Caleb's 2012-13 Garden Seed On Sale Now!


Hello all :)

The 2012 seed from my own garden is finally available, including winter garden seed for planting now, and some of the rarest seed in the world. My garden seed sells out every year, and is sold first-come, first-serve. Remember to encourage self-sufficiency by giving garden seed as stocking stuffers this Christmas :) To order, email me at

And thank you to everyone who has ordered my books. If you want information about the books, visit

Caleb’s seed:

-- $3 per pack, or $2 per pack when you buy 15 packs or more.
-- Perennial and multiplier onion bulbs are two for $6.
-- Every seed is pure and grown on my property.
-- All seed is open pollinated (never hybrid). No genetically modified seeds!
-- 100 percent organically grown!
-- Supplies are limited and sold first-come, first-serve only.
-- If you need your order mailed to you (rather than picked up) please add $5 shipping and handling. You can pay via paypal or by check.
* indicates supply is very limited.
Underlined varieties work well for fresh WINTER garden growing as well as the summer garden.

Here is what I have:

* CALEB’S DEEP WINTER LETTUCE -- I’m very proud to announce this lettuce for sale. This lettuce is from an accession from Turkey given to me for trial by the federal germplasm program. This was part of a ten-accession trial from the federal seed bank. I planted all ten varieties on Oct. 1 and grew them all winter without any cover or frame -- and this variety is the winner! I am the only person in the world to offer this seed for sale, and because I trialed the seed, I got to name it :)

* WINTER GREEN JEWEL ROMAINE -- This is the very best of all winter lettuces, and the lettuce I grow the most on my property year-round. I love the crunch and taste, and I love that you can plant this lettuce very thickly and close together and great huge amounts out of it. Best of all, cut this lettuce at the soil level and it grows back again and again! Will stay unprotected in the garden into December, and does well in winter cold frames. Both cold hardy and heat resistant! This lettuce is sold by no one else in the world!

* CASCADIA PEAS -- Part of a trial of five varieties of peas I tested in 2012. All five varieties were the earliest I could find. Cascadia was the third-earliest producer, but the most prolific of the group and was therefore declared the winner. Traditional garden pea flavor, large bushy plants. Can be used as a snap or shelling pea. These have the benefit of re-growing -- if you leave them in the garden, they will send new sprouts and begin to flower again in mid-July. Simply trim back the spring growth and let the July growth produce another crop of peas for fall! This variety is the hardiest pea and will withstand several hard frosts. You can harvest these peas until Christmas if you cover them with a cold frame in October.

NOIR DES CARMES CANTALOUPE - Yes, this is both a winter and summer cantaloupe, traditionally grown it hot beds starting in January. This is my very favorite melon ever, and grows prolifically -- tons of melons -- without any black plastic. Also one of the very earliest melons. And best of all, it turns from dark green to orange overnight when it is ripe, so you never have to guess!

* GRAND RAPIDS LETTUCE - This winter lettuce was the winner of a 1899 winter garden lettuce trial in done by the Extension service. In my garden, I plant this lettuce in a hot bed in September, and it grows slowly all winter, and then grows four inches in February -- an amazing thing to watch.

DANISH BALLHEAD CABBAGE - A relatively early green cabbage with 4 pound stone head that keeps well. Sweet, crisp flavor. Overwinters perfectly in a cold frame.

OSAKA PURPLE MUSTARD GREENS -- Dark purple color, prolific plant. Hot flavor when raw, disappears when sauteed or steamed. Stays fresh though January or longer in a cold frame.

* TOM THUMB PEAS -- Part of a trial of five varieties of peas I tested in 2012. All five varieties were the earliest I could find. Tom Thumb was the very earliest producer, but also the least productive by far and was therefore not declared the winner of my 2012 early pea trial. Very dwarf plants produced an average of four pea pods per plant. Being extra-early, the trade-off was a small harvest.

* DERTIGDAAGSE PEAS -- [I AM THE ONLY GROWER TO OFFER THIS PEA PUBLICLY IN THE U.S.] This is an old Siberian variety. The name means “thirty days.” I got the original seed through my membership in Seed Savers Exchange. These plants produced their first full-sized peas 24 hours after the Tom Thumb variety, and the plants are very large and prolific. The downside is that the peas are about half the size of traditional garden peas, although the pods were relatively long, producing as many as 10 peas in a pod. Can be used as a snap or shelling pea. Because of the size, this variety was not declared the winner of my 2012 early pea trial. The plants began to produce new shoots and lots of new flowers in mid-July. Simply trim back the spring growth at this time and let the July growth produce another crop of peas for fall!

INDIAN WOMAN YELLOW BUSH BEANS -- Winner of my 2012 bean variety trial! The bush variety was the first to produce beans, and immediately produced four times more beans per plant than any of the other 11 variety in my trial. These are moderately sweet, green string beans. Sometimes double-stringed. Very easy to grow, producing huge quantities of beans that are great for eating raw, or cooked, or frozen. This is my new favorite bean variety! I just planted these for fall eating. They will stay alive quite a while in a cold frame, likely until December.

DRAGON TONGUE BUSH BEANS -- Second-place winner of my 2012 bean variety trial! This was the second-earliest variety of the 12 varieties I trialed, and definitely the most beautiful -- a pale green bean with jagged purple streaks. Produces a lot of beans, and beans are thick. They are not good for eating raw, but they are great when cooked. Also makes a good-sized shelling bean

GOLD CROP BUSH BEANS -- Third-place winner of my 2012 bean trial of 12 varieties. Early, prolific, beautiful yellow beans with wonderful flavor -- twice as sweet as Indian Woman beans. Produces a good amount per plant. This will be a new permanent bean in my garden!

JOAN RUTABAGA - This is a yellow, sweet rutabaga with a purple top skin. These grow best in fall -- plant them now and harvest for Thanksgiving dinner like we do :) To make the BEST mashed potatoes in the world, boil equal parts of these, carrots, and potatoes in a pot, drain, mash, at some butter, salt, and pepper and you will be blown away. You'll never make "just" mashed potatoes again.

* MULTIPLIER “POTATO” ONION -- Another very old variety. One onion bulb multiplies to grow many. In my garden this year, I had one bulb produce a stagger 16 other onions! I’m giving you are the largest I have been able to find in my trials of different types from across the country. VERY hard to find these seed-bulbs for sale. One packet is one bulb. Plant these in fall, let them overwinter (just like garlic) and they are ready to harvest at the end of June. These are shallot-sized yellow onions. One packet of two medium bulbs is $6

* RAMPICANTE ITALIAN VINING ZUCCHINI -- a wonderful Italian heirloom that is very rare in the U.S. Everyone should grow this! It is sweeter than all other zucchinis. The seeds are all contained in a bulb at the end of the squash. It is trumpet-shaped and beautiful. And best of all, if left on the vine, it will slowly begin to change color, flavor, and texture, turning from a summer squash to a winter butternut-type squash that will store until the end of February in a cold room or garage.

PURPLE TOP GLOBE TURNIP -- Wonderful heirloom turnip taste, very hardy plant, great for using in roast vegetable dishes and soups. Beautiful purple ring around a white globe; white flesh inside.

* GREEN OAK LEAF LETTUCE -- A frilly green lettuce that is extremely hardy -- grows outside in my winter garden without any protection, but grows three times faster in a cold frame. Gorgeous lettuce that is a must-have for gourmet salad mixes, with a fine flavor.

GABRIELLA LETTUCE -- An amazing deep wine red lettuce that is a must-have for gourmet salads. Great taste, loose-leaf bunching lettuce. This lettuce is dark, dark red from the day it comes out of the ground, and never changes color. Even better, it was the very last lettuce to bolt in my garden, lasting mid-way through the heat of July. A new favorite of mine.

* PURPLE PODDED POLE BEAN -- Fun and tasty! A dark purple “green bean” that turns fully green when cooked. Sweeter than green beans, and comes on the vine earlier. Great color and flavor!

* RED FIFE SUMMER WHEAT -- A very old wheat from northern Canada. This is the only summer wheat that I have been able to find with a growing season short enough -- about 90 days -- to reach maturity where I live. This is a hard red wheat with great heritage and flavor -- this wheat helped the settlers of northern Canada survive.

* EGYPTIAN WALKING ONION -- The most photographed vegetable in my garden! This is a true pioneer favorite. This is a perennial vegetable. Put on the ground at the first snowfall -- you don’t even have to plant it, and you shouldn’t plant it. Just set it on the ground. It will plant itself and begin to grow all winter -- a nice green plant in January, and then topset shallot-type onions ready to eat in April. This great onion replants itself from year to year, is ready to eat just when all the other onions are running out, and the bulbs I’m giving you are the largest I have been able to find in my trials of different types from across the country. These are the best of the best! Very difficult to find this seed-bulbs for sale. These are shallot-sized yellow onions. One packet of two medium bulbs is $6

YELLOW SPANISH GLOBE ONION -- This is the traditional longkeeper globe onion that stores well throughout the winter.

* AMERICA SPINACH -- the best winter spinach of all varieties tested. Stays green in winter and ready to eat without any protection even under two feet of snow (snow covering actually helps keep it alive). Excellent for cold frames. Excellent for spring or autumn planting. Fantastic taste.

RED TURKEY WINTER WHEAT -- Plant this in early September. It overwinters in the garden with no protection and no care, and is ready to eat in June. Every gardener should have some experience with growing wheat for preparedness and self-reliance.

BRIGHT LIGHTS SWISS CHARD -- A mix of red, white, and orange-stemmed Swiss chards. I love the colors, and these are great for growing in a cold frame over winter.

How to Pick a Blackberry

We are still picking handfuls of blackberries at our house every day. This has been a wonderful treat for weeks. But now the season is winding down. I'm going to miss the blackberries terribly. But before they go, the way of all things summer, I thought would make a quick post on the art of how to pick a blackberry.

For a long time, before I have my own blackberry bushes. I was only familiar with blackberries purchased from farmer's markets'. In other words - TART. Turns out though, that backyard blackberries are not supposed to be tart. In fact they are a mouthful of sugar, if they are picked correctly.

Most people I know, pick their blackberries when they turn black. WRONG. I understand why they are doing this, for a long time up to a couple of weeks, the blackberries are red as raspberries. And when the first berries turn green to bright red, it's really hard to stop yourself from picking some of the red berries. After all, raspberry season has just ended. And the red blackberries look so delicious. But you put one in your mouth and you pucker.  So then you wait until the red blackberries turn black. Then you think - a-ha they are ripe - and you pick them. But they are still a little tart.

The key is to wait until the blackberries are soft to the touch. When they are finally soft to the touch, they are pure sugar without a trace of tartness. The other wonderful thing about blackberries is that they are enormous. Raspberries are small in comparison but they are great. But when you pick a ripe, sweet blackberry, it's like a quarter cup of juice in your mouth. It's unbelievable.

So now, you never have to have a tart blackberry again. And if you don't have a blackberry bush - for hell's sake, GO GET ONE. :-)

12 beans on trial. And the winner is...

I trialed 12 beans in my garden this year. Garden trials do not involve a judge and jury. Instead, the point is to grow a bunch of different varieties of the same vegetable and see how they compare to each other -- is there one or two that you liked the most, that you want to grow forever?

I won't go over all the beans I grew here. Suffice to say that Indian Woman Yellow was the clear, far and away winner. We've been eating this bean fresh for weeks, but now the fresh beans are gone and I just harvested the dried beans. I used my vintage thresher.

There are many things to admire about this bean -- it was by far the earliest bean to produce. It produced more than any other bean in the trial. The beans taste superb. And I only planted 10 beans, and I got 2 cups of dried beans -- and that was just from the beans we didn't eat.

Vintage machine = Tasty Supper

Recently my friend Margot Hovley, who writes the exceedingly popular New Old School blog, posted on facebook about her yen for vintage grinders. Because I am easily sway by the words vintage and vegetable, I immediately went and bought one on eBay. When it arrived, my wife said "We have my mother's somewhere in the basement." In my defense, I did try to call her before I purchased, but I couldn't reach her. And also in my defense, we've been married ten years and I've never seen hide nor hair of this thing.

Margot suggested making salsa with the grinder. I'm allergic to fresh tomatoes, so I don't make salsa. So I made vegetable fritters. You can too.

1. Go to your garden. Pick whatever looks good.

2. Grind away.

3. When you're done, you'll have this. Using your hand to squeeze out the juice. Add two eggs, a pinch of salt, some grated cheese, and a bit of bread crumbs.

4. Cook in a frying pan with a touch of oil. And then enjoy another backyard garden meal :)

The Next 10 -- More of the August Garden

1. A cabbage, slightly out of focus. You'll have to think of it as art photography.

2. Runner beans with flowers that look like orchids.

3. O tomatoes!

4. An army of onions. We are totally self-sufficient on onions -- we have the 365 days a year, and never, ever have to buy them. Pictured are Yellow Spanish Globe.

5. The oregano is in bloom.

6. Lemon balm and parsley.

7. An Italian chioggia beet.

8.Galadria lettuce in seed.

9. Watermelon! Watermelon! These are White Sugar Lump.

10. Basil, which will go straight into fresh tomato pasta sauce -- yum.

A 10-photo tour of Caleb's August Garden

1. These Black-eyed Susans have planted themselves around the edge of our pond over the past couple of years.

2. The mums have opened, a sure sign that summer is in its last weeks.

3. Lots of snapdragons in multiple colors.

4. Some of the things growing in the garden are cuter than others :)

5. The winner of my 12-bean garden trial is turning yellow.

6. Hand-pollinated squash are marked with yarn so they don't get eaten.

7. The pole beans are sky-high.

8. The winter lettuce is in seed.

9. The new short-season potatoes are done. This is "Mountain Rose" variety.

10. The cantaloupes are on the verge of being ripe. This is Noir des Carmes, which turns orange overnight.

A happy August garden! -Caleb

Swiss Chard -- Lots of Eating, Lots of Seed

[pictured: red chard surrounded by oak leaf lettuce]
I’m swimming in Swiss chard -- and chard seed.

All of the chard plants in the garden are huge right now, and there is a lot of of it. We’ll be eating off these same plants all winter too.

The chard plants we ate from last summer and this past winter are now in full seed. So far, half the seed has dried on the stalk and has been harvested, and it is about a cup and half of seed, which seems like it will about last me the rest of my lifetime. The other half is still green on the stalk in the garden and drying slowly.

This chard seed has been a long time in the making -- 17 months, to be exact.

These plants were “born” from seed planted in the geothermal greenhouse on Feb. 27 2011, according to my garden journal. The starts were transplanted to the garden in May 2011, where they grew all summer, and we ate from them, taking the outer leaves. They then overwintered in a homemade cold frame, and we continued to eat from them all winter long, still taking the outer leaves, leaving the center leaves to grow out.

The plants finally bolted, which means they put out seed stalks, in late May 2012. And now, in the last week of July, half have dried enough to be harvested, and the other half of the seed stalks will be dry within 10 days. The plants are dead, by the way, they died totally about three weeks ago. All that is left now are the seed stalks, some of which are still green but are slowly drying. The seed, if you are thinking of trying this at home, should stay on the stalks until they are dry. If they are harvested green, your germination will be low or zilch.

[pictured: white chard in foreground, winter squash in background]