Schronce’s Deep Black Peanut

This peanut has been selected since 1980 by North Carolina gardener, Gordon Schronce. He started with 3 peanut shells and a total of seven individual peanuts. Unlike regular peanuts with red skins, these had dark purple, almost black skins. Schronce’s Deep Black is a product of his efforts over the years to select the largest seeds with the darkest skin color. Schronce’s is probably related to a heirloom peanut called Carolina Black.  Schronce’s has a darker skin than Carolina Black and more peanuts per shell (3-4).

-Sherck Seeds

#legumes #root vegetables #plant breeding #seed sellers

I found this on that database of gardening tools for disabled people, and because I don’t having the most dextrous or reliable hands in the world (especially when it’s cold), I thought it looked pretty awesome!

The Tenax Pro Seeder

  • The pro seeder works by creating a vacuum to pick up and hold seeds on its tip for easy planting
  • It makes sowing tiny seeds easy and helps reduce seed wastage
  • The hand held pro seeder uses the same technology as commercial seeding machines
  • It includes three different sized color coded needle tips to sow seeds of all shapes and sizes
  • Designed by a leading seeder machine manufacturer; eliminates seed wastage and time thinning out
(North America / Europe)
#garden hacks #tools

Gifts for Gardeners

#2: The Potmaker

If a soil-blocker is just out of reach, the next-most-economical option for a sustainable seedling pot is The Potmaker.

Simply cutting paper strips, wrapping them around the tool, and pressing them into the base creates a surprisingly sturdy pot – one that also wicks and holds moisture.

Newspaper pots biodegrade, so they can be transplanted directly into the garden. Considering most papers are printed with soy-based ink these days, they are also perfectly safe to use for food crops.

Images: Mine

The Lucky Iron Fish

I have the dubious honour of having lived with both anæmia and comorbid hypothyroidism for almost a decade: at my very worst, I need 12 hours of sleep a day, have difficulty concentrating, bouts of tinnitus, tachycardia, restless legs, constant thirst, and chronic circulatory problems. These symptoms largely abate when I supplement my diet with heme iron (Fe2+) and vitamin b12, and eat meat regularly.

I blame a combination of poor childhood nutrition, genetics, and a copper IUD for my condition; I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I can easily get supplements when my health takes a turn for the worse.

Knowing how disabling anæmia can be, it breaks my heart to know there are people, mostly women and children, trying to get by day to day while constantly feeling like they are about to pass out from a lack of the normal oxygen delivery the blood is supposed to provide.

Over 3.5 billion people worldwide suffer from iron deficiency, a preventable condition.

Anæmics often simply need more iron in their diets: preferably rapidly-absorbed heme iron, which is only found in meat, fish, and poultry.

However, cooking in a cast-iron pan is a common remedy as well, because some of the iron from the vessel leaches into the food. For this reason, I think the Lucky Iron Fish™ is a brilliant idea.

The Lucky Iron Fish™ is a simple and effective health innovation that can provide you with 75% of your daily required iron intake. All you have to do is cook with it.

Just boil it for 10 minutes in liquid and broth based meals like soup, stews or in drinking water. For maximum effect use a bit of lemon juice as the acidity helps extract the iron.

This simple cooking tool can provide entire families with up to 75% of their daily required iron intake - improving everything from energy levels to cognitive function.  A little Fish can go a long way!              

If you buy one of these fish for yourself - $25 USD - one is sent to the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Cambodia.


Molly Daniels’ Park Signage for Beacon Food Forest

Prints are available for purchase as posters.

Click on the images to enlarge.

#knowledge stewardship #biodiverseedbuys #infographics #art

The Medlar (Mespilus germanica)

In antiquity, the Medlar was cultivated from Western Asia to the Mediterranean: it has been domesticated for at least 3000 years in the areas that are now Bulgaria and Turkey. The fruit looks something like a cross between an apple and a rose-hip, which isn’t far from the truth, as it is a pome, and member of the expansive and economically-important Rosaceae family.

The fruits are acidic and tannic when eaten right off the tree, so they are normally bletted: this is a process where the fruits are allowed to become over-ripe in order to sweeten and soften the tissues. After bletting, the fruits are said to taste like “apple butter,” and can be used in making jams, jellies, and baked goods, or eaten like apple sauce.

Unripe and Bletted Medlars, by Takkk 

They are experiencing a resurgence of popularity among permaculturists and forest gardeners in the middle ranges of the temperate zone, because the extended ripening needs of the fruits means they are available during winter.

Medlars planted in domestic gardens are almost always grafted to a wild Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.). The graft union is normally buried beneath the soil to prevent suckering, and allow the medlar scion to grow it’s own roots (this interspecific graft is not always the hardiest).

I’m going to try my luck with some scion wood from Turkey, grafted with wild rootstock of local hawthorn plants!

More:A Fantastically Fruitful Tree for All Seasons’ on The Telegraph

Medlar Seeds: North America / Europe | Trees: North America / Europe

Photo: © Andrew Dunn on Wikimedia Commons

#edible landscaping #forest gardening #fruit trees #grafting


Beyond Cucumbers

Whether you have enough summer warmth to grow these outside, a greenhouse, or even a bright window, here are some interesting options for the garden with similar climate requirements and taste profiles to cucumbers.

1. Egyptian Luffa or Chinese Okra (Luffa Aegyptica) [BUY SEEDS]

Also known as Loofah, this gourd can be dried on the vine, and made into a durable organic scrubber for the bath or kitchen. The juvenile fruits are also edible, and used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines.

2. Caigua (Cyclanthera pedata[BUY SEEDS]

Like potatoes, the Caigua vine was domesticated in the Andes, where it is called pepino de rellenar, or “stuffing cucumber.”

3. Jungle Cucumber (Zehneria scabra[BUY SEEDS]

An extremely small fruit, Zehneria vines produce sweet, flavour-packed, cucumber-like fruits.

4. Horned Melon, or Kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus[BUY SEEDS]

Native to Africa, the horned melon’s flavour has been described as something in between a cucumber, lemon, and banana.

5. Pepino dulce or Melon Pear (Solanum muricatum[BUY SEEDS]

A member of the Solanum family and native to the Andes, the flavour of Pepino is often described as being a mixture of a honeydew and a cucumber.

6. Okra, or Gumbo (Abelmoschus esculentus[BUY SEEDS]

A member of the mallow family–and native to either South Asia, Ethiopia or West Africa–okra is a fixture in Mediterranean cuisines, South Asian cuisines, and many cuisines across the African diaspora.


These gardens are a great solution if you are lacking in good soil: especially if you live in an urban area with soil that is contaminated by things like glass, run-off or other waste.

Straw Bale Gardens teaches gardening in a way that isn’t only new but is thoroughly innovative and revolutionary to home gardening. It solves every impediment today’s home gardeners face: bad soil, weeds, a short growing season, watering problems, limited garden space, and even physical difficulty working at ground level. Developed and pioneered by author and garden expert Joel Karsten, straw bale gardens create their own growing medium and heat source so you can get an earlier start. It couldn’t be simpler or more effective: all you need is a few bales of straw, some fertilizer, and some seeds or plants, and you can create a weedless vegetable garden anywhere—even in your driveway.

Find it: USA / Canada / UK & Europe

#straw bale gardening #DIY #books #raised beds #garden hacks

Grow your own Quinoa

There are a number of problems with the way that Western consumers have been purchasing quinoa, and the effect this has had on indigenous diets in Bolivia: if you want to consume this nutritious food, but do so in an ethical way, consider growing it yourself! It is beautiful, and incredibly nutritious, high in protein, iron, and calcium, as well as gluten-free. You can bolster your seed supply every year by saving a larger portion of your harvest, making this a one-time purchase.

HeirloomSupplySuccess has:

Hirts has:

West Coast Seeds has:

  • Brightest Brilliant Organic from $4.29 CAD
  • Organic French Vanilla from $4.29 CAD
  • Red Head from $4.29 CAD

Nichols Garden Nursery has:

The Real Seed Catalogue has:

  • Rainbow Quinoa 1.5 g - lots of tiny seed £2.09 GBP
  • ‘Temuco’ Quinoa 1.5g - lots of tiny seed £1.95 GBP

Nature’s Note Organic Seeds and Bulbs has:

Botanical Interests has:

CorgiBlooms on Etsy has:

  • Heirloom Rainbow Quinoa, 20 seeds for $2.26 CAD

Seeds of Diversity has a list of Canadian Sellers, sorted by variety:

I hope you will consider growing and saving your own quinoa seeds this year!

Photo: Sergio Photo


Gifts for Gardeners

#12: Moleskine Gardening Journal

I’m usually swimming in notes about my gardens: I have binders packed with plans, sketches, articles, and plant tags.

While I thrive on my chaos, for the more organised documenter of gardening progress, a devoted gardening journal could provide a single space for all of the seasonal data to be collected.

Image: Moleskine

Gifts for Gardeners

#44: Storage Crocks for Root Crops

Potatoes, onions, and garlic are all best stored in a cool, ventilated space away from the light.

In our house, we use earthenware crocks to preserve the harvest. It saves fridge space for those of us without a proper root cellar.

Image: CHEF’s Fresh Valley Farm Canisters

Gifts for Gardeners

#3: Gardening Hod

A ‘hod’ is a traditional type of basket that allows the items inside to be washed, and for soil to fall out.

Long used in Europe as a multi-purpose tradesman’s hauling tool, the hod made it to New England, where it was used for harvesting and cleaning clams and mussels. [x]

Recently, it’s become a popular item for gardeners to use in collecting the harvest, and giving it a pre-wash outdoors, in order to spare the indoor plumbing the worst of sand, soil, and grit.

Image: Gardener’s Supply Company


Bokashi Composting: Stink-Free Accelerated Indoor Composting

Bokashi composting is a compact Japanese method of indoor composting, that uses a drainable container, and Effective Microorganisms (lactic acid bacteria, yeast and phototrophic (PNSB) bacteria) in a “bran” substrate to neutralise odours and accelerate decomposition. The bucket is equipped with a tap on the bottom, so you can harvest “compost tea” to mix with water, and give to your plants to both inoculate them against diseases, and give them nutrients. Food waste is set in to the bucket, and then covered in the biodynamic “bran” in order to facilitate rapid conversion into rich material for your garden.

You can buy a composter and bran online:


Or, you can make a DIY version:

Happy composting!


I am not a “prepper” by any stretch of the imagination, but I do find myself crossing paths with a lot of survivalist types, given my interests in backpacking, camping, off-the-grid living, and permaculture.

Sometimes I side-eye the word a little bit, because a lot of dedicated “prepper” communities are a little too full of God-fearing ex-military white Americans, with whom I have nothing in common other than a shared love of Leatherman multitools.

However, one thing I do appreciate from prepper discussions is the “bug out bag” concept, because I have always had a fondness for “gear”: I can happily spend hours in a sport or camping store comparing first aid kits and water skins, and I think it’s a solid idea to have materials on hand to survive during an emergency.

One of the prizes for the writing contest I have entered is a “Bug Out Seed Bag” from the Sustainable Seed Company. They grow certified organic heirloom seeds, and I think a kit like this is a pretty practical thing to have around: not neccessarily for “when apocalyptic disaster strikes,” but for more likely scenarios like long-term unemployment.

I have an archive of #seed kits like this, but the Bug Out Seed Bag is specifically-designed to go in a pack, which makes it unique. It’s also an easy enough thing to do yourself, but a kit will generally allow more diversity for a lower price. If stored properly, these kits can remain viable for years.

#biodiverseedbuys #heirloom seeds #seed kits #seed sellers

Gifts for Gardeners

#4: Reinforced Working Pants/Dungarees

There comes a point in working outdoors where you realise that regular clothes aren’t going to cut it: for me, it was cutting down a thorny plum tree and ending up with a thorn embedded quite deeply in my thigh. Since then, I’ve always worn clothing that is designed for landscaping work when doing heavier jobs.

Gardening pants or dungarees are usually made in a heavy fabric with durable stitching, and designed for both movement, and wear & tear. Usually, they have reinforced knees, extra large and deep pockets, and a whole host of clips and hooks for specific tools: they almost completely eliminate the need for a tool belt.

Images: Garden Girl