It’s Time to Buy Seeds

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Each year in March I check over the seeds I have and order more. Planting time for most things indoors is April. It takes a while to order seeds, or to find them at my local nursery or feed-n-grain store, so if I’m missing seeds, I need to get organized. Here are some of my favorite vegetable varieties. But I'd like to hear from you, too. Click on "Start a Discussion" at the end of this article and tell us all why you like a particular tomato variety or a seed company. We can all learn from each other. 

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I love to say that the tomato is the Queen of the Garden. I love tomatoes and eat them every day in season – and often 2 or 3 times a day. One year I ate so many I developed a reaction to raw tomatoes, but fortunately I got over it. Life without tomatoes would be pretty grim.

Heirloom tomatoes I grew

 I grow 35 to 70 tomato plants each year – and sometimes up to 20 different varieties as I search for the perfect tomato. Here are a few of my favorites:

1.     Sun Gold. This cherry tomato is relatively disease- resistant and is sweet and luscious. Back when I carried a lunch box to work every day as an electrician, I would put 25 or so in a plastic bag to snack on. Now I cut them in half and dehydrate them – 300 or so at a time. It is an indeterminate tomato, so I cut the tops of the plants off once they are 6-feet tall. Seeds are available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and numerous others. It is a hybrid, so you cannot save seeds for next year.

Sungold cherry tomatoes are like candy!

2.     Ox Heart. This is a big tomato, flavorful, and good either for cooking or slicing. It is not full of juice or loaded with seeds, so is good for canning and freezing. I first found it in France (where it is called Coeur de Boeuf) and brought seeds home. Seeds are available from Baker Creek Seeds and Nichols Garden Nursery among others. It is an heirloom, so you can save seeds.

Ox Heart tomato about to go in a sandwich

3.     Summer Sunrise. This is a yellow tomato with some pink on it. I got it last year from Hudson Valley Seed Library, and it was advertised as a container tomato. I grew it in my VegTrug, a huge wooden container from Gardeners Supply Company, and it was perfect. The tomatoes were tasty and plentiful. But the best, and I mean THE BEST, thing about this is that green tomatoes picked at the end of the season ripened in my kitchen. Each one ripened perfectly, with no rot, and the flavor was that of fresh-picked tomatoes. I was eating them for a month after frost.

Summer Sunrise tomato picked on October 19, 2016

4.     Other favorites include Brandywine, a big heirloom; Black Krim and Prudens Purple, both dark tomatoes. I always grow Johnny’s Defiant PhR because it’s a good tomato that is also highly resistant to late blight. My partner, Cindy, likes a low-acid yellow tomato called Valencia. I get the seeds from Johnnys.

I use a lot of kale in soups and stews because it keeps its character even after being frozen. I also put kale in green smoothies for breakfast. It’s a super healthy food. Last summer I tried several kinds of kale, but my old standby is still my favorite: Winterbor. Ripbor and Starbor are nearly the same. Available from Johnny’s Seeds, among others. 

Winterbor kale

Carrots. I love a 2-color mix I get from Renee’s Garden Seeds called Sunshine Mix. It has a fabulous yellow carrot that will get to be huge (up to 12 inches long) without getting woody and a nice orange carrot. I also plant purple carrots every year as kids love them; there are several varieties and I forgot which I used. They’re all good.

Sunshine Mix from Renee's Seeds

Celeriac or Celery Root is a less-common celery relative that I grow each year, starting in mid- to late-March. Last year I had some 3-year old seeds from Johnnys Seeds, a variety called Prinz. I planted extra seeds because sometimes older seeds don’t germinate well, but they did, and I got a bumper crop. It keeps well in a fridge throughout the winter is great as a celery substitute in winter salads and soups.

Celeriac or Celery Root

As far as peppers are concerned, I live in the North Pole and they want to be in Mexico. But I do grow one hot pepper called the Espelette. It is French (or Basque), very flavorful, and only as hot as a jalapeno. They are from southwest France, and production is essentially limited to 11 villages where the name Espelette can be applied. But they do fine in Cornish Flat, NH, too. Go figure. They can be found on the internet, but I have no special recommendation as I’ve gotten my seeds from whole dried peppers in France. They are expensive peppers, even in France.

Espelette peppers prefer Southwest France, but grow in Cornish Flat. The rock provides extra heat

I start a lot of onions from seed as I need a lot of onions for cooking. My favorite was the Copra, but the seeds went out of production about 5 years ago. I was delighted to see that Renees Seeds has Copra onions for sale this year, though as plants, not seeds. That makes them more expensive, but they are great keepers and great in the kitchen. I have to admit I like the idea of having someone else start some of my onion plants. I started some in early February and they are doing well under lights.

Starting seeds indoors is not for everyone. Me? Gotta do it or go crazy in mudseason.

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