One of the joys of planting edibles from seed is the opportunity to try new and unique varieties from year to year with a minimal amount of risk or investment. Interestingly enough, new and unique often means going back to old, lost varieties or what's commonly referred to as heirlooms.
Heirloom plants are generally though of as old-time varieties of vegetables that come true from seed. That means that they're open-pollinated, identified by the letters (OP) so you can usually save seed from your plants every year for the following year's garden. An good explanation of Heirloom can be found at Renees Garden Seeds.
In this post, we'll showcase 10 heirloom herbs and vegetables that you should consider trying in your edible garden for 2015.
Chioggia Beet is a striking Italian Heritage variety with light-red, smooth, round roots and bright pink and white alternating rings inside. Chioggia has very sweet flesh (raw or cooked), mild green leaves and stems striped like candy canes. Matures in 65 days. OP. Certified Organic. Approximately 100 seeds per pack. Buy Online
Mama's Cannellini Heirloom Pole Beans
Mamas Cannellini Heirloom Pole Bean Seeds produce white coloured beans that can be dried and are prized for smooth, meaty texture and nutty flavour. Classic minestrone bean. Heirloom variety. Don't plant too early - wait till late spring. March through June is a good time. Sow seeds 4 inches aprat and 1 inch deep. Will germinate in 7-10 days. Full sun. Harvest in approximately 85-92 days. Buy Online
Sugar Daddy Peas
Sugar Daddy Peas are the first truly stringless sugar pod peas. 8cm long, deep green coloured pods form on 61cm vines. Resists powdery mildew and pea leaf roll virus. Plant in full in early spring for first crop, in late summer for a second crop. Sow seeds 5cm apart in double rows spaced 15 cm apart. Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days. Harvest in 65 days. Buy Online
Garden Rainbow Heirloom Chard
Garden Rainbow Heirloom Chard seeds produce vigorous and long-lasting chard with crunchy colourful stalks and crinkled leaves. Takes 7-10 days to germinate. Certified Organic. Full sun. Harvest in approximately 50 days. Begin harvestings when plants are well established and have at least 6-8 leaves. Both stalks and leaves make great eating. Chop and steam or sauté with garlic and olive oil. Use like Spinach in lasagna or minestrone soup. try tasty chard leaves stuffed and poached in broth with a dash of olive oil and fresh lemon. Buy Online
Old German Tomatoes
Old German Tomato Seeds produce a sweet and delicious heirloom tomato variety from a Virginia Mennonite community circa mid-1800s. Like a Caribbean Sunset with variegated red and gold colours. Complements any dish with a gorgeous splash of colour. Indeterminate variety. Harvest in 80 days. OP. Full sun. Approximately 205 seeds per pack. Buy Online
Jericho Heirloom Romaine Lettuce
Jericho Heirloom Romaine Lettuce Seeds produce full heads of sword-shaped upright leaves with a delicious juicy crunch. Heat tolerant variety. For a constant supply, make several sowings a few weeks apart until summer weather turns hot. Plant again in late summer for fall harvest. Lettuce thrives in cool conditions with consistent moisture. Weed, water and be sure to thin carefully. Certified Organic. Plant in full sun, add shade as the season gets hotter to extend the harvest. Germinates in 7-14 days. Harvest in 60-65 days. Buy Online
Summer Feast Heirloom Tomatoes
Summer Feast Heirloom Tomato Seeds are a luscious, widely adapted trio of treasured heirlooms. Medium-sized, richly flavoured Black Krim is from the Russian Black Sea area. It is the most reliable and delicious of the black tomatoes. Sweet Persimmon is a big, meaty globe-shaped fruits that ripen to a beautiful glowing orange. Deep-red, lobed and heavy with juice, Costoluto is a traditional Italian favourite for fresh eating. Seeds in the pack are colour coded. Pink seeds = Costoluto, Green Seeds = Persimmon, Undyed Seed = Black Krim. For best results with tomatoes use Bonemeal or similar product containing calcium and plant in full sun. Water regularly and consistently. Harvest in approximately 80 days. Buy Online
Super Rapini Heirloom Broccoli Raab
Super Rapini Broccoli Raab is also known as cima di rapa, or Rapini. It is a robust and rich tasting traditional Italian heirloom and a quick growing cool season favourite. Broccoli Raab produces an abundance of deep green leaves and tender shoots topped with tiny bud clusters. Enjoy these full flavoured greens sauteed in olive oil and garlic as Italian food lovers have for time immemorial. We import our Sessentina seed selection directly from Italy, so you can rely on its freshness and authenticity. Full sun. Germinates in approximately 7-10 days. Harvest in approximately 60 days. Buy Online
Chinese Giant Sweet Peppers
Chinese Giant Sweet Peppers are an Heirloom variety with huge 10-15cm bell-type green to red coloured fruits. Plants grow to 61cm. First introduced in 1900. Start indoors in a warm well-lit area 8 weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. Keep seedlings moist. Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days at 24-27c. Before transplanting, move the sheltered area outside for a week. Full Sun. Harvest in 80 days. Buy Online
Wild Garden Frills Heirloom Russian Kale
Wild Russian Heirloom Kale is an especially tender, mild and simply delicious Siberian heirloom with blue-green frilled leaves. Highly nutritious, long-standing, weather tolerant and wonderfully ornamental. An equal part mix of Wild Red and Green Russian Kales. Sow in ground as soon as ground can be worked in spring. Prepare a well-drained, fertile garden bed in the full sun. Harvest in 48 days. Begin harvesting outer leaves when plants have 6-8 leaves. Vitamin rich kale is delicious in hearty winter stews and sautes, or braise the beautiful leaves with garlic and olive oil in traditional Mediterranean style. Pull and discard once plants begin to bloom since the leaves of flowering stalks get tough and bitter. Sow again in late summer for another cold-hardy crop. Buy Online
Lemon Cucumber is an attractive heirloom variety that are small and round with lemon yellow coloured skins and mild, sweet, lime-green flesh. Lemon cucumbers are extremely productive and grow on long vigorous vines that do well on vertical supports like a trellis or fence. Tasty too! Matures in 70 days. OP. Approximately 30 seeds per pack. Buy Online
These 10 varieties and many other seeds from West Coast Seeds, Renees Seeds, Burpees and Suttons are available at Arts Nursery from February through June. Quantities may be limited and availability is subject to change. Most varieties are also available online at www.artsnursery.com/catalog/seeds