New for 2024

In alphabetical order here are my top 10 new or returning varieties for 2024!

1. Bright Lights Cosmos- My friend and co-worker, Abby, remembers these in her mother's garden growing up. We grew these flowers in remembrance of her mother, Vivian Lynn Parker, whose bright light will continue to shine through the ones she loved and the beauty she brought to this world.

2. California Sungold Tomato- Many have tried to create an open pollinated version of the tasty Sungold hybrid tomato. My seed breeder friend Steve Peters gave it a go and I think these are very close in flavor. The fruits are slightly larger than the hybrid version but just as edible!

3. Fast Lady Northern/Southern Cowpea- We trialled 3 cowpeas this summer and the Fast Lady was my favorite. It is an open source, OSSI pledged variety, from Carol Deppe, author and breeder, that does very well in short climates as well as withstands valley heat. The green pods can be eaten fresh and the small white seed can also be cooked up. It is also extremely beautiful to grow with bright yellow legume flowers!

4. Green Beauty Snow Pea- Green Beauty is an old time favorite that we have not offered for at least 5 years! These snow peas are huge, up to about 5 inches in length and 1 inch wide. This is breeding work by Alan Kapular of Peace Seeds. We first grew these over 15 years ago when just getting started with our seed company.

5. Japanese Indigo- I've wanted to offer this variety for a few years but it took me a couple of seasons to get good at growing it. Use the leaves to make beautiful blue dye.

6. Lebanese Summer Squash- My friend Gina first introduced me to these many years ago and I'm pleased to bring them back into our catalog. The water-balloon shaped light green fruits are tender, flavorful and hold their texture when cooked. Expect bumper yields in true summer squash fashion. These are traditionally used to make the Lebanese Stuffed Kousa recipe.

7. Magic Manna Corn- Here we have more breeding work from Carlo Deppe. The tri-colored ears are excellent for grinding flour, parching and baking. This corn is another open source variety pledged to the OSSI. Many thanks to my friend Alysia for recommending we grow this!

8. Speckled Bayo Bean- I've been particularly excited to grow the Bayo bean this year. It has historical significance to our little town of Manton, CA as it was grown commercially in our region from as early as 1890 to the 1960's. Many in our community recall Bayo bean feeds at the end of the growing season.

This year we sourced Bayo beans and distributed them around the community to grow. The project even had a fun name, One Seed-One Community. At the end of the growing season about 5 gardeners turned in seed. Some we saved for our town's seed library and the rest we cooked up for Manton Parks Grand Opening last month. So Fun!

9. Stella Blue Winter Squash- This is a high flavor kabocha type winter squash with blue skin. I've been stuck on Sweetmeat for many years but this is just as good, maybe better, in a smaller package. The smaller size means it's just enough for one meal and perfect however you cook it. Baked, pie, soup, etc. Bred by the late Bill Reynolds of Humboldt county.

10. UC Tiger's Eye Bean- This bean is so beautiful! With South American origins, this strain of the heirloom Tiger’s Eye bean has had resistance to the bean common mosaic virus, BCMV, bred into it by a team at UC Davis. Redubbed UC Tiger’s Eye, this bean yields up to 28% more than the original and is every bit as good in soups, stews and chilis. The fresh green pods can be enjoyed as a snap bean when young.

I realized, again, as writing up this list how much seeds and plants connect me to community. All of these varieties are rooted in personal connections with friends, colleagues, other gardeners and even my past self.

What about you? Anyone one else have a new-to-you variety you loved this past season?

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