Step up to the Plate: 'Nutmeg' Melon

Step up to the Plate: 'Nutmeg' Melon

Unlike the ubiquitous “cantaloupes” in today’s supermarkets, this melon has a divine aroma and flavor whose complexities are difficult to capture in words – sweet, spicy, nutmeg-like, with a distinctive floral aftertaste. If you are looking for an alternative to today’s standard melon, look no further than ‘Nutmeg.’

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Step Up to the Plate: Stewed Lettuce

Step Up to the Plate: Stewed Lettuce

According to William Woys Weaver’s 1997 book Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener’s Guide to Planting, Seed Saving, and Cultural History, the lettuce we know as 732 ‘Paris White Cos’ was "sold in this country as early as 1802 by Bernard M’Mahon of Philadelphia. M’Mahon sold it under the name White Cos."  Weaver describes the lettuce as “a heavy drinker and will never develop its famous crispness unless it is kept well-watered, none of which seemed out of the ordinary to me. But Weaver goes on, “This is also one of the popular lettuces that was used for stewing..." Yes, you read that correctly. Stewed lettuce. It sounded slimy to me, but intriguing nevertheless.

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If You Give a Mouse a Lima

If You Give a Mouse a Lima

Few vegetables elicit as strong a reaction in people as lima beans.  We either love them or hate them.  However, most of us can agree that lima beans from the frozen foods section of the grocery store are vastly inferior to homegrown ones.  So, if you have ruled lima beans out of your diet, we urge you to give them another chance.  At Seed Savers Exchange, we have over 300 varieties of lima beans in our Heritage Farm Collection, displaying a tremendous array of colors and patterns.

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Step up to the Plate: What's a Turnabaga?

Step up to the Plate: What's a Turnabaga?

At Seed Savers Exchange we sometimes lovingly refer to our collection of 103 turnips and 81 rutabagas as “turnabagas.”  Confusion reigns over these crop types; many turnips in our collection are actually rutabagas. Much of the confusion stems from the fact that a common name for rutabaga is Swedish turnip. Botanically, however, the two are different species. Our favorite example of this confusion is the ‘Westport’, or ‘Macomber’, turnip, or as it’s known in the Heritage Farm Collection, Turnip 8. 

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Step up to the Plate: Our Mystery Squash

Step up to the Plate: Our Mystery Squash

Philip Kauth, assistant curator, and Steffen Mirsky, horticultural technician, make up the Seed Savers Exchange Evaluation Team.  The Eval Team is the division of the Preservation Department that keeps detailed records of more characteristics than most people know an individual variety can have. Their work helps us differentiate between the varieties in our collection and describe them clearly in the Yearbook. This is the first in their new blog series, Step up to the Plate, a monthly profile of a variety that stands out to the evaluation professionals. 

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Feaster Heirloom Mustard Feast

Feaster Heirloom Mustard Feast

When he donated seeds to us last year, Jerome said, “Cool weather is greens weather, and we like to eat these greens on special occasions. A popular menu is to have them served with sweet potatoes and ham.” Well, this year, Jerome wanted to share his tradition with the staff at SSE, so he sent up a box of freshly picked greens to help us celebrate New Year’s Day!

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Seed Savers Exchange Members Evaluate the Collection

Seed Savers Exchange Members Evaluate the Collection

Each year Seed Savers Exchange members from across North America trial garden varieties from SSE's genebank collection. They send us reports on performance and taste qualities, and photos of the varieties growing in their gardens and harvested in their kitchens. Read on to find out some the results we've seen and some of the varieties we've tested.

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Evaluating Heirlooms with 2014 Conference Attendees

Evaluating Heirlooms with 2014 Conference Attendees

Part of the evaluation process (and arguably the most fun) involves Tasting Trials. Aside from SSE Members who participate in the Member Grower Evaluation Network (M-GEN), the Evaluation Program has not requested public participation in the Taste Trials up until this point. Sixty-five participants at the 2014 Conference and Campout gave us detailed rankings and notes about 4 snap beans, 5 carrots, 4 collards, and 11 kale.

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