Seedy Saturday Haul 2008

Photo by Gayla Trail

Another Seedy Saturday Toronto has come and gone and like last year I managed, with great effort, to make it around to a few booths and pick up some seeds. The event was more packed than ever this year making it nearly impossible to leave my brother/assistant alone at the table for any length of time or push through the crowds lingering around some of the larger seed sellers. The sellers I did manage to get to were often sold out of items on my wanted list. And forget the Seeds of Diversity trading table. I had high hopes but only managed to snag a pack of red orach seeds. Next year I plan to employ the strategy of browsing during setup, BEFORE the crowds arrive. Next year.

Here’s what I managed to bring home with me:

  • Red Orach – A trade pack harvested from Jackman Public School’s Learning Garden.
  • ‘Early Yellow Crookneck’ Squash – A trade with a You Grow Girl forums member. I thought I needed squash but then got home and realized I have several varieties in my stash. This is why I should have brought a list.
  • ‘Dragon’ Carrot – Another trade that I already have. ‘Dragon’ is a beautiful purple carrot. If I had to choose I suppose I favour it over ‘Purple Haze’ although ‘Dragon’ would crumble in a Best Name competition.
  • Love Lies Bleeding – I’ve been trying to grow more amaranth over the last few years and ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ is a classic that never gets old.
  • ‘Blue Spice’ Basil – Another trade. I don’t think I have grown this variety which is kind of amazing since I’d swear I have covered just about everything in the unusual basil category at least once.
  • ‘Purple Calabash’ Tomato – I fell in love with its ugly beauty last year. I am planning to grow less tomatoes this year and have not finalized my list as-of-yet. Who gets cut will be the hardest decision I have to make this year.
  • Painted Lady Sweet Pea – I just love the fragrant sweetness of sweet pea flowers but tend to steer clear of them due to their attractiveness to aphids. I decided to try my luck and grow a few varieties this year. I can always pull them out if things get nasty. This variety really does look like the runner beans of the same name. I know it seems redundant to grow them when I can just grow the beans later in the season but I can’t cut those flowers and I am really craving cut sweet peas for my desk.
  • Persian Broad-Leaf Cress – I have grown a number of pepper cresses but like that this variety is described as milder than other cresses.
  • Tendergreen Mustard Green – I’m on a personal mission to try growing just about every salad green under the sun.
  • ‘Queen Anne’s Pocket Melon’ aka ‘Plum Granny’ – I’m planning to grow some melon this year but admittedly this one was an impulse buy and not on the list. ‘Plum Grannies’ are tiny melons known for their intoxicating fruity smell. I can not resist a good back story and the story for these citrus-sized melons is that Victorian women carried them in their pockets to fight street stench. The thought of two of these in a breast pocket has me thinking about another derivative of the colloquial use of ‘melons.”
  • Swiss Chard ‘Ruby Red’ & ‘Golden Sunrise’ – I’ve grown the ‘Rainbow’ mix and other coloured varieties but these two are my favourites for their saturated colours that look so beautiful in containers of contrasting colour or as a burst of brightness tucked beside boring veggie varieties.
  • ‘Selway’ Lettuce - Brightly coloured greens are another edible trick I employ to brighten dull corners and containers. Consequently I am always on the look out for a good red variety. We’ll see how these fair against ‘Lolla Rosa’ aka ‘Lollo Rosa’ which still reigns as my favourite red.
  • ‘Cimmaron’ Romaine Lettuce – An unusual romaine with a deep, reddish purple hue.
  • ‘Yugoslavian Red’ Butterhead Lettuce – A really beautiful butterhead variety with shades of green tinged by deep red.
  • ‘Black Spanish’ Radish – I’m very curious about the flavour and how to eat this root vegetable.
  • ‘Black Jet’ Soybean – I have to admit I bought these for the dark bean colour. I’ve had a lot of success with soybeans in containers on the roof but that dang groundhog just LOVES to eat the plants as they emerge from the soil at the community plot.


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Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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13 thoughts on “Seedy Saturday Haul 2008

  1. I’ve seen black radishes in salads like your basic radish and in soups- lentil and split pea, mostly, to add a little texture, similar to water chestnut.

  2. Glad you got a few things!

    I grew purple calabash two summers ago, and you’re right, it is exactly an “ugly beauty.”

    I also got Ruby Red chard and I have early yellow crookneck & blue spice basil, too!

  3. I grew dragon carrots a couple of years ago. I thought they were kind of woody and flavour was inferior to my standard, which is Coreless Nantes, but they sure were pretty and a hit with the kids, who love unusual veg.

    I went to Seedy Sunday here in Edmonton. There seemed to be very little actual trading going on, but the place was packed.

    I’m at work so I can’t look up exact names but I got some basils (nothing unusual – just sweet and opal), some red shallots, a couple of tomatoes I’d never heard of (High Crimson might have been one), a lettuce with a German sounding name and some Jacob’s Cattle Beans which I have grown before and like. Also a couple of annuals to seed.

    I sat for a talk on edible landscaping which was interesting but much too brief (an hour but seemed like less) and could have used more/better pictures. He mentioned bloody dock as a perennial salad green that is milder than sorrel (which my family won’t eat) and beautiful (green with bright red veining) so I’m on the lookout for that and also Welsh onions.

  4. What a haul! I don’t think I’m quite ready to start from seeds, but I will be gardening along with you all this year!

    Stephanie, the exact-change-toting, book-buying non-stalker

  5. Jane: Yes the bloody dock is milder than regular sorrel. I am growing some at my community garden and while it has retained its colour so-far I am told they eventually revert to green. We’ll see.

    Dragon isn’t the best carrot for sure… to be honest the oranges tend to be better than the reds but they’re not as exciting to look at.

    Meg: Thanks about the black radish.

  6. Okay, next year, if you’re stuck at a table all you have to do is give your wish list to one of us forumites, and we’ll go grab the stuff you want early on.

    I was there early to get edamame, because there’s only one vendor who reliably carries it (not to mention I wanted to buy a shirt while you still had some biggish sizes).

  7. Black radish is very flavorfull also it can be triky to grow. Here is a recepie:
    1 large black radish, shreded
    1 small apple, shreded
    1 onion thinly sliced
    mix with mayo or olive oil, you do not need salt.
    for best results make just before eating.

  8. I was at the Seedy Saturday, and I was really surprised by how busy it was! Of course, this was my first time at the event, but still.

    I have a tiny patch of dirt outside my apartment window, but I’m a bit leery of planting anything edible there, since I think it gets treated like your street garden (though not quite as bad). I’m hoping that I can finagle some space at the community garden listed at Upper Canada College.

  9. I just got some blue spice basil seeds too! A friend of my father has a giant garden that he is just getting too old to take care of. I sometimes help him out, and he gave me some of his seeds when I told him about the garden I’m starting on my roof. He compulsively orders seeds out of catalogs all winter long, so he has a pretty interesting collection. Me, I’m stuck with whatever I can find at hardware stores or home depot. What’s seedy Saturday? Who wants to elaborate? I’m in Philadelphia, any one have any good ideas for buying seeds? I would love to find some seeds for some crazy lumpy tomatoes, but I just don’t know where to go.

  10. Kevin: I am so sorry you don’t have Seedy Saturday/Sunday in the US. Y’all are missing out!

    Try or Seeds of Change for starters. There are lots of companies selling amazing varieties online these days.

  11. I love love love Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (’re in Missouri, so you have to pay attention to zones, etc, but their stuff is reliable and wonderful and plus it’s all done in a small operation out in the sticks. I’m originally from that part of the world and got the recommendation from my Grandma (who is 93) who always bought stuff from them when she was working her own 150 acres with my Grandpa. She was the one who introduced me to gardening, growing, and the wonder of cutting lettuce at 4:30 for dinner at 5:00.

    Check them out.

  12. I’m iffy on Baker Creek which is why I have never mentioned them. They have a good selection and their prices are good but I have had some small issues with the germination rates of their seeds.

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