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Thousandhead Kale
KA111
$4.00
Rating:
99%

Grow mammoth-sized kale that remains tender even as the leaves grow to an astounding 3 feet long. In “The Vegetable Garden” in 1885, French seed house Vilmorin mentioned this ancient variety from the U.K. as a productive, multi-branching type that also goes by the name “branching borecole.” Vilmorin also noted that the variety originally hailed from western France. Peter Miller of Kings Seed mentioned that Thousandhead kale was long appreciated in the UK as a fodder crop, but it has been rediscovered as a tasty culinary variety. Its leaf structure also makes for easier pest management. Those who have struggled with cabbage worms understand how caterpillars love to hide in the folds of curly kale leaves. This variety is just lightly curled at the edges, making caterpillars easier to spot and treat! This seed was sourced from Kings Seed of England; the King family has been in the seed business for centuries. John Kemp King began selling seeds in 1793; his grandson Ernest William began Kings Seeds, and it has been in business for 130 years! Kings Seed is the last remaining horticultural wholesale seed house in England and is still a family affair. Miller has worked for the company 55 years, and his grandfather also worked for Kings since 1913!

    • 6-12 hours of Sun
    • Sprouts in 6-9 Days
    • Ideal Temperature: 45-85 Degrees F
    • Seed Depth: 1/4"
    • Plant Spacing: 8"
    • Frost Hardy: Yes
    • Brassica oleracea

Growing Tips: Best grown in frosts of spring or fall. Direct seed or transplant 2-4 weeks in spring or 8 weeks in fall before frosts dates. Prefers rich soil.

Motherland Okra
OK199
$6.00
Rating:
96%

A mammoth heirloom okra from West Africa that produces gargantuan edible leaves and delicious pods. This outstanding okra was introduced to us by Jon Jackson, a retired U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and founder of Comfort Farms, a non-profit agriculture program focused on helping veterans to heal and learn sustainable farming practices. Jon’s mother hails from Liberia, West Africa, so on a quest to learn about his ancestral farming roots, he came across this remarkable variety of okra that is considered a productive and reliable staple in his mother’s homeland, as well as in other parts of West Africa. Jon grows the seeds for this okra on his farm in Georgia. There, the late-maturing plants grow to 15 feet tall with elephant ear-sized leaves, but the plants will express themselves differently depending on the climate in which they are grown. Other gardeners report plants averaging 6-8 feet. The pods are an unusual round shape and not entirely spineless. They are exquisite and versatile in cooked dishes, and can even be eaten raw when young. The leaves are also edible when cooked, and in their native range they are traditionally made into soup.

All images in this listing are courtesy of Jon Jackson of Comfort Farms.

    • 8-12 hours of Sun
    • Sprouts in 7-14 Days
    • Ideal Temperature: 75-90 Degrees F
    • Seed Depth: 1/2-1"
    • Plant Spacing: 18"
    • Frost Hardy: No
    • Abelmoschus caillei

Growing Tips: Soak seeds for 24 hours. Direct seed after last spring frost. Pick pods while young and tender. Loves heat and humid or dry conditions.

Fish Hot Pepper
HPP122
$3.50
Rating:
97%

80 days. An African-American heirloom popular in the Philadelphia/Baltimore region. A chili pepper notable for its unique history. Fish pepper plants are like no other, with striated and speckled white and green leaves; the compact 2 foot tall plants stand out, even for their small stature. The peppers themselves are a feast for the eyes. Starting as a solid creamy white, they develop into a light green with dark green striations, turning orange with dark brown striations until they finally mature into solid red peppers of flavorful culinary fire. The fish pepper more than likely originated in the Caribbean and was introduced to the mid-Atlantic region in the 1870s, where it gained a strong a foothold in the oyster and crab houses of the area. The young cream-colored peppers were used for adding a kick to the creamy sauces that topped seafood. The pepper was kept as a secret ingredient in these dishes and its part in recipes handed down orally. The peppers were grown exclusively by black farmers and fell out of favor in the early 1900s as the people of that era began to embrace a more urban lifestyle. This one-of-a-kind pepper would be lost to us if not for an unusual exchange. Horace Pippin was a black folk painter who served during World War I in the 369th Infantry called the “Harlem Hellfighters.” He lost the use of his right arm after being shot by a sniper, and this left him with arthritic pain. Searching for some relief, he resorted to an old folk remedy that called for bee stings. Horace began giving seeds to a bee keeper named H. Ralph Weaver. Horace’s seeds sometimes came from his far flung old-time gardening friends, who sent wonderful and rare varieties. H. Ralph Weaver saved the seed in his private seed collection, where it remained until 1995 when his grandson William Woys Weaver released it to the public. Every fish pepper seed sold today can be traced back to that fateful exchange. The fish pepper is a hit again upon its re-release, and the Caribbean flavor and heat are just as much to credit as its truly unique and eye-catching features.

    • 8-12 hours of Sun
    • Sprouts in 10-14 Days
    • Ideal Temperature: 70-95 Degrees F
    • Seed Depth: 1/4"
    • Plant Spacing: 14-18"
    • Frost Hardy: No
    • Capsicum annuum

Growing Tips: Start indoors in bright light 8-12 weeks before last frost date. Heat mat helps to warm soil and speed germination. Peppers often appreciate a bit of afternoon shade during the hottest summer weather.

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