2018 Seed Giveaway

“I’m not going to talk about anything that’s going to make us feel hopeless, or despairing, because there’s no despair in a seed. There’s only life, waiting for the right conditions – sun  and water, warmth and soil – to be set free. Every day millions upon millions of seeds lift their two green wings.”
–Janisse Ray, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food

tomato seeds waiting to be set free

tomato seeds waiting to be set free

Once again I want to give away a few seeds I have saved from my garden, hopefully while folks are still in the planning stages of their 2019 gardens. It’s all pepper seeds this year, as I didn’t save tomato seed or other veggies or herbs. Due to custom issues and postage costs, I will limit this giveaway to folks in the U.S. or Canada. I don’t have unlimited amounts of these seeds available, but I am happy to share them with my readers while the supply lasts.

UPDATE: The seed giveaway is now closed. I will try and start sending seeds out soon.

First up, I want to share seeds for a sweet pepper I have been growing and nurturing since 2009. It first appeared in my garden as a rogue pepper plant that came from a packet of the Czech heirloom sweet mini bell pepper called Yummy Orange. I got one plant that year that made long, hot peppers that turned orange when ripe. I saved seeds from that plant, which I called Hot Happy Yummy, and started growing them out. In 2011 I got one plant from the saved hot peppers seeds that made long orange peppers that were sweet instead of hot. I saved seeds from that one and called it Sweet Happy Yummy, and that is the one that I have seeds available for sharing. The peppers get between 5 and 6 inches long, have medium thick walls, and are orange when ripe. I am anxious to hear how they do for other gardeners.

Sweet Happy Yummy peppers

Sweet Happy Yummy peppers

I am now in the 7th generation (F7) of offspring from these peppers, and Sweet Happy Yummy has become fairly stable. My wife and I did a taste test of these this year, compared to Dolce di Minervino from Artisan Seeds and the 2011 AAS Winner Orange Blaze bell pepper. I grilled all three peppers, and the Sweet Happy Yummy was the taste winner of the three. Obviously I am not exactly impartial, but for my wife it was a blind tasting. I was excited to say the least, and thankfully I saved the seeds before cooking! Sadly, the Hot Happy Yummy is not as stable and I am only in the F4 generation for it. I will keep growing it out every year in the hopes I can get an orange hot pepper that is worth growing and eating.

Sweet Happy Yummy peppers

Sweet Happy Yummy peppers

For hot peppers, I have seeds for two of my favorite C. baccatum varieties. Aji Angelo pepper is probably the most useful and most-used pepper that I grow. It’s mildly hot, red when ripe, and produced in profusion on plants that can reach three feet tall in my garden. It’s also easily grown in containers, which is a good way for those gardeners in colder climates to get a jump on the season and produce ripe peppers before the first frosts come. I have had great luck in overwintering the container plants and then setting out in the ground the next year. The two year old plants get off to an early start, and get even bigger the second time around. In addition to using this pepper fresh, I  use it to make hot sauce, and dry it for powder. The peppers are also quite tasty after they are smoked and dried. I got my original seeds from Michelle (From Seed to Table) in a seed swap several years ago, and I can’t remember where she got her seeds. These I have available are seeds I saved in 2018.

Aji Angelo peppers

Aji Angelo peppers

Aji Angelo peppers

Aji Angelo peppers

The other baccatum pepper is called Aji Golden. I’ve been growing it for several years now and it is a prolific performer in my garden. It is a fairly rare baccatum pepper with mildly hot peppers, and they are a golden yellow color when ripe. It is great for fresh use as well as turning into hot sauce and powder, and I’ve also used it to make a pepper jam. It makes a good container plant too. I got my original seeds for it from Dust Bowl Seed.

Aji Golden peppers

Aji Golden peppers

Another hot pepper I find very useful is a small but fiery Thai ‘bird’ pepper, which is a name given to several different varieties of small Thai peppers. I got the seed originally from the instructor at a local cooking class, Aumpai Holt. Aumpia was born in Thailand, and she worked and taught cooking classes at Kitchen Affairs which has now gone out of business. I have been growing this pepper since 2012. The peppers are small in size but potent, and one or two are usually enough to give any dish a kick of heat. This pepper also does well in containers, and that’s where I grew it this year.

The last few years I have been growing guajillo peppers to dry and turn into chile powder. My favorite open-pollinated strain of guajillo is one I got from Dust Bowl Seed. The plants are productive, and the peppers are mildly hot and make a great tasting chile powder with just the right amount of heat for my tastes. I isolated one plant this year and saved seeds from it to share and to use myself since Dust Bowl Seed is apparently not in business anymore. I have other o/p guajillo peppers I grow, but I wanted to keep this strain going for my own use and to share with others. The plants get between two and three feet tall, and the fruits are nice sized and yield a good amount of powder when dried.

Dustbowl Seed Guajillo peppers

Dustbowl Seed Guajillo peppers

I’ve also been on a quest the last few years to find a good pepper to dry and turn into gochugaru flakes for making kimchi. Two I grew this year did quite well and when dried made gochugaru with a lovely red color and a mild heat level. I grew both of these in containers this year, and next year I want to try them planted in ground as well. The first is a hard to find variety called Kimchi. I read about this one in a Mother Earth News article called Growing Your Own Gochugaru Korean Chili Pepper Flakes for Kimchi. I got my seeds originally from Sherwood Seeds, and saved seeds from the one plant I grew. It makes peppers that get between 4 to 5 inches long.

Kimchi hot peppers

Kimchi hot peppers

I grew all the Korean peppers in containers this year. Kimchi did quite well, and was loaded with fruit.

Kimchi pepper plant

Kimchi pepper plant

The second one is called Gochugaru. I got this one as a plant from Chileplants.com, and the peppers on it get between 3 to 4 inches long. It too was loaded with peppers, and you can see them on the left in the below photo along with a Kimchi pepper on the right for comparison.

Gochugaru and Kimchi peppers

Gochugaru and Kimchi peppers

Here’s a recap of the seeds I have to share:

  • Sweet Happy Yummy pepper
  • Aji Angelo pepper
  • Aji Golden pepper
  • Thai Bird pepper
  • Guajillo pepper
  • Kimchi pepper
  • Gochugaru pepper

UPDATE: The seed giveaway is now closed. I will try and start sending seeds out soon.

Due to custom issues and postage costs, I will limit this giveaway to folks in the U.S. or Canada.

If you are interested in any of these seeds, just leave a comment here indicating your interest. I will get back to you via email, so please use an email address you check regularly. I will be happy to send them out to you, while supplies last. And while I’m here let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holiday season!

 

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Harvest Monday December 17, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I only got one harvest last week, a modest cutting of Starbor kale I have growing in one of the cold frame beds. I have that bed covered only in bird netting, not Agribon, and the curly leaves have stayed free of insect damage. The kale planted in there is hardy enough it has done well so far without a heavy cover.

Starbor kale

Starbor kale

We continue to use things from storage. I baked one of the Turkeyneck pumpkins last week and turned part of it into pumpkin puree. I used some of the puree to make a batch of Whole Grain Pumpkin Yeast Bread. I formed the dough into rolls instead of a loaf, and we had them with veggie soup we cooked up for dinner one night. The pumpkin added a lovely color and flavor to the rolls along with extra nutrition, and I can see I need to do more experimenting in the future.

Pumpkin yeast rolls

Pumpkin yeast rolls

I froze the rest of the puree in an ice cube tray. I plan to use the cubes in a number of savory dishes, plus I have been popping them into my breakfast fruit smoothies. We still have 10 of these big pumpkins in storage so I will be using them in all the ways I can dream up! I am thinking the cubes will be handy to use in soups and stews as well.

frozen pumpkin puree

frozen pumpkin puree

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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Harvest Monday December 10, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It was another light week of harvests for me here. I made a cutting of turnip greens to cook up with dinner one night. The Topper turnips have held up well in the weather, which turned wintry here long before the official start of the season. They don’t make roots, just big tender leaves that cook in no time. I’ve been cutting individual leaves and leaving the plant to grow new ones. I don’t have them covered or protected in any way, and we’ll see how long they last in the garden. I’m tickled they have held up this long so any more harvests will just be a bonus.

Topper turnip greens

Topper turnip greens

And I found a few more daikon radishes to pull, plus one Kossak kohlrabi. I didn’t plant a lot of radishes, but the ones I did plant have done well. It’s a couple of the purple KN Bravo and two of the white fleshed Alpine this time. There’s a few runts left in the garden but I doubt they will size up this late in the season.

radishes and kohlrabi

radishes and kohlrabi

I used the radishes to make another two pint jars of radish kimchi (aka kkakdugi). It’s my favorite way to use the radishes, and one of my favorite ferments for that matter. I used my dried homegrown peppers to make the seasoning paste. I eat the kimchi as a side dish or a topping for many dishes, and yesterday I had some along with a frittata my wife cooked us for lunch. This batch was made with the purple KN Bravo radish and the bright red dried Kimchi pepper flakes, which turned out to be quite mild.

purple radish kimchi

purple radish kimchi

In non-harvest news, Puddin has been getting in my wife’s corded bowl that sits by her window and has a great view of the bird feeders outside. Our beloved Ace was the first to do it, then Ally carried on the tradition and now Puddin has joined in. She is a bit too big for the bowl though it hasn’t stopped her so far!

Ally in the bowl

Ally in the bowl

Puddin in the bowl

Puddin in the bowl

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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Harvest Monday December 3, 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. My harvests lately have been all about the greens, since that’s what I have growing at the moment. I got a small cutting of collard greens last week, enough for us to get a taste of them. I planted three heirloom varieties this fall, and they needed more time to grow before cold weather arrived. Next year I need to set them out at least a month earlier. This cutting was from White Mountain, which is supposed to get three feet tall. My plants are barely a foot high, and since I’ve never grown them before I have no idea how hardy they are. The leaves were tender and tasty, and left me and my wife wanting more.

White Mountain collards

White Mountain collards

The kale is doing much better, and I’ve gotten several cuttings already. This week I tried a new one I’m growing called Casper. It didn’t color up quite as white as the photos in the catalog, but it is decorative nonetheless as well as good tasting.

Casper kale

Casper kale

I also made a cutting from one of my favorite kale varieties, the Wild Garden Mix. This open-pollinated kale makes plants with varying colored and textured leaves, but they are all fairly hardy and very tasty.

Wild Garden Mix kale

Wild Garden Mix kale

I did get one harvest that wasn’t a leafy green. I plucked two Senorita jalapeno peppers from a plant I had in a container and brought indoors. I used them to make a jar of Jalapeno, Cilantro and Lime Sauerkraut. Hopefully these mildly hot peppers will give a little zing to the kraut. If not, I can always add a few hot pepper flakes which will surely do the trick.

Senorita peppers

Senorita peppers

I loosely followed this recipe, skipping the lime zest and adding some sliced onion along with the cabbage, lime juice, peppers and cilantro. It’s fermenting away on the counter now, and I should get my first taste of it in a week or two.

Jalapeno, Cilantro and Lime Sauerkraut

Jalapeno, Cilantro and Lime Sauerkraut

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest of any size or shape you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And please be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting, or wishing they were harvesting!


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2018 Sweet Potato Review

Sweet potatoes are a big thing here at Happy Acres, and I want to share my review of the ones I grew in 2018. I’ve been growing sweet potatoes in my garden for as long as I can remember, and they are a dependable and productive crop for me. Last year was the best year I’ve had since we moved here, and I harvested 170 pounds from 51 plants for an average of 3.33 pounds per plant. This year the yields weren’t quite as big, but they were still big enough we should be well supplied for ourselves and have plenty for sharing with friends. The 51 plants I planted in 2018 produced 118 pounds of sweet potatoes for an average of  2.31 pounds per plant. That is a lot of sweet potatoes any way you look at it!

freshly dug sweet potatoes

freshly dug 2018 sweet potatoes

The most productive variety this year is also one of my favorites. Bonita averaged 3.8 pounds/plant, with the 6 plants giving us 23 pounds of roots. Bonita has a pinkish tan skin and moist white flesh, and is one of my favorites for baking whole. This is my 4th year growing Bonita, and it has consistently performed well for me. I have had problems the last few years on some varieties with scurf, which is a fungal disease that discolors the skin of the roots. It’s harmless to humans, and doesn’t effect the taste or the flesh of the potatoes any. The disease persists in the soil for 2-3 years, so crop rotation is the best way to keep the disease from coming back. You can see the discoloration on the skin in the below photo. It’s a little harder to spot on the varieties with a dark skin.

Bonita sweet potatoes showing scurf

Bonita sweet potatoes showing scurf

The second most productive variety this year is one I trialed called Murasaki. It looks a lot like another one I grew called Red Japanese. Both have a reddish purple skin and a sweet white flesh. Murasaki was considerably more productive though, averaging 3.3 pounds/plant while Red Japanese averaged 2 pounds/plant. In the below photo it’s Murasaki on the left and Red Japanese on the right.

Murasaki and Red Japanese sweet potatoes

Murasaki and Red Japanese sweet potatoes

I baked one each of these two and we tasted them side by side, and my wife and I couldn’t really tell the difference. Both have a sweet, nutty flavor with a slightly dry texture. I plan on growing Murasaki next year since it did so well this time.

Red Japanese and Murasaki sweet potatoes

Red Japanese and Murasaki sweet potatoes

The third most productive one is another trial variety called Ginseng, averaging 3.0 pounds/plant. I got my slips for it from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The Sand Hill Preservation Center lists varieties called Ginseng Red and Ginseng Orange, but this one from SESE was listed as just ‘Ginseng’. I have no idea if it’s the same as one of those other two, since I’ve never grown them.

Ginseng sweet potato

Ginseng sweet potato

Ginseng has a dry, light yellow/orange flesh and a rich sweet flavor. When I decided to grow it this year I thought it might be a rival for Beauregard, but actually it is in a league of its own. It might well be the sweetest of all I grew this year. I do believe more tasting will be required, until the whole 8 pounds of them is gone! I only set out 3 plants this year, but I plan to plant even more of it next year. I guess I better remember to leave one root to make slips.

Ginseng sweet potato

Ginseng sweet potato

Coming in at fourth in productivity and ranking high on taste is my long time favorite Beauregard. It averaged 2.7 pounds/plant, down considerably from last year when it made a whopping 5.3 pounds/plant. Beauregard has a moist, sweet orange flesh and can make large roots even in areas with short growing seasons. It is the sort of sweet potato you might find in a grocery, and the type many people in the U.S. think of when they think about a sweet potato. We use it for baking whole, and for dishes like my Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes. I don’t think it’s the best choice though for hash or sweet potato fries since the moist flesh doesn’t crisp up as much as varieties with a drier flesh.

Beauregard sweet potato

Beauregard sweet potato

My favorite of the ones with drier flesh are the purple-skinned white-fleshed Korean Purple, and the purple-skinned purple-flesh Purple variety. They came in at #5 and #6 in productivity this year, with Korean Purple averaging 2.7 pounds/plant and Purple averaging 2.4 pounds/plant. I don’t think the flesh of these two is quite as sweet as some of the others I grow, but that means they work well in savory dishes as well as for fries and hash. I like to put sweet potatoes in a curry, and Purple works very well for that since it holds up nicely without becoming too mushy.

Korean Purple sweet potatoes

Korean Purple sweet potatoes

Purple is especially stunning with its deep purple flesh, and I use it when I make Rio Zape and Sweet Potato Salad. Both Purple and Korean Purple are also great for making baked sweet potato chips, which you can see in the below photo.

Purple and Korean Purple sweet potato chips

Purple and Korean Purple sweet potato chips

Other trial varieties I grew this year include the orange-fleshed Carolina Ruby and Garnet and the white-fleshed O’Henry. All three did poorly here, and I don’t plan to grow them next year. It’s my second time trying Garnet, and it has done miserably both times. Carolina Ruby made just less than 1 pound/plant. O’Henry made 1/7 pounds/plant and had a moist sweet flesh, but it’s not an improvement over the other white-fleshed varieties I grow.

Carolina Ruby sweet potato

Carolina Ruby sweet potato

I baked one of the Carolina Ruby potatoes along with a Beauregard so we could do a comparison taste test. Carolina Ruby was quite tasty, but the lack of productivity means I won’t be growing it next year.

Carolina Ruby and Beauregard sweet potatoes

Carolina Ruby and Beauregard sweet potatoes

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2018 sweet potato crop. My plans for 2019 are to plant about 30 or so slips of Beauregard, Bonita, Ginseng, Korean Purple, Murasaki and Purple. I plan to grow all these slips myself, and currently I don’t plan on trying any new ones. Of course plans can change, especially since I love to experiment! One variety I may want to try is one I’ve grown in the past called Centennial. And I also want to eat a few of the tender young sweet potato leaves like I did this year.

sweet potato leaves

sweet potato leaves

Sand Hill Preservation Center has an impressive list of sweet potatoes and is a good source for slips. I have also ordered from Duck Creek Farms and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in the past.

For more information about growing sweet potatoes try these sources:

Growing Sweet Potatoes in Missouri

Sweet Potato -University of Illinois

The Sweet Potato – Purdue University

Sweet Potato Growing Guide – Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Grow Sweet Potatoes – Even In The North (Mother Earth News)

 

 

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