Imagine Northeast Iowa

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6 Super Staff Picks from Seed Savers Exchange
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6 Super Staff Picks from Seed Savers Exchange

With this installment, in the heart of winter, we wanted to light a spark of garden inspiration with our readers. To be honest, we cannot wait for the weather at Heritage Farm to turn warm, so we can get back to what we love to do-- growing our own plants. For this post, we collected some of our staff’s favorite varieties that offered through the Seed Savers Exchange seed catalog and website. As you plan your garden for this spring, take these staff picks under consideration. You may be surprised to find a new favorite of your own!

This is a balanced mixture of some of our favorite cutting lettuces. It includes Grandpa Admire’s, Lolla Rossa, Pablo, and more! Kathy likes it so much because of the variety of colors and gamut of flavors within the mix. It makes salad bright and tasty. Her daughter has even had people ask just where she got all of the beautiful lettuce in her salads!

Korbin is a fan of this variety because she was directly involved in producing it, all the way from the seed stage, to it being available in via Seed Savers Exchange catalog. And it definitely took some gardening smarts to pull it off! The growers found it was best to treat these plants like a biennial, and store them in the SSE root cellar all winter, allowing them to reach full potential. Korbin has some wonderful words about the plant: “Their enormous and beautiful periwinkle thistle blossoms fed my eyes and soul and incited dreams of Mediterranean travels and snacking on pickled artichoke hearts.”

Originally brought to the United States from the Basilicata region of Italy, this deliciously sweet pepper is great to eat fresh or even fried. Dianne likes to use it as a dried variety. Get this: Burke dries her Nardellos with her dehumidifier, then uses them in various soups, sautes, and noodle dishes! (How's that for innovative?!) This one's definitely a favorite among most of us at Heritage Farm!

This is a staple in Trisha Hageman's garden every year. These tomatoes are large, very juicy, and totally tasty fruits, great for eating fresh. Trisha also cans them for delicious tomatoes year round. German Pink as a variety was also one of the first two heirlooms that were ever collected by Seed Savers Exchange, coming from the family of Diane Ott Whealy.

LouAnn was turned onto the Silver Bell by customers who called in to find contact information for growers who would sell this particular squash in large quantities. Since then, it’s been a favorite for her. It’s a small bell-shaped variety that has a deep orange flesh that is dry and sweet. It is also keeps well, making it a versatile variety.

Phil has found this to be a bean that is not only delicious, but easy to grow and maintain. He uses them fresh and dried in succotash, with winter squash, bitter greens ,and Farro. This variety comes originally from South America. Phil says this bean was his first seed saving endeavor and inspired him to collect all types of beans he can find.

We hope this helps inspire your spring garden plan! These are just a few terrific SSE staff-inspired ideas. Thanks for reading, and be sure to keep an eye out in the future for more staff suggestions!


  1. Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    We just officially added each of these varieties to our spring Seed Savers Shopping lists! Thanks for much for the fantastic post!

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