New Winter Heirloom Offerings for Your Garden

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Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

‘Purple of Sicily’ Cauliflower

An early spring vegetable, cauliflower has risen in popularity as a low-carb substitute in a variety of dishes. If you want to grow your own, you’ll be happy to know that this Italian heirloom is one of your best bets: It’s both rich in minerals and naturally insect-resistant, which allows each head to grow to an average weight of 2 to 3 pounds. One gardener noted, “The leaves were large enough to swaddle a baby, and there was a purple head, which would grow to the size of a serving platter.” The purple florets turn green and sweeten when sautéed.

In most Zones, you’ll need to start the seeds indoors, 4 to 6 weeks before your Zone’s transplant date. ‘Purple of Sicily’ will also germinate outdoors in moderate temperatures, between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Harvest when the heads are firm, full, and compact. Cut through the stalk beneath the head with a sharp knife, making sure to leave several of the leaves for protection. Pick this cauliflower often, so that it doesn’t bolt and go to seed.

$3.00 per packet (200 seeds)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

French Baby ‘Primor’ Leeks

Get an early jump-start on your spring garden by starting these seeds in February, either indoors or outdoors, depending on your Zone. ‘Primor’ leeks are bred in France for extra-early and vigorous yields. Seeds will germinate in just 2 to 3 weeks, and by the time stalks reach 3 to 4 inches tall, indoor growers will be able to transplant them outside when the danger of frost has passed, and spring brings its full sun. Be sure to use fertile soil, add compost or manure before planting, and add fertilizer throughout the growing season. This spirited hybrid produces quick and prodigious yields, making it an excellent investment for market farmers. You can choose to pull the leeks up as 1⁄2-inch-thick babies that sweeten on the grill, or grow them to maturity as long, savory, bulbless stalks.

Photo by Renee’s Garden

$2.99 per packet (320 seeds)
Renee’s Garden

‘Violet de Provence’ Artichoke

This French heirloom is rarely seen growing outside of Europe, where the climate suits it perfectly. However, you can sow these artichokes in cold frames in February, or start them indoors, until temperatures reach above freezing. These artichokes are noted for their bright-purple ornamental buds, which make them just as tasty as they are stunning. Though they won’t produce full-sized fruit the first summer, you’ll have an abundance of artichokes the following July. But do take advantage of their beautiful floral displays in the first year. Most importantly, be sure to pick your first-year artichokes once they reach the size of a golf ball, or they won’t produce well the following year.

Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

$3.00 per packet (25 seeds)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

‘Great White’ Tomato

In 1987, an interesting genetic mutation happened when a woman sent a collection of orange and yellow tomatoes to Glecklers Seedsmen for trial purposes. It was there that a white beefsteak tomato began growing among the others. After several years of cultivation, Glecklers Seedsmen offered this cultivar for sale. ‘Great White’ is the largest of the white tomato cultivars, and has excellent resistance to sunscald, drought, and cracking. This tomato’s flesh tastes so deliciously fruity that it’s often likened to fresh-cut pineapple, melon, and guava.

Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

$3.00 per packet (25 seeds)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

‘Amalfi’ Amaryllis

Because they’re naturally grown in South Africa, these bulbs are attuned to the seasons of the southern hemisphere, and only need a bit of water and a consistently sunny window to grow indoors for the winter. Like many of the holiday-blooming amaryllises, this culitivar is classified as Sonata, meaning its flowers are about 5 inches in diameter. The ‘Amalfi’ amaryllis aptly blooms a beaming bright-pink-rose color, just in time for Christmas — as long as you pot the bulbs 4 to 6 weeks before the holiday. These bulbs sprout best when the upper third is allowed to poke up through the soil. Provide your amaryllis with consistent sunlight, and keep it away from cold drafts. You won’t need to water it again until shoots appear. Plant a few to decorate your home for the holidays, or give them away to loved ones as personal gifts! Just be sure to cover the plant when you step outside to deliver your flowers.

Photo by Van Engelen

3 bulbs for $18.75
Van Engelen

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.