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Sow these Seeds: A look at some of our favorite varieties for our northwest climate

Feb 2nd, 2015 | Category: Features

by Becca Schwarz Cole

February. The joys of mid-winter include the dreams and plans – and work – of spring, summer and fall. It’s nature’s way of reminding us every season has its place, and it’s all connected. Large and small farmers and gardeners alike are sketching out their plans for the season, writing lists of varieties to order, waiting on their shipments, and counting down the days until their starts can get started, their seeds can go in the ground, and the cycle of the work we love goes around again. The varieties are in great number, and the possibilities seem endless.

Following is a look at some of our favorite seeds and new varieties we’re looking forward to this year. While there are an enormous amount of seed varieties out there, we focused on the local and regional offerings including Osborne Seed Company and Uprising Seeds, as well as tried and true varieties from larger companies such as High Mowing Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom. All seeds listed here are an ideal fit for our northwest corner climate and perform well in the right conditions. It was difficult narrowing down favorites, but these are all great producers. Thank you to the seed companies for sharing their photos with us.

See Part 2 in March. What are you planting this season? What are your favorites? Send to editor@grownorthwest.com or share on our Facebook page.

 

Rockwell Bean 

Rockwell beans. PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

Rockwell beans. PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

This rare heirloom is truly something. We love this bean for its productivity and taste, and its story. The Rockwell was brought to the Coupeville area of Whidbey Island in the late 1800s by Elisha Rockwell. Rockwell the man later left, but Rockwell the bean stayed with local farmers and homesteaders who saved new seed each season. Offered by Uprising Seeds this year, their seed stock comes from Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie in Coupeville, who started growing it about 12 years ago when the total local production was around 200 to 300 pounds annually. Willowood now grows several thousand pounds each year and are dedicated to making this bean more popular. “We are likely the first company to offer this variety of dry bean in a seed [catalog] ever,” states Uprising Seeds in their catalog. “The bean has remained popular in homestead gardens for well over a century, renowned for its ability to germinate in cool soil, mature early, and its outstanding flavor. The beans are creamy white with a mottled burgundy spot around the hilum and are great for most dishes but are especially known for making terrific baked beans.” We have to agree. In short, a “first rate, productive dry bean for our maritime climate.” Seed source: Uprising Seeds

 

 

Gardener’s Sweetheart

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

Cherry tomatoes are one of the easiest plants you’ll ever grow, yielding numerous bite-sized bits of goodness through the summer and into the fall. Good dirt, good sun, good water makes great little tomatoes. While our favorite Sungold variety will always have its place, we’ll be trying Gardener’s Sweetheart, which Uprising Seeds refers to as a “contender for our “New Variety of the Year” in their catalogue. Bred in Maine by longtime seedsman Will Bonsall, Sweetheart is described by Uprising as “adorable: fire engine red, mini apple shaped cherry tomatoes with a firm texture and incredibly sweet flavor.” They were smitten with the long trusses with “perfectly alternating fruits, up to 20 or 25 per truss.” Ready to harvest in 70-75 days and with tomatoes that hold well, this variety sounds like a winner. Seed source: Uprising Seeds

 

Long Pie Pumpkin

COURTESY OF HIGH MOWING SEEDS

COURTESY OF HIGH MOWING SEEDS

We grew this heirloom variety from High Mowing Seeds for the first time last season and love it. “Incredibly easy to work with” for baking and cooking is how High Mowing Seeds describes this variety. Looking more like a large zucchini, the Long Pie is harvested when green with an orange spot on the bottom or side, and ripens while in storage (and stores well into winter), turning completely orange. The average long pie growth is about 5 to 8 pounds, however we had a quite a few over that, and were impressed by the number of pumpkins per plant. The flesh is a beautiful orange (it’s nearly stringless), and is sweet, velvety, and perfectly delicious for pies, breads, cookies and other goodies. Seed source: High Mowing Seeds

 

 

Cabernet Onion

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO.

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO.

Osborne Seed Co.’s Westside trials declared this storage onion a winner. It “held in our storage trial until the middle of March with very little discarded” and added other grower trials yielded the same results. The Cabernets take 100-110 days to mature, and have a medium to large, globe shape with intense red color on the outside and rings inside. A great tasting onion that grows well and holds well. Seed source: Osborne Seed Co.

 

 

Grandpa Admire’s Lettuce

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

The folks at Uprising Seeds state in their catalog “this might be our favorite lettuce we grow” and that was our thought exactly last year in our garden. A beautiful combination of red and green, this variety’s growth was vigorous, continuous and substantial. The heads were incredibly large and had a tender, yet firm texture, and fine taste. This variety is easy to grow, and fun to watch how quickly it grows! The full heads are ready within 60 days, though we were pulling smaller leaves about a month in and the flavor was just as delicious. This variety was donated to the Seed Saver Exchange in 1977 by Chloe Lowry, the grandaughter of civil war veteran George Admire. Seed source: Uprising Seeds

 

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO

Jimmy Nardello sweet pepper

Jimmy Nardello will spend a lot of time in your kitchen. This sweet Italian frying pepper from Osborne Seed is a friend of the family. Plants bear red rustic peppers up to 10 inches long, and allows for an extended harvest. These are ready 65-70 days from planting date. Seed source: Osborne Seed Co.

 

 

Winter Bloomsdale spinach

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

The Bloomsdale variety is an excellent producer in our northwest conditions, most especially for spring and fall plantings. Uprising Seeds state in their catalog “this strain has undergone a couple of good generations of selection at Nash’s Farm and is a real beauty. Dark green, savoyed leaves sweeten after frosts.” The leaves are thick and good enough to eat raw, in salads, or prepared with a touch of olive oil and garlic. Ready within 45 days, the baby leaves are ready even sooner and quite delicious. This variety has moderate bolt resistance. Seed source: Uprising Seeds

 

 

Yellowstone Carrot

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

This variety from Uprising Seeds was simply unstoppable in the garden. Test rows that were “ignored” produced nearly the same neat and vigorous carrots as the tended areas. These large, long, yellow carrots may not taste as sweet as other varieties, but the slightly milder taste was very much enjoyed. This is a beautiful carrot that grows in approximately 70 days. Seed source: Uprising Seeds

 

 

Speckled Roman Tomato

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO

“This beautiful heirloom roma is a stabilized cross between Antique Roman and Banana Legs,” states  Osborne Seed Co. The tomatoes are large and deep red in color with orange striping. The yields are heavy, the flavor is great and flesh is meaty. A truly wonderful variety. Seed source: Osborne Seed Co.

 

 

German Butterball Potato

PHOTO COURTESY OF IRISH EYES GARDEN SEEDS

PHOTO COURTESY OF IRISH EYES GARDEN SEEDS

This favorite from Irish Eyes Garden Seed can’t be beat. No wonder it’s a favorite of many other folks as well. German Butterball is a fabulous later-season producer yielding smooth, golden potatoes with butter yellow flesh that tastes even better than it looks. These are great for baking, fries, mashed potatoes, delicious hash browns and more. This variety demonstrates superior storage. Order these early! Seed source: Irish Eyes Garden Seeds

 

 

Sweet Peas, Spring Sunshine Series

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO

PHOTO COURTESY OF OSBORNE SEED CO

 The Osborne Seeds catalogue states, “This new sweet pea was dynamic in our trials. Customers who drove up remarked on their looks and fragrant smell…. The more we cut, the more they grew; give them lots of headroom, and they will keep growing and producing.” Colors come in burgundy, cerise, cream, mauve, and peach, and are sold individually. Trial growth noted “they have unbelievable stem length” and do well in both the outdoors and high tunnels. Seed source: Osborne Seed Co.

 

 

Wheat ‘Ethiopian Blue Tinge’

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

PHOTO COURTESY OF UPRISING SEEDS

From Uprising Seeds: “Two decades ago Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds in B.C. brought back two seed heads of a variety of emmer wheat from an agricultural visit to Ethiopia and began multiplying it out and sending it to other growers. It is now grown on significant acreage from CA north to BC. An excellent yielding early variety, it has an interesting bluish hue to the berries and seed heads. The grain has very high protein content at up to 16 percent but does not generally develop much useable gluten to make it a good stand alone bread flour. It is wonderfully flavorful cooked as a whole grain and is even being used commercially by at least one company for pasta. Grows to about 4 feet in height.” Seed source: Uprising Seeds

 

Regional Seed Suppliers

Following are some of the seed suppliers in our northwest corner and region:

• Osborne Seed Co: Now in their 33rd year of growing and testing seeds, the Mount-Vernon based company offers a large assortment of vegetables, herbs and flowers for larger growers and backyard gardeners. Their catalog is available in print and online in PDF format. 2428 Old Hwy 99 South Road, Mount Vernon, osborneseed.com,  (360) 424-SEED (7333)

• Uprising Seeds: The first certified organic seed company in Washington State, Bellingham-based Uprising Seeds continue to grow each year. They work with more than 20 farms in the greater Northwest (the seed packets include a symbol indicating the grower) including locals Backyard Beans and Grains (Everson), Delhi Wind Farm (Everson), and Highwater Farm (Mount Vernon). Their offerings include vegetables, flowers, herbs and grains. Their catalog is available in print and online in PDF format. Seed packets available at a variety of locations. uprisingorganics.com, (360) 778-3749.

• Deep Harvest Farm & Seeds: Farm-grown Deep Harvest Organic Seeds offers 40 varieties this year, available at a few retail outlets, including Skagit Country Stores in Freeland and Stanwood, Bayview Farm and Garden in Langley, and Sky Nursery in Lynnwood, as well as the Bayview Farmers Market. deepharvestfarm.com, deepharvest@gmail.com. 

• Greenbank Farm: Greenbank Farm is now offering farm-grown seed in the Farm Shop starting this month. 765 Wonn Road #A201, Greenbank, (360) 678-7700, greenbankfarm.biz.

• Ed Hume Seeds: Family owned since 1977, Ed Hume Seeds carries hundreds of vegetable and flower varieties. Their seeds are selected for short-season and cool-climate areas, which also makes them suitable for early or late planting in milder climates. Puyallup, (253) 435-4414.

• New World Seeds & Tubers: This website is new for the 2015 season and home to the varieties grown by Tom Wagner, aka “Tater-Mater,” whose most famous creation is the “Green Zebra” tomato. Includes 71 varieties of potatoes (true potato seed), 70 varieties of tomatoes, and 1 obscure fruit called Physalis peruvians. See tatermaterseeds.com.

• Irish Eyes Garden Seeds: Greg and Sue Lutovsky grow 70 kinds of potatoes and 25 kinds of garlic. The great majority of their seeds and tubers are certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. (509) 933-7150, irisheyesgardenseeds.com, Ellensburg.

• West Coast Seeds: Over 800 varieties of vegetable, flowers and herbs, specializing in heirloom, heritage and certified organic. Delta, British Columbia, Canada. 1-888-804-8820, www.westcoastseeds.com

 

Published in the February 2015 issue of Grow Northwest 

 

 

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