Saturday, December 14, 2013

Alan Bishop seeds

I am very proud to announce that Secret Seed Cartel will be the exclusive vendor for Alan Bishop seed varieties. Alan is the breeder of two of my favorite varieties of tomatoes; Jack White and Absinthe. Here is Alan's bio:
Alan Bishop and Kimberly Ratts
Alan has run Bishops Homegrown, an ecologically managed sustainable farm in Pekin Indiana with roots in his family dating back to the 1940s since 2004 alongside Kimberly Ratts. As an outgrowth of his interest in developing local food sheds Alan began pursuing heirloom seeds both locally and abroad through his Homegrown Goodness forum and blog, trialling thousands of varieties for taste, flavor, productivity, and suitability to low input agriculture, when existing varieties proved unsuitable for current methods and environmental conditions Alan turned to population breeding in order to develop new landrace type crops, an act which at the time to seed purists seemed heretical but has proved reliable, productive, and profitable. Many of the earliest introductions were shared with other like minded breeders through his previous efforts with his own Face of the earth seed collective,those genetics now make up the foundation stock for localized landraces worldwide. Alan has been interviewed and honored by Association Kokopelli for his work, has written for local, national, and international publications, has taught master gardeners classes and maintains connections with breeders and farmers worldwide, as well he finds secondary employment as an agricultural advisor. In recent years he has stepped away from his seed list to focus on honing and increasing his seed stock in preparation for what he sees as the rough road ahead for all of us as well as turning his attention to his local community where he is a co-founder, current president, and former vice president of Washington County Artisans and Farmers market, a volunteer miller and distiller and reenact or at the historic Becks Mill and president of Old Settlers Days where he represents the distiller and yeoman farmer. Some of Alans previous works have filled particular niches and gained small cult followings. A few varieties of notoriety include Absinthe tomato, Jack white tomatoes, and Astronomy Domine sweet corn.
Secret Seed Cartel has become Alan's choice of vendor to release new landrace varieties from his work as they become available. The seed you will find here has not been commercially available for two years and never in its current form. The landraces here are highly genetically diverse and particularly hone to low input agriculture in the wider Ohio Valley. Phenotypes will tend to vary (sometimes drastically) from plant to plant but the genetic diversity within will allow the seedsaver to select for those best adapted to their cultural and environmental conditions and culinary use. This years selection is limited but more will follow. ~Alan Bishop
Please feel free to go to the store and take a look at Alan's offerings. Here's to good gardening. Go to the shop tab on the home page to see Alan's varieties.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Get Your Seeds


It's seed ordering time!!! Everything is now online. Supply of some seed is low so don't want anyone to miss out on something they might want.
I have had a lot of inquiry about Gernika seeds. Unfortunately I lost 14 Gernika plants to the late frost this past spring. So will re-plant this coming year and will have seed available for 2014.
If any of you are like me, I have already started my growing list for next season. It ends up being changed up many many times but it gives me something to work on in the winter months. Of course I'm looking for the rare and different things. I'll have a peek preview of the list sometime in March.
Check out the store and take a look at all of the new items for this year!!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pepper Pandemonium

I'm buried under peppers here. Harvested everything that was still out there. Now I'm spending the day frying bushels of them for winter. All fresh pepper seed for this year. I sold out of Gernika so those that are looking for it, it will be available for 2014.
Moya Noire
I had a big surprise out in the garden a couple of days ago. I thought I had totally lost my Moya Jaune and Moya Noire plants to blight. I was tearing down cages and found 3 perfect, ripe Moya Noire's hanging from the healthy top part of the plant!! I couldn't believe how beautiful the color was. Then I walk over and see 1 perfect Moya Jaune. Wow. I love this variety in every color. I ate the big Moya Noire (for research purposes of course) and it was exquisite!! Perfect meat to juice balance and sweet with the smokey finish. I haven't eaten the Jaune yet so stay tuned.
Yes, I am already working on the 2014 growlist. I will work on this for months, adding, subtracting, worrying, questioning until my hair is grey. I torture myself before I have the final list.
I have new neighbors!! A herd of sheep in the back. For a couple of days I kept hearing what I thought sounded like the bells on the French cows. I thought I was having some kind of missing France issue. Then I walked outside and there they are. 6 sheep running around the back field with bells on. haha. I love to hear their bells. I took some photos so I'll have to post them in the future.

I've been hitting the farmer's markets. Yesterday was a good day for that. Connected with some other growers and picked up a whole lot of Cherokee Trail of Tear bean seed from an organic farmer. I didn't grow that bean this year but I did list it in the store for those that love this historical bean. I love the veggies that come with great history in their DNA. Speaking of beans....I bought some seed from a Spanish grower for a bean called Buenos Aires Roja. From the research I have done it looks like it's going to be a good one. Here's a photo of it from a Spanish blogger. Beautiful!!!! Also want to grow the Tabais bean for those that want to use the authentic bean in Cassoulet. For anyone that wants to take a whirl at Cassoulet, here's a link for a recipe.  Cassoulet recipe.
I still need to plant the garlic and then....a little break until Febuary when seed starting again. I'm planting 2 varieties this year and that's it.
Ohhhh before I forget. I planted rhubarb this year!! You can't cut it the first season so looking forward to making rhubarb/strawberry pie next year.
Thanks for all the support from everyone with the store, on my blog and good wishes always sent my way from the best people in the world. Growers and gardeners!! Peace

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Good the Bad and the Ugly of

Honestly, it was a horrible season weather wise for the tomatoes. Too cool and too much rain. Most of my new varieties got the blight. It wasn't a total bust but about 80% wipe-out. So many of the new things I was going to offer in the store will have to wait until next year. There were a few bright spots. My tomato Marmande Verte did exceptionally well! Avoided disease and produced for 2 months. I grew a Spanish variety called Morado Vejer de la Frontera and it also did exceptional. The peppers and beans are still going and no problems with them. I have most new items listed in the store with the exception of the beans. They will be listed in about 6 weeks.
Also..... I finally got a shirt made for hard core tomato enthusiast! Most of the time I feel like I'm a tomato whisperer so why not put it on a shirt right?! It's in the store also in sizes M and XL. I have one that's 2XL so if you want that one email me. I'll do my All-Star and Waste of Garden space list sooooooon! So let's get to planting the fall garden.Store link:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Garden Update July 29, 2013

And,'s raining again, sigh. Not turning out to  be the best season for the tomatoes. Late start due to weather now temps are more like fall. And the rain....well let's just say the spicket needs turned off now.
Margaret Curtain
Just now starting to get some ripe maters. The first ripe was Margaret Curtain. A black heirloom from New Zealand. The tomato is A++++++ Love it! Just started drying seeds and making them available on the website. A nice one for serious collectors or those that just love a good black tomato.
Another gem I found in the garden this year was a Marmande Garnier HEART!! I think last year one crossed with Everett's Rusty Oxheart. Saved seed from 1 and checking to see if I can stabilize it  next season. Working name: Queen of Hearts.
I've been spending a lot of time uploading new data and products on the website. I should have everything available for fall within the month. Sooo proud of the new items.
Margaret Curtain
I'm buying a pressure canner so I can do some serious sauce making this year. I just want to can until I drop. The only way I can be sure what is in the food my family eats. :-(
Hope all your gardens are flourishing!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Garden Happenings 2013

I know I've been slacking off on the blog but I have been sooooo busy in the garden!
I sowed the seed from the CERN poppy that Seb sent me in March. I've never grown poppies before so I crossed my fingers that they would come up. Boy did they come up!! Beautiful red poppies blooming like crazy. I'm in love with them!! I can't stop photographing them haha. I think this might be my new favorite garden flower. I want yellow and white poppies now.
Alot of rain this summer. sigh. Also had a late frost and I lost 18 tomato plants. Some of them were replaced by some kind gardening friends that over-nighted what I needed but not all. The others will just have to wait until next year. Also growing my first grafted tomato this year thanks to Buddy Malone. A Green Giant. One of the victims of the
 frost but replaced. I'm curious to see how the grafted plant does in comparison to the non-grafted Green Giants.
Unfortunately, I lost a good gardening friend this spring. Gary Millwood. He was my garden hero and mentor. He was from my hometown of Louisville so I was fortunate enough to see him and his wife when I was in town. He procured so many Kentucky heirloom tomatoes that I can't even list them all.  I really looked up to him and valued our friendship enormously. RIP Gary. You will be greatly missed.
I built a bottle tree in the garden that was inspired by my friend Rena Abernathy. Here's a link on the history.
Although I'm not using it to trap spirits, I like the folk art aspect of it. Mine isn't quite finished. I need to find some more bottles worthy of the tree. I've always believed that the garden should not only be functional but beautiful ( This is where I am influenced by the Euros). I've worked hard to incorporate beautiful spaces right in the middle of the vegetables. The bottle tree is just the newest addition.
Tomatoes are growing like crazy. Just starting to get too much rain. I see a little blight starting on a couple so I'm hoping it eases up now.
The Mini-Kumatos are coming in as hoped. I wasn't sure if they were F1 seed or not but it looks like they are OP. Woot! Here's a photos of them. These are not from my garden but from the grocery store but wanted to show what they look like.
Looks like I also have a cross from Marmande Garnier Rouge with a heart! I'll keep you posted on this one.
I'll try and stay up with the blog a little better as the season progresses. Hope your gardens are growing well. Fresh tomatoes soon!!!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stay up to date on our Facebook Page

Come visit our Facebook Page. Garden and seed news is usually posted there first. See what we're growing this year and enjoy garden and tomato photos all year. Don't forget to hit the "like" button so our postings show in your newsfeed. Happy gardening 2013!!'

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Black Turnip of France

Photo by Sebastien Prunet
The Black Turnip of Pardailhan (Navets de Pardailhan)  Not to be confused with black radishes.The Pardailhan Black Turnip is a variety called Caluire Long Black, named for its region of origin to the north of Pardailhan. Unlike the normal round shape associated with turnips, this one is long and pointy with black skin,   The black turnip is an ancient variety grown almost exclusively in this region of France for centuries. It is said to have been served at the King's table in Versailles.  After WWII, there was a decline in local agriculture and the cultivation of the variety became scarce to almost non existant. About ten years ago, a handful of producers created the association Lou Nap dal Pardailha to save the Caluire Long Black and bring it back to its former glory.   Free from manipulation from breeders, it is considered a virtual wild form of turnip. Thanks to my friend Gerard in Brittany and Seb, I have seed for it this year. Woot!! I have heard different accounts of the taste. Seb says it is sweeter than the normal turnip but he raved about it. It's been said to taste a little like Hazelnut or Chestnut depending on your palette. I've read that it is starchier than our common varieties.  It must be sliced lengthwise to cook. Although I will be growing it this season, unfortunately it will take 2 growing seasons for seed. (Like most turnips). Therefore,  I will plant one patch for eating and one patch for seed. At the end of my growing season I will give a review on the taste. Stay tuned. 
Photo by Sebastien Prunet

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2013 Grow list

Cuerno De Cabra
Doux de Espane 
Doux des Landes
Guindillas Tolosa
Piquillo Lodosa
Piment de Bresse
Pimiento de Arnoia
Pimiento Blanco Rosal
Ros de Mallorca



Green Giant
Marmande Verte
Moya Verte
Dino Egg Verte


Margaret Curtain
Moya Noire
Negrillo de Almoguera


Goose Creek
Rosa de Perales
Rosa de Zarautz


Marmande Garnier Rouge
Uncle Remi
Pepe Jose
Moko Luze
Morado de Aretxabaleta
Morado vejer de la Frontera


Banjan Rumi
Moya Jaune
Kentucky Cabin Yellow

Abbattista Paste
Work Release Paste
Pomodoro Banana Marino


Marmande de Montpellier
Zebra Rita
Ananas Noire
Ananas Bleu
Lynn's Mahogany Garnet
Grosse Verte Rose
Copper River
Pamplemousse de Grand Pere
Hippie Zebra
Yellow 1884 Pinkheart

Black Hole Sun
Mini Kumato
Pink Bumblebee
Purple Bumblebee

Fairytale F4
Claude's Coral F4
Moonshiner's Ball F4

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Anyone out there have any info about the Mini Kumato? Has anyone grown the RAF tomato? Any info would be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Photographer and Tech Man

Sebastien Prunet
I am the luckiest grower in the world to have Sebastien Prunet as my garden photographer. Well.....yes he is more than my photographer but for now..we'll discuss his photography, and maybe a few other things.
In my opinion, No one takes better garden porn than Seb. His tomato photos are un-believably good. Perfection. I tell him what photos I need, and he takes them. (Good soldier)...They are art.
He lives in the French Alps region which is not known for gardening, but Seb gets around all that by using Greenhouses. He is an A+ grower. He has a FB page that displays his gardening skills and photos if you want to see more.  Jadin de Sebastien

He has a couple of cats. Here's a photo with Scarpette. I call her his barnacle because she attaches to him 24/7. He has another cat named Grisou that is a hunter/killer cat. haha
Some people might find it strange that my photographer lives in France but it all works out. Good people always find each other. We visit back and forth several times a year. We speak Franglais together and it is mighty funny let me tell you. :-)
He is my right hand man with the Secret Seed Cartel. He's my French tomato spy.
Of course, sometimes I like to take photos of Seb. Here's a couple. My favorite is when I photoshopped him into an Amish man.  Yes, taking him to Amish Country and telling him it was OK to take photos of the Amish was quite amusing. hahaha... I know, I'm bad.
He is quite the baker too. He has just recently perfected bagels. Something they don't sell in France. They looked professional to me! taught me how to make a classic French dessert called 'Clafoutis'. Probably my favorite dessert ever! So inside this tomato grower is a photographer, Alpine skier, pastry chef and hilariously funny man and good human being.
So this is a shout out to the best photographer, tomato grower, tech man and so much more. I love you Seb!! Thank you for all the work you do for me and other tomato growers. xoxoxoxoxo