Deb Brandt-Buehler
January 18, 2016

Excerpt from the Popular Garden Series magabook Vegetable Gardens with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Vegetable Gardens here.

Heirloom seeds offer global diversity among vegetable varieties and provide opportunities for some gardening fun. Here are some interesting heirloom vegetable seed varieties to try.

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Moon & Stars watermelons are named for their dark rind color punctuated by yellow spots that make up the moon and stars.

Candy Roaster melons are intriguing because, if picked when first ripe, they offer a delicious melon. Left longer on the vine, these melons become a tasty winter squash.

Orangeglo watermelons have a bright-orange flesh and a flavor with citrus overtones.

Santa Claus melons keep until the holiday season when harvested and stored in a cool place.

Purple Pod beans are great fun for kids to grow. Purple beans are easy for even the youngest gardener to see and harvest.

Chinese Red Noodle bean plants grow a 2-foot-long, slender, bright burgundy pod. Also stringless, pods provide a beautiful display while hanging on the vine.

Lemon cucumbers grow with the shape of lemons, complete with a navel, and provide a crisp cucumber flavor great for salads and pickles.

Sikkim cucumbers hail from the Himalayas. “Explorers first reported these cucumbers after observing Himalayans eating them all summer long,” says Jere Gettle, owner of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. in Mansfield, Mo. “They produce a big, dark-brown fruit that keeps for several months after harvesting. The skin is brown and the inside flesh is white, so they are very different-looking.”

Japanese Red mustard is a very hot mustard with a garlicky flavor.

Henderson’s Charleston Wakefield cabbage, a variety developed in 1892 by the late Peter Henderson of the Henderson Seed Co., has a heart-shaped head and offers a very tender cabbage. “At one time, Wakefield cabbages were very popular,” Gettle explains. “They were considered to be among the best cabbages in the United States.”

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