Italian Heirloom Seed Collection
Includes 10 Italian Heirloom varieties:
‘Romanesco Italia’ Cauliflower
75-95 Days in cool climates 100-200 Days in warm climates.
Part of the cruciferous family, Romanesco tastes like a mild, nuttier version of cauliflower. The edible flower is eaten both raw and cooked, and is excellent roasted.
Romanesco was thought to have originated in the Lazio region of Italy as early as the 15th century and named after the capital of the region, Rome. Romanesco arrived in the U.S. around the beginning of the 20th century, and was quickly adored for its logarithmic spiraling. This fractal form allows for buds to be efficiently arranged throughout the flower, which, in turn, yields more seeds than a typical plant of the same size.
Fractals are figures composed of parts with the same visual and statistical characteristics as their whole. In other words, each floret of a Romanesco is a smaller version of the larger spine on which it grows.
Start seeds in fertile planting mix, 1-2 seeds per cell. When the seedlings develop their first true leaves they are ready to be transplanted to a prepared garden bed, usually about 4 weeks after germinating. Romanesco plants get really big so remember to give them lots of space! We suggest spacing them about 18" apart in a staggered, diagonal fashion. Does best in cool spring and fall/winter weather.
An improved selection of this beautiful, old Italian heirloom, the round heads are cream-colored and splashed with wine red. This colorful variety is becoming a rage in salads. A high-dollar crop for market growers. Very popular in Italy! These are used like lettuce to make beautiful and tasty salads, and sometimes cooked. These require cool weather and shorter days of autumn to head up and reach their most brilliant coloration, and so are mainly grown as fall crops.
Start seeds in fertile planting mix, 1-2 seeds per cell. When the seedlings develop their second true leaves they are ready to be transplanted to a prepared garden bed, usually about 4 weeks after germinating. We suggest spacing them about 10"-12" apart in a staggered, diagonal fashion. Does best in cool spring and fall/winter weather.
'Sweet Sunset Italian Mix' Italian Sweet Pepper
Mature 102-116 days post-transplant.
A blend of yellow, orange, and red Sweet Italians that create a gorgeous meld of color display at market. Many subtle trait variations on the Italian theme, with shoulder type, wall thickness, length, and tip-bluntness at play. Terrific salad peppers with few seeds and rich saturated color. Early setting and long bearing plants get to 24" tall. Farm Original Variety! OSSI (Open Source Seed Initiative) Pledged Variety.
'Marvel of Piedmont' Bush Snap Beans
Marvel of Piedmont is a richly flavored, bush Romano type bean. Flat pale green pods are streaked with purple which fades with cooking. Tasty and productive, resembles Dragon Tongue beans but with lighter colored pods that are slightly less speckled. An Italian bean hailing from the Piedmont region in northern Italy, which is the epicenter of the international Slow Food movement.
'Principe Borghese' Tomato
Red Paste/Drying. 70 days. Indeterminate.
Classic Italian sun drying tomato. Red pointy plums with thick flesh and skin. Often listed elsewhere as determinate, we’ve designated it as indeterminate because its’ viney plants grow tall enough for a trellis, and yield very late into the season. Principe Borghese are usually dried for winter use, but they are also delicious fresh and make a great addition sliced and roasted, tossed on pizza. We slice the 1oz fruit in half and put them in our dehydrator. Plants can be brought in at the end of the season to ripen any remaining unripe fruit. Many people simply hang the pulled plants in a shed or garage. Another way of preserving them is to hang the clusters inside and they will usually keep for weeks or longer.
A sweet Italian basil in the true Genovese style. Siracusa has a deep, sweet aroma that is oddly missing from some modern commercial basil. Bright green leaves are slightly smoother and less pointy than Italian Mountain Sweet. Flavor is delicious in pesto alla trapanese, aka Sicilian pesto, which uses almonds and tomatoes. Also perfect when simply chopped and tossed with pasta. Despite its Genovese style, this seed was found in Sicily by Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network. She purchased it in a hand folded white envelope at a small garden store in Siracusa (Syracuse).
'Tortarello Abruzzese Bianco' Cucumber
Armenian Slicing. 65 days.
Light-green, ridged cucumber-like fruit are prolific with a mild flavor that is never bitter. Thin skin does not need to be peeled. Known commonly as Armenian cucumber in North America. Tortarello Abruzzese Bianco produces high yields and one-of-a-kind style. When sliced, ridges on the surface produce pretty cross sections that look like flowers with petals. What more could you ask for? Armenian cucumber is actually the same species as cantaloupe and other melons, and when very ripe the fruit take on an orange hue and have a light melon aroma. Best eaten when 12” or shorter, but can grow 2’ or longer. May be trellised for straighter fruit, but the very long vines will grow without complaint on the ground as well. This variety is an Italian strain from Abruzzi on the Adriatic coast.
'San Pasquale' Zucchini
Dark Green, Light Green Stripes. 55 days.
A richly flavored and productive zucchini from Southern Italy that easily beats watery hybrid zucchini. Similar to Zucchino Striato di Napoli. Fruit is dark green with light green stripes and slight ridges. Produces a lot of male flowers which are great for stuffing or frying and the female flowers hold well enough to pick small fruit with flowers still attached. Good choice for the garden as San Pasquale is productive but not overwhelmingly so – you get a ton of squash to eat and share with the neighbors but not so many that you have to secretly leave them on their doorstep. Yield is consistent all season long. Original seed sourced from the Italian seed producer Emanuele Larosa Sementi.
'Chioggia (Bassano)' Beet
Chioggia beet is the most whimsical veggie in the patch! Slice the roots open to reveal concentric rings of pink and white, and this fun variety adds pop to salads and pizazz to pickles. Chioggia beet originated in the historic fishing town of Chioggia, Italy, just across the lagoon from Venice. Dubbed “Little Venice” for its canals and ancient charm, local Venetians know that Chioggia is the town to visit for authentic family-style food. It also has a reputation among Italians for retaining food traditions and quality cuisine. Chioggia beet was first mentioned by legendary French seedhouse Vilmorin in 1840.
When introduced in the U.S., Chioggia beet was considered a gourmet oddity, primarily sold at upscale markets. The unusual rings were a startling departure from the typical red beet, and so the variety was not immediately embraced by the public. Today the Chioggia beet remains a popular choice for market farmers. The crisp crunch of the candy cane striped roots have the culinary stamp of approval from top chefs the world over. Those who are averse to the signature earthy flavor of other beets will appreciate this variety, as the flavor is remarkably mellow. The greens are crisp and high quality. The flesh is very tender, mild, and sweet.
'Rossa Lunga di Tropea' Sweet Onion
Also known as “torpedo” on account of their elongated shape, Red Long is a superb old variety from Calabria in Mediterranean Southern Italy, a region famous for its sweet onions. We’ve been growing these forever and bunched fresh at the market, they earned a loyal following amongst our customers. Very unique and beautiful, they are a deep wine red color and quite sweet. Perfect for panzanella, our favorite summer salad. Not keepers but last about 5-6 months, longer than most sweets. Dramatic specialty for markets.