Stories To Tell

Starting a vegetable garden requires some heavy lifting, not only physically, but intellectually.  Choosing which variety to plant was only half the story.

Calabrese VS.  Romanesco BROCCOLI
Scarlet Nantes vs. St. Valery CARROTS
Boothby’s  Blonde vs. Crystal Apple CUCUMBERS
Goyo Kumba vs. Listada de Gandia EGGPLANTS
Broadleaf Czech vs. Chesnok Red GARLIC
Bleu de Solaise vs. Giant Musselburgh LEEKS
Bunte Forellenschluss
Lolla Rossa
Merveille de Quatre Saisons
Reine des Glaces
Rossa di Trento

  A vegetable garden to feed my face and… a vegetable garden with stories to tell. I want it ALL.


Memorializes the forced relocation of the Cherokee Indians in the mid-nineteenth century.  The Cherokees carried this bean over the Trail of Tears, the infamous winter death march from the Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma (1838-1839) leaving a trail of 4,000 graves.
origin of the story:


The bean was introduced by the Pennsylvania Dutch and was well known in early 1800’s in Bucks County, PA.  The Lazy Housewife is one of the oldest documented beans and so named because it was the first snap bean that did not need to have the string removed.  In 1907, the Lazy Housewife was the third most popular bean in the US.
origin of the story:

According to botanical historian, Andrew Dalby, a beet mentioned in a Greek document from 320 B.C was most likely the precursor of the ‘Rouge Crapaudine’ familiar to French gardeners since 1600.  “I love the Crapaudine, because not only does it taste light years better than other beet, but because it is the “Uhr-beet” the original, as close to the untamed wild beet as we can come.
origin of the story:

This unique Japanese pumpkin was developed in the Bunka era of the Edo period (1848-1818).  The fruit is uniquely shaped, like a bottle gourd, ribbed and very warty.  It is dark green, turning to tan.  Traditionally believed to keep people from getting paralysis, if eaten in the hottest part of the summer.
origin of the story:  bakercreedheirloomseeds

digitalbotanicalgarden.blogspot /


According to digitalbotanical.blogspot, the main reason for growing the Queen Anne Melon, apart from its ornamental properties, is its incredibly intense melon fragrance.  One ripe fruit, which lasts for about ten days before it goes soft, will perfume a whole room.  Victorian ladies used to carry them around in their pockets, as a kind of portable pomander.
origin of the story:
Developed in 1867 by David Murray, gardener for the Marquis of Alisa at Culzean Castle in Maybole, South Ayrshire, Scotland.  Either the Marquis or his gardener named the onion after the island, which means “fairy rock.”  Some sources say the name was chosen because the island looks like an onion.

The island is 3km in circumference and consists entirely of the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano that might have been active about 500 million years ago.  So how did the onion manage to grow?

From the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, the island was quarried for its rare type of micro-granite with riebeckite (known as “Allsite”) which is used to make curling stones.
origin of the story:

Developed by M.C. Byles in the 1930’s, this tomato remains very much in demand in the Mid-Atlantic states.  Mr. Byles, affectionately known as “Radiator Charlie” earned his nickname from the radiator repair business he opened at the foot of a steep hill on which trucks would often overheat.  Radiator Charlie, who had no formal education or plant breeding experience, created his legendary tomato by cross-breeding four of the largest tomatoes he was able to find and developed a stable variety after six years of pollination and selection.  He then sold his tomato plants for one dollar each in the 1940’s and paid off the six thousand dollar mortgage on his house in six years. 

Now, here is an idea for the 21st. century mortgage crisis.
origin of the story:

Julia Child is an open-pollinated heirloom tomato.  “It’s not a simple, sugary sweet variety, but has a bold, straight-forward character in its taste, with more than enough acidity and earthy nuances to balance its sweet, fruity flavors.”   Is this a description of a tomato or of Julia Child’s voice?
origin of the story:

A mutation of the serrano pepper that first appeared around 1870, fish peppers start out white before turning orange, purple or red.  They were primarily grown by African American ‘truck farmers” who supplied produce for seafood houses around the Chesapeake Bay, where young white peppers were favored because they could be blended invisibly into cream sauces. 
origin of the story: and

Almost five thousand years ago, carrots were first cultivated in the Iranian Plateau and then in the Persian Empire.  There is a specific place in present day Iran that is called the Carrot Field or Carrot Plain (pictured above).  The field is located northeast of Tehran, the capital of Iran. 
origin of the story: 
So far, these are my top ten.  I am still looking
On a related note:  My friend, Paula Panich is teaching a class through the Landscape Architecture Program at UCLA Extension called “Tell Me A Story”
Historic Preservation at the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (ARCH X 495.95). 
The blog can be found at:

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