer a good slicing tomato? Like many other folks, Kathryn C is a fan of ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes. Anna, of Northern Homestead, grows ‘Cuor di Bue‘ (Bull’s Heart), which she reports is a favorite among elderly Italian immigrants in nearby Calgary, Alberta.

A whopper of a tomato, Anna reports that each Cuor di Bue tomato grows to around 2 lbs! Photo courtesy of Northern Homestead.

A whopper of a tomato, Anna reports that each Cuor di Bue tomato grows to around 2 lbs! Photo courtesy of Northern Homestead.

 

Beans and other legumes

Rachelle W generated a LOT of buzz on Facebook with pictures of her peanut harvest, which began with seeds purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. She is also a fan of another legume called chufa, also known as “earth chestnut” — a snack food that is produced underground similar to peanuts. Rachelle recommends planting chufa in containers, as it easily spreads from its tubers.

Rachelle's peanut harvest, hung from the garage rafters for drying.

Rachelle’s peanut harvest, hung from the garage rafters for drying.

 

Rachelle also enjoys growing ‘Chinese Noodle‘ beans (they are lots of fun, indeed!). Her plants were incredibly prolific, with harvests “by the fistful” every 3 days!

Rachelle's 'Chinese Noodle' beans

Rachelle’s ‘Chinese Noodle’ beans

 

Jessica E is a fan of ‘Provider’ bush green beans from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, as well as a wonderful and prolific pole bean called ‘Lazy Housewife’ (originally sourced from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company). It may be that this ‘Lazy Housewife’ available from the The Sample Seed Shop is the same bean, but I’ve come across at least two distinct beans with that name over the years — apparently a name given because the beans form in big clusters on the vines, making it a preferred bean of “lazy housewives” because of its ease of harvest. All varieties of ‘Lazy Housewife’ heirloom beans are best eaten when the beans are full in the hull (in contrast to modern varieties, which get tough and inedible if you allow a bean to form). I’m a big fan of tender and meaty old-time bean varieties like these, and highly recommend that you check out Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center if you’re looking to rediscover a bean “lost” from your childhood. Or try ‘Supermarconi,’ a fantastic pole bean grown by Phillip T each year, available from Seeds of Italy.

If you do prefer bean-less green beans, Anna has another recommendation: Heritage Harvest Seeds‘ ‘Purple Peacock’, a beautiful and tasty purple green bean. And if you live in an area with cool winters and hot summers like Sheryl L, you might be interested in Renee’s Garden Seeds‘ French green pole beans. Sheryl has grown these beans for the past 3 summers, and loves their resistance to bugs and prolific production (3 crops from a single planting!).

Anna's Purple Peacock beans

Anna’s Purple Peacock beans

 

Miscellaneous

I’m a big fan of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company’s Siamese Dragon Stir Fry Mix, a recommendation that worked well for Mindy R in her raised bed garden this year. Like Cathy W, she also reported a fantastic zucchini year — a great vegetable for beginning gardeners to grow. And speaking of squash, Isis from Little Mountain Haven highly recommends winter squash variety ‘Sweet Meat’ — I enthusiastically concur!

And we can’t leave out fruits! Blogger Texan reports that Kiowa blackberries are simply outstanding, not only surviving the historic 2011 Texas drought in full sun, but producing enormous berries to boot.

 

Recent Giveaway Winners

I hope these variety recommendations from fellow gardeners prove helpful to you. I know Sarah M-K will be paying attention to them, since she now has $65 in seeds from The Sample Seed Shop to play with; they’ll go a long way in helping her reach her garden resolution of installing a medicinal herb garden and expanding her veggie garden in New York. And in case you missed it, “Down to Earth: Cold-Climate Gardens and Their Keepers” will now have a new home with Linda B of Missouri.

Mair N just recently sent an update about the $100 gift certificate she won from here last year, which she chose to spend at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. She shared this fabulous photo of the Rocky Top Salad Blend lettuce mix that is growing in her greenhouse this winter. Way to grow, Mair!

Mair's Rocky Top Salad Blend

Mair’s Rocky Top Salad Blend

Thanks again to all of you who entered, and stay tuned for future freebies!

 

Interested in “Growing Together?”

Have a favorite gardening tool? Tell us about it in the comments below, or on my Facebook page. I’ll be sharing them in the next installment of “Growing Together,” and you or your blog could be featured. Happy gardening!

 

7 Comments

  1. Andrea

    January 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    The Ho-Mi EZ Digger (from Johnny’s Seeds) is fun and easy to use. The same tasks I’d do with a spade feel effortless with this.

    I also love 5 gallon pails. They aren’t exciting or pretty. But they are cheap (even free) and indispensable. I weed and prune into them, I pick into one, one holds water from my dehumidifier, I dig up rocks into them, move dirt and compost around with them, and another carries my hand tools.

    • Cathy

      January 10, 2015 at 6:10 am

      These are great, Andrea! Thank you!

  2. Melissa

    January 9, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    What a fun series! I love reading about new varieties to grow in the future 🙂

  3. dealfarms

    January 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    My favorite garden tools are cardboard and shredded paper. I use them extensively as a weed barrier between and around the beds in my raised bed garden. I also place them on top of my beds during the winter and then cover the cardboard/shredded paper with compost in spring a few weeks before I get ready to plant. It’s not perfect, but it eliminates probably 75% of the unwanted grass and weeds.

    • Andrea

      January 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      I keep coming back to cardboard for a weed barrier between the beds. I’ve tried tree chips and old curtains too. But the cardboard has worked best.

  4. Talluri Balaji

    March 27, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    what kind of card board
    is it corrugated board from boxes etc. ?

    • dealfarms

      April 2, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Talluri,

      I use corrugated, paste board, newspaper, paper feed sacks, shredded paper, etc… In fact, I’ll use just about anything biodegradable 🙂
      It’s not real pretty, but I prefer “ugly” to pulling weeds.