Friday, November 14, 2014

2015 Seed List

Seed rEvolution Now

PROVIDING QUALITY ORGANIC SEED IN BULK TO FARMERS, SEED RETAILERS, AND GARDENING CO-OPS


Scarlet Runner Beans growing on an organic farm in Humbolt County, CA

In keeping with our mission to return seed autonomy to the farmer, we sell only the highest quality, organically grown, open-pollinated varieties that are in the public domain. Farmers are able save seed from these crops for their own use, selecting over time to improve varieties for their particular needs and conditions. This is one way humans may restore their place as stewards of biodiversity. The careful, hands-on evaluations and continuous, rigorous selection to which each offering is subjected assure that we are providing truly superior varieties. Viability testing is conducted for every variety each year. Seed prices are wholesale, fair and competitive. Our list is limited, but growing as we find more excellent crops that suit our exacting standards, and those of organic market farmers, seed companies, co-ops, and gardeners.

For more information on some specific varieties, please refer to our other blog entries.

Our seed offerings for 2015


Snap Beans

Italian Pole Snap Bean    

Heirloom traditional Romano-type thick, meaty flat green pole bean. This white-seeded, tall climber is very productive over a long season; 7-8" long flat pods have excellent, rich flavor and a unique succulence. This bean has been a favorite of our family for over twenty years.

50 lbs ~ $250.   5 lbs ~ $40.   1 lb. ~ $12.


OS Blues 

A recent development from Oregon State, this refined, slender green snap bush bean is early-maturing, very high yielding, and has great tenderness and rich flavor. This is the bean that our 99-year-old mother found especially delicious. Pods hold for a long time, allowing for an extended harvest window. Farmer Bill found it so far superior to the other Blue Lake variety he'd been growing that he plowed in the entire crop of the loser, rather than sell an inferior bean when he could offer this one!

50 lbs ~ $250.   5 lbs ~ $40.   1 lb. ~ $12.

 

Scarlet Runner Bean


This multi-purpose bean grows quickly to 12' or more...we like arched trellising to facilitate picking. The brilliant flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, always a plus. The beans may be eaten at three stages. As a snap green bean of exceptional flavor when young, these have long been a favorite in Britain. When the pods swell, the beans may be removed and eaten as shell beans, rather like edamames or limas. They are excellent in minestrone. They may also be used as a dry bean when fully mature.

50 lbs ~ $500.   5 lbs ~ $65.   1 lb. ~ $16.


Fava Beans 

Sweet Lorane


Enormously productive 5-6' tall plants benefit from trellising. This variety was originally developed from a purple bell bean used as a cover crop by plant breeder Steve Solomon. He specifically selected for winter hardiness and sturdiness. He also discovered that there was a better flavor in the occasional seeds with a lighter green hilum (the small scar that is the seed equivalent of a belly button).

At that point, Alan Adesse, an experienced organic seed farmer from Oregon, took over the breeding project. Within just a few years of hard selection, he developed this excellent, hardy, high-yielding edible fava bean. We recommend this versatile variety...still a great cover crop as well as a tasty, high-protein food! Note original purple favas in photo, compared to the new edible green Sweet Loranes. Limited supply.

5 lbs ~ $40.   1 lb. ~ $12.  Sorry...Sold out for 2014. Please place orders in advance for 2015 crop. This is moving fast!


Beets

Shiraz Tall-Top


This beet was developed specifically to meet the needs of organic growers, and its success demonstrates the great potential of targeted open-pollinated breeding. A great disease problem for organic growers is rhizoctonia, which causes pitting and roughening of the skin on beets. Shiraz was bred to resist this fungal disease. Organic Seed Alliance plant breeder Dr. John Navazio worked with organic farmer Bill Reynolds over a number of years to perfect this variety, which proved superior to almost all other OPs and hybrids in variety trials.

This dual-purpose beet combines a strong large top for tasty greens with a sweet, smooth-skinned, round deep wine-red root.

5 lbs ~ $200.  1 lb. ~ $54.  1/4 lb. ~ $18.  1 oz. ~ $6.

Rhizoctonia  infection on a leading commercial beet
(not Shiraz!)
   

Pronto



Another great OP beet offering, grown by certified organic seed farmer Alan Adesse of Oregon. This beet has somewhat smaller tops than Shiraz, but is a very nice, uniform, refined Detroit-type, with excellent eating quality. A favorite with some of our tasters.

1 lb. ~ $54.  1/4 lb. ~ $18  1 oz. ~ $6.

Broccoli

Steve's Select Tender Early Green


After several trials and two years of hard selection, Steve is ready to release this improved old favorite. It has proved itself to be superior in an extremely wide range of environments, from the high desert of southern Arizona to the foggy coast of California. While the nicely domed central head is not as large as modern hybrids, it nonetheless offers multiple advantages. After cutting the central head, the plant continues to produce abundant tasty side shoots for several months. In addition, the stems are very tender, which increases the amount of edible, delicious broccoli that may be harvested from each plant.                

Taste trials demonstrate the superiority of this OP variety, and Steve is proud enough of his efforts to put his name on it!

1 lb. ~ $100.  1/4 lb. $39.     1 oz. ~ $13. 

Cucumber

Lemon


This heirloom cucumber is now gaining in popularity as foodies discover the natural digestibility and enjoyable sweet/tart flavor of this long-time gardener's favorite. Lemon cukes are easy, reliable and highly productive. Best grown on a trellis, although it is not a requirement for big harvests of sprightly, juicy, crisp cucumbers.

1 lb. ~ $70.  1/4 lb. ~ $26.  1 oz. ~ $9

Melon

Eel River


This regional favorite was developed originally by the infamous Bear Jones of Shively, in Humbolt County, California. As the story goes, Bear's cousin brought some melon seeds back from his stint in Japan after World War II. The so-called "Jap Melon" was delicious, but had an unfortunate tendency to go soft at the stem end of the fruit. Bear crossed it with a popular OP muskmelon, which improved it by adding surface netting. At some point it attracted the attention of another seed saver in the area, who did his own improvements and sold it as the now locally famous "Crane Melon"which is similar, but not identical to our Eel River Melon. Bear entrusted the seed to his neighbor Bill Reynolds, who added more genetic diversity, firming it further, and perfecting this sweet, creamy, delectable, peach-like melon. It is reliable and productive in the field. Highly recommended!

1 lb. ~ $70.  1/4 lb. ~ $26.  1 oz. ~ $9.

Pepper/Sweet

Red Ruffled Pimiento


Here is a sweet pepper whose time has come! We won't beat around the bush. We've tasted a lot of peppers, and this is hands-down the most aromatic, crunchy, delicious one around. It is quite thick-walled and meaty as well. Lovely stuffed, especially as the skin is tender so that it doesn't need to be peeled, as so many roasters do. Chefs will be inspired!

This heirloom variety was originally developed in Spain for making paprika. That's about the only thing we haven't done with it...yet! Serve it sliced raw with a dip, or in salads. It's so good that children will enjoy it as a vitamin-packed crispy treat. Each plant will produce eight to twelve fully ripe 3-4" diameter fruits (or more with an extended season).  Organically grown in Northern California.


1/4 lb. $120.  1 oz. $45.


Spinach

Winter Bloomsdale

If you are a long-time gardener, you will remember Winter Bloomsdale, but have you tried to find seed for this old standard lately? It has become very difficult to locate, as the market has been taken over by smooth leaf varieties so popular as baby salad greens. But they can't compare to the thick, succulent, substantial, flavorful leaves of this traditional savoy type. A close examination of the leaves may remind one of the arched trusses in a Gothic cathedra. The curvilinear ribs serve the same purpose; to support more weight! Now that Slow Food has gained acceptance, it is time to revisit this almost forgotten old favorite. It's just better eating! And, of course, it also stands up better to environmental stress while growing in the garden or on the farm. Winter Bloomsdale differs from Long-Standing Bloomsdale in that it is slower growing and takes longer to bolt to seed. All growers will appreciate that. It may be grown over the winter or in early spring.

5 lbs. ~ $150.  1 lb. ~ $40.  1/4 lb. ~ $15.



Squash/Summer

Dark Star Zucchini


If there is one stand out among all the great varieties offered here, it would have to be this exceptional zucchini. It is the result of another breeding project between Dr. John Navazio (formerly of the Organic Seed Alliance) and dedicated organic seed grower Bill Reynolds. This glossy, deep green, faceted zucchini was designed with the organic market grower in mind. It was made possible by the unusual dry-farm conditions on Bill's river bar produce farm. As he selected over the years, the most well-adapted plants developed a deeper root system. The resulting strain is about 1/3 larger than the select hybrid varieties commonly grown by produce farmers, and 1/3 more productive. The plants have an open habit, for easy picking, and the leaf stalks are sturdy and nearly spineless, for less scarring of fruit.

Dark Star proved its merit on a large organic produce farm in Mexico. Here you can easily see that the plants are both larger and a deeper green than the hybrid variety, Prestige, to the left. Farmer Bill poses proudly beside his plants.

This variety offers excellent eating quality. The straight, shiny fruits are unusually high in lutein, lending the flesh a slightly golden cast. Along with the stronger root system, Dark Star seems to exhibit some resistance to a number of diseases, and even some frost resistance. And because it is an OP, it continues to produce both male and female flowers throughout the season, resulting in a much longer period of productivity, with none of the malformed fruit which are often produced late in the season by hybrids. Dark Star is recommended for summer dry, sunny regions, where it is outstanding. It does not do well in low light, wet areas, where it tends to have more vegetative growth. If you want the best zucchini for the Western states, we sincerely believe this is it!

1 lb. ~ $65.  1/4 b. ~ $24.  1 oz. ~ $8.

Squash/Winter

Stella Blue


Our all-time favorite winter squash! This Hokkaido or Kabocha-type Maxima, a type highly prized in Japan. Stella Blue has richly flavored, dense, rich sweet flesh, with a texture reminiscent of roasted chestnut. It is the perfect size for a family dinner, and, with pale slate blue skin and deep orange interior, makes a dramatic presentation. Long vines produce 4-5 mature squash, averaging about 7" in diameter and 4" high. 

1 lb. ~ $70.  1/4 lb. ~ $26.  1 oz. ~ $9.
                   .

All seed is available in sample packs

Amount adequate for a normal garden planting, $2.00 each.

To order, either email or call Steve Peters directly:
stevegrows@gmail.com or 505-660-3933

Monday, October 27, 2014

Red Ruffled Pimiento

This little known culinary treasure deserves some limelight. It is high time for cooks and foodists to try it and see just how delicious a ripe red pepper can be!


Believed to be derived from a Spanish paprika pimiento. this squat, lobed fruit is far and away the most flavorful, aromatic, and rich sweet pepper ever. We were giving out samples at Hoes Down Festival this fall at Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley, and everyone was in agreement: best tasting pepper they'd ever tried!

We've loved this variety for over twenty years. Steve worked professionally with organic seed growers around the country. He has kept up many of those connections, who have become good friends. One of them was John Finley of the Garberville Community Farm. 

John and his wife Lisa have been growing produce and saving seed for many years. They received the Red Ruffled Pimiento seed from grower Bill Reynolds, grew it out and made some improvement selections on it.


One of the improvements made was to the size of the fruits. They run 3-4" in diameter, and about 2" high. The walls are over 1/4" thick; much thicker than the familiar Bell Pepper.

The seed then went back to Bill's farm, Eel River Produce. We visited this past March. The photo above shows a cover crop waiting to be plowed in on this beautiful certified organic land. 

In March Bill was transplanting Red Ruffled seedlings.

By the time Steve returned, in late September, each plant held from 6-15 fully ripe peppers, and a number of ripening ones. You can easily ripen twenty fruits per plant with an extended growing season.

I love how Bill made use of his resources: he took advantage of a weed problem, datura, to provide shade for the pimientos. Peppers are by nature understory plants, and the taller Jimson Weed prevented sun scald on the peppers.

September 30th was harvest day, Steve single-handedly picked 300 gallons of ripe fruit. How many pecks of perfect pimientos can Steve Peters pick? You do the math. Pretty good for an old timer! Just part of the personal service from Seed rEvolution Now!

One of Bill's thrills is finding ways to use the bamboo that thrives on his farm. Here's a handmade seed drying screen, which was pressed into service as a pepper ripening rack. Very aesthetic!

To process the seeds, Bill ran the fruit through a Millet Wet Seed Separator. This first chops the fruit, and then passes it over a shaking tray through which water is sprayed, pushing the seed through the screen and into the sluice box. The seed-free flesh is saved for food.

Bill in his waterproof pants rubs the seed through the screen by hand.

The seed and fine pulp go down the homemade redwood sluice. 

Check dams catch all but the heavier, viable seeds.

These are caught in a mesh screen at the bottom.

Nice small-scale, low-cost operation for the on-farm seed saver!

After the seed dries, it will go through a final winnowing to blow away the flecks of dried flesh. Then it's ready to go off to farmers and seed companies. Steve is representing Bill and several other trusted organic seed producers through Seed rEvolution Now. The price is $125 per quarter pound, although he is willing to sell smaller lots as well. You can email him at stevegrows@gmail.com, or call him at 505-660-3933.

Here's some shots of the fruit soon after it came to our home in San Mateo. I just can't say enough about the fantastic fresh eating quality of these peppers! But I'll try...

Thick, meaty, sweet, juicy, aromatic, rich and delicious!

And they make wonderful stuffers! Unlike Bell and Relleno type peppers, these have a tender skin and do not require peeling. Toothsome stuffed pimientos!

One last point in favor of these beauties: Here's a photo I just took today, October 27th, of a Red Ruffled Pimiento kept nearly a month without refrigeration! Pretty amazing, considering it was picked fully ripe! So hurry and get some of this seed to offer in your catalog or grow for your customers. Try it in your kitchen, give your kids a slice. It is just too good to pass up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dark Star Zucchini

Steve Peters of Seed Revolution Now would like to introduce what may well be the very best zucchini, bar none, for western climates: Dark Star


The star on the flower end of the maturing fruit is indicative of a high lutein content, and shows how this variety got its name...also derived from a Grateful Dead song!

Tucked into a bend in the Eel River in northern California lies a very special, hidden farm.


This is the land of organic produce grower and dedicated seed breeder Bill Reynolds. Bill is descended from a long line of strong, independent spirits. His great grandfather, for whom he was named, was the first sheriff of Nevada County during the gold rush. Bill has lived on this land for over thirty years, learning well how to work with the local natural givens of climate, soil and water.

Bill was already one of Steve's trusted cadre of organic seed growers when, in 2006, the opportunity arose for them to collaborate with Organic Seed Alliance plant breeder Dr. John Navazio to develop an improved open-pollinated zucchini at Eel River Produce Farm.

The location was especially suitable to this project. It was well-isolated, protecting the crop from unwanted cross-pollination. In addition, the high water table of this river bench allowed Bill to grow without any supplemental irrigation. This dry-farming forced the selection of plants which developed larger root systems. Bill had enough land to enable a sizable population, from which he selected those individual plants which showed the desired characteristics.

These traits include: an open habit, making harvest easy, and straight, smooth, shiny dark green fruit, with faceted sides to prevent rolling. In addition, this particular variety offers the nutritional advantaged of a high lutein content. Because it is open-pollinated, it has a much longer season of productivity than hybrids can muster. The continuous production of both male and female flowers guarantees that late season fruits remain straight. 

Dark Star plants, thanks to their stronger root systems, are about one third larger than other varieties. Their leaf stalks are sturdier, so they don't blow in the wind as readily, and are exceptionally smooth, resulting in less scarred fruit. The extra vigor has proved to offer some disease resistance and even frost tolerance on commercial organic farms. Their ability to thrive in areas with harsh sun makes them ideal for Western dry land farming. In fact, we advise against choosing this variety in areas that are very rainy or have comparatively low light, such as the North East, as the plants do too well, and spend their energy on vegetative growth. This is a good example of the importance of bioregional seed development.

Bill was able to witness the success of his efforts in person, as his seed was used on a huge organic farm in Baja California owned by a friend who hosted him there in the winters. The farmer preferred Dark Star to any of the hybrid varieties he had tried. In the above photo the plants on the left are hybrids. The difference is clear.

This farmer's production was very large, and wound up distributed in natural supermarkets across the US. A few years ago, a killing freeze hit Baja. All of the hybrid varieties succumbed, but Dark Star bounced back. For a while that winter, it was the only variety available in the stores. We were impressed!

Bill continues to work on improving Dark Star. This is strictly a one-man, hands-on operation, in which he takes a lot of pride. 

He has come up with some ingenious improvised tools to help process the seed. Here he stirs the fermented pulp.

A home-made sluice quickly cleans the seed.

Voila!
  
Seed Revolution Now and the Organic Seed Alliance continue to monitor this and other crop varieties on farms in many bioregions around the country. Here Bill and Steve visit Full Belly Farm in Northern California's Capay Valley, where a summer squash trial was run. Once again, you can see that the Dark Star plants, on the right, are about a third larger. They also once again demonstrated some tolerance to disease; in this case mosaic virus.

It is important to us to hear from the farmers what they think about the varieties. Steve also wants to get their ideas about what they will need in the future, to direct breeding efforts in useful ways.

 Our germination test in mid-September 2014 was 98% after three days. It wants to grow!

Dark Star is a proven performer on organic produce farms across the arid West. Certified organically grown seed is available in bulk quantities to farmers, seed companies and co-ops from Seed Revolution Now at pricing which is competitive and fair to all. Contact Steve Peters at www.stevegrows@gmail.org or call him at 505-660-3933 to inquire about this and our other fine vegetable seed offerings. 

Seed Revolution Now offers other services as well, including classes, consultations, and custom seed growing.
 Call Steve; he's not afraid to go out on a limb for you!