peace seedlings’ world of ‘woddities’

dylana kapulerIT’S AN UNASSUMING little catalog; even in its printed incarnation, five-year-old Peace Seedlings is more a 20-page flyer than flashy or magazine-like. In its third season on the web, the company’s whole description and 2013 seed listing fits on one super-long, scrollable page, and you have to order by mail, with a check. Peace Seedlings makes me think of simpler days when there were more such treasure troves to discover as a gardener. It’s a list of what my retro-home-blogging friend Pam would call “woddities,” or wonderful oddities, and it makes me happy. I spent a delightful tea time yesterday imagining every plant in it in my mind’s eye, savoring each description from edible Andean tubers to a Hutterite bush bean that “makes epic creamy bean soup,” to purple-podded vining snap peas (‘Sugar Magnolia’ photo below) and long-stemmed marigolds and oh, those bodacious tomatoes up top.

sugar magnolia pea from peace seedlingsWhen I began to garden, the really unusual stuff was always in unpretentious lists, un-fancy “catalogs” often organized by botanical Latin names, such as the famous one from the enigmatic J.L. Hudson Seedsman, or John Jeavons’ early offerings at Bountiful Gardens, or Dr. Alan Kapuler’s Peace Seeds. In more than 30 years of breeding plants, Kapuler has done it for the public domain—not to try to own or patent the resulting genetics, but to make available good crops to help feed people and the planet—making a little bit of peace.

No surprise that Corvallis, Oregon-based Peace Seedlings is an offshoot of his work, the undertaking of Alan and Linda Kapuler’s youngest daughter, Dylana, and her partner, Mario DiBenedetto.

I got my new-favorite beet, 3 Root Grex, from Peace last season; you might recall my article about that multi-colored wonder. Now I’m taken in at the possibility of other “grex” listings—grex means “flock” in Latin, and is not a true mix but an interbreeding population. The current catalog includes K-S Grex onions, in beautiful pinks and light yellows, and a turnip called 6 Root Grex—all Kapuler originals.

As are the crazy determinate tomato called ‘Geranium Kiss’ in that top photo of Dylana, described as, “stocky 2-foot determinate plants, w/ hyper-tresses of 20-70, 1-oz. fruits, 3-4 sets, a ‘one-stake wonder.’” Oh, my.

Andean Tuber mandala Peace SeedlingsThis is the place to explore unusual unusual edible roots and tubers, such as yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius, the “apple of the Andes”); or bright-colored varieties of oca (Oxalis tuberosa); or mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum var. pilifera), a nasturtium relative with an anise flavor, whose flowers attract hummingbirds…and listen to this:

“Traditionally grown in polycultures of potatoes, oca, ulluco in Andean South America because the tubers contain aromatic mustard oils that discourage rodents.” Any gardener who has harvested her potatoes only to find them chewed up by voles and the like should perk up at such a companion-planting possibility.

An excellent article in the “Corvallis Advocate” newspaper thoroughly details these interesting crops, and the Peace team’s work with them. That’s a mandala of them in the photo above, arranged by Mario.

marigold leis peace seedlingsI felt positively summery reading about big, bushy marigold plants covered in orange flowers that Alan Kapuler found in Baja, Tagetes erecta ‘La Ribera,’ or another shrubby-sized marigold with long stems and burgundy flowers edged in gold called Tagetes patula ‘Frances’s Choice.’ The Peace team strings them into leis for sale at the local farmers’ market (those are leis made from the China Cat Mix, above).

As you can see, this little list has me in deep trouble. I think the same will happen to you if you pay a visit, maybe over a cup of tea. Remember to close your eyes after reading each description and just imagine!

more from peace seedlings

  • Browse the online catalog now
  • Order a catalog list by sending a SASE to 2385 SE Thompson St., Corvallis OR 97333
  • Orders are placed the old-fashioned way, by mail–again, bringing me back to my happy recollections of my origins as a gardener!

how to win the peace seedlings gift certificates

Dylana and Mario of Peace SeedlingsTO ENTER TO WIN one of two $20 gift certificates I’ll purchase for you from Peace Seedlings, simply comment below by answering this question [UPDATE: giveaway ended!]:

How many seed catalogs–in print, or online–have you found yourself browsing through this winter, and how many total places are you ordering from?

(My answer: More than 20, since I have lost count by now, and probably 5.)

If you’re feeling shy or just prefer not to say, simply comment with “Count me in” or some such answer, and you’ll be in the running. No worry.

I’ll select two winners after entries close at midnight Thursday, February 21, 2013. Good luck to all.

(All photos copyright Peace Seedlings.)

February 15, 2013


  1. Karen says

    I am not looking at catalogues this year, as my living situation has been difficult, however I plan to nurture a small garden space as well as I possibly can, with the help of a small greenhouse space. there are many challenges here to growing (as everywhere) and i am ready to meet them this spring with…seeds! and flowers too

  2. Brenda says

    I spend most weekends browsing through many sites and have received 3 catalogs in the mail. I’ve never stared with seeds before, I always buy plants from my local organic farm market. I dream of starting from seed…

  3. Trudy says

    My latest and favorite was introduced by you! It is the Turtle Tree Seed catalog. I also recieve a handful of other catalogs.Please count me in

  4. Sallie Pettigrew says

    I prefer to shop locally since the Greenville/Spartanburg, SC area offers many retail stores with excellent selections. I don’t normally do mail orders after having a few disappointments with mail order plants. You have stimulated my curiosity so I’ll check this catalog out! Thanks.

  5. Martha says

    During the blizzard I made myself to catalog the seeds I already have before purchasing new ones, but that doesn’t mean I’m not longing for new ones! Probably have perused at least 10 cataloges (mostly on line to help the environment).

  6. Annette says

    This would be my first catalog! I’m relatively new to gardening my little plot and have only grown lettuces and radishes by seed. Time to step up my game. Thanks for the opportunity.

  7. ann gardiner says

    I usually just buy seeds at the local garden center — family owned — less variety perhaps, but they know best what grows around here! Sometimes I browse through a couple of catalogues that I have had around the house for awhile, then go to the garden center to see what they say. Count me in though, I am curious!

  8. Barb says

    I have yet to browse through my stack of catalogs as in our high altitude our growing season is still far away. I will buy from only 1 or 2, but now I may venture out to the smaller lesser known. I love the quince and the fact the snow plow is it’s biggest worry. Can”t imagine it would grow here, but it is beautiful! Zone 4?

  9. Ladleah says

    My new favorite-Adaptive Seeds. Really love their rare kales. But Fedco, Johnny’s and Baker Creek are the standards. Count me in!

  10. Connie says

    Probably 4 online and one in the mail, no order yet. But from your website I found and received the High Mowing Catalog last week! Still just dreaming of all the different possibilities :D

  11. Michelle H says

    I am new to seed catalogues and so I only looked at one. I ordered all my seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Library and will be getting the rest of what I need from local nurseries or the plant sale at the local university. I think if I looked at more seed catalogues it would have been too much since my container garden at our rental duplex is small and I am having my first baby at the end of June. Hoping to put up some homegrown baby purees in the freezer!

  12. says

    hello …. my favourite winter occupation is reading seed catalogues by the fire and dreaming about the best garden ever …. again. Maybe this year. I have ordered from 3 so far. Spring is going to be good.

  13. Elizabeth R. Apgar Triano says

    Alas, I have not browsed many catalogs yet this winter… we usually get about 8 catalogs but I am not sure if we will get my favorites as I have not ordered much the past couple of years. I’ve tried to buy more organic/natural type seeds, yes, but from local sellers…. shopping local and often last-minute.
    I did clean out my storage area, and tossed a lot of older seed packets so even if we don’t order much this year I do look forward to getting back into the swing of things next year.
    I like print catalogs BEST for browsing, and then online ordering. I save print catalogs, and we use them at Cooperative Extension as a teaching tool, and they are just very handy over time. Online catalogs are mostly frustrating!

  14. Gretchen says

    After many years of getting too many catalogs and feeling overwhelmed by choices and pretty pictures, I’ve narrowed my seed selection down to just a few, reliable-to-me sources — Fedco in Maine mostly. Then I “fill in around the edges” as I get inspired from Richters in Canada, or Johnny’s, or the local Farm & Fleet.

  15. Monika says

    Unfortunately my answer to question 1 is zero and the same for question 2 due to the fact that we recently moved from CA to SC and the Post Office did not forward my catalogs. So … I have to start from ground zero and sign up for my fav garden catalogs. I have question for my fellow gardeners on Hilton Head Island: “Can one successfully grow tomatoes here?” Appreciate any response.

  16. Barbara says

    I have 5-6, however I order the bulk I need from Seeds of Italy. I have had really great luck with their seeds. I also have a Garden Center where I buys what I term “quick starts” and they do well. Please enter me in your contest. That was a beautiful bush in your newsletter.

  17. Diane says

    I love getting all the plant and seed catalogs during the cold months….it’s what helps me through. I have got around 15 and I probably am only going to order from a total of three this year, as I have accumulated too many seeds over the years that I am determined to use this year :)

  18. Jennifer says

    I love to browse catalogs from the smaller growers, and save them year to year, just to pour over. I probably only read about 6 and order from 3

  19. Renee B says

    Gosh, I’ve looked at six or so online and have received about the same amount. We’re just settling in our house after moving away so getting back into the gardening groove is exciting. Mainly I’ll be ordering vegetable seeds until we figure out where bushes and trees will go. Structure then filling in.

leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *