Seed Archive

After more than two decades of saving heirloom seeds, I’ve decided to catalog their habits and histories here—the place where every seed has a story. Enjoy!


BASIL SEED – Garden Gate Farm Mix
Ocimum basilicum – Annual
This broad-leaf basil is delicious with attractive green leaves many streaked in red.
Basil’s history spans over 4,000 years to the first written accounts which mention it grown in Egypt possibly for use in embalming. Named for warrior Ocimus of Greek mythology, it is said that basil appeared in the place where he was killed. The royal reference (basilicum) stems from the basil plant being considered a sacred herb in its native India. – Our Herb Garden
Indoors: 4-6 weeks before last frost date
Direct seed: After last frost
Days to germination: 5-14
Days to maturity: 75
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BEAN SEED, Shell – Tiger eye (Bush)
Phaseolus vulgaris – Annual
Beans are native to the Americas. Domesticated separately in Mesoamerica and the southern Andes. Along with squash and maize, beans are one of the “Three Sisters” central to indigenous North American agriculture. – Wikipedia
Originally from Southern South America. A wonderful rich flavor and smooth texture. – Vermont Bean Seed
Direct seed: After last frost in warm soil
Days to germination: 8-16
Days to maturity: 90
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BEET SEED – Lutz (great storage beet)
Beta vulgaris – Biennual for seed
Humans originally ate beet greens but not the thin and fibrous roots, which were occasionally used in medicine. They are said to have grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Elizabethans enjoyed them in tarts and stews. Thomas Jefferson planted them at Monticello. – Medieval cooks stuffed them into pies. — PBS/Food

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before the end of heavy frosts
Direct seed: Early spring and 2-week intervals thereafter
Direct seed: Early spring and 2-week intervals thereafter
Days to germination: 14-21
Days to maturity: 55
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CARROT – Scarlet Nantes
Daucus carota – Annual
Developed in the 1850s by Vilmorin in France. It is also known as “Early Coreless.” It is thought that early carrots were domesticated for their seeds and leaves. There are accounts of the “modern” carrot in Afghanistan around the 10th century and by the 14th century it was being cultivated in China as well as India and Europe. – Seed Savers Exchange

Direct seed: March – July
Days to germination: 6-21
Days to maturity: 75
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CELERY SEED – Utah
Apium graveolens – Annual
The oldest record of the word celeri is in a 9th-century poem written in France or Italy giving the medicinal uses and merits of the plant. In France in 1623 celery as a flavoring for food was first recorded. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, in Italy, France, and England, the first evidences of improvement of the wild type were seen. – Aggie Horticulture

Indoors: 6-8 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 10-20
Days to Maturity: 100-120
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CHARD SEED – Hidden Gems
Beta vulgaris – Annual
Chard is considered native to southern Europe, where it developed from a form of wild beet thousands of years ago. Aristotle mentioned a red-stalked chard in 350 BCE. In the 19th century, its name was changed to Swiss chard to distinguish it from the spinach-like French variety.
After years of saving seeds from our chard plants, we’ve managed to create our own cultivar. When young, as shown here, our chard displays bright green leaves with brilliant red and orange stems, and as the season progresses, the leaves deepen to a rich, beautiful burgundy. To describe its outstanding appearance as well as its taste, we’ve decided to name our chard Hidden Gems.

Indoors: 3-4 weeks before last frost date
Direct seed: Mid-spring through summer
Days to germination: 5-17
Days to Maturity: 60
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CUCUMBER SEED, Slicer – Maretmore
Cucumis sativus – Annual
The cucumber is believed to be native to India, and evidence indicates that it has been cultivated in Western Asia for 3,000 years. The cucumber is also listed among the foods of ancient Ur and the legend of Gilgamesh describes people eating cucumbers. – The Kitchen Project

Indoors: 3-4 weeks before last frost date
Direct seed: After last frost when soil is warm
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 50
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HOLLYHOCK SEED – Zabrina
Malva sylvestris – Biennial
An old cottage-garden favorite, this cousin to the Hollyhock has lavender-purple flowers, exotically striped with deep maroon veins. – Heritage Perennials
Probably of Asian origin. First Known Use: 1548. –Merriam-Webster

Direct seed: 2 weeks after frost date
Days to germination: 10-14
Days to maturity: 65
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KALE SEED – Red Russia
Brassica napus – Annual
Kale has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. In much of Europe it was the most widely eaten green vegetable until the Middle Ages when cabbages became more popular. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms.

Indoors: Mid-Feb for late March transplanting
Direct seed: March for spring crop; July for fall crop
Days to germination: 5-17
Days to maturity: 50
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LETTUCE SEED – Gulley’s Favorite Bib Lettuce
Lactuca sativa – Annual
A beautiful green and maroon bib lettuce. Very tolerant of cold AND it’s delicious!
Wall illustrations of rosettes of a tall, large vegetable with subulate leaves appear in numerous Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom tombs and monuments in Egypt. Most archaeobotanists agree that these leafy vegetables depict the garden lettuce. – Domestication of Plants in the World

Indoors: Feb for March transplanting
Direct seed: March for spring crop; August for fall crop
Days to Germination: 2-15
Days to maturity: 45-50 days
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MARIGOLD SEED – French Brocade
Tagetes patula – Annual
Approximately: 80 seeds per packet
The earliest use of the marigold was by the Aztec people who attributed to it magical, religious, and medicinal properties. The first recorded use is in an 1552 herbal for treatment of hiccups, being struck by lightening, or “for one who wishes to cross a river or water safely.” Burpee

Indoors: 5 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost
Days to germination: 6-10 in warm soil
Days to maturity: 45-50
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ONION SEED, Bunching – Evergreen Hardy
Allium fistulosum – Annual
Approx. 200 seeds per packet
Onions may have originated in central Asia, Iran, or West Pakistan. Onions grew in Chinese gardens as early as 5000 years ago and they are referenced in some of the oldest Vedic writings from India. – National Onion Association

Indoors: January for April transplanting
Direct seed: Early spring for
summer use; July for fall use
Days to germination: 7-14
Days to maturity: 65
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PEPPER SEED, Chili – Anaheim (mild hot)
Capsicum annuum – Annual
Research shows that peppers (chiles hot and sweet) are among the oldest cultivated foods in the Americas and have been in the human diet since about 7,500 B.C. The ancient ancestors of the native peoples used the wild chile piquin to cultivate the varieties we are familiar with today. – Garden Guides

Indoors: 8 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 8-14
Days to maturity: 95 from transplant
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PEPPER SEED – Cubanelle (red sweet)
Capsicum annuum – Annual
A variety of sweet pepper commonly used in Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican cuisine. Collected from Shawn Connell at GrowNYC Teaching Garden at Governors Island.
Research shows that peppers (chiles hot and sweet) are among the oldest cultivated foods in the Americas and have been in the human diet since about 7,500 B.C. The ancient ancestors of the native peoples used the wild chile piquin to cultivate the varieties we are familiar with today. – Garden Guides

Indoors: 8-12 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 8-14
Days to maturity: 75 from transplant
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PEPPER SEED – Gourmet (orange sweet)
Capsicum annuum – Annual
Research shows that peppers (chiles hot and sweet) are among the oldest cultivated foods in the Americas and have been in the human diet since about 7,500 B.C. The ancient ancestors of the native peoples used the wild chile piquin to cultivate the varieties we are familiar with today. – Garden Guides

Indoors: 8 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 8-14
Days to maturity: 75 from transplant
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PEPPER SEED – King of the North (red sweet) –
Capsicum annuum – Annual
A delicious blocky, thick-walled variety. Research shows that peppers (chiles hot and sweet) are among the oldest cultivated foods in the Americas and have been in the human diet since about 7,500 B.C. The ancient ancestors of the native peoples used the wild chile piquin to cultivate the varieties we are familiar with today. – Garden Guides

Indoors: 8 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 8-14
Days to maturity: 75 from transplant
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PEPPER SEED, Paprika (red/orange sweet)
Capsicum annuum – Annual
Research shows that peppers (chiles hot and sweet) are among the oldest cultivated foods in the Americas and have been in the human diet since about 7,500 B.C. The ancient ancestors of the native peoples used the wild chile piquin to cultivate the varieties we are familiar with today. – Garden Guides

Indoors: 8 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 8-14
Days to maturity: 80 from transplant
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POPPY, ORIENTAL – Peter Neumann’s Pink & Red
Papaver orientale – Perennial
A spectacular ruffled pink and red blooms. Originally a gift from Peter Neumann of Carroll County, Maryland.
A long-lived, herbaceous perennial with deep taproots. Native to north-eastern Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and north-western Iran, where it inhabits the sub-alpine and alpine zones. – Kew

Indoors: 3-4 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost
Days to germination: 14 -21
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SPINACH SEED – Giant Winter
Spinacia oleracea – Annual
Most likely originated in Persia before being introduced to ancient India and China. In the early seventh century, spinach made its way to Sicily and the Mediterranean region and moved into England and France in the fourteenth century. – Seedsavers Exchange

Direct seed: March/April & July/August
Days to germination: 6-21
Days to maturity: 40
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SQUASH SEED, Winter – Waltham butternut
Curburbita moschata – Annual
“Squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.”One of the oldest known crops–10,000 years by some estimates of sites in Mexico. – LOC

Indoors: 3 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost in warm soil
Days to germination: 5-10 in warm soil
Days to maturity: 105
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SQUASH SEED, Winter – New England Pie Pumpkin
Curburbita pepo – Annual
This variety was described by Fearing Burr in 1863. – Baker Creek
“Squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.”One of the oldest known crops–10,000 years by some estimates of sites in Mexico. – LOC

Indoors: 3 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost in warm soil
Days to germination: 5-10 in warm soil
Days to maturity: 105
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SQUASH SEED, Summer – Black Zucchini
Curburbita pepo – Annual
“Squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.”One of the oldest known crops–10,000 years by some estimates of sites in Mexico.” – LOC

Indoors: 3 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost in warm soil
Days to germination: 5-10 in warm soil
Days to maturity: 52
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TOMATO SEED – Big Rainbow, Slicer
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. – Planet Natural
A family heirloom from Polk County, Minnesota, this heirloom was sent to Dorothy Beiswenger of Crookston, MN in the early 1980s as a ‘No Name’ variety and she named it “Big Rainbow.” – Southern Exposure

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 85
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TOMATO SEED – Brandywine, Pink Slicer
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. – Planet Natural
The original Brandywine was introduced by Johnson and Stokes in 1889 from seeds from a customer in Ohio. Named after Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania. – Seed Savers Exchange

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 80
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TOMATO SEED – Cherokee Purple, Slicer
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
A beautiful variety with deliciously sweet flesh and skin with purple and red tones. An unusual variety from Tennessee said to have originated with the Cherokee Indians. – Fedco Seeds
Introduced by North Carolina SSE member Craig LeHoullier in 1991 from seed obtained from J. D. Green of Tennessee. – Seed Savers Exchange
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. – Planet Natural

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 85
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TOMATO SEED – Goldie, Large Slicer
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. – Planet Natural
Though reputed to be more than 150 years old, Goldie was introduced commercially in 1977 by Gleckler’s Seedsmen…, delivering its rich flavor with an extraordinary velvety texture. Erica Myers-Russo from CT advises, “Don’t harvest it until it has a distinct rosy blush.” – Fedco Seeds

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 85
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TOMATO SEED – Polish Linguisa (Sauce)
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. By the time the conquistadors came to Central and South America, tomatoes were widely cultivated. – Planet Natural
A meaty, delicious variety from Eastern Europe that was brought to America by Polish gardeners in the 1800s. – Burpee

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 75
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TOMATO SEED – Roma (Sauce)
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. By the time the conquistadors came to Central and South America, tomatoes were widely cultivated. In Colonial America, Europeans erroneously thought tomatoes poisonous and they grew them purely for decoration. – Planet Natural

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 75
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TOMATO SEED – Speckled Roman (Sauce)
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. By the time the conquistadors came to Central and South America, tomatoes were widely cultivated. In Colonial America, Europeans erroneously thought tomatoes poisonous and they grew them purely for decoration. – Planet Natural

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 85
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TOMATO SEEDS – Zapotec, Pleated Pink Slicer
Solanum lycopersicum – Annual
Tomatoes may have originated in what today is Peru, and wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes. – Planet Natural
Deep pink, pleated fruit, named after the Zapotec people of Oaxaca, Mexico, who developed this tomato variety. – Plant World Seeds

Indoors: 5-6 weeks before last frost date
Days to germination: 5-10
Days to maturity or bloom: 80
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MELON SEED, Watermelon – Sugar Baby
Citrullus lanatus – Annual
Possibly originated in Africa and cultivated in the Nile Valley as early as the 2nd millennium BCE. Later the watermelon was brought to India and China before being brought to Europe. – Seed Savers Exchange

Indoors: 2-3 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost when soil is warm
Days to germination: 3-10 in warm soil
Days to maturity: 80
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ZINNIA SEED – Cut & Come Again
Zinnia haageana – Annual
We love this flower and it’s so easy to grow. Plant a row or two in spring after the last frost date and you will be rewarded with a kaleidoscope of color throughout the summer and fall. Native to Mexico, Central America, and the southwestern United States, where grown as a perennial.

Indoors: 4 weeks before last frost
Direct seed: After last frost
Days to germination: 3-5 at 80°F
Days to maturity: 90
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