IT’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.
When 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.
This 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.
I 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
TO 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.)