Nov 23

Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash

pumpkin squash

The first listing of Tennessee Sweet Potato squash seeds, then called Green Striped Bell Squash was in 1947. It was then acquired by Burpee, who changed the name.

Some people suggest this is the same squash Thomas Jefferson referred to as Potato Pumpkin.

The flesh is pale, sweet and dry. Many gardeners say the flavor isn’t that great compared to other winter squashes. Others say the sweet potato like flavor makes it perfect for pie. What does make this squash stand out is that it can be held 6 months or more, often into the following spring.

We found the Tennessee Sweet Potato to not be as prolific as the spaghetti squash. We did notice though that when the weather cooled off it became more productive.

Another bonus is that because it is Cucurbita mixta it won’t cross pollinate with the majority of other squash types. Read the specifics of which squash will cross with others here.
This puts it in the Forever Food category as you can easily save the seeds for the following year.

Nov 09

7 Varieties of Cauliflower

varieties of cauliflower

Not all cauliflowers are created equal.
There are many varieties of color available, as well as some variants in the shape of the mature head.

Name Color F1 or HL Notes
Snow Crown White F1 Very early summer or fall type.
Graffiti Purple F1 Longer to mature but grows large heads with great color.
Green Macereta Apple Green HL Early Italian variety
Snowball Self-Blanching White HL Standard variety that you do not need to pull the leaves over to get a nice color.
Purple of Sicily Purple w/ White HL Turns green when cooked.
Romanesco Lime Green HL Interesting variety with a spiraled curd.
Cheddar Orange F1 Higher in Vitamin A the color brightens when cooked.

-Graffiti seeds are becoming scarce and expensive.
-There is also a brown variety of cauliflower, but we could not find anything more than that it is an Italian variety.
-HL includes open pollinated and heirloom.
-Purple varieties have more antioxidants.

Information sources: Personal experience, seed packets, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Baker Creek Seeds, Wikipedia.

Nov 02

Zucchino Rampicante

Vining Zucchini

Whether your garden is large or small, you probably want to make the best use of it.
That’s why you may want to consider Zucchino Rampicante.

This delicious squash grows vertically easily and produces an abundance of light green summer squash. Harvested small they are a wonderful addition to any recipe you would use zucchini in. The squash shown above were harvested after the weather had turned cold here in the Northeast, and after all the other zucchini had stopped producing.

Vining summer and winter squash

If left to their own devices these squash can become quite large as you can see. Their skin hardens and they are now used as a winter squash. They can be stored throughout the season as you would a pumpkin.

Baker Creek describes this stage as “… great as winter squash. The Italians use it for stuffing in gnocchi and ravioli; the flesh is rich and flavorful, great for baking and pies!”

We concur.

Can it get any better? Well, yes.
Because Zucchino Rampicante is a C. moschata, it won’t cross with most other squash varieties. This means the seeds you save are more likely to produce the same veggie.

Here are the specs:
Botanical name: Curcubita moschata
Days to maturity:70 for young ones
Hardiness: Can take some cooler temperatures once established.
How to grow: Very heavy feeders, amend the soil well. Plant 3′ apart, closer if trellising. Direct seed after all frost or very carefully transplant.

Oct 26

11 Beet Varieties

yellow beets

Not all beets are created equal, nor do they taste the same. Even most people who don’t like beets normally, may change their minds with a milder tasting one. The Golden Beet pictured has a very mild flavor compared to dark red beets.

Of course how you prepare them matters as well. Even Mandolin, who professes to dislike beets, will eat Beet Burgers.

So here are a few varieties to consider, whether you are trying to get someone else to like beets, or even yourself.

Note that beets listed as ‘heirloom’ includes open pollinated varieties.

Variety Color DTM HL or F1 Flavor & Use
Detroit Dark Red Red 55 HL Sweet with good greens.
Touchstone Gold Yellow 55 HL Sweet and smooth.
Albino White 55 HL Super sweet.
Chioggia Red with pink ringed flesh 60 HL Mildly sweet.
Cylindra Red 54 HL Oblong shape yields uniform slices for canning.
Bull's Blood Red 35-55 HL Grown more for the leaves which are harvested early.
Babybeet Red 40 HL Small beet great for preparing whole.
Merlin Red 48 F1 Very uniform growing beets that are smooth and very sweet.
Golden Beet Yellow 55 HL Very sweet non-bleeding color.
Lutz Salad Leaf Red 70 HL Large root that stores well and great leaves.
Sugar Beet White 95 HL Large conical roots can be used for making sugar.

non gmo sugar beets

Additional notes:

  • Yellow beet varieties tend to have a lower germination rate, but they also have a milder flavor.
  • Most beet seeds pods contain 2 seeds, so thinning is needed or you can just give them enough room to stay together.

Information sources: Personal experience, seed packets, Baker Creek and Johnny’s Select Seed catalogs.

Oct 19

15 Dry Corn Varieties

dry corn seeds

There is a lot of crossover with corn, many varieties of dry corn can also be enjoyed as sweet corn or roasted when the cobs are young.
Also, varieties listed as good for cornmeal may also be good for popping, though in general popping kernels have a pointier base.

The difference between corn grits, corn meal and corn flour is a matter of how finely you grind the kernels.
Corn starch is made using a different refining technique all together, though you can substitute homemade corn flour for it in most recipes.

Seed Color Use
Bedwell's Supreme White Dent White Corn meal and grits
Cherokee White Eagle Blue Corn meal
Wade's Giant Indian Mixed Corn meal and grits
Strubbes Orange Orange Corn Meal
Oaxacan Green Green Corn meal
Jersey Peterson Blue Blue Corn flour
Nothstine Dent Yellow Corn meal
Bloody Butcher Red Corn meal
Black Mexican Sweet Corn Gray to black Corn meal
Cherokee Long Ear Mixed Popping
Dakota Black Redish black Popping
Pencil Cob Dent White Corn meal
Strawberry Popcorn Red Popping
Red Beauty Red Popping
Tennessee Red Cob Red Corn flour

How to save corn seeds.
How to make corn meal.

Seed and information sources:
Baker Creek
Johnny’s Select Seeds
Victory Seeds

Oct 12

How to Save Corn Seeds

How to save corn seeds.

Whether you want to save corn seeds for popping, replanting or grinding, the method is the same.

When the ears are full, choose the best one to save. It should be one of the plumpest, not have disease, and preferably come from a stalk that produced at least 2 ears.

If insects are an issue, you can cover the ear with a paper bag to help keep them out. Replace as needed.

Otherwise, just let the ear remain on the stalk until the plant begins to die back. You will see the leaves turning brown and a general dry appearance.

Remove the ear, shuck and remove the silks.

We have found the drier the cob the easier it is to remove the kernels, so it is okay to let it sit a bit before pushing the kernels off the cob. Some cobs can be snapped in half, making the seed removal much faster.

Let the kernels sit also, in a warm place to continue drying.

You can purchase seeds specific for the use you want, smaller cobs are generally better for popping and some varieties are listed as good for grinding.

Pictured above is White Eagle Cherokee, an heirloom corn that made a gorgeous blue corn meal.