A Future Heirloom: Introducing Abundant Bloomsdale!

WE believe that when farmers and public seed breeders get together, amazing things happen. We think it’s essential that organic farmers be involved with breeding projects because they are the end users – they know what it takes to make a high quality variety, and their input helps shape these varieties so that they thrive in organic conditions. Being part of a breeding project also helps put control over (and knowledge of) seed production back in the hands of farmers, where it belongs. Not only can farmers help breed varieties for particular regions or growing systems, but once they do, they have the knowledge to continue selecting for conditions on their farms. This is one of the primary reasons we support the development of improved, open-pollinated varieties.

Abundant Bloomsdale spinach

Improved OP’s can in many cases offer the same quality and uniformity as hybrids, but at a fraction of the cost, and they have another important benefit: growers can save the seed and adapt the variety over time to thrive in their unique locations. This continued selection increases seed biodiversity and strengthens our food system as a whole. So, without further ado, we are pleased to introduce a new variety that meets all of these criteria – Abundant Bloomsdale spinach.

The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is a non-profit based in Port Townsend, Washington that works to steward and advance organic seed resources. Their Heirlooms of Tomorrow program involves working with farmers to “breed new varieties and restore older varieties to the needs of organic farming and gardening.” The goal is to use older varieties to breed new ones that perform well in organic conditions and are broadly adaptable – meaning that they can continue to be selected to meet the needs of future farmers and generations.

Dr. John Navazio harvesting Abundant Bloomsdale

Abundant Bloomsdale was created through Heirlooms of Tomorrow and developed through a participatory breeding team including Dr. John Navazio, the OSA and several farms in the Port Townsend, WA area. The goal of the project? To create a deep green OP spinach with savoyed leaves, high nutritional content and strong bolt-resistance. The breeders were also looking for a highly upright habit that would make the variety easy to harvest and versatile at all stages of growth, from babyleaf to bunching. Finally, the breeders hoped to create a variety specifically for the organic market, to help farmers and seed companies by providing an alternative to hybrid spinach varieties bred for conventional systems.

The variety was developed from a cross between a classic OP spinach variety, ‘Winter Bloomsdale’ and a variety with multiple disease resistances, ‘Evergreen’, bred by Dr. Teddy Morelock and released to the public in 2005. ‘Winter Bloomsdale’ provided the cold-hardy, deeply savoyed and sweet-tasting traits, while ‘Evergreen’ supplied resistance to damping off, white rust and downy mildew. The varieties first came together in a “strain cross”, where crosses were made between at least 15 different plants of each variety to retain as much genetic diversity from both parents as possible. The offspring were then grown out and allowed to pollinate freely, and this went on for five years. In this time, the only selection that took place was to remove diseased or weak plants.

Farmer-Breeder Marko Colby and Dr. John Navazio

In 2010 OSA teamed up with Midori Farm in Port Townsend to select the plants with the ideal characteristics: dark green, heavily-savoyed leaves, sweet flavor, and good disease resistance. Midori Farm is operated by Marko Colby and Hanako Myers, who grow about 5 acres of mixed organic vegetables and seed crops. According to Colby, “We got involved in the ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ project because we had grown this variety from some seed a friend had given us and we really loved it. So we asked Micaela [Colley], the [executive] director of OSA, if they had any seed we could grow out for use on the farm.”

It wasn’t long before OSA asked them to help finish the variety.

“Hanako and I were already interested in seed growing and growing some of our own seed for use on the farm, so it seemed like a really interesting project to be involved in. Plus, we are getting to select this already great variety of spinach for its ability to thrive on our farm. It will be better suited to our system than any other spinach out there,” Colby explained.

After 5 years of interbreeding, 130 offspring of the original two varieties were selected as representatives and were allowed to pollinate freely at Midori Farm. Of these, seeds were saved from 67 female plants – what would become the “progeny families”, each getting its own row in which to grow in 2012. And finally, 5 of these “families” were chosen to be grown out in 2013 for final selections. The variety was released to the public in 2013—8 years after the project began—and just in time for the 10th anniversary of the Organic Seed Alliance!

Abundant Bloomsdale

Abundant Bloomsdale was developed with the support of OSA and Seed Matters and was released through the Open Source Seed Initiative, ensuring the variety will always be available for seed saving and adaptation. It is prized among eastern and western growers for its large, luxuriant leaves, sweet flavor, high nutritional content, upright stature, versatility, disease resistance, vigor and superior cold-hardiness. Abundant Bloomsdale was named for the Abundant Life Seed Foundation, a Port Townsend seed library whose offices burned the year the project began, but gave rise to the founding of OSA as a result!

Excited about organic breeding? Check out the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s Introduction to Organic Plant Breeding to learn more!

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Breeding / Research Program, Commercial Growing, Farm Ethics, Philosophy, Variety Highlights | 6 Comments

Our Top Varieties for California Growers

Each year High Mowing attends the EcoFarm conference in Pacific Grove, California, and each year we are fascinated to hear about the diversity of climates that California growers work with. This year one farmer mentioned that his farm in Sebastopol had a mountain range behind it and consequently received two hours less daylight than surrounding farms, and had only about 120 frost-free days available (even less than here in Vermont!) A gardener told us about the ideal conditions in the San Francisco Bay area, neither too hot nor too cold, and with essentially no winter. Yet others described the difficulty of farming in Southern California, where water is scarce and daytime temperatures could reach 120 degrees, then drop to 50 at night!

So in an effort to better serve our California growers, we have compiled some recommendations of our varieties that do particularly well there. We have included varieties that thrive in each unique climatic region, and each variety has abbreviation(s) next to it that indicate the areas in which it is most likely to succeed. Without further ado, here are our picks for Northern California (NC), Central Coast (CC) and Southern California (SC):


Belstar F1 Broccoli – Suitable for CC, SC (planted in fall/winter)

Our most heat-tolerant broccoli for spring, summer and fall crops. Compact plants have round domes, small to medium beads and short flowering stems with a thick main stalk. Domes span 6-8” at maturity averaging 1.5 lbs. Ideal for short-stemmed crown cuts or florets. Heat-tolerant. (Brassica oleracea var. italica)

Days to maturity: 65 days
Disease Resistance: Fusarium Yellows, Fusarium Wilt, Downy Mildew


Tipoff F1 Romanesco Broccoli – Suitable for NC, CC

Beautiful early Romanesco with nutty flavor delicious raw or steamed. Excellent flavor—though worth growing just for looks alone! Earliness, yield and uniformity all tip the scales in favor of this variety. Thrives if given adequate moisture and can take summer temperatures a little better than Veronica. Spring or fall crop • Gourmet specialty • Uniform 6-7” heads. (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)

Days to maturity: 72 days


Capture F1 Cabbage – Suitable for NC, CC

Disease-resistant fresh market cabbage for organic growers! Full-sized green cabbage for fresh market or processing; short term storage ability. Excellent disease resistance—grows best in susceptible climates where Black Rot and thrips are present. Uniform heads sit high on the stalk with good wrapper leaves. Uniform 4-6 lb heads. (Brassica oleracea)

Days to maturity: 85 days
Disease Resistance: Fusarium Yellows, Fusarium Wilt, Black Rot, Thrips


Murdoc F1 Cabbage - Suitable for NC, CC

Unique hefty heads perfect for fresh eating, kraut, or processing. Caraflex’s big brother, with the same tender, crisp juicy leaves and unusual pointed cone-shape, but supersized! Grows up to 10” in diameter at the base. A distinctly silky texture makes this an excellent variety for sauerkraut. Excellent processing type • Stores well • 7-8 lb heads (Brassica oleracea)

Days to maturity: 80 days


Yellowstone Carrot - Suitable for NC, CC

Long, sunflower-yellow carrots with strong, feathery tops. Extremely productive and adaptable to many growing conditions. Mix with other specialty varieties for a colorful display. Pick early for a tender, mild-flavored treat. Productive • Mild-flavored 9” roots. (Daucus carota)

Days to maturity: 70 days


Interceptor F1 Carrot – Suitable for SC

Very long, slender and coreless; a true cut-and-peel variety. Very sweet, tender dark orange roots stay slender and free of splitting even at low planting densities. Shorter tops with some resistance to leaf blights. Good resistance to storage diseases such as Pythium Crater Rot and Alternaria Black Rot. Suitable for mechanical harvest • 12” Imperator-type. (Daucus carota)

Days to maturity: 120-125 days


Ping Tung Long Eggplant – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Easy-to-grow Asian eggplants are long and slender with tender magenta skin. This variety can yield up to 20 fruits per plant and is vigorous and stress-tolerant. Slim fruits average 1-2” wide; plants should be staked for straight fruit. Very tender skin does not need to be peeled. Productive • 12-18” fruit. (Solanum melongena)

Days to maturity: 70 days


Yukina Savoy Mustard Green – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Heat-tolerant alternative to Tat Soi. Forest green, spoon-shaped leaves are cupped and heavily savoyed. Upright architecture for easy harvesting. Slow to bolt. Mild mustard flavor.  (B. rapa)

Days to maturity: 21 days baby, 45 full size


NEW! Olympic Red Kale – Suitable for NC, CC, SC (planted in fall)

Attractive frosty blue-green leaves overlaid with purple and contrasting magenta stems. Among the best in our trials with superior cold hardiness. Not as frilly as Redbor and lighter in color. Variable color and leaf type; up to 3.5% green off-types which can be removed in the transplant stage. Good Powdery Mildew tolerance. Tall, open habit. (B. oleracea)

Days to maturity: 55 days


Vivid Choi Pac Choy – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Versatile mild Asian green with unique colorful stems. Serrated leaves and stems that range from pale to vivid pink and purple. Great for salad mixes, braising or stir-fry. Both cold-hardy and slow to bolt, allowing harvest long into summer. Developed by independent farmer/breeder Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds. (B. rapa)

Days to maturity: 21 days baby, 45 full size


NEW! Arroyo Lettuce – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Tall, upright plants with distinctive vase-shaped heads. Heavily savoyed, crunchy leaves are slow to cup inwards. Best-suited to spring harvest in warm regions and summer harvest in cool regions. Good fresh market variety with tight v-shape excellent for hearts. Strong disease resistance package. Ideal for hearts • Disease resistant. (Lactuca sativa)

Days to maturity: 65 days
Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (1-27, 29), Lettuce Mosaic Virus, Lettuce Necrotic Stunt Virus, MTO-30


Pirat Butterhead Lettuce – Suitable for NC, CC, SC (in fall/winter plantings)

Tender heads with notably superior flavor and texture, blanched hearts and red-tinged outer leaves. Bested every other variety for taste and texture in our lettuce trials and also rates as one of the best butterheads in combined resistance to Downy Mildew, White Mold, Tip Burn and Bacterial Head Rot. Heat tolerant. (Lactuca sativa)

Days to maturity: 55 days
Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew, Tip Burn, Lettuce Drop, Bottom Rot


Cabernet F1 Onion – Suitable for NC, CC

The earliest storage onion in our trials with lovely, uniform burgundy bulbs. Medium-sized bulbs with very nice internal color and attractive red rings. Widely adapted to Eastern and Western states for both size and earliness; in our 2013 Northeast onion trials it finished first by at least 10 days. Late intermediate day • Stores 4-6 months. (Allium cepa)

Days to maturity: 105 days


NEW! Valencia Onion - Suitable for NC, CC, SC

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)

Days to maturity: 120 days


Gabriella F1 Onion – Suitable for SC

Fresh market globe onion for Southern growers. Bulbs have golden brown skin, attractive shape and are large and uniform. High yields of very mild to sweet onions. A mid-season variety suited to Southern growing regions. Resists bolting. Good general intermediate resistances against leaf diseases. Not suited to long storage. Short day • Grano-type. (Allium cepa)

Days to maturity: 100 days


Cascadia Snap Pea - Suitable for NC, CC

A must-have variety with heavy yields of juicy, thick walled pods. Bucketloads of plump pods with tiny, distinctively delicious peas on 3’ tall vines. Multiple disease resistances allow for spring and late season plantings. Spring or fall crop • 3” pods. (Pisum sativum)

Days to maturity: 60 days
Disease Resistance: Fusarium Wilt, Powdery Mildew, Pea Enation Mosiac Virus


Sprinter F1 Bell Pepper – Suitable for NC, CC

Speed and endurance; an early pepper that goes the distance with high yields over a long harvest window. Compact plants with big blocky, 4-lobed fruit larger than King of the North. Recommended for greenhouse culture but performs well outside, especially as green; sets fruit well under row cover. Resists blossom end rot and russetting. Field or greenhouse • Good leaf cover • 3.5” fruits. (Capsicum annuum)

Days to maturity: 62 days green, 82 red
Disease Resistance: Tobacco Mosiac Virus (races 0-3)


Milena F1 Bell Pepper – Suitable for CC, SC

Early orange bell with thick walls and uniformly 3-4 lobed fruit. Vigorous open habit with good yield and solid set, even under hot conditions. Plants are upright and sturdy. Works well in the greenhouse, unheated tunnels or open field. Strong resistance to virus. Heat-tolerant • 1/2 lb, 3×4” fruits. (Capsicum annuum)

Days to maturity: 65 days green, 83 orange
Disease Resistance: Potato Virus Y, Tobacco Mosiac Virus (races 0-3), Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus


Shishito Pepper – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Small, mild Japanese pepper for roasting, pan-frying, and grilling. Pepper lore has it that the occasional fruit will display heat. Typically harvested and used green, but eventually turns orange with sweeter flavor. Thin walls blister and char easily when roasted or grilled, taking on rich flavor – delicious sprinkled with salt. Prolific! Spreading habit • 2-4” mild fruit. (Capsicum annuum)

Days to maturity: 60 days green, 75 red


NEW! Shelby F1 Spinach – Suitable for NC, CC, SC (for fall plantings)

Large oval medium green leaves with strong Downy Mildew resistance, ideal for transition seasons. High quality, uniformly sized leaves are reliable, offering great babyleaf consistency when growers need it most. Tolerant of wide temperature swings. Stood out with very good emergence in our spring 2014 trials. From our partners at Vitalis Organic Seeds. Spring/fall crop • Strong emergence. (Spinacia oleracea)

Days to maturity: 40 days
Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (races 1-13)


Copia Beefsteak Tomato – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Unique large gold fruits with a blend of orange/red and green/red striping. Sweet, juicy flesh is swirled with color throughout. Eye-catching variety for farmers’ markets. Stabilized by Jeff Dawson, this Green Zebra and Marvel Stripe cross is named for COPIA, the American Center of Food, Wine and the Arts in Napa, CA. Indeterminate • 12-16 oz.. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Days to maturity: 85 days


Black Trifele Tomato – Suitable for NC, CC, SC

Striking, unique pear-shaped tomato with narrow green shoulders and purple-black color. A farmers’ market and garden favorite with smooth, meaty, velvety texture. Gourmet flavor is often described as dense, smoky, chocolatey. You may, for a moment, forget that you are merely tasting a tomato. Prolific, potato leaf plants. Indeterminate • Gourmet variety • Prolific • 4-6 oz.. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Days to maturity: 80 days


NEW! Sunrise Bumblebee Tomato - Suitable for NC, CC, SC

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. Bred by Fred Hempel in Sunol, CA. Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 1.5” fruit. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Days to maturity: 70 days


Desert F1 Zucchini - Suitable for CC, SC

Gorgeous fruits with strong disease resistance and exceptional fruit set in hot weather. Dark green fruit with slight speckles, cylindrical and very attractive. Tall plants have a broad, open architecture which makes for easy picking. Impressive resistance to PM in our trials. Sister variety to Dunja. Drought-tolerant • Harvest at 7-8”. (Cucurbita pepo)

Days to maturity: 50 days
Disease Resistance: Powdery Mildew, Cucumber Mosiac Virux, Zucchini Yellow Mosiac Virus, Watermelon Mosiac Virus, Papaya Ringspot Virus

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Commercial Growing, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 4 Comments

Top 5 Tomatoes for Containers

Whether you’re growing on a rooftop, porch, patio or fire escape, it’s essential to choose the right tomato varieties when growing in containers. The ideal varieties to choose are either determinate or semi-determinate, meaning that they have a more concentrated fruit set and compact habit (unlike the indeterminate varieties, which will easily grow vines 10 feet long). It’s also best to look for varieties that start producing early – so you can get the most out of your containers – and look for those described as productive, reliable and disease-resistant.

Make sure your containers are big enough – 3-5 gallons is the minimum – and that they have holes in the bottom to ensure good drainage. We like 5-gallon buckets, which give the plants plenty of space and have helpful handles. Also keep in mind that semi-determinate (and sometimes even determinate) varieties will probably need a cage, stake, or other method of providing support once the plants are about 24” tall and starting to produce fruit. The best time to install a trellising system is as soon as possible after planting, which avoids potential broken branches later. With regular watering and monthly fertilizing, you can grow a bumper crop of tomatoes just about anywhere that gets at least 6 hours of sun.

1. Glacier Tomatoes are a favorite in the North and beyond for their exceptionally early maturity and great tomato flavor. The 2-3” saladette-sized fruits consistently win our early-season taste tests. The potato-leaved plants start setting fruit at 24″ and are semi-determinate, meaning that they will produce an early, heavy flush of flowers and fruit, but will then continue to produce until the end of the season (unlike standard determinate varieties, which produce all of their fruit at once). Also ideal for smaller gardens and raised beds. 55 days



2. Moskvich is beloved for its impressively early yields of deep red, slightly flattened 4-6 oz fruits with rich, luscious flavor. This Russian heirloom tolerates cool conditions and produces high quality, crack-resistant fruits that rival hybrids. Also performs well in greenhouses. Excellent for fresh eating, sauce or canning. A semi-determinate variety that will produce an early, heavy crop of fruit and continue producing all season. 60 days




3. Gold Nugget produces beautiful bright yellow cherry tomatoes early and abundantly on compact plants. The one inch fruits are juicy, mild and sweet – excellent if you prefer a low-acid tomato – with marvelously thin yet crack-resistant skin. This determinate variety was developed at Oregon State University. An excellent choice for hanging baskets, upside-down planters and more! 60 days



4. Sunkist F1 produces perfect large orange slicing tomatoes. The slightly flattened 8-10 oz fruits are firm and unblemished – and just as sweet as red tomatoes! Superior crack-resistance; performs well in the greenhouse. A unique variety bred by Dr. Brent Loy of the University of New Hampshire, produced on the High Mowing seed farm and available exclusively from High Mowing. A semi-determinate variety that will produce an early, heavy crop of fruit and continue producing all season. Resistant to Fusarium Wilt and Verticillium Wilt. 78 days


5. Indigo Rose offers the best of both worlds – an exotic edible fruit that grows on a beautiful ornamental plant. Clusters of 6-8 firm 2 oz fruits ripen to jet black with red undersides and aromatic flavor. The sturdy plants are vigorous and disease-resistant with a compact habit and purple-tinged foliage that is absolutely stunning in ornamental plantings. Indigo tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin. A semi-determinate variety bred by Dr. Jim Myers in the high-flavonoid breeding program at Oregon State University. 75-80 days

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 2 Comments

Enter to Win your Dream Garden from High Mowing Seeds

Design Your Dream Garden, Enter to Win a $75 Gift Certificate!

This contest has closed. Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to Kate on your win!

Half the fun of having a garden is planning it during those long cold winter months when all is grey and dark outside. Looking at pictures of bright, beautiful vegetables, herbs and flowers in the seed catalogs can make any day better. Many customers tell us about their dog-eared, bookmarked, sticky-noted catalogs and how much they use them. (Need one? You can request a catalog here.)

Lately many people have also been using the website Pinterest to organize their garden ideas and wishes. We think this is an excellent idea as it provides a great visual representation of what you’d like to grow in your garden. The boards people create are beautiful to look at and fun to use.

We would love to see what YOUR dream garden looks like. We’re inviting you to create your dream garden by “pinning” varieties you’d like to grow onto a board, then sending us the link to your board. We’ll randomly choose one board, and the owner of the winning board will receive a $75 High Mowing Organic Seeds’ gift certificate to help make those garden dreams come true!

The rules are simple:

  • Create your own board called “My High Mowing Dream Garden“. Pin vegetable, herb and flower varieties you’d like to grow this year. You can pin varieties from the High Mowing Organic Seeds website or any other site. Be sure to pin High Mowing varieties with the hashtag #highmowingseeds in the pin description.
  • Come back to this post and leave us your Pinterest “Dream Garden” Board URL in the comments section below. Also make sure to leave us your e-mail address so we can contact you if you win!

Enter by Friday, January 30th, 2015 for a chance to win the $75 Gift Certificate! The winner will be announced on Monday, February 2nd.

Contest closes at midnight (EST) on January 30th, 2015. The fine print: High Mowing Organic Seeds is giving away one $75.00 gift certificate towards any of our products to one lucky winner! The contest runs from 1/15/15 through midnight (EST) 1/30/15. The winner will be selected using random.org. The winner will be notified via e-mail, so please ensure that your e-mail is accurate. Winners must respond within 96 hours of the e-mail announcing that they have one being sent. If the winner fails to respond within that time, High Mowing Organic Seeds will select another winner through random.org and will e-mail the next winner.


Posted in Uncategorized | 108 Comments

Reaping the Benefits of Pelleted Lettuce

Pelleted lettuce seed (L), Raw lettuce seed (R)

Plants have been doing a pretty good job developing strategies to move seeds around for a few hundred million years. The ranges of sizes, shapes, and packaging have clearly suited them well. There are some, particularly the round ones, that are pretty easily adapted to modern agriculture. But what about the really small ones, or those that are irregularly shaped?

Pelleting: Benefits and Challenges

Pelleting is a process where seeds are coated with clay, increasing their size and creating a more uniform shape. It allows for easier, more precise seeding either mechanically or by hand. There are some seeders that require them, and practically speaking, using seeds in a precise way ultimately saves resources and money. For those gardeners and aspiring farmers who have small fingers and hands, using a pelleted seed can make the time in the cold frame, greenhouse or garden a lot more fun.

Germination Testing

Seed Suitability

Before a given lot of seed is sent to be pelleted, a suitability test is performed. This test allows us to see how the seed will germinate at a wider range of temperature and light conditions than a standard germ test. The vigor of the seed is also important, as it will often need an extra push to break through the clay coating. Sometimes, but not always, the seeds are primed before the pelleting, to ensure good emergence. All this extra testing is important because the seeds will be used in such an exacting way.

So, there must be a downside, right? There usually is. The introduction of the clay and water, and the occasional priming involved, effectively cuts the long term viability of the seeds. If one is buying pelleted seeds, be careful to buy what you need for that season, as their germ can drop off pretty quickly after one year. We package them in amounts that allow for careful planning and purchase. That said, I have used pelleted seeds for more than one season if I have to; sometimes it works, sometimes not.

New Packaging for Pelleted Seeds

One of the most exciting things about our pelleted seed offerings this year is how they are being delivered to our customers. After much searching, we found containers that will allow the seeds to safely reach their destination. Every size will be packaged in an appropriately sized plastic container, keeping them from being crushed in transport and use around the farm. When they are not being used, it’s important to keep this bottle closed, and in a cool, dark place to help maintain the viability of the seeds.

Paul grows a wide variety of greens, like this head of Vitamin Green, at his farm

Pelleted Lettuce

There are certain crops where I use pelleted seeds whenever I can. Lettuce is definitely a place where having a more uniform and larger seed is a great thing. For growers who are using a vacuum seeder to produce transplants, they are a must. Even when seeding by hand, the extra size and high visibility is really helpful. I seed all my lettuce by hand, and the speed and ease of using pelleted seeds is so much better than raw seed. High Mowing has been expanding its pelleted seed offering over the years, and has a great selection for any size lettuce grower. (In fact, I have been secretly pushing HMOS to offer all the varieties that I use on my farm.)

Regardless of whether you’re seeding a flat or a field, the challenges of handling raw lettuce seed make pelleting worth considering. And the more time you spend at it, the more worthwhile it becomes.

So without further ado, I’m happy to introduce several NEW pelleted lettuce varieties in our catalog this year:


A Batavian-type red leaf lettuce with superior heat-tolerance. Always a stand-out in our trials with its bright green leaves edged in deep burgundy; closes in late at maturity for a dense, crisp head. 48 days

Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (races 1-27, 29), Lettuce Mosaic Virus, MTO-30


Pomegranate Crunch

A new stunning mini romaine with gorgeous deep purple coloring and smooth texture. Fast growth rate and an open habit ensure a uniquely foolproof, disease-resistant red romaine. Beautiful paired with Ansar. 50 days

Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (races 1-27, 29), MTO-30



An eye-catching garnet Little Gem-type lettuce that forms dense, glossy heads with bright green hearts. Performed well in our winter high tunnels for early spring harvest of heart-winning heads. Pair with Spretnak for an eye-catching combination! 42 days

Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (races 1, 4-6, 13, 15, 17), MTO-30



A green romaine that forms dense mini-rosettes of bright green leaves – a knockout in our trials! Smooth outer leaves and blanched hearts; very heat tolerant but tastes best in the cooler seasons. 45 days

Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (1, 4-21, 23-26, 28-31), MTO-30

Other lettuces available pelleted: Bergam’s Green, Breen, Coastal Star, Green Star, Green Towers, Magenta, Nevada, New Red Fire, Optima, Roxy, and Waldmann’s

Posted in Articles by Farmer Paul Betz, Commercial Growing, Farmer Authors, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

Breeding Organic Carrots with Bejo Seeds

Bejo Carrot Field in Holland

Bejo Seeds has been breeding organic seeds for over 20 years— longer than any large seed company—because of their dedication to organic agriculture.

Based in Holland, Bejo Seeds is a family-owned company with a focus on breeding exceptional quality varieties. They are committed to non-GMO breeding techniques and supporting organic seed organizations including Seed Matters, the Organic Seed Alliance and the Student Organic Seed Symposium. Bejo’s primary breeding focus is on cabbage, onions and carrots, and we are thrilled to offer dozens of outstanding varieties through our partnership with them.

Deadon F1 Cabbage

Bejo Breeding

Bejo’s world-class breeding has brought us favorites like Cortland onion, Napoli carrot, Yaya carrot, Deadon cabbage and Boro beet. Almost every diversified vegetable farmer in North America grows these crops, but few realize that breeding a new carrot variety can take up to 20 years! Few companies in the world are able to embark on breeding projects of this scope, and they are necessary to provide organic growers appropriate organically-adapted varieties.

Bejo Carrots

Yaya F1 Carrot

Looking specifically at carrots, a variety must have many important attributes to succeed – real carrot flavor, crisp but tender texture, good sweetness, strong tops, disease resistance, broad adaptability and good storage potential. Bejo carrots always rank the best in our trials, delivering the flavor and yields that growers need. We are grateful to have the quality and hard work Bejo is known for, standing behind so many of our carrot, cabbage and onion varieties.

You’ll be especially impressed with this year’s additions including Bejo’s new high vitamin C juicing carrot, Bangor and Downy Mildew resistant Yankee onion.

Bangor F1 Carrot

Yankee F1 Onion

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Ask The Expert, Breeding / Research Program, Commercial Growing, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

The Inclusive Table: A Feast for Everyone

It’s that wonderful time of year when we gather with friends and family, enjoy great meals together, and reflect on the year behind us. With each passing year, however, it seems that there are a greater number of people around the table with dietary restrictions. For adventurous cooks (like my mother and grandmother, who work hard to accommodate my vegetarian diet) this simply presents a new and exciting challenge, but for the traditionalists it may be downright stressful. So, short of asking your guests to bring their own food, what’s a cook to do? I like to think of dietary restrictions as opportunities to learn about new dishes, start new traditions, and create greater variety, nutrition and abundance in our holiday meals. So here are some of my all-time favorite recipes for everyone around your holiday table, whether your guests are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Pear and Hazlenuts

This dish looks really pretty and provides a delicious, nutritious entree that will delight your guests. It’s great for tables where meat is popular, since it makes the vegetarians and vegans feel just as special! Plus, it’s gluten free and easy to make ahead and reheat in the oven before serving. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of this beautiful dish – but just picture one of these pretty squash with a “fan” of roasted pears on top.


2 small/medium dumpling squashes, tops removed, de-seeded

2 ripe bosc pears

1 cup raw whole hazelnuts

1/2 cup cheddar cheese or vegan alternative, grated

1 cup quinoa

2 T dried sage

1 T canola oil

1 cube vegetable bouillion or 1 t vegetable stock concentrate or 2 cups vegetable stock

Salt to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. While oven is preheating, place hazelnuts on a baking sheet in oven, removing when the oven is preheated. They should be lightly toasted. Pour into a bowl, place the squashes on the baking sheet, and replace their tops (allowing the insides to steam). Bake for 30 minutes or until tender.

While squashes are baking, cook quinoa. First place the quinoa in a skillet with canola oil over medium heat. Stir constantly for 6-8 minutes until the quinoa is toasted and releases a nutty aroma. Then pour quinoa into a saucepan and add 2 cups water + vegetable bouillon OR 2 cups vegetable stock. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until quinoa is soft and slightly translucent. Set aside.

Coarsely chop the toasted hazelnuts, reserving a few whole ones as a garnish. Place in a bowl with grated cheese and sage. Chop one pear into small pieces and  mix in.

When your squashes are tender, remove the tops and assemble by spooning in a layer of the cooked quinoa mixture, then a layer of the fruit/nut mixture, then quinoa, and so on until the squashes are packed full.

Carefully slice the remaining pear into thin slices. Arrange the slices so that they are overlapping like a fan and covering the openings in the top of the squashes. Place stuffed squashes in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Can be served with cooked tops on the side.

Serves 2-4

Cauliflower Steak Polenta Napoleon

I’ve never been a big fan of cauliflower, but this dish has me singing a different tune! This is just about the most festive-looking entree you could ask for, and is very nourishing and satisfying without being heavy – ideal for a vegetarian feast. It’s a little more work than the previous recipe, but it’s worth it for the expression on your guests’ faces when they lay eyes on it!


2 heads cauliflower

1 medium bag of arugula

1 pomegranate, seeds removed

1 cup uncooked polenta (or buy pre-made, to save time)

1 can white beans, rinsed

Roasted cauliflower steaks

1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced

1 red onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cube vegetable bouillion

1 lemon

1/4 cup parmesan cheese or vegan alternative

2 T smoked paprika

2 T olive oil

1 T canola oil

2 T dried thyme

1 T dried rosemary

Bean-zucchini mixture

1 T sage

Smoked salt (or regular salt)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully, starting in the middle, cut cauliflower heads into thick 1/2 inch slices (you will probably only get 2-3 slices per head). Place slices on a large baking sheet with remaining loose florets. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice from one half over the cauliflower. Then sprinkle with smoked salt, half of the paprika, and drizzle with olive oil. Place cauliflower in oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, gently flip cauliflower steaks with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining paprika. Take your remaining lemon half and carefully cut into very thin slices, removing any seeds. Place one slice on the center of each cauliflower steak and put back into the oven to roast for another 15 minutes.

While cauliflower is roasting, make your polenta according to the package instructions, but add sage and parmesan to the batter. When firm and cooled, cut into four equal pieces and lightly fry in canola oil over medium heat. If using pre-made polenta, cut into 8 equal sized slices and lightly fry. Top with sage and parmesan.

Arugula “wreath”

Prepare the beans. Place onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary in a skillet with canola oil. Saute over medium heat until translucent, then add white beans, zucchini, 1/2 cup water and vegetable bouillon. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To assemble: Make a small pile of arugula on each plate, spread out so that the arugula will make a “wreath” of green around your toppings. Place a portion of fried polenta in the center of the arugula. Top polenta with 2-3 spoonfuls of bean mixture. Carefully place cauliflower steak on top of bean mixture. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the arugula wreath around the napoleon. Serve immediately!

Serves 4

Posted in Health and Wellness, Recipes | Leave a comment

Chef Robert’s Roasted Honeynut Squash Recipe

Honeynut Butternut Squash

When Chef Robert Tobin heard about our Honeynut butternut squash, he knew he had to create a dish for it at TAMO Boston. He hunted down a local farm growing it, Siena Farms, and in no time at all it was on the menu in a recipe using honey from Seaport Hotel Boston’s own rooftop hives. We are delighted that he shared his ingenious recipe with us, just in time for the holidays!

Robert also shared the sweet story detailing how this little squash ended up on his big-city menu. “I used [the Honeynuts] as a market vegetable side for a few weeks and it went really well. I think I was more excited about them than anybody else on the property because I was able to complete the circle from hearing about it, tracing it back to High Mowing, then (through a fluke conversation I had with a farmer I had befriended through my personal CSA this summer) finding the product, and tasting it.

Chef Tobin’s photo of Honeynuts from Siena Farms at Copley Market (in foreground)

The farmer, Taylor from Silverbrook Farm, had filled in one day at Copley Farmers’ Market with Siena Farms, and he noticed the smaller squash and recognized the name as I had asked him about it before…I was pretty excited and had to wait a few days until the Copley market opened [again]. That was when I took this picture…they are FANTASTIC!”

Chef Robert’s Roasted Honeynut Squash


2 Honeynut butternut squashes (or other small butternut)

¼ cup Mirin rice wine

Chef Robert’s Roasted Honeynut Squash

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 T garlic, chopped

1 T ginger, chopped

1.5 T honey

1 T scallions, chopped

1 t crushed red pepper

1/4 cup soy sauce

8 T vegetable oil

4 T butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Roast whole squash for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Cool to handle, then cut in half and remove seeds and stem.

While squash is roasting, make the sauce: Add Mirin and rice wine vinegar to a pot over medium-low heat and simmer until volume is reduced by half. While simmering, add chopped garlic and ginger to a pan with 4 T canola oil and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the crushed red peppers and scallions and cook for a few more minutes until softened. Remove from heat, add soy sauce, and then return to heat and simmer until reduced by a quarter. Combine with Mirin/vinegar reduction and strain. Add honey and blend in food processor or whisk for 30 seconds.

Place 4 T canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat and place the cut squash face down in the pan to sear. Add butter and baste the squash with it, then add 2 T sauce for each squash half and continue to baste. When squashes are seared, turn over and place under broiler on low for 1-2 minutes to caramelize.

Serves 4

Hungry for more? We love the story of how Honeynut came into being, and we think you will too – so we made a printable infographic telling it’s story, from pollination to your place. Click the image below to download it!



Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Ask The Expert, Recipes, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

Be First to Market with Colorful Vegetables

In Vermont, most farmers’ markets start in May. This may seem late to those of you growing in warmer climes, and it is. What’s even more shocking is that at that time of year, there’s only just enough produce to even have a farmers market – you’ll find kale, salad greens, scallions, radishes, some overwintered roots and…not much else. Many farmers are now supplementing their spring offerings by selling transplants and value-added products from the previous season to stay competitive.

Historically gardeners in Vermont play it “safe, not sorry” and refuse to plant tomatoes before Memorial Day (and for those of us who have been burned by late frosts these past few years, we understand why). But at long last, the times they are a-changin’ – consumers of local food are demanding more local produce earlier in the season, and growers are responding. So we’re excited to share our varieties and ideas to help you be the first at market with the bright, colorful vegetables your customers look for.

Plan for Early Crops

Growing extra-early crops isn’t that difficult, it just takes a little extra-early planning. With a little special attention given to direct-sown and transplanted crops, you can harvest them weeks earlier than your neighbors.

Direct-Sown Crops

Prepare several beds for early spring planting in the fall. Choose locations with the best possible drainage, as spring flooding can slow down spring planting. Thoroughly amend the soil and form a smooth level bed to allow for planting as soon as soil can be worked. Beds can be covered with black plastic the week before planting to warm the soil for tender crops. After spring sowing, cover beds with row cover to keep the germinating seeds moist and protected from frost. Remove the row cover or add hoops before plants strain against it, replacing the row cover for protection on cold nights.

Transplanted Crops

Start your transplants 2-4 weeks earlier than you ordinarily would. When their roots fill out 4” pots, transplant them into 12” diameter or 3 gallon pots. Keep the plants in the greenhouse or indoors under grow lights, watering thoroughly on sunny days and fertilizing lightly every 2 weeks until it is warm enough to plant outdoors (usually when all danger of frost has passed). Then harden off as you normally would, over several days to a week, before transplanting.

Choose Early Varieties

This trick may seem obvious, but it can’t be understated – choosing varieties that mature earlier can mean getting to market with them a full week or two earlier, and that translates into paying back your investment sooner. Here are some of our earliest varieties in each category to get your season off to a colorful start!

NEW! Gemstone Greens Mix provides an eye-catching, flavorful mix of deep maroon and emerald green leaves, with an incredible array of leaf textures in just 21 days.

Vivid Choi Pac Choy offers a rainbow of stem and vein colors for baby or full sized leaves. 21 days baby, 45 full size

Purple Plum and French Breakfast Radishes can be direct-sown as soon as the soil can be worked and provide bright magenta color in just 25 days.

Ruby/Rhubarb Red and Pink Passion Chards have bright, colorful stems as baby or full sized leaves. Add them to mixes for a splash of early color! 30 days baby, 60 full size

Rhazes and Spretnak Lettuces will charm customers with their petite size and bright color. Plant early or overwinter in hoophouses for super-early salads! 42-45 days full size

Azur Star Kohlrabi produces gorgeous purple, eye-catching globes in just 50 days.

Early Wonder Tall Top Beet is a sure crop for both greens and roots in less than 45 days, while Touchstone Gold is a treat for the senses in 55.

Napoli F1 Carrots offer that welcome splash of orange in just 45 days for baby carrots or 55 for full size, while White Satin F1, Cosmic Purple, and Yellowstone create an irresistible rainbow in 70 days.

Poona Kheera Cucumbers will have customers asking questions about their endearing stubby, russeted appearance in 50 days, while Silver Slicer steals the show with its mild flavor and elegant creamy white color in 54.

NEW! Purple Viking Potatoes are stunning with their pink-streaked purple skins. A versatile Early Season potato that will delight your spring customers.

Toronjina F1 Tomatoes will win the race to first orange cherry with prolific yields of seductively sweet fruits. Perfect in high tunnels for the absolute earliest tomato in just 55 days from transplant.


Purple Beauty Peppers shine early with glossy black skin and bright green flesh in just 55 days, while Iko Iko offers a rainbow of red, purple, and gold-streaked fruits in 65-80 days.

Little Finger and Snowy Eggplants are the perfect early offering – plant according to our instructions above and you’ll be harvesting these 60 day beauties way ahead of the pack.

Golden Midget Watermelons will catch eyes and hearts everywhere with golden yellow rinds and delicious bright salmon-pink flesh in just 70 days.


Posted in Commercial Growing, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights, Winter Growing | 1 Comment

Sprouts Collection GIVEAWAY!

ENTER TO WIN! We’re giving away a Best-selling Sprout Collection to one lucky winner – read to the end for details on how to enter.

Happy, Healthy Holidays

The holidays are such a special time of year – we get together with our friends and families, share laughter and good times, and reflect on the year behind us.  We also gather to share delicious meals prepared with love and steeped in tradition – sometimes many, many of them. This is one of the few times of year when we embrace abundance with abandon, even as much of the country is frozen in the grip of winter and plant growth has ground to a halt. But it doesn’t have to – in fact, just the opposite. There have never been more options for producing fresh food in the winter than there are now – and you can give your holiday meals a nutritional boost while you’re at it.

With sprouts it’s easy to grow your own fresh food indoors, all year round. And now you can share that gift with friends and family! We are pleased to launch a NEW Special Holiday Collection of our Best-selling sprouting seeds paired with a sprout jar lid – so you can share a happy and healthy holiday with your loved ones. Best of all, we’ll be giving away a Best-selling Sprout Collection to one lucky winner! Read on to enter and learn more about sprouting.

What are sprouts?

Sprouts are tiny immature plants grown without soil. We offer them in a wide array of flavors for a multitude of versatile culinary uses. Some varieties, like Alfalfa and Sandwich Booster Mix make delicious greens for sandwiches and salads, while others, like Crunchy Bean Mix and Ancient Eastern Blend are perfect garnishes for soups and entrees. Still others, like our best-selling Mung Beans, are essential ingredients in Asian dishes such as Pad Thai. Visit our Sprouting Seed page for more recipe ideas!

Why grow sprouts?

Sprouting at home offers a unique opportunity to produce your own fresh greens indoors, and can be done even where space and light are very limited. It’s so quick and easy to do that it makes a great activity to do with kids. Just soak, rinse, and harvest your fresh sprouts in 3-5 days! Sprouts are exceptionally nutritious, and when you grow them at home they are literally the freshest food available. Plus, homegrown sprouts are more affordable (and the results last longer) than store-bought sprouts. Need more reasons to choose our sprouting seeds? They’re the only 100% certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified sprouting seeds in North America, and the only ones in the US being packaged according to Federal food safety standards.

How are sprouts grown?

Growing sprouts at home couldn’t be simpler – all you need is a clean wide mouth quart jar, a sprout jar lid, seeds, and water! Once you have your materials, it’s as easy as one, two, three:

  1. SOAK – Place 1-2 tsp sprouting seeds in your clean jar and cap with sprout jar lid. Soak your sprouting seeds in cool fresh water for 2-12 hours (follow the recommendations for individual varieties in the package instructions)
  2. RINSE your sprouting seeds with cool fresh water every 8-12 hours for 3-5 days. Place the jar upside down in a bowl at an angle after each rinse to allow water to continue to drain. On the last day, place the jar in indirect light to “green up” your sprouts.
  3. HARVEST (and eat!) your finished sprouts after 3-5 days (use time recommended on package). Sprouts can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Want to see the process step-by-step? Check out our How to Grow Sprouts Video!

NEW! Special Edition Best-selling Sprouts Collection

This collection includes:

1 packet of Alfalfa sprouting seeds

1 packet of Sandwich Booster Mix sprouting seeds

1 packet of Mung Bean sprouting seeds

1 Sprout Jar Lid (fits wide mouth canning jars)

Sprouting seeds in this collection are packaged in re-closeable zippered pouches that include detailed instructions for each variety.

Our Best-selling Sprout Collection is a great value, saving you 20% , and we’re giving one away to a lucky winner!

It’s easy! Just click “login” below to create a Rafflecopter account if you don’t have a Facebook account. Then follow the instructions to enter for more chances to win. Contest starts Thursday, December 11 and ends Thursday, December 18 at midnight EST. Good luck, have fun and be sure to check out this post for more gift ideas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Growing Tips, Health and Wellness, Kids and Gardening, Variety Highlights | 120 Comments