Overwintering Vegetable Crops: Seed Sources

California gardeners who live in mild winter climates (all but the Sierra foothills and mountains), can grow overwintering types of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. We may also be looking for varieties of some other crops that grow well in our winter months. For example, some lettuce varieties handle cold better than others. In addition, if you live in a coastal part of California, you will want to locate vegetable varieties that will thrive in cool summers. For the widest choice of varieties, you can start them from seed.  In my book Golden Gate Gardening, I have described many of the best overwintering and cool-tolerant varieties, given sources for seed, and included a chapter explaining when and how to start seedlings. Following is a short list of some of our best mail order seed companies for regionally adapted varieties, and two local stores that sell seed from some of these otherwise mail order companies.

Yr frost 0299697-R01-008 copyOverwintering 'Purple Sprouting' Broccoli

Bountiful Gardens  Bountiful Gardens Web Site

Kitazawa Seed Company  Kitazawa Web Site

Niichols Garden Nursery   Nichols Web Site

Territorial Seed Company  Territorial Web Site

Two East Bay stores offer seeds from some of these seed companies:

Pollinate Farm and Garden, 2727 Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland, 510-686-3493

Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, 1310 McGee Avenue, Berkeley, 510-526-4704

 

 


Fall Plant Sale--Master Gardeners of San Mateo/San Francisco

Coming soon is the fall plant sale of the Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco. Here is their announcement:

Please join us for our Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, September 20th from 9:00AM to 1:00PM.
 
We are offering an exciting array of vegetables, succulents, perennials, edible flowers, cover crop seeds and a wonderful choice of garlic seed and shallots perfect for your Fall Garden!
 
Vegetables Varieties
Beets_Chioggia, Bull’s Blood, Golden, and Shiraz
CabbageAll Seasons, and January King
Broccoli_Quartina, Di Ciccio, Romanesco, Piricicaba, and Solstice
Peas_Maestro, and Alderman Pole Peas
Spinach_Giant Winter, Monnopa Low Acid, Monster of Viroflay
Lettuce_Outstanding Red Romaine, Bronze Arrow Looseleaf, and Arctic King Butterhead
Chard_Fordhook Giant, Rainbow Mix, and Perpetual Spinach Chard
Kale_Vates Blue Curled, Lacinato (Dinosaur), Dwarf Green Curled, Portuguese, and Russian Red
Bunching Onion_White Spear
Endive_Frisee Fine Cut
Mustard_Red Giant
Leek_Musselburgh
 
LOTS of GARLIC and SHALLOTS!!!
Artichoke Seed Garlic_Inchelium Red                                     
Rocambole Seed Garlic_Killarney Red
Porcelian Seed Garlic_Magic
Shallots_Dutch Red
 
Succulents and Perennials…too many to list
 
Cover Crop Seeds
 
Our sale location is 2645 South El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94403. Parking is limited so please park off-site.
 
Let us help you get your FALL GARDEN off to a good start.

Saving Miner's Lettuce Seed

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If you live in California, and want to grow this wonderful edible native plant, miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), now is the time to save some seed. I wrote about it in Golden Gate Gardening, as an edible weed, but it's so good it is worth growing on purpose.

If miner's lettuce grows somewhere nearby, you can collect it now, save the seed. Then, in Fall, you can scatter it. It should be well up in December, and then will make its lovely, succulent leaves, so delicious in a salad, until the following April.

To find seed for next year, look now, in late April or in May, for plants with circular leaves that are still green and have long flowering stems. Thse will have a number of seedpods forming on the stems, with maybe a flower at the top. Gather some of these leaves, or, if you like, a whole plant bearing a few of them. 

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Spread what you have collected on newspaper indoors. Use a fully opened piece of newsprint, or maybe two or three together. As the pods dry, the seeds will pop out, and will actually jump up to a couple of feet from the pod. Thus you will find them all around the paper, or, if it is too small, on the floor nearby. The seeds are small, rounded, and shiny black. They have a white tip on one side where they were attached to the pods.

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The process will take a week or two. Here you can see the seeds and bits of pods around a plant that is drying. After the seeds pop out, you will have to separate them from the chaff. You can do this with various kitchen items, such as collanders or sieves. I used a sieve, which left me with some tiny fine chaff mixed with seeds, then blew lightly to get the chaff to fly away. It doesn't have to be perfect, of course, but seeds are easier to sow if they are free of debris, and also any bits of plant mixed with them can bring moisture that can lead to decay.

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Here's a closer view of some of the seeds before I cleaned out the chaff. After you've removed most of the chaff, keep the seeds in an open dish or jar for a couple more weeks, to make absolutely sure they are dry. Then you can store them in a paper packet or you can close the jar. Be sure to label your seeds as Miner's Lettuce and write the date of the year you saved the seed.

Make a note in your calendar so you'll remember plant the seed in October. Scatter it in an out-of-the way corner of your garden, in moist soil you have amended and dug. Scratch the soil surface a bit after you sow, pat the surface lightly, and then water. Water to keep the surface moist if rains don't do it for you. The seed leaves are long and narrow. The first few leaves will be triangular. Then the mature leaves form, the round ones. You can eat them, flowers and all, after the flowers start to form in their centers, but when the flower stems elongate they are ready for another year of seed saving. Or just let some fall in place, in hopes the plants will self-sow!

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Here's a salad containing miner's lettuce, corn salad, edible flowers, and some cut up chard stems.


Some Links for Seed School Class 1 August 20, 2011

Growing plants from seed is fun and saves money. I have written about saving and growing seed in both of my regional books Golden Gate Gardening & Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California. The first covers seeds of vegetables and herbs, the second covers many common California garden flowers.

Because Seed School at the Garden For the Environment in San Francisco (http://www.gardenfortheenvironment.org) starts tomorrow, I am putting a few links on this blog. The first class is on saving seed, so these are links that will be particularly helpful on that subject.

Here is a link to a series of articles by Tom Clothier, on every topic you can imagine relating to saving and starting seeds from Botany for Seedsavers and Genetics for Seedsavers to conditions for growing many kinds of seeds and dealing with damping off (decay) in seedlings.

http://tomclothier.hort.net/index.html

I also found his template for folding a seed packet that needs not tape or glue, for those times when you need to enclose some seeds when you are "in the field" with no access to other containers.

http://tomclothier.hort.net/templat3.htm

To find many wonderful printable templates for making paper seed packets when you have more time and materials, do a Google search for "seed packets" with "template". Here is one example of some of the pretty templates you will find with such a search:

http://content.bbcmagazinesbristol.com/gardensillustrated/pdf/GI_seedpackets.pdf

The following link is to native plant seed collection guidelines of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden. It covers getting permits for collecting on public land, keeping records, guidelines for amount of seed to take, and other important information for those who are thinking of doing this.

http://www.hazmac.biz/aboutus/Seed%20Collecting%20Guidelines.pdf

Another link of use to those who are interested in native plants is that to the Presidio Native Plant Nursery. They grow native plants for restoration projects and welcome volunteers. Much of what they do is starting plants and tending them as they grow, but they also sometimes involve volunteers in wild seed collecting and cleaning. They welcome volunteers 1-4 on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

http://www.parksconservancy.org/help/volunteer/volunteer-native-plant-nurseries/presidio-native-plant-nursery.html

 Finally, here is a google search engine that has been set up to deal with all aspects of saving, obtaining, or growing seeds:

http://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=017813469075022978746:zxwdeucohtq

Hope to see you in Seed School. In the first class, I will cover the basics of seedsaving, and then we will clean some seeds I've saved and I will advise on ones you may have saved or plan to save.

(If you missed the class and would like to see it repeated, send me a comment and we will see if we can do it again.)