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Getting your Garden Ready for Winter - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

When the dreary days of Winter start to get to you, don’t forget you can start planning for next year to help look forward to warmer weather, fresh air, and the joys of gardening. – St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Now is the time when heirloom gardeners start getting their vegetable gardens ready for Winter. This is not just the end of this season, it is a time to lay the ground work for a good start to next year’s successful heirloom garden! New gardeners among us will wonder what they need to do to finish things off when their harvest is complete for the season.

Once you have picked all the heirloom produce that’s left in your garden, get things wound down for the year by cleaning up the beds. Taking time in the Fall to clean up a bit, makes getting the garden ready in the Spring a whole lot easier, and kicks things off to a good start next year.

“Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”

Few of us start with good soil, but we can all build it. Turning poor soil into plant-friendly soil is not difficult to do, once you understand the components of healthy soil. Using gardening methods which improve rather than hurt the soil play a huge part in successful gardening.

Organic Gardening:
The basic “Why’s” and “How’s” of growing organic.

Organic Gardening can yield a lot of produce plus the peace of mind of being chemical free. - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Organic Gardening can yield a lot of produce plus the peace of mind of being chemical free. – St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Organic gardening was for a while seen as something only the super health-nuts or hippies did. But, not so anymore, we are all becoming aware that the methods of gardening with chemicals that have become popular in recent generations are no healthier than the awful stuff called margarine. The more research that has come out showing the terrible side effects of synthetic fertilizers and the chemicals in commercial pesticides and herbicides, the more we realize, the hippies had something there! Funny thing, though, organic gardening is really not so recent as all that. Thousands of years of gardeners before us grew only with organic methods.  Here we’ll delve a bit into the whys of going organic, and a couple starting points to begin with if you aren’t already on the bandwagon.

What advantages do they have over hybrids?

Heirloom Squash varieties in fall setting. - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Heirloom Squash come in hundreds of varieties; big, small, long, skinny, blue, yellow, tan, peach, black, brown. Try a new variety of heirloom squash this year. – St. Clare Heirloom Seeds.

Flavor, flavor, flavor! One of the first reasons people grow open-pollinated or heirloom seeds is the flavor. Hybrids are bred for many characteristics such as uniformity (in shape or harvest time), high yields, withstanding rigors of transport, etc. But, sadly in the breeding process the desirable characteristics like flavor and nutritional value suffer. There’s truly nothing as delicious as a sun-ripened home-grown heirloom tomato. You tomato lovers out there know just what I mean when I say we suffer each winter, waiting for the first delicious tomatoes of the next garden season. 🙂

Heirloom Non GMO Scarlet Nantes Carrots - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Question: I am looking at starting my garden and collection of Heirloom Non-GMO Seeds but want to ensure they are Non-GMO and Heirloom. In looking through your seeds for sale, some specifically say that and others do not. Are ALL of the seeds Heirloom Non-GMO seeds or only the seeds labeled that way in the description?

Companion planting in your Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable garden can be a great asset when it comes to gardening. Whether the pairing has been confirmed by research studies or is simply part of companion planting tradition we’re not sure, but this list is some of what we could find. Here are some companion plantings you may want to try, with information on the type of interaction.
Soil Temperature Conditions for Vegetable Seed Germination - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds
Crops

 

Asparagus
Beans, Lima
Beans, Snap
Beets
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Lettuce
Muskmelons
Okra
Onions
Parsley
Parsnips
Peas
Peppers
Pumpkins
Radishes
Spinach
Squash
Swiss Chard
Tomatoes
Turnips
Watermelons

Minimum (° F)

 

50
60
60
40
40
40
40
40
50
60
60
35
60
60
35
40
35
40
60
60
40
35
60
40
50
40
60

Optimum Range (° F)

 

60-85
65-85
65-85
50-85
45-95
45-85
45-85
60-70
60-95
65-95
75-90
40-80
75-95
70-95
50-95
50-85
50-70
40-75
65-95
70-95
45-90
45-75
70-95
50-85
60-85
60-105
70-95

Optimum (° F)

 

75
85
80
85
85
80
80
70
95
95
85
75
90
95
75
75
65
75
85
95
85
70
95
85
85
85
95

Maximum (° F)

 

95
85
95
95
100
95
100
85
105
105
95
85
100
105
95
90
85
85
95
100
95
85
100
95
95
105
105

Planning for Planting

by Becky Crouse

Whether you are an experienced Open Pollinated / Heirloom vegetable gardener or you have finally decided that you are ready to graduate from window boxes, planting a vegetable garden requires planning. A properly planned and planted vegetable garden will naturally resist disease, deter insect pests, and be healthy and hardy. With the spring planting season fast approaching, winter is the ideal time to get started.

Posted by in Gardening on January 19, 2016
By the Soil Conservation Service

Does rainwater from your neighbor’s property drain onto your Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable garden? Is your Heirloom / Open Pollinated Vegetable garden on a slope so that water rushes off and is lost to the vegetable plants, taking soil with it? Is your Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable garden on a steep slope where you want to plant perennials, shrubs, or azaleas? If so, you should think seriously of planting on the contour or perhaps building a terrace.

Jill Samuelson and Dan Drost
Utah State University

New Zealand Spinach - St Clare Heirloom SeedsOpen Pollinated / Heirloom New Zealand spinach is a warm season alternative to regular spinach that does well in hot, dry conditions. Soak seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting to hasten germination. Seeds should not be planted directly outside until after the last frost date, or start transplants inside 3-4 weeks prior to the last frost. Plant seeds ½ inch deep in loose, fertile soil that has had organic matter incorporated prior to planting. Space plants 3 feet between rows, and every 12 inches after thinning within rows. Although Open Pollinated / Heirloom New Zealand spinach is drought tolerant, water consistently for the best flavor. Fertilize frequently with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Mulches and row covers can help in starting plants outside earlier. Mulches also help with weed control and retaining soil moisture. Leaves should be harvested frequently to encourage new, lush growth. Cut the tips and eat raw or cooked.

Danielle D. Treadwell and Mickie E. Swisher
Florida State University
IFAS Extension
Certified Organic Non-GMO Heirloom seeds - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Organic certification addresses a growing worldwide demand for organic seeds.

Organic food and other organically produced products are available to consumers in a variety of retail outlets, and the quantity and diversity of organic food and other organically produced products increases every year. The information that appears on an organic label is variable and depends on the percent of certified ingredients, as well as the manufacturer’s or supplier’s desire to advertise the product as organic. Thus, organic product labels can be difficult for consumers to interpret. In addition, many consumers lack a clear understanding of the regulatory significance of products bearing the United States Department of Agriculture’s “USDA Organic” label.

Romy Krueger and Robert McSorley
Florida State University
IFAS Extension

Nematode Management

Nematodes are usually microscopic in size and are classified as unsegmented worms, belonging to the Phylum Nematoda. Plant-parasitic nematodes are a concern for growers of agricultural or Open Pollinated / Heirloom vegetable garden crops. These plant-parasitic nematodes will mainly feed on the roots of plants. A few kinds will feed on foliage but this not common. Many other kinds of nematodes are present in the soil as well. These include decomposers, predators, insect parasites, and animal parasites. Some nematodes are aquatic and do not affect terrestrial plants. Other nematodes act as decomposers, predators, and insect parasites. In farming systems, nematode predators and parasites of insects are beneficial, while nematode parasites of animals and plants are considered pests in agriculture. Beneficial nematodes that

By Allan Stoner

Open Pollinated / Heirloom Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in home gardens. Open Pollinated / Heirloom Tomatoes grow under a wide variety of conditions with a minimum of effort, and they require relatively little space for a large production. Of tropical American origin, tomatoes do not thrive in very cool weather. They are suited to spring, summer, and autumn culture over most of the North and upper South, and they will grow in winter in the extreme South. Each Open Pollinated / Heirloom tomato plant may be expected to yield 8 to 10 pounds of fruit. The number of tomato plants needed will depend on the size of your family. To spread the Open Pollinated / Heirloom tomato, to harvest over the growing season, stagger planting dates at 2 to 3 week intervals.

Elton M. Smith
Ohio State University Extension

Hot beds and cold frames are used by Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable gardeners for propagating vegetables for the garden. Hot beds are used for starting the Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable plants and cold frames for tempering or hardening vegetable plants to outdoor conditions before transplanting. For most home vegetable gardeners the same frame can serve both purposes. The principle difference between the two is that hot beds have a heat source. Traditionally, hot beds and cold frames were built even with or slightly below ground level and covered by glass sash. Present-day frames are often completely above ground and plastic covered because film is generally available at a reasonable cost.

A windbreak can be used to conserve soil moisture in your Open Pollinated / Heirloom vegetable garden or to keep the wind from blowing the vine plants around. Use a material that casts low shade while filtering wind is ideal. This simple version uses wood snow fencing, which is inexpensive, easy to install and remove, and may be attractive enough to leave up year-round.

Open Pollinated / Heirloom garden vegetables vary so much in their preferred growing temperatures, planting the heirloom vegetable garden isn’t a one day job. Be prepared to spend several days over the course early spring to early summer planting heirloom vegetable seeds and plants. You’ll plant cool weather crops a few weeks before the last spring frost. Set out warm weather vegetable crops just after the last spring frost. Hot weather vegetable crops cannot tolerate frost or cold soil. Unless you can protect them with a portable cold frame or row covers, plant them at least three weeks after the last spring frost. In warm climates, plant cool weather vegetable crops again in early fall so that they grow during the fall and winter. Here is a guide to the temperature preferences of 30 common heirloom garden vegetables;
A scarecrow in the farmers field. - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

To build a scarecrow from scratch, you need only a few materials and a willingness to use your imagination. – St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Scarecrows have been scaring birds away, or, in some cases amusing them, for as long as man has grown crops. Some say these whimsical creatures were first used by tribes in central or northern Europe; others claim that Indians were the first to employ them. Wherever the origin, the scarecrow has been used on farms and in Open Pollinated / Heirloom vegetable gardens across the country for many years.

Henderson's Black Valentine Bush BeanHutterite Soup Bush BeanChristmas Lima BeanFordhook 242 Bush Lima BeanBrockton Horticultural Pole Bean
Phaseolus vulgaris – Leguminosae or Fabaceae (Pea Family)
Beans are a crop that grow well in warm weather, so wait until after your last frost date to plant. If the soil is too cold the bean seeds will just sit in the ground and rot. Plan an average of ten to fifteen plants per person. Cold, wet weather can bring about disease. To prevent disease don’t touch healthy Bean plants after working with diseased ones and try not to touch them when there wet. Most dried beans whether bush or semi-vining, require long growing seasons. To direct-sow them plant 1” deep and space them about 6” apart. Beans are very high in protein. Like other legumes, soybeans and cowpeas are excellent green manure crops that enrich soil with organic matter and nitrogen. Some people plant a crop of soybeans just to till them under to add organic matter to there soil.

Posted by in Gardening on January 19, 2016
Amish Paste TomatoGreen Zebra TomatoGolden Jubilee TomatoHomestead TomatoMarglobe Supreme Tomato

There are many factors along the way that can affect a heirloom tomato’s quality such as watering, fertilizing, ripeness when picking, and storage and handling factors. Two mistakes often made when heirloom tomatoes make it into the kitchen is refrigerating them or leaving them on a sunny windowsill to ripen (only tomato plants need full sun; harvested fruit does not). Both of these practices will degrade flavor.

Organic Management of Vegetable Diseases Part I:

Gary Vallad and Amanda Gevens
University Florida Ext.

Most methods of plant-disease control follow one of the six principles summarized by the acronym REPEAT: Resistance, Eradication; Protection, Exclusion, Avoidance, and Therapy. The following is an overview of these principles with an emphasis on methods acceptable in certified organic vegetable production for controlling plant disease caused by soilborne pathogens.

Posted by in Gardening on January 6, 2016

Garden site selection - St. Clare Heirloom SeedsSelecting a Garden Site for your
Open Pollinated / Heirloom Vegetables

A back yard or some other plot near your home in full sunlight is the most convenient Open Pollinated / Heirloom vegetable garden site. However, poor drainage, shallow soil, and shade from buildings or trees may mean your Open Pollinated / Heirloom vegetable garden must be located in an area farther from the house.

Basic Open Pollinated / Heirloom Vegetable Garden Plant Requirements

Anyone interested in Open Pollinated / Heirloom Vegetable gardening has one question in mind when choosing a new plant:
Will it thrive in my heirloom vegetable garden?
Garden Plant Requirements

Posted by in Gardening on January 1, 2016

Can you give me some ideas on how to best choose seeds for my needs? I’m having trouble choosing from all the variety that’s out there.

Besides which varieties have the prettiest picture, what factors should weigh in on your list for what to plant this year?

First up, should be what will grow in your region/climate. If you have a shorter season, look carefully at the “days to maturity”, if a plant will take too long to grow, your work will be in vain, and your setting yourself up for disappointment. So, plant things with the shortest “days to maturity” listed. If you live where it’s hot and humid, look for heat and humidity resistant varieties. If you live where it’s hot and dry, choose heat and drought tolerant varieties. Don’t discount the value of asking other heirloom gardeners in your area what they grow, or searching Google or forums for others’ suggestions of what to grow in your area. We find a wealth of helpful information this way.

Posted by in Cooking, Gardening on August 12, 2014

Black Aztec CornThis month we thought we’d highlight one of our neatest seeds, Black Aztec Corn (really, who can pick? there is so much awesome variety to God’s creation in the garden!).

Recently we had the opportunity to share Black Aztec Corn with the young ladies at the Girls’ Camp at our church, which was a blast.

Here at St. Clare Heirloom Seeds we have several different large test gardens that we grow out a lot of different varieties of vegetables every year. Weeding gardens can take an enormous amount of time so one of the ways that we get a head-start on dealing with weeds is to shallow till numerous times in the spring, before planting time arrives.

St. Clare Heirloom Seeds are proud signers of The Safe Seed Pledge: “Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.” ×
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