- New Items 2020
- Artichoke & Cardoon
- Bitter Melon
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Celery & Celeriac
- Chinese Cabbage
- Endive & Escarole
- Fruit and Berries
- Grains & Cover Crops
- Greens, Oriental
- Ground Cherries
- Jelly Melon
- Live Plants
- Salad Blends
- Snake Bean
- Swiss Chard
- Wax Melon
- The Explorer Series
Our selection of cover crop and grain seeds includes many different plant species. Whether grown for soil improvement (hairy vetch, winter peas, rape), or to harvest for use as grain (rice, millet, quinoa, flax, chuffa),in the home garden they tend to be sown on a larger scale than many vegetable types. Some crops, like buckwheat or sesame, are used both ways!
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Austrian Winter Pea
Pisum arvense Close relative of Garden or English peas, but this variety is grown as a cover crop. As hardy as Hairy Vetch and good as a nitrogen fixer, but more adapted to drier or alkaline soil. Matures a bit earlier in spring from a fall planting. Very attractive to deer. Can be sown in early spring in cooler climates
Annual. Also known as Italian Clover. Nitrogen-fixing legume often grown for livestock feed or wildlife forage, yet pretty enough for the flower garden! Crimson flower heads are great bee forage. Planted thickly, also makes a superior cover or green manure crop, with its ability to smother out weeds and fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. This lovely, versatile plant should be much more widely grown!
(Triticum dicoccum) We’re so excited to be able to offer this “ancient wheat.” Known only from archaeological digs until the early 20th century, Emmer wheat was found growing in isolated areas of the Middle East, Italy and Russia. The yields are lower than for modern, “improved” wheats, but it’s superior in homestead gardens because of its disease resistance and its ability to yield in poor soils. Most importantly, the structure of this wheat’s gluten is different from that of modern types, so it’s often digestible by people with gluten sensitivity or wheat allergies! Sometimes called “Pharaoh’s Wheat.”
(Avena sativa) In 1755, Samuel Johnson called oats a “grain which in England is generally given to horses, but which in Scotland supports the people.” Today, oats are a practical, high-protein grain for the small place. They are easy to grow, but not so easy to thresh out, due to the hull which adheres tightly to the grain itself. The advantage to a hulless variety is that the grain easily comes free. Plant in early spring for grain, or in early fall to produce a heavy mulch right where the plants grew. As winter frosts kill the plants, rain or snow knocks them down, producing a thick mulch all ready to be planted in spring.
(Coix lacryma-jobi) Is it an herb, grain, vegetable, or ornamental bead? This easy-to-grow plant is all these things and more! With graceful and flowing miniature corn-type bladed leaves, sturdy stalks, delicate inconspicuous drooping flowers, and ornamental pea-like seeds, Job’s Tears adds a stunning green filler to cut flower displays. A grain-bearing plant useful for food, to make necklaces, rosary beads, and even used traditionally in folk medicine for arthritis and to remove heat! Once the husk has been removed for cooking, the grains look more like oversized pearl barley. Great in brothy dishes and traditional Asian drinks, Job’s Tears provides a chewy, mildly sweet, and earthy flavor that has caught the eye of discerning cooks. It has lovingly been called by cookbook authors “the next cult gluten-free grain” and an “unusual, versatile, and beneficial little weirdo.”
Millet, German Foxtail
Mochi Awan Millet
A historic Japanese grain, highly coveted by the indigenous Ainu people of Japan. This “glutinous” foxtail millet has the sticky texture of glutinous rice but is in fact a gluten-free grain. The Ainu traditionally cultivated this millet, which they called ‘Munciro’, in small plots. The grains were harvested with an ear-picking tool made from a freshwater pearl oyster shell. ‘Munchiro sayo’ or millet soup is still a popular Ainu recipe. It is said that Japanese foxtail millet has larger ears than other varieties. Overall in Japan, cultivation of this grain is declining and now mainly takes place in the Iwate prefecture. Mochi-awa is added to everything from rice blends to pastries for its chewy texture and impressive nutritional profile; millet contains contains lots magnesium and calcium, twice as much vitamin B1 and B2 as rice, and lots of fiber.
Quinoa - Cherry Vanilla
Quinoa, Brightest Brilliant
(Chenopodium quinoa) Ornamental enough to deserve a place in the border, but a productive and thoroughly edible quinoa as well. Reaching only 4 feet in height, this variety offers a riot of colors, orange, pink, burgundy, white and yellow! Leaves are also edible, being similar to lambs quarters (a close relative).
Red Fife Wheat
Red Fife was the first heritage wheat nominated into the Slow Foods Ark of Taste, and it’s no wonder why. This fantastic heirloom boasts superior flavor and a fascinating history. The exact origins of Red Fife are unknown. It is believed to have been grown by Mennonite farmers in Poland and brought to North America in the early 1800s. Although the origins are obscure, Red Fife rose to become the favorite wheat of the baking and milling industry during the late 1800s. A landrace variety, it has a broad genetic diversity, making it widely adaptable to many different growing conditions in North America. Ever adaptable and delicious, Red Fife can be grown as both a winter or spring wheat. This is a superb bread flour with a nutty flavor and honey overtones. An excellent choice for a gardener’s first wheat crop!
Rice Carolina Gold
Considered the “grandfather” of long-grain rice culture in North America, according to the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, which supplied our seed. This historic variety is believed to have originated from African and Indonesian sources, and appeared as a distinct variety in Charles Towne, Carolina Colony, by 1685. Carolina Gold really inaugurated commercial rice production in North America. Its long grains have superior texture, and a taste reminiscent of almonds and green tea. Although commercial production declined after the Civil War, this superior variety is known and loved to this day. We’re excited to offer a genuine piece of early Americana! (Not for Northern gardeners, Carolina Gold is a long-season, true paddy rice requiring flooding for good cultivation, and support for the plants as they reach maturity.) Provided by The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, Charleston, South Carolina.
Rose Red Soba (Buckwheat)
Amazing pink blooms in profusion! Grown for incredible flowers, tasty buckwheat seeds, and for feeding beneficial insects! In 1987, the very rare pink buckwheat was taken to Japan from the Himalayan Mountains at an altitude of 12,400 feet by Professor Emeritus Akio Ujihara of Shinshu University. We are told that Takano Co. and Mr. Ujihara further developed this to suit the Japanese climate. The drought-tolerant flowers are fantastic to attract beneficial pollinators in abundance and add an amazing pop to long-lasting bouquets. Planted en masse, it is as stunning as a field of lavender. Easy to grow, deer resistant, drought tolerant and hardy in much of the U.S.
Takane Ruby Buckwheat
A brilliant, ruby-red flowering superfood from Japan. Pink and red flowering buckwheat is a rare and wondrous pseudo-grain; blankets of pink can be seen blooming high in the Himalayas. In the late 1980s, Akio Ujihara, a professor emeritus from Shinshu University in Japan, collected seeds for a unique flowering buckwheat from Yunnan, China, at about 12,000 feet elevation. The professor selected and perfected this variety, and the signature red blanketed fields can now be found in Nara Prefecture, Japan. Japanese farmers quickly embraced this as a stunning cover crop, much more beautiful than white buckwheat. Tourism in the area to see the pink and red buckwheat fields has skyrocketed. The seeds are ground into a flour for soba noodles and can also be sprouted for a highly nutritious microgreen. In Japan, buckwheat is also brewed into tea and made into cookies. Honey from bees who fed on ruby buckwheat was analyzed by Shinshu University and shown to contain 100 times the antioxidant effect of regular honey.
Variegated Cat Grass
Barley (Hordeum vulgare). Cats love a number of different grasses when they’re in the mood for such things, but our barley is variegated in green and white stripes so it’s a treat for the eye as well! A dish of grass for your feline companion can save a lot of wear and tear on your houseplants, and is much healthier for your cat as well.
(Fagopyrum esculentum) Tender plant used as a warm-season cover crop. Plant anytime in warm weather; incorporate into soil when flowering begins (4-6 weeks). It can be planted and tilled under several times in a summer. It is well known for adding organic matter to the soil -- and produces delicious and nutritious, edible seeds! Pretty white flowers.
White Sonora Wheat
(Triticum aestivum) Here’s another very old wheat, dating to the time before wheat was “improved.” First brought to Arizona and the Southwest by Spanish missionaries in 1691, the “soft” grains are rounded and pale reddish in color. They make a stretchy dough that was instrumental in the development of the flour tortilla. White Sonora was the main variety available in the west, including California, up to the Civil War. This variety has recently been the object of a commercial resurgence in the Southwest, and is another type that is well tolerated by most people who suffer from celiac disease or wheat allergies. Drought tolerant, disease resistant, and highly adaptable.
This is an excellent winter cover crop, especially for those who do not want to put the garden to bed early in order to sow a cover crop. Winter rye is the fastest growing fall cover crop as far as cereal grains go. You may sow heavily in late fall, plants will grow in very cold temperatures and the extensive and deep root system will help to avoid erosion over the winter. The roots will also improve soil tilth and improve compacted soil. Winter rye will also grow in drought conditions as well as in areas with low fertility.