OUR ULTIMATE MILKWEED GROWING GUIDE

Growing milkweed graphic with a Butterfly on a milkweed flower.

by Sam Doll

Some tips for planting and growing Milkweed successfully

Milkweeds are hardy, perennial wildflowers found throughout North America. Some species can grow up to six feet tall and they produce beautiful, fragrant flower clusters. Since they’re common ingredients in traditional medicine, their genus name, Asclepias, comes from the Greek god of medicine.

Milkweed has gotten a bad rap over the years. Allergies and perceptions of the wildflower as a weed have caused it to be wiped out throughout large portions of North America.

This is bad news for the Monarch Butterfly. Monarch mothers will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants (genus Asclepias) and, once hatched, their caterpillars exclusively live on and eat the leaves of those same plants. They cannot survive without them.  The prevalence of pesticides has not helped and the loss of milkweed, wildflowers, and other floral resources has devastated the monarch butterfly population. However, by restoring Milkweed to urban and wild landscapes, we can begin the process of saving the Monarch Butterfly!

Don’t have your seeds yet? Check out our Complete Milkweed Buying Guide for all you need to know about our Milkweed Products!

Why all these steps?

Milkweed seed has a high percentage of dormancy, which means many of the seeds won’t germinate without a little special treatment or might need to age for a season. Since we want to make sure you have complete success with our seeds, here are some tips!

Prep:

Milkweed seeds need to be exposed to cold temperatures that normally occur in winter to help break their natural dormancy and begin to soften their hard outer casing. If you are planning to start your Milkweeds indoors, you will need to do this cold stratification yourself.

You can do this by putting your Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel, folding it to fit into a sealed plastic bag, then placing the bag into the refrigerator. Keep it there for 4-6 weeks before planting.

Planting:

Plant your seeds in small 2-4″ peat pots (recommended) or tall plastic pots. Make sure to use ‘seed-starting’ soil or medium. Moisten the soil, place 1-2 seeds into each pot and cover with no more than 1/6″ damp soil or medium.

Place the pots where they can drain. Water gently or fill a tray with 1/2” of water to be absorbed from the bottom of the peat pots. Dump the excess water after absorption.  Water when the top of the soil is dry and be mindful to not overwater.

Milkweed seeds germinate in warm conditions, so place your tray of pots in a warm spot like a sunny window, greenhouse, or under a grow light. Germination usually occurs after 10-15 days for cold-stratified seeds. To encourage sturdy stems, place your grow light bulb close to the soil. Sometimes a small fan blowing gently towards the new seedlings will encourage sturdier stems.

Other planting methods: Plant non-stratified seed into peat pots filled with seed-starting soil or medium. Moisten, and place in a greenhouse or under a grow light. Germination in this scenario might take several months.

If planting outside, seed in late fall. Let the Milkweed seed remain over the winter. This will accomplish the cold-stratification, needed. Germination should occur when the soil warms and the days are longer.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out our Monarch Rescue Wildflower Mix. It has Butterfly Milkweed and a mix of other wildflower seeds to provide a nectar-rich place for Monarch Butterflies to fuel up and raise their young! Find it here!

Transplanting:

When the danger of frost is past and your plants reach 2-3″ tall, you can transplant outdoors. Choose a location in full sun if possible.

Milkweed produces a long taproot, so take care to not disturb the roots. Plant peat pots so that the top edge of the small pot is underground to avoid drying out. If your Milkweed seedlings were planted in plastic pots, be extremely careful with the roots. Continue to water after planting until plants become established. Once they are established, you can taper off your watering unless the season is extremely dry. The newly planted Milkweed seedlings may lose all their leaves due to transplant shock but should grow them back again.

Congratulations!

You’re now a proud Milkweed parent! Now just sit back and watch the Monarch Butterflies arrive!

*Note that all Milkweed contains cardiac glycosides, chemicals that are toxic when eaten. These chemicals, in turn, make the Monarch Butterflies toxic to any would-be predators. Avoid letting livestock and small children eat milkweed and wash any skin that comes in contact with the sap to avoid irritation.

Learn more about the Monarch Butterfly Migration by checking out this Blog post!

Monarch graphic.

 

THE COMPLETE MILKWEED BUYING GUIDE

Photo of a colorful Monarch catapiller feeding on a milkweed leaf.

By Sam Doll

Monarch Butterflies are amazing North American animals! Their iconic, colorful wings are actually warnings for potential predators. Those spots and strips are big caution signs saying: STOP; I TASTE BAD!

Every year, the Monarchs embark on one of nature’s most astonishing mass migrations. This incredible journey takes four generations and covers over 3000 miles through the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Monarch mothers will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants (genus Asclepias) and, once hatched, their caterpillars exclusively live on and eat the leaves of those same plants. They cannot survive without them.

The problem is that milkweed has gotten a bad rap over the years. Allergies and perceptions of the wildflower as a weed have caused it to be wiped out throughout large portions of North America. The prevalence of pesticides has not helped and the loss of milkweed, wildflowers, and other floral resources has devastated the monarch butterfly’s population.

It’s not without hope, though! Everyone can do their part to help. The most important thing you can do is to plant more milkweed on your property and in your community. This buying guide will help you figure out which species of milkweed is best for you, and you can help Monarch Butterflies!

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out our Monarch Rescue Wildflower Mix. It has Butterfly Milkweed and a mix of other wildflower seeds to provide a nectar-rich place for Monarch Butterflies to fuel up and raise their young! Find it here!

1.     Common MilkweedClose-up of the Common Milkweed flower.

The Common Milkweed is a hardy perennial with fragrant, terminal blossoms made up of tiny dusty-pink blossoms on hairy stems.  This milkweed is found throughout the Great Plains and is tough enough to tolerate most soil conditions. It does well in soils that are clay, sandy or rocky calcareous (high in calcium carbonate). These conditions occur naturally along stream banks, ponds, lakes, forest margins, and roadsides. Common Milkweed grows 2′ – 6′ tall and like areas with full sun. They bloom from June through September and will germinate between 65° and 85° F.

This milkweed is also a favorite of other butterflies, native bees and hummingbirds. The seeds will grow easily and do well when planted in the fall or when cold-treated for three months prior to planting.  Common Milkweed will spread both through seed normal distribution and as well as through underground shoots. Common milkweed spread readily and may need to be controlled. Common milkweed is particularly good for wetland rehabilitation and as a component in wildlife seed mixtures.

2.     Showy MilkweedThe fluffy seeds of the Showy Milkweed plant.

Similar to the Common Milkweed, this hardy perennial is a favorite of butterflies.  This species has traditionally provided food, medicine and fiber to indigenous peoples. The clusters of star-shaped flowers will range from dark-rose to white. The plant has tall woody stems with milky sap and with alternate, oval leaves that are velvety underneath. Showy Milkweed grows 24” – 36” tall and like areas with full sun. They bloom from May through July and will germinate between 65° and 85° F.

These plants grow well in a variety of locations from prairies and open woodlands to roadsides.  The seeds are very easy to grow and do well when planted in the fall or when cold-treated for three months prior to planting.  Showy Milkweed will spread through seed distribution and underground shoots

3.     Butterfly MilkweedClose-up photo of the blossoms of the Butterflyweed.

Also known as Butterflyweed, this hardy perennial. Unlike their cousins, this species lacks the milky sap that gives milkweed their namesake. The clusters of flowers will range from dark orange to white on tall woody stems with smooth shiny leaves that are velvety underneath.  The blooms begin in May and will last through July. These plants will grow between 12”-24” and perform well in a variety of locations; from prairies and open woodlands to roadsides.

Butterfly Milkweed is only pollinated by large insects. This trait is common among fall wildflowers, many of which depend on specific pollinators to survive. Butterfly Milkweed pollen is contained in a heavy, sticky structure called pollinium. Since these pollinium structures are so large and sticky, only larger insect pollinators can fly with them. There are several nectaries per flower and multiple flowers per bloom, which makes these flowers great pollen and nectar resources

The seeds will grow well when planted in the fall or when cold-treated for three months prior to planting in the Spring. Butterfly Milkweed will spread through seed distribution and underground shoots.

4.     Swamp MilkweedThe pink blossoms of the Swamp Milkweed with a visiting wasp.

 

The Swamp Milkweed is widely distributed across the U.S. and Canada; from Quebec and Maine south to Florida and Texas and west to Nevada and Idaho. This species prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil, although it will tolerate a pH up to 8.0. It has high moisture requirements, and it is usually found in wet habitats such as meadows, riverbanks, pond shores, stream banks, wet woods, swamps, and marshes, although it will also grow in drier areas such as prairies, fields, and roadsides. Swamp milkweed needs full sun or partial shade to flourish.

The plant grows into a two=foot tall perennial with fragrant, terminal blossoms made up of tiny rosy-purple blossoms.  This milkweed prefers average to very moist soils, will tolerate heavy clay soils and is easy to start from seed and deer resistant.  Like most milkweed, Swamp Milkweed seeds are easy to grow and do well when planted in the fall or when cold-treated for three months prior to planting.  Swamp Milkweed will spread through seed distribution and underground shoots.

Like the Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed is great for wetland rehabilitation and as a component in wildlife seed mixtures.

 

5.     Bloodflower MilkweedThe varigated orange and yellow blossoms of the Bloodflower Milkweed.

Bloodflower Milkweed, also known as Tropical Milkweed, is winter hardy in zones 9-11 and is easily grown from seed each year as an annual.  It is great for attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators.  Showy red-orange flowers with yellow hoods in rounded clusters grow on upright stems with medium-green, glossy, pointed leaves.  Attractive foliage and flowers for beds, borders, cottage gardens, meadows and butterfly gardens. It is also a good cut flower. Dried seed pods are attractive in arrangements.  Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves and the larvae feed on the plants. Plant in rich, well-drained soil.  These have a longer blooming period than most other milkweeds, ranging from June through October.

This milkweed is not native to North America and can potentially be invasive in warmer climates. If you’re one of our Southern friends, monitor your plantings and keep out of wild lands and ranches and cut the foliage to the ground in the winter to avoid luring Monarchs away from their migratory paths.

*Note that all milkweed contains cardiac glycosides, chemicals that are toxic when eaten. These chemicals, in turn, make the Monarch Butterflies toxic to any would-be predators. Avoid letting livestock and small children eat milkweed and wash any skin that comes in contact with the sap to avoid irritation.

Learn more about the Monarch Butterfly Migration by checking out this Blog post!

Monarch graphic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nasturtiums!

by Heather StonePhoto of red nasturtium blooms.

The bright, rich colors of nasturtium flowers make an impact along the edge of the border, in a pot or climbing a wall or trellis. Their gorgeous rounded leaves, much like a water lily, are a vibrant shade of green with a few varieties having variegated leaves. These easy to grow annuals deserve a place in any garden.

 

Nasturtiums are easy to grow from seed. Sow directly in the garden starting in late spring after all chances of frost have passed. If you want to get a head start you can plant seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before your last frost date. Plant the seeds ½- 1” deep and about 10” apart. Nasturtium seeds are large and germinate quickly (5-7 days) which makes them a great seed to plant with children. Nasturtiums can be grown in full sun or part shade. They prefer a leaner soil and do not need to be fertilized. Keep them watered during dry spells and remove spent blossoms to encourage prolonged blooming.

 

Flower colors range from orange to red to yellow, peach and even burgundy. Both the flowers and leaves of the nasturtium plant are edible. The flowers have a peppery flavor and make a bright addition to any salad. They are delicious stuffed with soft cheese or can be used to make an infused vinegar.

Photo of red nasturtium blooms.

Nasturtiums make great edging plants. I especially like to use them along the edges in my vegetable garden where they spill over the sides of my raised beds and attract the bumblebees. They are also great tucked into bare spots in the garden. The climbing varieties can share space with roses and clematis in the perennial garden or beans and cucumbers in the vegetable garden.

 

Bring these gorgeous and tasty flowers to your garden by planting our Alaska Mix Nasturtium

 

A TRIO OF MORNING GLORIES TO WELCOME SPRING

By Engrid Winslow

Morning Glories are one of the easiest annuals to start from seed. In some areas, they will re-seed from last years dropped seed and some varieties may even be perennial in mild climates. After an overnight soak in water, plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and then stand back and watch! Best started in fertile soil with adequate moisture during germination and early growth, morning glories can produce vines up to 15 feet long and will clamber over gazebos, fences and trellises with their twining limbs. Some gardeners even grow them up a downspout and along a roof line or up into the limbs of a tall tree. They can be so vigorous as to choke out other plants nearby and can be vigorous re-seeders which grow best in average soil and full sun. They are called “morning glory” because they bloom early in the day and the petals deflate and fall off in the evening. The Morning Glory was first cultivated in China for its medicinal uses, due to the laxative properties of its seeds. It was introduced to the Japanese in the 9th century, and they were the first to cultivate it as an ornamental flower. The Japanese have led the world in developing varieties and the colors range from blue and pink to red, purple, lavender, white and even brown. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Tag for the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory seed packet.

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory (also called Clarke’s Heavenly Blue) blooms with 5-inch flowers all summer and is an heirloom variety dating back to the 1920’s. It is a lovely blue with a white center. These are one of the most easily recognized and popular of all morning glory varieties and can be up to 12 feet long.  The foliage is an attractive heart shape.

Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory bears velvety deep-purple flowers with red stars at their center. This self-sowing annual was originally grown by Grandpa Ott, a Bavarian immigrant, who lived on a 40-acre farm in St. Lucas, Iowa and was preserved by the family in conjunction with the Seed Savers Exchange. This one can climb to 15 feet tall if given support to grow on. Grandpa Ott’s grows very quickly, spreads easily and looks stunning. It will also adapt to part shade.

Tag for the Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory seed packet.

Although called “morning glory” the Moonflower will start to bloom in the late afternoon and close in the morning light. If the day is overcast or cool and cloudy they may stay open for a longer period. Moonflower is fragrant enough to perfume the air within 6 feet of the blossoms and loved by hummingbirds and night moths, including the large Sphinx Moth. The blooms are 5-6 inches across and the vines can grow up to 20 feet. They are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, from northern Argentina north to Mexico and Florida.

 

 

Our Most Popular wildflower Seed mixes ̶    May 2019

What is a wildflower? Well, a wildflower is any flowering plant that has not been altered from its wild state. These plants have had no selective breeding, no genetic modification, and are all natural! These little beauties can be found in nearly any environment; from mountains to prairies, swamps to deserts! Wildflowers provide vital habitats and forage for wildlife, like our favorite butterflies and bees, and beautiful sights and scents for us lucky gardeners.

We take our favorite wildflower seeds and blend them into mixes specially formulated for unique regions, conditions, and uses. We make sure to use fresh, high quality, open-pollinated, GMO-free seeds because you deserve to have a successful, healthy, and fun planting experience. Our mixes are all seed with none of the fillers that you might find in other mixes because we believe you should get what you’re paying for.

Click here if you have any questions about how to select your site, plant, or care for our wildflower mixes!

Here are our most popular wildflower seed mixes:

1.     All Annuals Wildflower Mix

All Annuals Wildflower Mix

We love Annuals! This mix brings vibrant and long-lasting color to any site. This mix includes great wildflowers including Scarlet Flax, California Poppy, and Desert Bluebells that will add immediately to any drab or “worn out” spots on your property.  This mix also reseeds well, so you can enjoy these annuals year after year!

Find it here.

2.     Wildflowers for Shade Mix

Wildflowers for partial shade.

Not every spot in your garden is going to replicate the open, sunny meadows most wildflowers are adapted to. We understand and think that every inch of your space deserves to be colorful and wild! That’s why we came up with our Wildflowers for Shade Mix! This mix is a blend of annuals and perennials that are tolerant to partial shade. This mix has over twenty annual and perennial seeds to ensure that you get great color and varied blooms for years after you first planted.

Get the Wildflowers for Shade Mix here!

3.     Low-Growing Wildflower Mix

Low growing wildflower mix.

The Low-growing Wildflower Mix is the perfect mix for people who want the wildflowers but not the wild height! While some wildflowers can get up to three feet tall, this mix is designed to grow low and compact (6-12 inches). We really dig (pun intended) how manageable and controlled this mix grows. It includes poppies, clover, and flax for a great mix of color and shapes that will make your garden the talk of the town (in a good way)!

Buy the Low-Growing Wildflower Mix Here!

4.     Fragrant Wildflower Mix

Fragrant wildflower mix.

What’s better than waking up on a cool summer morning, walking outside, and being greeted by the smell of a field of beautiful wildflowers? How about a field of wildflower that you planted yourself! Sounds perfect to us! Our Fragrant Wildflower Mix is one of our personal favorites. We hand selected the flowers this mix of annuals, perennials, native and introduced wildflowers to grow well in many geographical regions and to smell wonderfully aromatic!  Plant this mix around your patio and walkway and be greeted by its wonderful scent every time you stroll by.

Get it here and start smelling the Primroses!

 

5.     Deer-Resistant Wildflower Mix

Deer Resistant Wildflower Mix

Nothing is more frustrating than toiling in the garden, planting seeds and starts, caring for them, and proudly watching them grow than to come out one morning to see a family of deer happily munching away at your precious plants! We get it. That’s we created the Deer-Resistant Wildflower Mix to include species that deer and elk will usually avoid if another preferred forage is available. This mix includes perennials that will begin blooming during their second year. Now you can enjoy the beautiful deer (and elk) in your area without stressing out about your garden!

The Deer-Resistant Wildflower Mix can be found here.

One Last Thing

At BBB Seed, we are deeply committed to providing the highest quality grass, wildflower, and grass seeds to empower our customers to get out and grow! This list of our Most Popular Wildflower Seeds is intended to be a useful resource for you to see what products our customers and we are enjoying right now!

We also are incredibly concerned about providing sustainable and environmentally conscious products to you. We source seeds that are non-genetically engineered, tested, and grown sustainably. We hope these products will help you enjoy nature and learn about this wonderful world in the garden. We also strongly encourage you to visit our Pollinator Action Page to learn about the pollinators that make our natural world possible and learn more about what you can do to help them. Thank you!

Grow. Enjoy. Share…the beauty and the bounty!

 

What is your favorite tomato?

by Heather StoneTomato, Cherokee Purple

What’s your favorite tomato? All true tomato lovers and growers have a few tomato varieties that they just couldn’t imagine not growing and always recommend to their friends and fellow gardeners. One popular heirloom variety that continues to be a favorite among many and consistently wins taste tests across the country is the Cherokee Purple tomato.

Cherokee purple tomato is a beefsteak style tomato whose skin is a dusky rose- red color. When sliced its interior is an even darker red. The flavor is described as a “balance of sweet, acid and savory with a hint of smoke.” Cherokee Purple is best eaten fresh on sandwiches or in salads.

With a name like “Cherokee Purple,” there has to be a story there somewhere. Craig LeHoullier, an heirloom tomato grower, connoisseur and author of the book Epic Tomatoes is who we can thank for bringing this delicious tomato to the masses. In 1990, Craig received a package from John D. Green of Sevierville, Tennessee containing seeds of an unnamed purple tomato. John explained that his neighbor had shared the seeds with him and that her family had been passing along the seeds since the late 1800s when they were originally received from Cherokee Native Americans. Craig grew the seeds in his 1991 garden and gave this beauty the name Cherokee Purple. Next, Craig passed the seeds on to the folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They loved the taste of this tomato and first listed the seed in their catalog in 1993 and its popularity has continued to grow since.

Want to try this delicious variety in your garden this year? Grab some Cherokee Purple seeds today!

 

DON’T PASS ON PEAS

by Heather Stone

Green Sugar Snap peas on the vine.

Image by Reginal from Pixabay

Peas are one of the first crops we can plant in the spring. As soon as you can stick your finger into the soil you can plant peas. Whether you plant shelling, snap or snow peas this early crop loves the cool weather of spring, producing tender pods that are hard to resist.  More often than not, they are eaten straight off the vine right there in the garden, very few making it to the kitchen. Every year I always wish I would have planted more.

Plant peas as soon as the soil can be worked, about 4-6 weeks before your average last frost date. For best germination, soil temperatures should be around 50 degrees F. Do be cautious of excess moisture. You don’t want your seeds sitting in wet soil.

Before planting, soak your seeds overnight. This will help speed germination. Plant seeds about 1” deep and 2-3” apart in well-loosened soil in a sunny spot in your garden. Peas will also do well in part shade. Give your peas a trellis, as most peas need something to climb on. Keep the area moist until the seeds germinate, on average between 7-14 days.

Peas are an easy crop to grow. Keep the plants moist, especially once they start producing. When they reach 8-12” tall mulch your vines well to keep the soil cool and help retain moisture. Peas grow best in temperatures below 70 degrees F, so plant your seeds early. Once temperatures reach 80 degrees the vines tend to stop producing.  

When the peas begin to ripen, harvest daily and be sure to use two hands to pick. Use one hand to hold the vine and the other to pick the peas. This way you will avoid damaging the tender vines. For the crispiest peas, pick in the morning after the dew has dried. Peas will last about 5 days in the refrigerator (if they make it there) and any extra freeze well.

Like all legumes, peas fix nitrogen in the soil that other plants can use. When your peas are done for the season, remove the vines but leave the roots in the ground. Plant a nitrogen-loving plant in the area that can benefit from the extra nitrogen in the soil.

Don’t wait! Get out in the garden and plant some peas today! Try one of our tried and true varieties such as Sugar Ann, Oregon Sugar Pod or Green Arrow.

Packet of Oregon Sugar Pod Pea seeds. Pea, Sugar Ann Pea, Green Arrow

 

 

GO BEYOND ICEBERG LETTUCE

By Engrid Winslow

There are many different types of lettuce and perhaps you were wondering how to use these various types. Here’s a general description of some different types which will take you beyond the traditional iceberg followed by a quick tutorial on growing them.

Lettuce, Organic Bibb, Speckles Lettuce, Summer Bibb

  • Butterhead/Buttercrunch/Bibb/Boston – Any of the “B” lettuces form loose heads of large, softly ruffled leaves that range in color from bright yellow-green to magenta-tipped emerald. They have a slight crunch when you bite in, followed by a melt-in-your-mouth silkiness. The leaves are buttery and slightly sweet. They are perfect for use in sandwiches or salads and the largest outer leaves are great as a wrap for various fillings because of their pliability.

 

 

  • Romaine forms a long, straight head of crisp leaves with a prominent center stem. They come in the familiar crisp, tall, green heads to shorter and fluffier versions that range from dark red to lime green with red speckles. They can be harvested when young for a tender and delicate salad. They have a mild crunch from the center stem when mature and are the classic lettuce for a traditional Caesar salad since it’s a perfect contrast to the creamy, cheesy dressing. It can also be used as a scoop for dips and holds up on a burger.

Picture of the Tri-color Romaine lettuce package. Lettuce, Organic Romaine, Freckles Lettuce, Dark Green Romaine

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Oakleaf lettuce has unusually shaped leaves that form a loose cluster with tender, crunchy stems. The flavors can range from sweet when young to slightly bitter if left longer to mature. They come in gorgeous colors of green but the dark red is a version high in anthocyanin

with a powerful punch of antioxidants. They are great in salads and when mixed with other lettuce types or on a sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • With loose bunches of leaves connected at the base, the loose leaf lettuces are known as bunching or cutting lettuces. They are typically mild, savory to sweet and crisp-tender. They are generally more heat-tolerant and some, such as Black Seeded Simpson, are slower to bolt than other types of lettuces.

Front of the Red Deer Tongue Lettuce seed packet.

Lettuce, Organic Leaf, Tango

 

Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best ways to use these lettuces is to combine them with other greens, such as arugula or baby kale in a salad and, lucky you, we have two blends that will do that for you.
Picture of a packet of Gourmet Salad Lettuce seeds.Picture of a packet of Heirloom Lettuce Blend seeds.

Lettuce is very easily started from seed, both indoors and out in your vegetable beds. They take about one week to germinate, depending on temperatures. If starting indoors, be sure the seeds stay moist by spraying them gently from a spray bottle or bottom-watering until they germinate and the seedlings are strong enough to handle overhead watering. A plastic dome over the tray really helps with this. The seeds are tiny and should be planted with a very light (no more than ¼ inch) layer of soil.             If planted outdoors in cooler temperatures and cold soil they may take longer to germinate. Thin the seedlings to 3 inches apart and pull every other one for early salads leaving the rest (now 6” apart) to reach full size. Successive sowings every 3 weeks in short rows provide these tasty plants throughout the season. All lettuces will bolt and then become bitter in the heat and long days of summer, but you can delay this by mulching to keep the soil cool.

 

FIVE REASONS TO RELISH THE RADISH

By Engrid Winslow

  1. There are two primary types of radish – one hails from Asia (the most common ones are daikon which is large and white) but there is also the large sweet and remarkably pink Watermelon Radish.Photo of Watermelon Radish packet.

Watermelon radishes are delicious raw and can be substituted for a cracker in crudités and they also make a crunchy addition to stir-fries. They are often used in Chinese cuisines with fish dishes because it adds sweetness and counteracts fishy tastes.

2. Radishes are very easy to grow and can be sown in the garden as soon as the ground can be worked. Cover the seeds with about 2 inches of soil and thin them out once they sprout. They germinate quickly and all at once so, to keep them from getting overly large and fibrous, they should be sown multiple times throughout the season.  They grow well in cooler temperatures which makes them a good spring and fall crop. One that is delicious cooked or raw is Cherry Bell.

Front of the Cherry Belle Radish seed packet.

 

 

 

3. Do you want a taste of France in your radish? French Breakfast Radish is an heirloom variety dating back to the 1800s. It gets its name from a popular and delicious breakfast enjoyed throughout France. Want to give it a try? Just thinly slice the radishes lengthwise, grab a hunk of baguette and smear it with some sweet butter, top with radish slices and a sprinkle of salt. Close your eyes, take a bite and then say “Ooh, La, La!”

 

 

 

4. The White Icicle radish is similar to but smaller than, Japanese daikon. It is another heirloom variety that is easy to grow but is very versatile because it can tolerate warmer temperatures and grow well into summer weather.

Front of the White Icicle Radish packet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try it in this

APPLE RADISH SALADFront of the Carnival Radish Blend seed packet.

2 Granny Smith Apples

1 bunch sliced or julienned White Icicle radishes

Dressing:

Juice from one orange (lemon is also good here)

2 tsp honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

5. Want to really add some color to your fish or other tacos? Shred this colorful blend from the Carnival Blend radishes and pile it on with a squeeze of lime and some chipotle mayo. All radishes are good in slaw but this one gets bonus points for the interesting colors.

 

Or try this version of a vegetarian radish taco where the radish is the star of the dish. This version is modified from superstar chef Anita Lo’s book Solo.

ROASTED AND PICKLED RADISH TACOS                

Serves 4

3-4 bunches of radishes washed (reserve the tops and 10 of the smallest radishes for later)

1/3 cup olive oil

4 smallish tomatillos, husk removed, cut in half

3-4 small jalapenos, cut lengthwise with stems and seeds removed

1 tsp cumin

One small onion, sliced thinly

3 garlic cloves, smashed (reserve 1 for later use)

6 Tbs cider vinegar

2/3 cup water, divided in half

¼ tsp cinnamon

Juice of one lime

1 Tbs chopped cilantro

8-12 corn or flour tortillas

¾ cup queso fresco, crumbled

Extra lime wedges for serving with tacos

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all but the reserved radishes, their tops, the olive oil, the tomatillo and half the jalapeno in a bowl and toss with salt and pepper. Remove the tomatillo and jalapeno and place on one side of a roasting pan. Add the cumin and cinnamon to the bowl of radishes and toss again. Place radish mixture (except for the tops) on the other side of the roasting pan. Bake until softened, about 12-15 minutes.

Make radish pickles: Cut the reserved radishes in thin rounds and place in a bowl with the rest of the jalapenos and the onion. In a small sauté pan bring the vinegar, 1/3 cup water and two of the smashed garlic cloves to a boil and pour over radish rounds. Set aside to cool to room temperature and drain.

When the roasting vegetables are soft, remove the tomatillo and jalapeno and blend with immersion blender. Add tops of radishes to roasting pan and roast until wilted. Place the remaining third garlic clove in with the tomatillo, cilantro, lime juice, 1/3 cup water and blend to make a salsa.

Serve roasted radishes in warm tortillas garnished with salsa, pickled radishes and queso fresco. Serve with lime wedg1es.

BONUS REASON TO RELISH RADISHES – All of our radish seed packets are on sale! Whoop! Whoop!

https://www.bbbseed.com/product-category/store/heirloom-vegetable-seeds/

 

 

 

 

TOP 10 VEGETABLES FOR PART SHADE

by Heather Stone

Do you have a garden that gets more shade than sun, but you still want to grow vegetables? No problem! There are plenty of vegetables that will grow well with partial sun. We’ve put together a list for you of vegetables that perform well with 6 hours or less of direct sunlight. Read on to find out how to keep yourself in fresh veggies all season by making the most of your shady spots.

 

 

  1. Mesclun Greens (Needs 3 hours of sun)

Mesclun is simply a “mix” of various greens. All of them doing well with just a few hours of sunlight. They germinate quick and reach maturity in a matter of weeks. Try our Mesclun Mix– a great combo of arugula, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage.

  1. Arugula 3-4 hours

This delicious peppery green is easy to grow and loves the cool weather. Plant in early spring about 1 month before the last frost and continue sowing every 20-30 days until mid-summer. Grows well in containers. Try our Wild Arugula!

  1. Lettuce 3-4 hours

Lettuce is a cool-season green that isn’t a big fan of direct sun. The varieties are endless and so easy to grow in the ground or in containers. Plant in early spring and again every two weeks for a continuous supply of lettuce. Make sure to provide shade for the late spring and summer plantings.

  1. Spinach 3-4 hours

The nutrient-packed leaves of spinach love cool weather and protection from the full sun. Spinach is an easy to grow and productive crop that every garden should find a spot for. Like lettuce and arugula plant in early spring and sow successively every 2 weeks for a continuous supply of spinach. Try our Bloomsdale or Nobel Giant varieties.

  1. Kale 3-4 hours

A powerhouse of nutrition, kale is easy to grow in the ground or in containers. The young tender leaves of kale are great in salads. The mature leaves are excellent sauteed or added to soups and stews. Start in early spring and continue you to sow for fresh greens all season long.

  1. Swiss Chard 4-5 hours

Easy to grow from seed and looks fabulous all season long Swiss Chard’s beautiful leaves are easily planted in the perennial garden as well as the vegetable patch.

  1. Radish 4-5 hours

There’s nothing like a fresh spring radish. They are quick to germinate, fast to mature and come in a rainbow of colors. We carry 5 different varieties! No garden should be without radishes.

  1. Peas 4-5 hours

Peas do fine in partial shade in either the garden or the container. They are pretty quick to germinate and prefer cool weather. So get them in the ground early and you’ll have peas to snack on in early summer.

  1. Beets 4-5 hours

Beets can thrive along the shady edge of the garden. The roots might not get quite as big, but if you keep them well watered they will produce excellent tasting greens and sweet, tender roots.

  1. Bok Choy 4 hours

This cool season vegetable germinates in a few days and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Bok Choy is an excellent addition to the part shade garden.