Seed Mania

Sea Buckthorn. Image by Maggi_94

I’m still hyperventilating from all the lectures and exhibitors at the National Heirloom Exposition in Sonoma that I attended last week. I resisted the urge to buy too many seeds. Well, I sort of resisted this urge. I ended up coming back with:

Early Stone Age Wheat from Bountiful Gardens, the seed company founded by John Jeavons. I’ve grew a few Bountiful Gardens seeds this summer with great success (particularly their summer, late to bolt lettuce). I’m looking forwards to growing the world’s smallest ancient wheat field (2 square feet) this winter. Ancient wheat is known for being difficult to thresh and clean. At least I won’t have much to harvest!

Perpetual Spinach Chard, also from Bountiful Gardens. From their catalog description, “Rare, fine old European strain of Swiss Chard. Smaller smooth dark-green leaves, small mid-ribs. Frost and bolt resistant, needs water in a dry spell.”

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) from Bountiful Gardens. The fruit of this berry producing shrub can be found in Armenian and Russian markets here in LA. I was introduced to it by my friends at Tularosa Farms. It’s difficult to germinate so that plan is to gift the seeds to the TF folks and hope that they give us seedlings (an evil plan, I admit).

I also picked up some crimson clover and globe artichoke seeds from the Bountiful Gardens folks.

Desert Chia from Native Seed Search. Yes it is that chia, of Chia Pet fame. Chia is an ancient herb used by Native Americans for medicine and food.

Chadwick’s Sweet Pea from Seed Dreams out of Port Townsend, WA. I really like having some sweet peas in the garden and this variety caught my eye, for its dark purple color and the fact that it’s from the late Alan Chadwick.

Let me know if you’ve grown any of these oddball plants and how it went.

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  1. Hi there,

    Sounds like the Expo was a blast. I really like Bountiful Gardens – been supporting them with donations and seed purchases for a few years now. They have a great mission.

    I’ve had success with their hard red spring wheat here in San Diego. Have fun planting.


  2. I have grown Bountiful’s ‘Perpetual Spinach’ Chard for many years here in Los Angeles. It has a slightly different structure than other chards – the stems don’t get as chunky and the leaves don’t get as big. Also most of the leaves sprout up from the base (which sometimes makes it harder to harvest). At some times of the year, its leaf texture is more delicate than regular chard. It has better heat tolerance than regular chard, thus it is a good choice for spring planting in annual beds here — will last deeper into the summer.

    As far as the “perennial” part, I have discovered that almost all chards are short-lived perennials around here. When they start to look peaked, bug-bit, or too trunk-like, or bolt too soon, cut them off at 1″ above soil level (the entire plant) and leave roots intact. Keep watering, and they will resprout, often better than before.

    Thus in L.A. you do not need “Perennial Spinach” to get a perennial-behaving chard leaf, but it is an interesting other variety.

  3. I hadn’t considered perpetual chard oddball! I grow it because as it says it’s slow to bolt.(Th chickens love it when it does). I don’t think our growing conditions will be similar though!

    I love sea buckthorn. Last year on holiday in Harlech, N Wales, we found a wonderful ice cream shop who did deals with local people- bartering fruit and flowers (elderflowers, roses, lavender) for ice cream. DS and I decided the sea buckthorn might be one of the best ice creams we’d ever tasted. I’ve never grown it, though I did threaten to plant up my brother’s garden as he lives on the south coast…

  4. I grew some Bountiful Gardens winter wheat a few years ago (4′ by 10′, so the “back forty”). Germination was good but pollination was not. I think it wasn’t windy enough in my yard with neighbors’ fences all around so maybe plant your wheat field in a breezy spot or shake it around somehow when it is blooming. And it is very hard to clean.

  5. I have a packet of sea buckthorn seeds from Horizon up in OR, which I tried to germinate in the spring. I think I might have neglected them too much because nothing really happened. My inclination this year is to fall-sow them and see what survives the winter and comes up in April or thereabouts. At least then I’ll know if they like my micro-climate or not.

    I am pretty sure I have wheat from Bountiful (I got my millet from them, and some barley as well), but it didn’t get planted this year.

    I do also have two varieties of chia from Native Seeds (I love their catalog… all those beans!), which didn’t get planted this year but will in the coming spring.

  6. I got a comment from Margaret C who had some trouble posting to blogger. I’m relaying the comment:

    FYI, the chia you purchased is probably Salvia columbariae, which is no longer used on Chia Pets. Seeds of Salvia hispanica (Mexican chia) is commercially available and is becoming an important health food product. Please visit my website to read more.

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