Blog Archives

Friday Catalog Review – Southern Exposure

Not much going on in the garden this week, and there probably won’t be for a few weeks. You’ll have to excuse me if all I get around to for the next few weeks is a couple posts here and there. Next Friday is Christmas! Can you believe it? Things will start happening again by the end of January, when we start planning the garden for next year!

This week I’m reviewing the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog. SESE is a lot like Seed Savers Exchange, except, well…they’re Southern! They are based in Virginia, and a lot of their seed growers also reside in the south. The reason this is important, is their seeds are grown and saved in hot, humid regions, so they are likely well-adapted to dealing with our hot climate. It might be interesting to try the same varieties from both Seed Savers and Southern Exposure just to see if there are any differences in how they perform for us here in Kansas.

SESE has a number of “new” items this year, but I’m mostly going to highlight some varieties that they have, but might be hard to find elsewhere.

Purple Podded Yard Long BeanThis pole bean is a type of asparagus bean, or Chinese yard long bean. This particular bean is a very vigorous grower and has gorgeous dark purple beans that retain the purple color when stir-fried. You need a big trellis!

Pole Lima Beans – SESE has a nice selection of Pole Lima Beans that are hard to find otherwise. Black Knight Butterbean is a new variety that sounds intriguing.  Violet’s Multi-Colored Butterbean is hilarious to grow, because every pod yields different colored beans. I’ve always thought it would be fun to try to isolate and breed individual varieties out of this variety.

Tashkent French Marigold – Okay, this seems like a really interesting French Marigold variety, but I have to be honest that it is mostly intriguing to me because it was found in Uzbekistan, and I find Uzbekistan an intriguing country. It is also supposedly sweet smelling, rather than astringent like most marigolds.

Asian Tempest Garlic – What’s not to love with a name like Asian Tempest? This is a very hot garlic raw, but mellow after roasting. Of course, we are past the planting window for garlic now, but keep it in mind for next year!

Grey Griselle Shallot – SESE is one of the only sources I’ve found in the U.S. for French Grey Shallots. Prized for French cooking, some consider these shallots the only “true” shallot. As with the garlic, we are past the planting time for this year.

Have a great weekend! Get all that Christmas shopping done!

Friday Catalog Review – Totally Tomatoes

I’ve considered continuing the Friday PhotoEssay through the winter, but seriously, I would just bore you with pictures of ice, snow (maybe!), and dead plants for most of the winter.

However, I did receive my first seed catalog in the mail on Monday, so I decided on the spot that I would post “catalog reviews” as I receive new catalogs. What I really mean by catalog review is that I will jump up and down and drool all over the pretty pictures of whatever is new and spiffy in each catalog as they arrive. No, I’m not going to be critiquing the layouts.I’m going to try reallyreallyreally hard to talk about no more than 5 things from each catalog. REALLY hard. But we’ll see.

This week’s catalog, and the winner of the “seed catalog creep game” is Totally Tomatoes.  (Seed catalog creep is acceptable…holiday creep, not so much.)

Yummy Mix Peppers: The first thing I noticed was the Yummy Mix Peppers on the back cover of the catalog. Yummy has been around for a few years, but they now have the mix available to the average Joe. These are the cute little colored snack peppers that you pay an arm and a leg for in the grocery store. They are delicious!  I do have to say that I had a hard time getting them to germinate the first time I tried them, and then the deer and rabbits ate almost all the peppers. Annoying!

Brandymaster Hybrid (VF) Tomatoes: Given the recent popularity of heirloom tomatoes, it was only a matter of time until someone hybridized them to get some disease resistance but keep the flavor. They have pink, red, and yellow Brandymasters available. If you don’t have space to rotate your tomato planting spot, these would be a good choice. I would be very interested to see these grown next to heirloom Brandywines just to see the difference.

Zebra Cherry Tomato: This is a compact cherry tomato for growing in containers or hanging baskets. It produces 1″ fruits that are red and green striped. This could be a fun one for the kids to grow on the porch or deck!

Merlot Bell Pepper: This is a very deep purple bell pepper. The catalog picture makes it look almost black. It is also fairly early maturing (68 days).

Zavory Pepper: This pepper was developed at Penn State University. It is a habanero, but doesn’t have the heat. So if you want that habanero flavor, but don’t want to die when eating it, this would be the right choice for you!


*Disclaimer* None of these seed companies are giving me anything to talk about their catalogs or seeds. I’m not advocating any particular company over another, nor am I telling you they are cheaper/better quality than another company. Just because I mention a particular variety of vegetable, it does not mean that it will necessarily perform well under Kansas conditions. I’m just sharing what I notice that I would be excited to try as a gardener.