Thursday, January 21, 2010

Italian Seed Co. offers Rapini, Agretti and more

The cold, rainy days of winter are the perfect time for gardeners to grab a cup of hot cocoa and spend pleasant hours searching through seed catalogs as they plan their spring garden. The biggest challenge is trying to narrow down the many choices to the best bets for your taste, skill and zone.

I ran into a friend at Rao's last week who told me I should check out an Italian Seed company catalog. I found two - and I'm not sure which one he meant. The first is Italian Seed & Tool Co. I went online and browsed through their catalog, which isn't nearly as satisfying as holding a catalog in your hands, by the way. The list of vegetables is extensive, but what is particularly interesting is the variety of veggies not usually found in many other seed catalogs. Cooks like me who love preparing Mediterranean dishes will especially enjoy it. Some examples:Bean Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco (bush bean), rapini - broccoli raab del trasimeno, Chard Riccia da Taglio and Escarole Batavian Broad Leaved.

In addition to vegetable seeds, the company offers flower seeds, herbs, sprouting kits, tools and supplies. You can find them at

The other is Seeds of Italy, which I think is the one he was talking about. It has seeds listed by the region of Italy in which they are grown and collected, which is appealing.

A qoute from the catalog helps explain the importance of location: "Every region of Italy has its own varieties, which like its recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. They are not globally available varieties which are found worldwide but instead are regional with a unique heritage. Go to an Italian market and you can buy tomato seeds, tomato plants, tomatoes and everything made with the tomatoes. There is no separation between gardening and food – there’s just food, and the tomato will vary in shape, size and flavour depending on the region, along with all the other vegetables."

You can download a pdf of their catalog at

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