Annual Seed Selection Meeting - Saturday, January 28

Save the date - we will hold our annual Seed Selection Meeting on Saturday, January 28 in Community Room of the Community Safety Building from 9:30am to 12:30pm.

Everyone interested in the crops & varieties we will grow in the garden this season is welcome. Prospective new members of the garden group are especially encouraged to attend and join the discussion. Bring your seed catalogs and great expectations for the season to come!

You will find the Community Safety Building at 112 Mystic Street. When you enter the building, go directly up the stairs in front of you. Our meeting room is on the left.


Annual Seed Selection Meeting - January 30, 2016

Save the date - we will hold our annual Seed Selection Meeting on Saturday, January 30 in the 4th floor meeting room of Robbins Library (700 Massachusetts Avenue) from 9 AM to Noon.

Everyone interested in the crops & varieties we will grow in the garden this season is welcome. Prospective new members of the garden group are especially encouraged to attend and join the discussion. Bring your seed catalogs and great expectations for the coming growing season!


Annual Seed Selection Meeting - January 31, 2015

We will hold our annual Seed Selection Meeting on Saturday, January 31 in the second floor meeting room of the Community Safety Building (112 mystic Street) from 9:30 AM to noon. Everyone interested in the crops & varieties we will grow in the garden this season is welcome. Prospective new members of the garden group are especially encouraged to attend and join the discussion. Bring your seed catalogs and great expectations for the coming growing season!

2014 Annual Seed Party Meeting

The Robbins Farm Garden Cooperative will hold its annual Seed Party Meeting on Saturday, January 25th at the Robbins Library Community Room (downstairs) from 9:30 AM to noon. Anyone interested in the crops & varieties we will grow in the garden next season is welcome to join the discussion. Those interested in becoming a new member of the garden group are especially encouraged to attend. Bring your seed catalogs and great expectations for the coming growing season!

2013 Annual Seed Party Meeting

The Robbins Farm Garden Cooperative is holding its Seed Party Meeting on Saturday, February 2nd (Ground Hog Day) at the Robbins Library Community Room (downstairs) at 9:30 a.m.. Anyone interested in the crops & varieties we will grow in the garden is welcome. There are spaces left to apply to join the garden this growing season.

Late to the Garden Party: Vegetables You Can Plant in July

(This is a repost from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds....)


Late to the Garden Party: Vegetables You Can Plant in July

For most gardeners in the northern tier of the U.S., the customary time to plant vegetables is May and only May. How this tradition began is anyone’s guess, but we say “phooey.” Planting vegetables in mid-summer is brilliant. When September rolls around, you’ll be picking tender heads of Lettuce, baby Beans, Carrots, Peas, Beets and little Summer Squash. In October, you’ll dine on flawless Asian Greens, crunchy Kohlrabi, frilly Frisee and Radishes. And in November, you’ll be eating garden-fresh Scallions, spicy Arugula, Broccoli, Mâche, Peas, Spinach, Broccoli raab, Kale, Salad Greens, Turnips and Swiss Chard.

There’s something really wonderful about tending a fall garden. The panic of spring is gone and the heat and bugs of summer are history. Fall brings cool days in the garden and cool evenings in the kitchen, with the time and energy to satisfy those autumn cravings for deep green vegetables and sweet root crops. So how can you get in on the fun?

Pull Some, Plant Some. As soon as you’ve picked the last of the Peas, and the early Lettuce and Spinach are past their prime, pull them out and send them to the compost pile. Fork over the soil, add a little finished compost and replant. We like to fill a little box with seed packets that are ideal for second plantings, and keep it right in the tool shed so we can sprinkle a few seeds whenever a bare spot opens up. For mid-summer planting, our box always contains Bush Beans and short-vine Peas, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Kale, Scallions and some heat-resistant Lettuce varieties such as Tintin Baby Romaine, Rouge Grenoblois Batavian and Danyelle Red Oakleaf. By the end of August we’re planting seeds for cold-tolerant crops that will mature in 60 days or fewer: Radishes, Spinach, Lettuce, Asian Greens, Turnips and Carrots.

Screen the Sun. The trickiest thing about planting in mid-summer is keeping the soil surface consistently moist. If the soil dries out during this initial 2 to 3 week period, the seeds either won’t germinate, or the newly sprouted seedlings may die and you will need to start over. Sowing the seeds just a little deeper than usual can be helpful. The best strategy is to just water the areas daily until the new plants get established. Note that many cool-weather crops, including Lettuce, will not germinate in soil temperatures above 80 degrees F. To create cool, relatively moist growing conditions, cover the area with a piece of shade netting or take advantage of the natural shade from a trellis or tall plant. Another option is to start your second crops indoors under grow lights.

Don't Delay. Summer-planted crops typically mature more slowly than spring-planted crops (as the days shorten, plant growth slows). Using the days-to-maturity figure on the seed packet, add an extra 14-days as a "low-light factor". Find your first frost date on the NOAA website: Use this date and then count backwards to get the latest planting date for frost-sensitive crops like Beans and Summer Squash. Frost-tolerant crops such as Broccoli, Kale and Lettuce, will grow more and more slowly as the days get shorter. It’s important to get these crops to a good size before mid-September. After that, most can be harvested as late as Thanksgiving, but they won’t be putting on much new growth.

Hang Onto the Warmth. When cold weather arrives, you can protect your fall garden from frost and cold by covering the plants with garden fabric or a cold frame. It’s fine to lay the fabric right on the plants; the closer the fabric is to the ground, the warmer it will keep the plants. If/when temperatures drop into the teens, add another layer so your crops are covered with a double thickness of fabric~or add a layer of fabric right on top of the plants inside your cold frame.

Healthier Bodies, More Delicious Meals.  We all know that at least half of the food we eat every day should be fruits and vegetables. How much easier and more enjoyable this is, when much of that food comes directly from our own garden. What will you make with these fresh vegetables that you’re still harvesting in September, October and November? Oh my! Well how about Chard Stems with Golden Onions and Fresh Bread Crumbs? Or Radicchio Salad with Parmesan-Balsamico Vinaigrette and Broccoli Raab Penne Pasta? An autumn favorite we never tire of is Beet Salad with Apples and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. It almost makes us long for fall. But not yet~there are weeks of glorious summer days still ahead.

We share our best-of-the-best recipes so you can feed your family and friends well without feeling frenzied, and practical, hands-on horticultural tips to demystify gardening with seeds (it need not be tricky or difficult. Truth be told, it is a bit more like easy magic.) If you need help with anything, our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can email us at or call us at (860) 567-6086. Lance Frazon, our seed specialist, is happy to help you in any way possible. He loves to talk seeds.

Call us at (860) 567-6086: we will help you in any way we can!

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

23 Tulip Drive * PO Box 638 * Bantam, CT 06750


Phone: (860) 567-6086 * Fax: (860) 567-5323


© 2001-2012 John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. All rights reserved.




Monsanto is Buying Out Seed Companies!

Help Save Heirloom Seeds and Keep Monsanto Out of Your Garden
Monsanto is literally trying to take over agriculture. To this end, they are buying out seed companies. You can help save one that's pledged to organic, non-genetically-modified (GM) seeds.


This is a very scary proposition, and you can help fight Monsanto's take-over of the seed industry by buying organic, non-GMO seeds, AND by saving your own seeds from year to year.

A Major Spring Planting Day

seed planting and lettuce seedlings


Patriot's Day weekend is a terrific time to plant the bulk of the spring seeds and seedlings (at least, here in Massachusetts). We were fortunate to have fantastic weather, and a 57.5° soil temperature.


We planted seeds of Arugula, Bok Choy, Carrots (a rainbow of varieties), Collards, Kale (green & dinosaur), Leeks, Mizuna, Mustard, Onions (red, white & yellow), Radishes, Scallions, Swiss Chard and Turnips (salad & cross types).


We also planted seedlings of Broccoli, Cabbage (green & red) and Spinach. Cauliflower seedlings would have been planted as well, but they weren't yet available from our local farm supplier.


The seeds and seedlings from previous weeks are growing fast. The Lettuce seedlings are particularly colorful!

Alas, our water supply remains unavailable, requiring the transport of dozens of gallons of water to the garden to give all the new seeds and seedlings a drink during the recent dry spell.



It's the latter half of February and most of our seed orders have arrived -- right on schedule.

The largest order was from Johnny's Selected Seeds (Albion, ME). We ordered onion sets, sweet potato slips and other seed from Burpee (Warminster, PA) and a few special items from Thompson & Morgan (Lawrenceburg, IN).

Well before we start planting, our 2012 crops list is already looking presentable.

The seed companies continue to expand their organic selections, so we were able to get an even higher percentage of organics for the garden this year. Another reason to be cheerful.

We're also experimenting with a more complete botanical reorganization of our seed box.

Seed Party -- Come one, come all!

On January 28th at 10 AM, the Robbins Farm Gardeners will gather at the Community Safety Building (112 Mystic Street) to begin the gardening season by selecting seeds and crops. From artichokes to zucchini, all are invited to share in our excitement about what we'll be growing (and eating) this year!

Viability Periods of Various Veggie Seeds

To help save money when buying vegetable seeds, check the viability of seed varieties and order larger packets of seeds that are long-lived.

Assess your remaining seeds from last season. If you liked a particular variety, continue to use the seed. Because seed can remain viable for years, if properly stored, it is often economical to buy larger packets at reduced prices.

Here is a general list of seed viability for some common vegetable crops:

Short-lived seeds (1 – 2 years)

    * corn
    * leeks
    * onion
    * parsnip
    * spinach

Medium-lived seeds (5 years)

    * squash
    * pumpkin
    * peas
    * eggplant
    * parsley
    * beans
    * carrots
    * celery

Long-lived seeds (over 5 years)

    * broccoli
    * lettuce
    * collards
    * cabbage
    * cauliflower
    * brussel sprouts
    * kale
    * tomato
    * radish
    * cucumber
    * melon
    * peppers
    * turnips


Turnips: What I've learned

Last year was my first experience growing turnips. We planted Purple Top White Globe, a standard American variety. They grew quickly and the greens were beautiful, tasty and nutritious. Sadly, I didn't like the actual turnips.


In a quest for a turnip I could (willingly) sink my teeth into, I discovered that there are two turnip types: cooking and salad. Purple-tops are the cooking type. Though they could be eaten raw when small, these turnips are meant for the cooking pot.


We replanted Purple Tops this spring and they're growing furiously. The small mustard-like leaves harvested in today's thinning provided a spicy salad garnish to accompany our bumper crop of lettuce. For variety, we will also be planting a green-top from Britain called Manchester Market.


Salad turnips are relatively new to US gardens, but they're a staple in Asia. The seed catalogs claim that these turnips are sweet, crisp and appealing in salads raw. Wow! We just planted a white variety called Oasis. There are red varieties as well (some with red stems, similar to Swiss Chard). I look forward to more experimenting...



A Very Productive Day

 Yesterday there was so much to do in the garden that we split into teams to address different issues.  The peas are getting tall enough that we need to start worrying about a pea trellis.  A park neighbor donated the use of bamboo that is growing in his yard, and a pea trellis was built out of the bamboo stalks.  Some sort of string will be run between the stalks that the peas will climb.

Meanwhile, there were vegetables to harvest!  We planted 2 kinds of radishes, and many of the early radishes were able to be picked.  These radishes are growing in the bed that will be taken over by squash.  By the time the squash is big enough to impact the radishes, the radish season will be over.  More radish seeds were planted in this same bed to provide another crop.

Our first lettuce was planted from seedlings, and many of these seedlings were ready to be picked.  These lettuce heads are amazingly beautiful- green, red, and romaine lettuce.

After we picked the largest lettuces, we transplanted some of the lettuce seedlings we had planted from seed.  This is a problematic procedure, as the sun was brightly shining and there was a good chance the seedlings would not survive the stress of being transplanted.  We decided to give it a try, however, as we would just have thinned the transplants.  We came up with a creative way to try to give them some shade by using the leaves from the bamboo stalks that were being used for the pea trellis.

We planted some more lettuce seeds to grow another crop.  The remaining seeds (beans, cucumber, and squash) that needed warmer weather to germinate were planted.  It seemed like we had gotten a bit lax in our watering and it had an impact on the swiss chard and the beets in particular, so everything got a good soaking.  This got a bit overenthusiastic at times, with the hills of the potato patch being watered rather than the valleys where the seed potatoes are actually planted, and the box containing the seeds getting a drenching.  The seeds were able to be rescued, fortunately.

We nibbled on some of our pickings-

Arugula thinnings:

and radishes:

Our chief gardener called a meeting to discuss the looming problem of deciding which of the tomato plants we have bought or have been donated to us we should plant.  We can't plant them all, and each type of tomato seems to have a constituency.  We reached a compromise, with about half the tomatoes being cherry, grape or smaller than the usual, and the other half being of normal tomato size, with an emphasis on lots of different kinds of tomatoes.

Finally, the professor subjected us to one of his little Veggie School lectures -- this time on the history of radishes -- and "gently" reminded us about keeping apace with our community commitments homework on this project, which I'm sure we will all take to heart.

All in all, a very good day.

2010 Seeds

  • Beans, Bush (green) - Provider, Johnny's organic $2.95
  • Beans, Bush (yellow) - Rodcor, Johnny's $2.95
  • Beans, Bush (purple) - Royal Burgundy, Seeds of Change organic $3.79
  • Beans, Pole (green) - Kentucky Blue, Burpee (2/$3.95) $7.90
  • Beets - Crosby Egyptian, Wetsel Inc. (Harrison, VA), $1.19
  • Beets - Merlin, Johnny's organic (2/$2.95) $5.90
  • Carrots (multi-colored) - Kaleidoscope, Burpee (2/$4.95) $9.90
  • Cucumbers - Improved White Spine, Wetsel Inc., $1.19
  • Flowers, Calendula - Pacific Beauty, Seeds of Change $3.29

Seed & seedling sources


Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, promoting and preserving our agricultural and cultural heritage; headquartered in Mansfield, Missouri.

Botanical Interests - founded in 1995 to supply the highest quality seed (much of it organic) in the most beautiful and informative seed packets on the market; headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado.

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