Seeds 2011

Posted by on Jan 13, 2011 in Farm Blog, Garden, Vegetables | 28 comments

Our goals this year in the vegetable garden are to 1) add bees, 2) finally get the retaining wall in the garden built, and 3) install the greenhouse.  Once the greenhouse is up, we can finish building out the last of our raised beds to make room for all the vegetables we’re planting this year.  Trying to function here without a greenhouse has been remarkably challenging to say the least, and I can’t wait to put it to plenty of good use (and keep the potting soil out of the kitchen)!


We spent the past few weeks ordering from some of our favorite seed catalogs

In the meantime we have big plans for the gardens this year.  Most of our seeds for 2011 have arrived, and we’re itching to get planting.  We’re gradually phasing out most of the hybrids in the garden, and reverting to planting heirloom varieties.


This year we're replacing Blue Wind Broccoli (F1) with the heirloom Calabrese

Our seed selection for 2011 is:

Beans: Spanish Musica, Royal Burgundy, Foremost, Roc D’Or

Beets:  Bull’s Blood, Red Ace, Golden

We love the sweet, stain-free, golden beets

Broccoli: Blue Wind, Calabrese

Carrots: Scarlet Nantes, Parisienne, Rainbow mix

Cucumber: Delikatesse, Japanese Climbing

Garlic: California Early White, California Late White.

Greens: Rhubarb Red and Golden chard.  Lacinato, and Red Russian kale.  Bloomsdale, Space, and Monstreux de Viroflay spinach.  Tatsoi, Shanghai Green and Green Fortune pac choi.

Leeks: Blue Solaise, and Giant Musselburgh

Green Oakleaf is a reliable year around producer here

Lettuce: Black Seeded Simpson, Green Rapids, Lollo Rossa, Merveille des Quatre Saisons, Mascara and Green Oak Leaf.

Onion: White Spear (bunching), New York Early (storage)

Parsnip: Javelin

Peas: Oregon Sugar Pod II (snow), and Progress #9 (shelling)

Peppers: Quadrato D’asti Rosso Pepper, Orange Bell, Tolli’s Sweet Italian, and Purple Beauty

Potatoes: German Butterball, Rose Finn Apple


Radish: Cherry Belle, and French Breakfast

Squash (Summer): Early Prolific straightneck (yellow), and Black Beauty Zucchini

Squash (Winter): Anna Swartz Hubbard, Baby Pam Pumpkin, Boston Marrow, Galeux d’Esyines, Gill’s Golden Pippin, Greek Red, Jarrahdale, Marina di Chiogga, Musquee de Provence, Potimarron, Red Kuri, and Waltham Butternut

This year we’re undertaking our own ‘great winter squash experiment’.  While scanning through the seed catalogs in recent weeks, we had a difficult time narrowing down our choice.  Rather than planting many of a single variety, we’ve decided to see what really likes to grow here.  To make space, we’ve annexed an area that we weren’t sure what to do with in the orchard, primarily due to the terrain, on the northern edge of the orchard.  The slope there faces south, so there will be no shortage of sun.  The soils are being heavily amended over winter as the soils are relatively poor there.  We’re hoping at least a few of these will be happy here!


Our selection of winter squash varieties for 2011

Tomatillo: Verde

In addition to the great squash experiment, we’re also expanding the varieties of tomatoes grown this year, as it’s simply not possible to have too many tomatoes, is it?  We did draw the line at 20 varieties though.

Tomatoes: Argentina, Azoychka, Beam’s Yellow Pear, Black Cherry, Black Pear, Blondkopfchen, Crnkovic Yugoslavian, Federle, German Orange Strawberry (sport from last year), German Red Strawberry, Large Red, Pantano Romanesco, Pineapple, Russian 117, Russian Persimmon, Salisaw Cafe, San Marzano (Lungo 2), Stupice, Tobolsk, and Vorlon (who can resist such an alien sounding tomato?).

A sample of the tomatoes grown here in 2010

You may recognize some from last year, but others have been replaced. Cherokee Purple is being replaced with Vorlon this year, whose parents reportedly were Cherokee Purple, and Pruden’s Purple[1].  Cherokee Purple has been unpredictable for us in the past, with good years and bad, so we’re curious to see if the Pruden’s cross improves production.  Texas Star was replaced with Pineapple.  We’d certainly grow Texas Star again, but I’m still on my quest to find the best performing golden bi-color variety for this region.  Two paste varieties have also been added this year for making sauce to store over winter.  We know San Marzano does well here, but we’re curious to try it alongside Federle, both for performance and taste.   For the first time in about 10 years, Sungold (F1) is out.  It fizzled in our cool weather last summer, and there’s more to tomato life than Sungold.  So instead we’re trying two new (to the farm) cherry varieties, Blondkopfchen and Black Cherry.  We may try one of the dehybridized Sungold varieties in the future, but for now, we thought we’d go for something completely different.

Is it really almost time to start tomatoes again? Where has the year gone!?

By the time the last of our tomato seeds arrive, it will be time to start our tomato seedlings!


These should keep us busy for now

In addition to all these vegetables, the herb garden will be well stocked too.  We’ll have the classics, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, dill, oregano, and marjoram.  We’re dropping Basil ‘Aroma 2’ in favor of Basil ‘Nufar’ this year, as production was phenomenal with Nufar last year.  We’re also adding Lovage, Chervil, Summer Savory, Chocolate Mint, Anise Hyssop, and Lemon Verbena.

Despite cool weather, our basil did remarkably well last year

This list of course is by no means necessarily final, as one or two additions invariably work their way into the gardens during the season.  For now though we’ve got more than enough to work into our planting schedule and rotation plans to keep us busy.  We just hope this summer is warmer than the last!


[1] Tatiana’s TomatoBase – Vorlon


  1. Wow, and I thought I needed a greenhouse to help start my veggies. Isn’t it funny how we as gardeners just can’t stay out of the dirt. I mean if it’s too cold outside we just bring it into the kitchen. 🙂
    charsgardening´s last post…Becoming a Locavore

    • Well, I do at least wash down the kitchen when I’m done, but that seed starting mix and potting soil seem to find every nook and cranny! A greenhouse will be so much more civilized! 🙂

  2. What an impressive selection of veggie seeds. You most certainly do need a greenhouse … you need the kitchen to create wonderful dishes with all these vegies.
    Bernieh´s last post…Flower Flaunt on Friday – its mid-Summer on this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

    • I agree! I was willing to use the kitchen for now as it’s a bit of a wreck anyway. We’re actually working on remodeling plans with a builder at the moment, and once it’s finished, it will be a potting-soil free zone! 😀

  3. That is some seed list! You are going to be very busy. I love Cherokee Purples, but they rarely produce very many tomatoes.
    Randy´s last post…Birds in the garden

    • I like Cherokee Purples too, but honestly, there are so many similar tomatoes out there, I’d rather find one that’s more reliable. We’ve had good years with them, but never great, and sometimes they’ve been downright disappointing here.

  4. oh my goodness what a list!! No wonder you need a greenhouse. All those tomatoes are making me jealous. I’ll be lucky to have space for two or three varieties this year.
    Marguerite´s last post…Starting Seeds in Winter

    • Even with just two or three varieties, you can have lovely long tomato season, especially if you select varieties that mature at different times in the summer. We love our cherries as they’re usually early, the slicers are often mid-season ripeners, and the beefsteaks are generally end of summer harvest. Choose one of each, and you’ll have a fabulously long season!

  5. Thats a lot of seeds to plant with varieties of veggies in your garden this year! A promise of a bountiful harvest to come.Happy gardening!
    p3chandan´s last post…Blooming Friday – Patterns in your garden

    • I hope it’s bountiful, our cold summer last year definitely slowed down production. If we’re lucky, we’ll be swimming in tomatoes this year!

  6. I admire your switch away from hybrids and back to the genetic diversity provided by heirlooms. However, I could never give up Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. Sweet 100 has never lost a taste test with an heirloom at our house.
    Carolyn @ Carolyn’s Shade Gardens´s last post…New Shade Perennials for 2011

    • I like Sweet 100, and Sungold, and they are both very sweet tomatoes that have found their way into a number salads, and pizzas over the years. However, I’ve been impressed with some of the heirlooms too. Salisaw Cafe (our Sweet 100 replacement) last year knocked our socks off. Not quite as sweet, but still sweet with a much more complex tomatoey flavor. The fruits are little larger than Sweet 100, but make a fine substitute, and production was impressive throughout the season too!

  7. Wow! That’s a ton of seeds! I couldn’t imagine ever gardening on such a grand scale. I put out six veggie choices each winter. And I don’t even have enough room to plant the whole packet. Good luck with your greenhouse!

    • It is a few seeds 😉 I’m juggling in my head how we’re going to start them all, as the greenhouse isn’t up yet. Maybe today I’ll hit the local home supply store, and shop for retaining wall blocks! I NEED to get that greenhouse up…stat! 😛

  8. I hope you enjoy your greenhouse as much as I do mine. Honestly, I don’t know how I gardened for so many years without one. I still get soil in the kitchen though, when it’s too cold to work in the greenhouse (as it is now).

    I admire your restraint on the tomato varieties. 😉 I’m still finalizing my list of veggies, tomatoes included. Your list reminds me I need to get in gear!
    villager´s last post…Winter Characters

  9. Hi CV,

    That’s a serious amount of seeds! I know I could never handle that many and I’m always amazed when I see people coping with producing so much.
    I have good intentions, but it just never really happens 🙂

    I look forward to seeing future posts on their progression!

  10. Holy toledo! That’s a lot of veggies you have planned to grow..good luck! I believe I can learn a lot here, I don’t see a followers button so I’m adding you to my bloglist, I just gotta watch this!
    Darla´s last post…FF- Practicing For GGW Photo Contest

  11. AHHHH this did not help my urge to buy too many seeds! I have a serious tomato problem. I think there needs to be a tomatoes anonymous support group. Anyway, my boyfriend has me putting all my leftover & saved seeds from previous seasons into a spreadsheet so I can at least keep from buying 10 purple tomato varieties (I tend to forget what I already have).

    Let me know how your winter squash trials go!
    Eliza @ Appalachian Feet´s last post…How to Combat Cabin Fever with Carrots and tell Climate Change from Weather

  12. Good thing you’re going to be getting a greenhouse, hope it will be a big one. I can’t wait to see what it’s like if it turns out half as nice as the other things you’ve built. I’m just getting ready to put a seed order in, but pretty much only flowers this time.
    Catherine´s last post…First batch of the year!

  13. Nice seed list. I am jealous of all the squash. We don’t have enough room for all that. We do have a mini green house, though, and I just tried out my first soil blocks today. We also hope to get a larger greenhouse (6′ x 5′) built soon with old windows we scavenged. I hope it is done in time for the mini blocks to get potted on to the larger blocks. I’ve got a pretty optimistic list of seeds going too. Best of luck with them all.

  14. You’re all set! I’d like to try the golden beets myself.
    Helen´s last post…One Reason Not to Over Water Succulents

  15. Dear CVF, Your garden will be so very wonderful this year! I really look forward to seeing its progress… and the bees. P x
    Pam’s English Garden´s last post…What Are Your New Years Resolutions

  16. I think we’re on the same wavelength, because I order from the same catalogs as you do! My fav seed source is Iowa’s Seed Saver’s Exchange. I’m gearing up to start from seed (at the end of February) Cherokee Purple, San Marzano & Brandywine tomatoes, Ping Tung Long & Rosa Bianca Eggplants, a variety of sweet corn and Charentais melon. And may there be a pox on all the gophers, wabbits, squirrels and any other varmints that would venture to wreak havoc on our new plantings! Armstrong Nursery in Temecula loves me because I regularly buy out their stock of gopher cages. Sigh.
    Camissonia´s last post…Rain- Frost &amp Blooming Manzanitas

  17. Hi from England! What a great comprehensive seed list post. I did a much smaller selection as I’ve not made up my mind about everything I’m going to plant yet. Very interesting to see what you are planting as your climate is different. I have a couple of the squash in mind and a variety of courgette/zucchini called ‘Black Beauty Dark Fog’ which did well last year – like your Black Beauty maybe. Good luck!
    Jane Harries´s last post…slide2

  18. Wonderful post Clare! I am glad you are going to have a greenhouse soon! I too think it is great to move towards all heirloom veggie varieties. I will have to try to find the Salisaw Cafe. You have made me hungry! Your veggie photos are sumptuous and delicious!
    Carol´s last post…Bird Review Part Vll Parenting Tree Swallows and Fledglings

  19. I so enjoyed this post!!! I like your seed choices. Happy to see Baker Creek Seeds in the mix – I adore their catalog and their products are wonderful. When I return to my old stomping grounds of Petaluma, CA, visiting their Seed Bank is top priority. I’m so new to veggie gardening that I have never tried to start seeds inside – but up here in the NW it’s a MUST. My neighbor does a good job of it without grow lights, inside her home, but she’s got huge windows and we do not! So will have to figure something out. Greenhouse is definitely on the wish list here, a few years out. Thanks for another wonderful detailed post!! Have a great day. Cheers, Bonnie
    Bonnie Story´s last post…Snow day!

  20. Your site (and farm!) are a great inspiration to me. I really love what you’re doing and what you have planned.

  21. Hello Clare, I missed this post.. actually haven’t done much in the way of blogging for several weeks, so I’m happy to play a little catchup.

    We haven’t added too many different varieties this year, but did order 6 new heirloom beans, the calabrese broccoli and a few others. Basically, I think we’ll stick with many of the seeds from last year. I’m anxious to read about some of your tomato selections.
    Diana´s last post…SkyWatch and Seedlings