Savor the Rainbow with Indigo and Artisan Tomatoes

INDIGO TOMATOES feature eye-catching deep blue skin coloring, derived from wild tomato cultivars discovered in the Galapagos Islands and Peru. The color comes from elevated levels of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. We are pleased to offer something for everyone this year with grape, saladette, and slicing-sized fruits. Note: Let ripen for most aromatic flavor; Rose and Apple are ripe when black with red undersides.

NEW! Indigo Cherry Drops 65 days

OP • Indeterminate • Prolific • 1 oz.

Tremendous yields of cocktail-sized deep red fruits with purple shoulders and excellent sweet flavor. Grafting will increase already-impressive yields of hundreds of fruits per plant. Bred by Dr. Jim Myers at Oregon State University (OSU). PVPAF

NEW! Indigo Apple Tomato 70 days

OP • Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 2-4 oz.

Beautiful and early variety with fruits that start deep purple-red and turn nearly black in the sun. Sweet, rich flavored fruits resist cracking and sunscald. A larger Indigo tomato with exceptionally high anthocyanin content; firm, meaty fruits are delicious sliced on sandwiches. Bred by Brad Gates using an original cross made by PKS Heirlooms in Copemish, MI.

Indigo Rose Tomato 75-80 days

OP • Semi-determinate • Good container variety • 2-2.5 oz.

Stunning edible and ornamental tomato that ripens to jet black with purple-tinged foliage. Produces clusters of 6-8 firm ebony fruits. Vigorous and disease-resistant. Bred by Dr. Jim Myers through the high-flavonoid breeding program at OSU. PVP

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ARTISAN™ TOMATOES were created to provide farmers and gardeners with gourmet striped fruits and the delectable rich flavor characteristic of heirlooms. Fred Hempel has been breeding striped tomatoes in Sunol, California for nearly a decade and offers them through Artisan™ Seeds LLC, a breeding company focused on local/specialty markets.  They resist cracking and are well-suited to either field or greenhouse culture.

NEW! Pink Bumblebee Tomato 70 days

OP • Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 1.5” fruit

Extraordinarily beautiful rose-colored fruits with gold striping. Juicy and sweet with rich flavor perfect for caprese salads with basil, mozzarella and balsamic. Very versatile and sure to be a hit in mixed pints at CSAs and markets!

 

NEW! Purple Bumblebee Tomato 70 days

OP • Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 1.5” fruit

Lovely burgundy fruits with olive green stripes and superb rich flavor. Incredibly pretty in mixed pints – an instant hit at CSAs and markets. Versatile in the kitchen. An eye-catching color combination that will draw customers back for more.

 

NEW! Sunrise Bumblebee Tomato 70 days

OP • Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 1.5” fruit

All the colors of the sunrise in a sweet and tangy tomato! Lovely gold fruit marbled with pink stripes on the inside and out. Irresistible with Purple and Pink Bumblebees in mixed pints; exceptionally versatile in the kitchen.

 

Green Tiger Tomato 70 days

OP • Indeterminate • Prolific julienne-type • 2” fruits

Beautiful elongated green fruit with dark green marbling and gold undertones. Superbly flavorful and prolific in our 2012 trials! Chefs love the cylindrical shape for easy slicing. Ripe when yellow with green streaking.

 

Pink Tiger Tomato 70 days

OP • Indeterminate • Prolific julienne-type • 2” fruits

Elongated rose-pink cherry with radiant orange striping. Julienne-type fruits are prized by chefs for their superb bright, delicate flavor and ease of preparation. Heavy yields on slightly smaller plants than Green Tiger.

 

NEW! Blush Tomato 75 days

OP • Indeterminate • Prolific julienne-type • 2” fruits

Elongated sunset-colored fruit prized for its exceptionally sweet, juicy, tropical flavor. Prolific julienne-type fruits are ready when a pink blush appears over the golden yellow skin; ripens well off the vine. Unique flavor and convenient shape for easy slicing.

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Commercial Growing, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

The Secret Garden: Our Web Exclusive Varieties

Looking for a variety you ordered last year, but don’t see it in the catalog this year? You’ve come to the right place! Each year some varieties don’t make the cut in our catalog – we may have decided to add a variety too late to be printed in the catalog; there may have been a crop failure and no more seed is available; there may be a newer, better variety available that replaced it; or it could just be that it didn’t sell as well as we’d like. Whatever the reason (and it’s not always bad!), you can find a treasure trove of old, new and rare varieties in the Web Only section on our website. Here are some highlights of our Web Exclusive varieties that you won’t find on paper…

NEW! Bush Delicata Squash

OP • PM-tolerant • Bush habit • 1.5-2lbs

Compact, tidy plants with sweet, oblong fruits. Delicious smooth, nutty flesh with hints of butter and brown sugar. Skin starts creamy white with green stripes and flecks, curing to striped light yellow. Compact plants spread only 4-6 feet. AAS winner bred by Molly Jahn and George Moriarty at Cornell University.

Silverado Chard

OP • Slow to bolt • Baby or full size

Glossy leaves are bright green and beautiful at full size or at baby leaf. More savoyed than Fordhook, with a narrower stem. Extremely slow to bolt and has shown field resistance to Cercospora leaf spot, allowing for a long harvest window.

 

Ocate Lettuce

OP • Slow to bolt • Resists Tipburn • DM (1-21, 23-26, 28), LMV

Lovely pale green oak leaf lettuce with strong disease resistance. Ocate’s attractive, compact shape compares favorably to Panisse. Very pretty heads of loosely lobed, buttery leaves are slow to bolt and not susceptible to tipburn.

 

NEW! YellowFin F1 Zucchini

HYBRID • Compact habit • Uniform • PM, CMV

The first organic yellow zucchini with PM resistance! Uniform, cylindrical fruits with pure gold color provide great color and buttery flavor at market. Compact, nearly spineless plants have an open habit for ease of harvest. Strong resistance to Powdery Mildew and intermediate resistance to Cucumber Mosaic Virus for a reliable harvest even in challenging field conditions.

Magenta Spreen

OP • Versatile micro or salad green • Re-seeds easily

A beauty in the field with sparkly green leaves and a pink powdered center. Known not only for its densely packed nutritional value but also for its ability to color the lips pink. Use steamed like spinach, or for an addition to salad mixes like amaranth and orach, or as a micro-green. Mild flavor is nutty and fresh. Take caution – plants reseed easily and can become weedy.

 

Falcon F1 Eggplant

HYBRID • Uniform and productive • 6.5” fruit

A hybrid Italian eggplant for organic growers! Compact plants set fruit early and continue setting throughout the season, resulting in higher yields. Fruits are deep purple with glossy sheen and moderately sized bright-green calyx. Great variety for field crops or high tunnels.

Annelise F1 Hybrid Tomato

HYBRID • Truss-type • 2 oz • TMV, LM (1-5), VW, FW (0,1), FCR

Perfect trusses of bright red, cocktail-sized fruit. Annelise has excellent disease resistance and is widely adapted to growing in a heated greenhouse, high tunnel or open field. The earliest maturing variety in our 2012 tomato high tunnel trials, with cascading trusses of 2 oz fruits. This is a classic truss type with 10-12 fruit on a truss. Fruit measures 2-2.5” in diameter and holds well to allow for ripening of the entire truss. Indeterminate

Golden Chard

HEIRLOOM • Improved

Emerald green leaves against deeply golden stalks make a striking combination. Leaves are savoyed with moderately thick stems. This strain was rescued by the Abundant Life Seed Foundation and has been improved for color and vigor by seed producer and breeder Frank Morton.

Click here to see all of our Web Exclusive varieties!

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Variety Highlights | 1 Comment

A Year of Giving


Ester Minani, a New Farms for New Americans trainee in Burlington, VT received seeds through the Vermont Community Garden Network

Each year High Mowing donates organic seeds and produce to a vast array of recipients. From school gardens to seed libraries, from food banks to senior centers, our donations have far-reaching impacts across the country. Through our Donation Program schools, community groups and non-profits are building healthier communities, encouraging organic gardening and healthy eating habits, and reducing community dependence on less-than-fresh food with high mileage.

High Mowing is proud to donate seeds and produce in three important ways:

Seeds

Each year we donate thousands of packets of seed to schools, community groups and non-profits all over the country. Through a simple online form, organizations can request a donation of up to four bundles of 25 seed packets each (up to 100 packets!) Each mixed bundle includes a variety of vegetables, plus some herb and flower seeds to provide a well-rounded assortment for any garden project.

High Mowing donated over 63,000 packets valued at more than $170,000 to school and community groups in 2014 – a 17% increase over our 2013 donations of 54,000 packets!

When we donate seeds, we know that they end up teaching the food system leaders of tomorrow. We know they help create a more peaceful, well-fed world. And most importantly, we know we are investing in the future we want to see.


Carson Daly plants High Mowing seeds donated through the National Gardening Association at a new school garden in Brooklyn

Harvested Produce

One of the best things about working at High Mowing is the staff CSA. From May to October, we have a walk-in cooler overflowing with the bounty from our breeding plots, trials fields and showcase plantings. Our trials crew takes the measurements they need to evaluate the vegetables, then loads them into the cooler. The staff takes home as much as they like, and then the remaining produce is picked up by the Vermont Foodbank, conveniently located right across the street from our offices. The Foodbank works to ensure better food security in our state through a variety of food distribution, training and education channels, with the ultimate goal of ending hunger for the roughly 86,000 Vermonters currently depending on emergency food assistance.

The Foodbank hauled away more than 5,900 lbs of produce from our farm in 2014!

Gleaned Produce


Volunteers with Salvation Farms harvested over 500 pounds of sweet corn from our fields this year!

After planning, preparing, planting, weeding, covering and uncovering, and finally harvesting our crops on the farm, it’s no surprise that the farm crew doesn’t always have the time or energy to harvest everything. And this is true on many farms, both here in Vermont and beyond. In response to this problem of too much food, not enough time, both the Vermont Foodbank and a wonderful organization called Salvation Farms have stepped up to the plate—by gleaning.

Salvation Farms’ mission is “to build increased resilience in Vermont’s food system through agricultural surplus management.” Director Theresa Snow and her team of volunteers glean produce from farms that have more produce in the field than they can harvest. They then clean and sort this produce either at the Southeast State Correctional Facility, where inmates give back to their community by helping volunteers process the produce. Now this is where things get really interesting – while smaller volumes are packed at the Southeast State Facility and shipped directly to the Foodbank, food shelves, and community kitchens, the largest volumes are cleaned and packed at the Vermont Food Venture Center, just down the road in Hardwick, VT, where they become part of The Vermont Commodity Program.


Salvation Farms volunteers processing acorn squash from High Mowing

The Commodity Program provides low-cost local produce to institutions like schools and hospitals – and in turn, the money they saved by purchasing the Commodity product instead of produce from a distributor goes directly toward purchasing more local food. In this way the Commodity Program doesn’t compete with the for-profit marketplace, but actually supports the purchase of additional Vermont farm product. Salvation Farms is hoping to further expand the program to include meat products and a larger processing facility in the near future.

Salvation Farms came to High Mowing twice this year and gleaned over 4500 lbs of sweet corn and acorn squash from our fields.

Giving Back

It makes us feel great to know that our local communities benefit from the healthy produce we grow on our farm. Our local community helped us grow into the company we are today and is at the core of everything we do. Whether it’s through our Seed Donation Program, produce donations, or even the free Community Seeds box in our front office, giving back when we can is a way of saying “Thanks” to all the people in our community who believed in us and supported us from the very beginning.

It gives us great pleasure to be able to “pay it forward” to the non-profits and community groups across the country who benefit from our seed donations. If you’ve received a donation from us, we want to say “Thanks” to you too—your work empowers communities to achieve food security, supports better nutrition, and helps build the food system we want to see. Thank you for all you do!

Excited about giving back this season? Here are some fulfilling ways:

Register as a volunteer gleaner with the Vermont Foodbank to get email updates about gleans in your area, Send a Holiday Card or Make a Donation

Register at the Gleaners Interface to volunteer with the Vermont Gleaning Collective and Salvation Farms, or Make a Donation

Feeding America served meals to over 46.5 million Americans in need this year. No matter where you are, you can help reduce hunger in your community this season. Make Thanksgiving Special with a matched donation ($1 = 20 meals!), Find Your Local Foodbank, Host a Virtual Food Drive, or Volunteer your time!

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Farm Ethics, Philosophy | 2 Comments

Conquering Mildew with Vitalis Organic Seeds


The Enza Zaden/Vitalis Variety Showcase held at their research facility in San Juan Bautista, CA

Vitalis Organic Seeds is a family-owned Dutch seed company that focuses their breeding work and organic seed production primarily on leafy and fruiting crops such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and peppers. These crops are subject to a host of disease problems, and the highly-resistant varieties they’ve developed address significant challenges in organic production.

Downy Mildew in Lettuce and Spinach

The Vitalis lettuce and spinach breeding programs in particular have made important contributions to our selection of professional quality seeds. Lettuce and spinach are unique in that they are highly susceptible to Downy Mildew (DM). DM has historically been classified as a fungus, but new evidence suggests that although it is similar to fungi in the way it absorbs nutrition, the highly specialized parasites are actually more similar to algae. DM colonies generally first appear in periods of cool temperatures (58-72°F) when the relative humidity is over 85%.


Downy Mildew vs. Powdery Mildew on Grape Leaf, Photo: Extension.org

Symptoms and Treatment of Downy Mildew

Symptoms of DM include small yellow spots on the upper surface of the leaf that die off, forming brown, greasy-looking spots with a bluish-white fuzzy growth on the underside of the leaf. Many strains of DM, like those that affect spinach and basil, can survive cold climates on plant debris or in the soil. The best methods of organic control are to remove and dispose of infected plant debris, ensure good air circulation, avoid overhead irrigation during cool weather, scout for infected plants, and of course, choose varieties with resistance.

The Arms Race for Resistance


Areas with the densest production, like this spinach field in California, are the first to develop new races of DM.

DM has so far evolved 31 different races that affect lettuce and 15 that affect spinach. Breeders are always trying to stay ahead of the game, looking for new resistant material as the fungi overcomes earlier disease resistances. So far, DM has been winning the arms race, while breeders remain fully engaged just trying to keep up. The new races always first appear in areas with the densest production of the crops that host them, spreading outward over many years. Lettuce production, and therefore DM, is most concentrated in the Salinas Valley in California. Every 6-18 months or so, a new strain of DM is discovered in California, but these strains often take decades to reach the East Coast. Vitalis breeders are always working to breed resistance to these newest strains of DM into their varieties.

 


Eleonora Basil

Conquering Mildew with Resistance from Vitalis

All regions of North America have some strain of this disease, and by using the most resistant varieties farmers can rely on genetic resistance rather than spraying fungicides. Through our relationship with Vitalis Organic Seeds we have been able to offer mildew-resistant commercial grower favorites like Corvair F1 Spinach, Mirlo Butterhead Lettuce, Roxy Red Butterhead Lettuce, Lovelock Redleaf Lettuce, Coastal Star Romaine Lettuce, Breen and Rhazes Mini Lettuces, and great mildew-resistant cucumbers like Tyria F1, Picolino F1, and Socrates F1.


Pomegranate Crunch Lettuce

We are pleased to offer more NEW mildew-resistant Vitalis varieties in 2015, including Eleonora basil, Ansar, Arroyo, and Pomegranate Crunch Romaine Lettuces, Encino Green Oakleaf Lettuce, Shelby F1 spinach, and Paraiso F1 Cucumber.


Paraiso F1 Cucumber


Encino Lettuce

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Breeding / Research Program, Commercial Growing, Growing Tips, Plant Diseases, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

The Story of a Seed: from Pollination to your Plate

Honeynut Butternut Squash

 

Have you ever wondered how the seeds in our packets got there? Some varieties, like Honeynut butternut squash, have particularly unique stories. We couldn’t resist sharing the remarkable journey of this little squash and the vital farms and faces that have shaped it along the way.

 

 

1. The Market

New market opportunities from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmer’s markets in the late 1990s created demand for new and novel vegetables, such as smaller-sized varieties that are more manageable for small families. Disease resistance is also very important to commercial organic growers, who depend on it to ensure their plants survive to ripen fruit and store well.

 


Michael Mazourek and grad student Lindsey Wyatt

2. The Breeder

This sweet, robust open-pollinated variety was bred from a cross between butternut and buttercup squashes made long ago at Cornell University. Dr. Michael Mazourek, plant breeder at Cornell, developed the variety with the funding of USDA and the support of Jack Algiere and High Mowing Organic Seeds.

 

3. The Seed Grower


Katie T. rinsing Honeynut seeds

Katie Traub is the Farm Manager at High Mowing and she and her team grow and harvest the Honeynut seeds in our packets. She selected it for three years to get the quality up to our standards after we first received the stock seed. Katie loves the sweetness of these little squash and makes sure all of our staff knows it. She ensures none of the high-quality flesh goes to waste after seed harvest by partnering with producer Pete’s Greens to process it for soup and pie base.

 


Pete Johnson cutting up Honeynut for processing

4. The Processor

The sweet, high-quality Honeynut flesh from our seed crop goes to good use at Pete’s Greens, a neighboring farm in Craftsbury, Vermont. After removing the seeds, the squash are dumped into their kettle and pulping machine. The raw squash is cooked and pureed into a high-quality frozen product sold through winter CSA shares and to local institutions.

 

 

5. The Seed Company


The Staff at High Mowing, September 2013

High Mowing began in 1996 with 28 varieties and the goal of leveraging organic seed to make our world a better place. To this day, we remain true to our roots and continue to grow many of the varieties we sell, including Honeynut, on our 40-acre organic farm. The rest of our seeds are produced by organic seed breeders and organic farmers. The seeds are extensively tested for quality, then packed and sent to farmers and gardeners across North America. We believe that connecting the dots in our food system by listening and encouraging collaboration can bring new varieties to market that achieve multiple aims for consumers, farmers and retailers. And we love discovering and supporting high quality open-pollinated breeding! We are proud to contribute a percentage of each Honeynut seed sale to Cornell to support their future organic breeding work.


Melanie collecting seed for testing

6. The Third Party Certifiers

Our seeds have always been Certified Organic and now they’re also Non-GMO Project Verified. We work with the Non-GMO Project to put our seed through additional rigorous testing and inspections to ensure that our seeds have not been contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Even in crops that do not have GMO counterparts yet (like butternut), this process, along with other preventative measures we take, ensures that we are always improving our seed supply chain and identifying all the risks in advance. At right, our Quality Control Manager Melanie Hernandez extracts a seed sample for testing. Learn more about our Non-GMO Project Verification.

7. The Farmer


Jack Algiere teaching at Stone Barns Center

Jack Algiere oversees vegetable production and seed saving at Stone Barns Center, an educational farm in Pocantico Hills, NY. In 2006 Cornell’s breeding program offered Jack seed for the unnamed butternut variety that, after years of trials, would become the Honeynut. Jack has been growing it each year, turning to chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns for his expertise in evaluating its flavor.

 


Moxie enjoying her first Honeynut

8. The Consumer

As the sustainable food movement grows, people are becoming concerned about where their food comes from. For more and more people this interest extends to seed—because good food starts with good seed. It is important to know the farms and faces you are supporting, because behind every bite of organic food is a story. But it doesn’t end here! Your feedback is what shapes the future of seed, helping us select varieties that yield well in the field and taste great in the kitchen.

Did you enjoy this story? Download our Story of a Seed Infographic! (And here’s a high resolution printable 11×17 poster version


Our “Story of a Seed” Infographic – Click to download!

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Breeding / Research Program, Commercial Growing, Trials, Variety Highlights | 4 Comments

Increasing Production with a Whole Foods’ Local Producer Loan


Pumpkin seeds drying on screens in our hoophouse

Here at High Mowing we are always on the lookout for new ways to produce more high-quality organic seed. The exciting news is – this year we found three! With the support of Whole Foods’ Local Producer Loan Program, we’re making great strides in increasing seed production on our farm.

Our Tools

Many of the tools we depend on in our harvest and curing processes are simple ones we built ourselves, like basic drying racks made of wire mesh stretched over wood-framed tables. Some of the tools we use are beautiful antiques that work just as well as when they were new, like our 19th century corn sheller. Many have been custom-built for us, like the machine that packs seed into our full color photo packets. And occasionally, when we are very lucky, we are able to purchase squeaky clean equipment that is brand new.


Charles operating the corn sheller, Photo: Justine Hand

Because we rely so heavily on our hand-made and customized equipment for seed cleaning, it’s very exciting when we get something truly new. Working with older or custom equipment means that when it’s working properly, everything goes smoothly. But when it fails or breaks down, it can mean many hours of additional hand-labor, which is both expensive and presents logistical challenges when you have a short season like ours. In order to keep up with the growing demand for certified organic seeds, it’s important to keep upgrading our tools so that we can produce larger quantities of higher-quality seeds.

WFM’s Local Producer Loan Program


Our current wet seed extractor is used to harvest squash and cucumber seeds

To address this need, we applied to the Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program – and we got the loan! The Local Producer Loan Program has pledged to grant up to $25 million in low-interest loans to local producers, and has already supported over 200 local vendors with more than $14 million in funding. The fixed, low-interest rate loans help producers pay for capital expenditures that increase their production capacity. The Local Producer Loan Program has awarded us a $75,000 loan to pay for three great technologies that will increase our production of organic seeds and enhance their quality.

The Wet Seed Extractor and Dryer

If you’ve been keeping up with us for the last few years (we know it’s not easy!) you’ve probably seen pictures of us harvesting wet-seeded crops like squash and cucumbers into a huge contraption with a turning drum. This is the wet seed extractor we currently use, and it works pretty well – the crew tosses mature fruits into the hopper at the top, a grinder mashes them into small pieces, and everything ends up in the perforated drum, where the seeds and juice fall through the holes and are collected.


Our new wet seed extractor (left) and dryer (right) about to be delivered!

The only problem is that our current extractor doesn’t get the seeds very clean, meaning that they need to soak in water for a while afterwards to separate them from the fruit pulp. With the new extractor that we’ve been able to buy through the Local Producer Loan, there is more flexibility. We can run the machine at different speeds, allowing us to adjust it and clean the seed much better on the first pass. The new machine can also accommodate different seed sizes better than the old one, allowing us to produce more seeds with greater efficiency and less waste.

Finally, and perhaps best of all, the new extractor comes with a seed dryer! This is the first time we’ve ever had a tool to replace spreading the seeds out on screens to dry. Now clean, wet seed can go straight into the dryer, where it is gently air-tumbled to quickly and uniformly dry the seed. This technology will enable us to dry more seed much more quickly, and with fewer losses to the mold that can grow on seeds when they’re drying over a long period on screens.

The Greenhouse


Our new Harnois greenhouse under construction

We were also able to purchase a new greenhouse with the Local Producer Loan! The new greenhouse was manufactured by Harnois in Canada, and will provide a robust environment for cold-season production and overwintering seed crops. It will serve to significantly extend the season, allowing us to grow varieties that we currently must purchase from other producers because they will not survive the severe winters here in northern Vermont. The greenhouse has another added benefit, which is that it allows us to refine our techniques for preventing cross-pollination, an essential component of producing quality seeds.

Advancing the State of Organic Seed

We are very grateful to have the support of Whole Foods in developing our capacity to produce high quality organic seeds. These investments will allow us to increase on-farm production of our seeds in step with the increase in demand for them, and in turn advance the availability of organic seeds nationwide. We believe that organic seeds are the most powerful vehicles for developing the healthy food system of the future, and we thank Whole Foods for helping us get the tools we need to improve quality and productivity as the movement grows.

According to Whole Foods, “We are happy to be able to provide this loan to High Mowing Organic Seeds to help enable them to advance the important work they are doing with organic, non-GMO seeds. They have an outstanding product that our customers really love.” – Kimberley Rose, Vice President of Purchasing for Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region.

Read the press release: http://www.highmowingseeds.com/whole_foods_market_local_producer_loan_announcement.html

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Greenhouses, Winter Growing | 1 Comment

Winter’s White Gold: Forcing Belgian Endives

It’s time to start forcing Belgian endives! If you missed it, check out our post from this spring, Winter’s White Gold: Planning Ahead for Belgian Endive Harvest. This previous post outlines the first part of the Belgian endive production cycle, specifically cultivation of the roots. Now we’ll talk about the second part of the production cycle, known as forcing, which produces the delicious chicons we eat as Belgian endives.


Harvesting Belgian endive roots at High Mowing

If you started Belgian endives this past spring, you should have ended up with a big bag of roots in your cooler. The roots are ideally around 1.5” in diameter, trimmed to 8” or so long, with the leaves trimmed to about 1” above the crown. Inside the cooler or refrigerator, your roots have been going through vernalization– you’ve been convincing them it’s winter. So when you take them out of the cooler, they will of course think that it’s spring. This is called forcing, when the change in temperature causes them to sprout chicons.

 

 


Planted endive roots ready for forcing, Photo: growingwithplants.com

When you’re ready to start forcing, anytime between a week and several months after storing (but ideally no later than January), take your endive roots out of the cooler and plant them (you can also store them in the cooler pre-planted). The roots can be tightly packed into deep containers – “long tom” terra cotta pots, sap buckets, or 5 gallon buckets work well.

Next, simply fill in around the roots with sand, light potting soil, or peat. Do your best to fill in all the gaps, leaving just the trimmed tops sticking out above the sand or soil. Then cover your buckets and place in a warm, completely dark place, ideally around 68⁰F. You can cover your pots with black plastic garbage bags or simply put them in the cellar or a closet. Just remember – any light that gets in will cause the creamy white chicons to turn green (and tougher). If you use a plastic bag, cover loosely and check your pots every few days for mold. Water lightly so that the soil is kept moist to the touch (but not sopping wet).

 

 


Ready-to-eat endives, Photo: growingwithplants.com

Within 2-3 weeks, your chicons will be ready to harvest! And don’t throw out your roots after the first harvest – if you keep conditions right, you may get a second flush of smaller chicons a few weeks later.

Excited to try Belgian endives, or have some advice for other growers? Let us know what you think, and check out our Totem F1 Belgian Endive seeds.

Not sure how to eat them? Try using the raw leaves as tiny serving dishes  filled with fruit, nuts, and cheese for an attractive appetizer, in an Endive, Apple, and Walnut Salad, or like the French do, as an Autumn Vegetable tarte tatin.

 


Autumn Vegetable Tarte Tatin, Photo: mimithorisson.com

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Growing Tips, Winter Growing | 1 Comment

Support a Healthy Community, Fund Your Project with High Mowing Seeds


A student fundraiser from LaMotte School in Montana

Does your school or organization need to raise money? Want to help your school or non-profit and encourage gardening in your community at the same time? No problem! Fundraising with High Mowing Organic Seeds is a win-win for everyone, supporting fundraising efforts at your school while encouraging your community to garden and eat healthy, fresh local produce. Now you can raise money while reducing, rather than increasing the environmental footprint of your community (as is common with gift wrap and magazine-based fundraisers.) Want more reasons to fundraise with High Mowing?

No Deadlines and No Minimum Order

With our fundraiser program, there’s no minimum to meet – so you don’t have to worry about making a cut off to participate.  If your kids are excited about fundraising, sign ‘em up! With flexible dates and no minimum order, your organization can only benefit from participating in our simple and straightforward program.

Many Options to Choose From

Are the people in your community already gung-ho about gardening? Or are folks just starting to experiment? Regardless of how popular gardening is in your town, we have just what you need. Choose individual packets from among 25 of our best-selling varieties, or attractive themed gift box collections, or both! There’s something for everyone and every budget in our Fundraiser program.

Meet Your Goals with a Great Profit Margin

Choose our individual packets and keep 60% of your profits, or choose our boxed gift collections to take home a 50% profit margin. Either way, at least half of what you collect goes straight toward your fundraising goals. Your students can easily and quickly calculate the impact they’ve made, keeping the momentum behind your fundraiser going.

Great Resources Make Selling Easy

We want your fundraiser to succeed! So to make life easier, we provide a Seed Fundraiser Kit with great tools to help you spread the word. In your kit you will receive:

-          an attractive “High Mowing Seeds Sold Here” poster to advertise your fundraiser

-          colorful, easy-to-use order forms for individual packets and/or gift collections

-          a Master order form to compile orders (and an optional electronic version that does all the math for you!)

Your school or organization can also purchase one of our display racks, with the option to fill it with our beautiful full-color photo packets. These are the same displays you see in retail stores where our seeds are re-sold, they come in a variety of sizes and designs, and are filled with the same high quality seeds our farmer and gardener customers depend on. Like individual packet sales, seed racks and collections offer a great 60% profit margin.

 


Students at LaMotte School washing carrots they grew

What folks say about Fundraising with High Mowing:

“We are extremely excited to complete our 3rd annual High Mowing Seeds sales this year.  Thanks to your seed sales, we have been to help fund our school garden project to include eight beds, a beautiful greenhouse, irrigation supplies for summer watering and an elegant, yet functional, live willow fence.” ~ T. Drake, Montana

Ready to raise some money? Click here to get started!

Posted in Kids and Gardening | 1 Comment

New in 2015 Variety Highlights

Here are a few highlights of the NEW varieties in our 2015 catalog that we are really excited about! To see the full list, click here.


Shiraz Beet

Shiraz Beet - Open-Pollinated

The first disease-resistant OP beet developed for organic production. This exceptionally smooth, sweet round 3-4” red beet variety is derived from three different heirlooms. Tall, succulent tops provide high quality greens. Rhizoctonia-resistant variety bred through a collaboration including several farmers, Dr. John Navazio & the Organic Seed Alliance. Tall tops • Excellent for processing (Beta vulgaris)

 


Yankee F1 Onion

Yankee F1 Yellow Onion- HYBRID

Very productive storage variety with medium sized round bulbs. Our first variety with strong resistance to Downy Mildew! Yield and excellent storage qualities similar to Copra. Dark brown skins and bulbs will remain hard and sound until spring. From our partners at Bejo Seeds. Downy Mildew • Long day • Stores well. (Allium cepa)

 


Valencia Onion

Valencia Sweet Onion - Open-Pollinated

Versatile day-neutral sweet Spanish onion for all regions. Mild to sweet flavor. Excellent for bunching when young or for fresh market sales of large bulbs with warm golden-brown skin. Stores moderately well. Day neutral • 4-6” bulbs. (Allium cepa)

 

 


Gemstone Greens Mix

Gemstone Greens Mix – Open-Pollinated
An eye-catching, flavorful mix of deep maroon and emerald green leaves and stems. A mix of mustards with an emphasis on colorful red and purple stems for a mix as pretty on the plate as it is in the field. A tasty, mildly spicy blend for salad conoisseurs. Colorful blend • Colors deepen in late summer.

 

 


Mirage F1 Sweet Corn

Mirage F1 Sweet Corn - HYBRID

Attractive ears with wonderfully tender, sweet kernels that melt in your mouth! Ears start 2.5’ from the ground for easy harvest and are well-wrapped in dark green husks. Plants are 7’ tall and average 2 ears per plant with 16 rows of kernels each. Intermediate resistance to NCLB, rust, and Stewart’s bacterial wilt. WHITE • Synergistic (sy) • 8-9” ears. (Zea maize)

 


German Johnson Tomato

German Johnson Tomato - Open-Pollinated

Deep pink Brandywine-type fruits with excellent flavor on vigorous, high yielding plants. A standout in our trials! Medium-sized fruits with rich tomato flavor and tender, creamy texture. Earlier, more uniform, higher yielding and slightly smaller than Brandywine. Indeterminate • 8-16 oz. fruit. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

 

 


Dwarf Green Curled Kale

Dwarf Green Curled Kale – Open-Pollinated

Compact variety with very frilly, tightly curled leaves and excellent flavor. A frost-tolerant variety from north Germany that can be harvested long into winter. Similar to Ripbor with a slightly smaller frame and light to medium green leaves. High yielding • Robust 18” plants. (B. oleracea.)

 

 


Bangor F1 Carrot

Bangor F1 Carrot - HYBRID

Large, crunchy cylindrical roots ideal for juicing. Very productive variety with good flavor and heavy yields of juicy bright orange roots with blunt tips. The perfect juicing carrot! Excellent commercial grower variety that resists greening and splitting. Weaker tops are not suited to bunching. From our partners at Bejo Seeds. Storage • 6-7” Nantes/Berlicum-type. (Daucus carota)

 


Eleonora Basil

Eleonora Basil - Open-Pollinated

Growers rejoice! The first organically-available basil with Downy Mildew resistance. Innovative European breeding resulting in upright plants with more elongated stems for better airflow and intermediate DM resistance. Large, medium green, lightly serrated leaves with good flavor. Well-suited to field or container production. Not as bolt-tolerant as other basils. 18M seeds/oz Upright habit • Suitable for containers. (Ocimum basilicum subsp)

 


Ostergruss Radish

Ostergruss Radish – Open-Pollinated

Unusual carrot-shaped magenta radish with crisp texture and spicy flavor. German variety translated as “Easter Greeting”. Firm bright white interior flesh is enclosed in beautifully contrasting thick pink skin. Dark green foliage ideal for bunching. Beautiful addition to salads and perfect shape for dipping. Very quick to size up and holds quality even when large. Spring/fall crop • 5-6” roots. (Raphanus sativus)

 


Preludio F1 Fennel

Preludio F1 Fennel - HYBRID

Very early, heavy bulbs with superb flavor – a major improvement in hybrid fennel. This variety stood out in our trials with its lightly sweet flavor, uniformity and ability to hold in the field without bolting. Upright plants are easy to harvest. Early variety recommended for spring and summer harvest with good fall performance as well. Bolt-resistant • Large bulbs. (Foeniculum vulgare)

 

 


Indigo Apple Tomato

Indigo Apple Tomato – Open-Pollinated

Beautiful and early variety with fruits that start deep purple-red and turn nearly black in the sun. Sweet, rich flavored fruits resist cracking and sunscald. A larger Indigo tomato with exceptionally high anthocyanin content; firm, meaty fruits are delicious sliced on sandwiches. Bred by Brad Gates using an original cross made by PKS Heirlooms in Copemish, MI. Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 2-4 oz.. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

 


Encino Lettuce

 Encino Green Oakleaf Lettuce – Open-Pollinated

Huge, fine heads of buttery, lightly savoyed leaves. Heads are densely packed with lightly serrated wavy leaves and have paler centers. In our trials it had sweeter and more buttery flavor than Panisse, with larger heads and slightly less lobed leaves than Ocate. Uniform size • Slow to bolt. (Lactuca sativa)

Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (races 1-26, 28), Aphids, Lettuce Mosaic Virus, MTO-30

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Commercial Growing, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

Participatory Breeding of ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ Sweet Corn


Farmer Martin Diffley in his corn fields

Sweet corn is an essential crop for many organic farmers, and farmer-breeder Martin Diffley is no exception. But Martin couldn’t find an organic variety that worked on his farm. So he collaborated with plant breeders to make one.

Martin had been growing sweet corn on his Minnesota farm for decades, but in that time he’d gotten frustrated with the varieties available. They either rotted in the cold, wet spring soil or, lacking vigor, could not compete with weeds. No one was breeding for the traits that were important to organic farmers.

One day, Dr. John Navazio of the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) visited Martin and mentioned that he knew a breeder selecting for better cool soil emergence—Dr. Bill Tracy of the University of Wisconsin—and a participatory breeding project began.


Dr. Bill Tracy, left, and Dr. John Navazio

Jared Zystro, then Bill’s grad student, planted over a hundred breeding plots on Martin’s farm; Martin selected for the traits he wanted from the plots, and Bill and John ensured the correct pollinations were made to improve the variety. Their ultimate goal was to develop an OP se (open-pollinated sugary enhanced) sweet corn with good cold soil emergence, early vigor, disease resistance, great flavor and large, well-filled ears. These traits had only existed before in hybrid varieties.

Only a few plots had plants with vigor, disease-resistance and good flavor. That winter, seed from the best was sent to a “winter nursery” in Chile, and Bill continued crossing the best individuals and generating new families.


Adrienne Shelton at a “bite test” of ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ in Minnesota

The next year these were planted on Martin’s farm, this time with Bill’s grad student Adrienne Shelton leading the evaluations and selections. After four more years of selecting supported by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), they decided to release “Who Gets Kissed?” in 2014.

The name is based on a game played at corn husking bees across early America. All corn was OP back then, and very diverse. When a person found an ear with red, instead of yellow kernels (a very rare occurrence), they could choose whom to kiss! While you won’t find any red ears, OP variability is a signature of “Who Gets Kissed?” and provided the inspiration for its name.


The finder of the red ear claims his prize!

We were also lucky enough to have Adrienne recently join our team at High Mowing! Thanks to these amazing breeders, we have this variety available to share with you, and we look forward to more participatory breeding projects in the future. As an open-pollinated variety, seeds from ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ can be selected and saved; the breeders hope that growers will adapt the variety to the unique conditions in their own fields. We are proud to contribute 10% of our sales of “Who Get’s Kissed?” back to OSA and Martin Diffley to support future organic breeding efforts.


The breeders of WGK: John, Jared, Adrienne and Bill

We are pleased to offer ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ in our 2015 catalog! Click below to see this collaborative variety on our website.


‘Who Gets Kissed?’ Sweet Corn

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