The Best Stocking
Stuffers Ever – Seeds!
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It is SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY – the best shopping day of the entire holiday season. At Harvesting History, we hope all of you visit your local small businesses and support them by making purchases. Remember, small businesses built this nation and they are still building this nation. They have taught more than 20 generations of Americans the discipline, creativity, attitude and responsibility that is required to run a business. Today is the one day in the entire year that you can recognize your local small businesses and boost their holiday sales.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, today’s newsletter will focus on the best stocking stuffer gifts you could ever want to give. As we all know, stocking stuffers must be small, lightweight, interesting and relatively inexpensive. The seed varieties we discuss today fit the bill perfectly. They are four vegetable seed varieties that are easy to grow anywhere, and they will never be seen in a big box store or most online seed companies.
Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squash was introduced to the Seed Savers Exchange in 1981 by Tom Knoche who had received some seeds from Evert Pettit who in turn had received seeds from Mrs. Thelma Sanders of Adair County, Missouri. The Seed Savers Exchange has not been able to trace the origin beyond this point, but The Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squash is believed to be much older than its 1980 introduction. This 4-5 lb. acorn squash has richly flavored flesh and is an excellent storage squash. The vines usually produce 3-5 fruit in a season.
Plant Thelma Sanders in late spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to a depth of 6 in. Plant in hills, 4 ft. apart. When the seedlings are 3 in. high, thin, leaving 4 plants per hill. Well-rotted manure or compost dug into the soil where the seeds are to be planted is highly beneficial. Harvest the fruits only after they are fully matured and just before the first frost. Remove from the vine leaving part of the stem attached to the fruit. Store the fruit in a moderately warm, dry area.
Thelma Sanders can be grown in a container provided that the plants are fertilized weekly. Plant 2 seedlings in a 14-inch container.
Tomatillos, like their cousins the Ground Cherries and the ornamental Chinese Lanterns, are members of a family of plants that produce their fruit in husks. They are not related to tomatoes. Ground Cherries and Tomatillos produce edible fruit. The fruit of the Chinese Lantern is not edible. Tomatillos are native to Central and South America where they grow wild and abundantly. They are an annual even in their native habitats, but they self-seed so prolifically from decaying fruit that many believe them to be perennials.
The varieties that we grow today are believed to have come from a wild, large fruited variety that was native to central Mexico. The cultivated varieties available today are purple or green. The purple tomatillo is slightly sweeter than the green variety. Tomatillos picked fresh and eaten immediately have such a rich sweet-tart taste that they can hardly be compared to the fruits available from a grocery store. They make a great salsa, but are also delightful as a condiment for salad greens.
The purple tomatillo is one of the more interesting fruits that you can add to your garden repertoire. At least two plants should always be planted. Plants are prolific producing up to 100 or more fruits per plant. In hardiness zones 4-6, sow seed indoors 6 weeks before transplanting outside. In hardiness zones 7-10, direct seed outside when the soil temperature has reached 75 degrees. Plant seed 1/2 in. deep. Seedlings should be planted 24-30 in. apart in rows separated by at least 30 in.
Tomatillos can be easily grown in containers. You should plant one tomatillo plant per 18-inch diameter container.
Charantais is native to France. This tiny, true cantaloupe is also known as Cavaillon. It was introduced around 1920. The 1-2 lb. fruit can be trellised. When ripe, the skin is pale mustard yellow with green ribbing. The flesh is bright orange and INCREDIBLY sweet. This is a rare, short season melon that sweetens even in cold climates.
Plant the seed in late spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to a depth of 6 in. The seed should be planted in hills, 4 ft. apart. When the seedlings are 3 in. high, thin, leaving 4 plants per hill. Well-rotted manure or compost dug into the soil where the seeds are to be planted is highly beneficial, and weekly applications of fertilizer that is high in potash and phosphate will increase fruiting. Stop fertilizing once the fruit has begun to set.
Charantais is one of the best melons for containers. Two plants in a 14-inch diameter pot will flourish provided that they are fertilized weekly. Melons grown in containers produce more when trellised.
With the Sieva Carolina Butter Bean, we may have saved the best for last. If you live in the South, you know and love this bean, and you know it is nearly impossible to find. Because our southern customers have told us with so much earnestness how wonderful this bean is, we will always have it. Sieva Carolina is one of the most beloved lima beans of all time. Introduced in the mid-1800s, the 10 ft. vines produce 3 in. pods containing beans of excellent flavor. The plants produce early and they are remarkably cold resistant. Lima beans come in large- and small-seeded varieties. The large-seeded beans were domesticated in South America, primarily near Peru. The small-seeded beans were domesticated in Mexico. Limas are among the oldest cultivated beans having been grown more than 7500 years ago. Pole varieties can reach a height of 10-12 ft.
Plant the Sievas in late spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to a depth of 6 in. Pole beans should be planted in hills, 5-6 beans per hill with the hills 3 ft. apart. Use 3-12 ft. bamboo poles, tied together at one end to form a teepee. Bury the free ends of the poles 6-8 in. deep in the hills. Train the vines to grow up the poles.
Pole beans can be easily grown in containers. Plant 6 beans in an 18 in. diameter pot. Use the bamboo pole teepee buried 6 in. in the pot to train the vines.
For all of our customers, we urge you to support your small businesses today, and we pray that all of you have safe, healthy and joy-filled holidays.