Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

I’ve had my eye on Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ever since I saw one of their fabulous seed catalogs at my friend Virginia’s cabin in the back woods of Mendocino County. I had always marveled at the wonderful selection of vegetables she had in her gardens whenever I would go up to visit. When I opened the catalog I thought it was a high end glossy magazine. There were huge colorful photographs of many of the vegetables, along with extensive comments and history about the seeds. The prices for seed packets were in the $1.50-$2.00 range, which meant that the quantities were just right for a backyard garden.

The business statement about the purity of their seeds was what interested me the most and is the strongest statement you’ll find from any seed company. And that’s very important to me.

“All of our seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented. We do not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis. We boycott all gene-altering companies. We are not members of the pro-GMO American Seed Trade Organization! We work with a network of about 50 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers to bring you the best selection of seeds available! Many of our varieties we sell were collected by us on our travels abroad.”

"The Evangelists of Heirloom Seeds"--The New York Times

"...These are the people on the cutting edge of food culture..."O, The Oprah Magazine

So, I ordered a catalog at their website: They don’t even charge for this seed book masterpiece! The hardest part was whittling down a $50.00 order to about $30.00, including shipping. I still have to watch my budget.

I sent in my order April 15th and had the seeds by April 21st.

Here are the seeds with the catalog descriptions. The first group will be planted right away for the summer garden.

Cucumber ‘Marketmore 76’dark green 8”-9” fruit. Great slicer. Good yields. Excellent flavor!

Eggplant ‘Japanese White Egg’full, rich flavor; lovely 2”-3” white fruit are perfect for stir-frying. The plants give heavy yields all season.

Wonderberrydeveloped by Luther Burbank. Tasty small blue-purple fruit, good fresh or cooked. Small plants produce good yields in about 75 days. A historic heirloom that is easy to grow and fun for kids. Grow like a tomato. Do not eat green fruit.

Okra ‘Eagle Pass’from the area around Carrizo Springs and Eagle Pass, Texas. A great okra that is less slimy than others; big pods are tender and delicious. Productive plants are a favorite of the farmer who grows this variety.

Squash ‘Jumbo Pink Banana’large, pink banana-shaped fruit, can weigh 10-40 lbs. This variety is about 100 years old with a fine flavored, dry, sweet orange flesh. Popular on the West Coast. Large yields.

Tomato ‘Green Grape’sister to ‘Green Zebra’, this tomato is rich, sweet and zingy. The fruit are lime-green inside and have chartreuse-yellow skins. They are about the size of a large grape, perfect for salads and snacking.

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’an old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety. Beautiful deep dusky purple-pink color. Superb sweet flavor and very large fruit. Try this one for real old-time tomato flavor.

Herb: Steviaa hard-to-find herb that is grown for the famous Stevia leaves which, when dried, are used to sweeten drinks and desserts.

These seeds will be planted in late summer for fall harvest:

Beet ‘Cylindra’a wonderful heirloom from Denmark, this one is famous for slicing with its long, cylindrical roots. Produces much more uniform slices than round beets. This tender and sweet variety is also known as “Butter Slicer” because of it’s wonderful texture. [I’ve grown this before and rate it best of all in flavor and cooking quality. Not so earthy tasting as some varieties].

Radish ‘Chinese Red Meat’the colorful “Beauty Heart” radish of historic China. The 4” round roots have white and green skin, but the magic is in their rose-red center which is so sweet, crisp, and delicious. A good radish to add color to salads and stir-fries. Must be grown in cooler weather and does best when fall planted. Sometimes called “Watermelon Radish” at market.

Radish ‘German Giant’very large, round red radish that was collected in Germany. These keep their fine quality even when large. This heirloom is very popular with the Amish. Mild and tasty.

Turnip ‘Boule d’Or’the “Golden Ball’ or “Orange Jelly” variety has been a mainstay of European turnips for over 150 years. This seed came to us from France where this old turnip is still cherished. It has a finer flavor than many of the white-fleshed varieties as the yellow flesh is sweeter and milder. Lovely color. [I had tasted a gold turnip before and was so pleased to find it didn’t have the sharp, sometimes bitter bite, a white turnip can have].


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