Nichols Garden Nursery is a family-owned company that has been providing “herbs, fine seeds and goods for the Gardener Cook since 1950.” The term gardener cook is new to me and I love it, it perfectly describes what I do as an edible garden educator.
This explains the big surprise I found in their seed catalog – Nichols Herb Teas, essential oils and dried herbs. If I lived in Philomath I would be shopping their retail store for the tea and culinary herb blends. Fortunately, these can all be mail ordered. I am adding Pioneer Sourdough Starter and lemon Nichols Natural Freshener to my wish list.
In 2023 they moved their store from Albany, Oregon to the cute little town of Philomath, Oregon. Their purpose is to “bring people closer to nature through gardening” and growing nutritious food. They want to supply the necessary supplies for this to happen. They have taken the safe seed pledge and they sell mostly organic and open pollinated and heirloom seeds with some selected F1 varieties.
This a small catalog which features herbs and rare seeds. This seed collection is comprehensive yet concise. If you are overwhelmed by the massive collection at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, this could be your happy place. Printed on newsprint with few illustrations, this black-and-white, bare-bones catalog has just about every vegetable, herb and flower, just not multiple varieties of every-single-crop. Nichols Garden Nursery offers good reliable varieties that will be successful and productive for gardeners.
I am very appreciative of the botanical names for many of the more unusual crops. A few crops jumped out at me:
Burdock – Takinogawa Long, Arctium lappa. This is a variety of Gobo or Burdock that is grown for the nutritious root. In loose soil, as the name suggests, these roots can grow 2’ long. Full of nutrition and flavor, easy to grow.
Cardoon – Cardoon Porto, Cynara cardunculus. I have always loved growing this plant. Similar in shape and color to an artichoke. Cardoon is grown for its stalks. It can be half-hardy to tender but is a nonsense perennial in the Puget Sound area.
Chives – Chinese Fragrant, Allium ramosum. This is a new one for me and is different than Garlic Chives. Also known as flowering leek, you can use the leaves, stalk and edible flowers.
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I discovered Adaptive Seeds not long after they started and have been a fan ever since. Established in 2009 by Andrew Still and Sarah Kleeger, they are a certified organic, farm-based seed company near Sweet Home, Oregon. They are all about rare and diverse seed varieties that will grow well in the Pacific Northwest and other cold, short season climates. ‘We sell only public domain, open pollinated (OP) seed, as well as diverse gene pool mixes. All of our seed is grown by us or a few regional farms who help with isolation needs.” Indeed, several farms in their network are part of The 12 Days of Seed Catalogs.
Know where your seed comes from. Adaptive Seeds grows many of the seeds they offer, if they didn’t grow a seed, they tell who grew it and where it was grown. For instance, the Gulag Stars Kale blend was “produced by Wayward Acres in the Applegate Valley of Oregon.” Learn more about the network at www.adaptiveseeds.com/about-us/
The Adaptive Seed collection is robust and educational. I am a vegetable enthusiast who loves learning about and growing unusual varieties, this is where I go for something I have never heard of that also has a great story. They offer seeds in different sized packages, 1 gram to 4 oz and even as large as 1 pound. For each variety they sell, there is a wonderful description that includes history, culinary uses and growth habit. And since they only sell open pollinated seeds (no f1 hybrids every), they give information with each variety about how to save seeds. I love that.
Browsing Adaptive Seeds catalog is an adventure. I celebrate when I find a variety that I am familiar with and I dig deep all the new things there are to discover. I have not grown much chicory. I enjoy eating endive and radicchio, I was surprised to find 11 types of chicories in the catalog. All sizes, colors and shapes. I think I need to grow some this season! With so many to choose from, I landed on a chicory mix.
Chicory – Bitter is Better. All leaf types from broadleaf to frilly and head shapes from loose rosette to head. This looks beautiful and sounds delicious. Can be sown March to August or in July to overwinter.
I enjoy growing and eating leeks. If you know me, you know that I always grow one or two leek crops each season in my garden. I am always looking for new leek varieties to try. I struck gold with Adaptive Seeds, they have four types that I’ve never seen before. Liege Giant Winter, Mechelen Blue Green Winter, Pancho and Verdonnet. Each one has an appeal. I might try that hardy Belgian winter leek this year.
Leek – Mechelen Blue Green Winter. This one is would thrive anywhere in the Maritime Northwest and even in colder climes since it is hardy down to -10°. “Not an especially long leek, this variety puts its growth energy into growing fat instead of tall.” This would work well in raised beds and in no-till gardening.
Sweet Pepper – Lesya. These heart-shaped pepper is from Ukraine ripens like a determinate tomato – all at once. Fruit are super sweet and rugged.
Bitter is Better Chicory mix
Mechelen Blue Green Winter Leek
All images unless otherwise noted are from www.adaptiveseeds.com and are used for educational purposes only.
Garden Planner Get organized with a special Garden Planner! This Garden Planner is just what you need to create order from the chaos of paper floating about the house and garden work station! It comes in both a digital version and a printable one. Check it out HERE: https://www.gardenwithlisa.com/store/c15/garden-planner