Purple Top White Globe Turnip Photos

Today, I finished my portion of the 2014 Seed Savers Exchange M-GEN turnip trial.  We’ve had some January-like weather in November, but all the turnips took the deep cold without damage.  If I was planning to keep them in the ground through the cold, I’d mulch heavily with straw, but so far, they have held up without the mulch so I could complete the trial.

Purple Top White Globe Turnips are easy to find both at the farmers’ market or on the web.  Most growers that grow turnips grow this variety; therefore, it was the “control” in this trial to compare the other turnips against.

In my opinion, this was a productive, but not as flavorful variety as the others in the trial.  It had the same sharpness as the Purple Top Strap Leaf turnip, but not that turnip’s sulfur flavor (which, if you are eating turnips on their own, could be a good thing).  Surprisingly, the combination of sharp and sulfur made the Purple Top Strap Leaf turnip both greens and roots a superior addition to recipes that featured turnips and other strong tastes (for instance, ham hocks and turnip greens and roots were amazing with the Purple Top Strap Leaf turnips which were so strong on their own, I initially hestiated to add them to other recipes. I’m glad I went ahead and did that)

Personally, my favorite in the trial was the Snowball turnip.  It was a pleasure to grow, the greens were tasty and the mild turnips were excellent alone or in recipes.

My least favorite was this control, the Purple Top White Globe.  It was easy to grow and easily was the largest of the turnips, but it hung out in the middle on flavor — too sharp to eat alone as mashed turnips, like the Snowball and not enough of the sharp/sulfur combo like the Purple Top Strap Leaf to really make turnip recipes pop.

Regardless, here are the photos.  First, the roots:


Here are the greens — which filled my Dutch Oven, but cooked down to 1/3 of the space:


And here are the greens and roots of the plants, straight out of the ground:


If you’re new to turnips, Purple Top White Globe is worth getting your practice in on.  It’s a decent turnip that will produce well for you with little effort and can take some surprise freezes when winter comes early.  But once you’ve learned to grow turnips. I’d suggest you move on to the other heirlooms — they just taste better!










Snowball Turnip Photos

Today, I took the measurements on the Snowball turnips for the Seed Savers Exchange M-GEN turnip trial.

I have grown Snowball turnips before and liked them.  For the trial, I noticed that they have very high quality greens, besides having a sweet, round root.  Several heirloom seed companies offer the seed so if you want to try the variety, it’s not difficult to find.

I cooked the greens and will be freezing them to make this dip for Christmas.  It’s a family tradition to try out new recipes at Christmas — my brother used to save recipes from The Food Network and then make them all for Christmas when he had time to cook.  He would make anything that struck his fancy — I tend to cook based on what I’ve grown in the past year.

Here are the famous white roots of Snowball turnips:


Here are the greens before I cooked them:


Here are the whole turnips out of the ground:


If you want to grow turnips, I recommend this variety!







Purple Top Strap Leaf Turnip Photos

Purple Top Strap Leaf is the 2nd of the four turnips I’m growing out for the Seed Savers Exchange M-GEN trial.

Once again, this is a turnip that Google won’t help you find seed for.  I haven’t tasted it yet, but the quick Google search found some unhappy Alaskian researchers who found the turnips large, but pithy.  The ones I sliced open for photos looked okay so hopefully, it’s an extreme north thing!

Here are the sliced roots:


Here are the turnip greens:


Here are the roots and leaves, fresh from the ground:


The Milan Early Red Top Turnips tasted fantastic — sweet, bright and without a hint of sulfur.    These turnips look pretty conventional to me, but hopefully, they will taste better than the standard supermarket turnip.  At the very least, they are fresh!  As this variety produces a lot of greens, I bought some ham hocks to cook the greens with.  Stay tuned to see how they taste!







Milan Early Red Top Turnip Photos

Now that the frost has come, it’s time to make stew.  With all the turnips I did for the 2014 Seed Savers Exchange M-GEN turnip trial, it’s time to harvest those turnips, take some photos, then cook them in stews and eat them!

Since I never had it before, I decided to try the Milan Early Red Top Turnip first.   It appears to be so rare that I couldn’t get a commercial seed source on Google.  You’ll have to join Seed Savers Exchange to access this seed!

Here’s what the greens look like:


Here are the roots:


Here are the turnips fresh from the ground:


There are still plenty of Milan Early Red Top turnips in the ground.  If you want to purchase them or the Gold Ball Turnips which I planted just for fun and try these rare, but tasty varieties, just drop me a line!









Seed Savers Exchange Turnip Comparison Trial

Hill Creek Farm is part of Seed Savers Exchange’s M-GEN plant trial network.  Earlier this year, we tried out a promising snow pea and this fall, we are evaluating 4 different turnips.

The “standard” in our trial is ‘Purple Top White Globe Turnip‘. It’s a commerical variety that most people picture when they think of turnips.  The 3 varieties we are comparing to ‘Purple Top White Globe’ are ‘Snowball’ (which I have grown before and really liked), ‘Purple Top Strap Leaf’ and ‘Milan Early Red Top’.

I was disappointed that my favorite turnip, ‘Gilfeather‘ was not included in this collection, but there is some discussion as to whether ‘Gilfeather’ is a turnip, a rutabaga, or a turnip/rutabaga cross.  Seed Savers is all about seed purity (which is always a challenge when dealing with brassicas!), so most likely, they chose turnips that they knew were turnips.

The following photos, requested of all of this year’s turnip growers, are of the entire turnip planting, then a “group photo” of each variety and a “single photo” of each variety.   A ruler is included in each photo so that measurements can be made between different growers’ photos.

These turnips are ready to harvest (but will keep in the ground until frost and beyond) — if you would like to purchase any of them, just e-mail me and I’ll pull some out for you!






















Brinker/Carrier Bean

Last year’s Seed Savers Exchange M-GEN Program included a trial of 4 different beans to see if any of those which did well at Seed Savers Exchange headquarters at Heritage Farm in Iowa, would also do well across the country.

Of the 4 beans, my favorite was the Brinker/Carrier Bean which was donated to Seed Savers Exchange by the Brinker/Carrier family of Iowa.

The bean tastes great, is very healthy, productive and looks much like one expects a green bean to look.   If left on the vine, it produces white beans much like Great Northen Beans which store well and also taste good.

The official write-up on this bean says it is:

A pole bean with a strong twining tendency. White flowers. Green flat pods become yellow as they mature. Straight, flat pods have a thick beak. Mature pods average 5″ long by 0.5″ wide. Weak suture string. Good as snap bean and shelling (horticultural) bean.  Standard productivity. Leathery dry pods average 2-6 seeds per pod. Large, white bean; great northern type with standard flavor. Mid-season maturing.

We’ll have Brinker/Carrier green beans for purchase until frost.




Zhong Shu #6 Tomato

This is my tomato.  Well, it’s really a Chinese tomato that was part of an exchange of germplasm between China and the US in 1988.

In 2001, I joined ​the Farmer Cooperative Genome Project and they sent me this tomato to grow.  It looks like a stereotypical slicing tomato — under a pound, round and red, but the flavor is “old-timey heirloom tomato good/tastes like a tomato should taste.”  It grows well here in Southeastern PA and seems to be disease-resistant.

In 2002, I offered it to Seed Savers Exchange and it’s been offered in the Yearbook ever since.  It’s not a flashy tomato, but it’s a reliable one with a taste that keeps people growing it.

Oh, and the name?  According to a Chinese immigrant gardener friend, the name translates to “Chinese Vegetable Company #6”

The stats on this tomato are here.

Of course, we have plenty of this tomato available for purchase as I always grow extra each year to save seed for Seed Savers Exchange.


Joya de Oaxaca Tomato

Finally got a picture of the ‘Joya de Oaxaca’ tomato which I am growing out for a friend and Seed Savers Exchange.
The English translation of the Spanish name is ‘Oaxacan Jewel’.  This tomato is believed to be from Mexico.
According to the Web, ‘Joya de Oaxaca’ is considered a rare and uncommon variety.  The fruit is orange and red marbled (yep, got that!).  It’s a non-uniform, meaty, beefsteak-type variety, ranging from 2-5″ in diameter (I’ve got those diameters.)  Flavor is described as being rich, fruity, with a nice acidity to finish.  (Haven’t eaten one yet.)  Regular leafed plant which grows to a height of just under 5 feet (My plants are about that tall.)
Also saw that it’s considered to be deer and rabbit resistant.  Not so sure that is happening here.  While the deer aren’t nibbling it (saw some nibbles on the Pruden’s Purple and the Zhong Shu #6), it’s the favorite tomato of either a rabbit or groundhog as I’ve lost two beautiful tomatoes to a Mystery Nibbler.
If you’re interested in this tomato, we should have plenty for purchase from now until frost.  Heirloom beefsteaks are THE BEST tomatoes for sandwiches.  Enjoy!



Start of This Fall’s Turnip Trial

I’m growing out 4 varieties of turnip for Seed Savers Exchange’s M-GEN program.  They are ‘Snowball’, ‘Milan Early Red Top’, ‘Purple Top Strap Leaf’ and ‘Purple Top White Globe.’

The purpose of M-GEN grow-outs is to grow heirloom varieties that have special stories or perform well at Seed Savers Exchange headquarters in Iowa around the country and see how well they perform both on their own and against a “proven” heirloom.

In this trial, ‘Purple Top White Globe’ is the proven heirloom.  I will see if the other 3 perform as well or better as ‘Purple Top White Globe’ here in Southeastern Pennsylvania.




‘Swenson Swedish’ Snow Pea Photos for Seed Savers Exchange

Hill Creek Farm is part of Seed Savers Exchange M-GEN program which takes varieties from the Heritage Farm vault and plants them all over the country to see if the heirloom is a “local” variety or has potential in other areas of the country.

We love peas, so we were happy to trial ‘Swenson Swedish” snow peas.  This is a great pea variety for Southeastern PA — it has a sweet taste, it’s prolific and very, very healthy.  We’ll definately be adding it to our crop rotation.

The following photos are the dry pea pods and dry peas.  Seed Savers Exchange will compare the photos from across the country with what was grown at Heritage Farm.