Continued from <-More Heirlooms, Part 2
In the US seed trade by 1868, this cabbage was originally from Winnigstadt, Germany. It remained popular for nearly 100 years because it tasted so good. Even as late as 1957, one seed company still recommended it as one of the best for home gardens. 'Early Winnigstadt' grows into a big plant, with ruffled leaves that nearly hide the pointed head. Some report that it is a good keeper. This variety has nearly disappeared.
Developed in 1899 and introduced in 1903, 'Glory of Enkhuizen' remained popular as late as 1969 because it produced well even under less-than-perfect conditions. It is an early midseason variety, one that allows close planting (and thus high yields) because it produces few outer leaves. The heads, which keep well, average 4.5 to 6.5 pounds.
Grown in the US since 1848, this was the first sweet corn with black kernels. It was also a living legend. Seedsmen called it the sweetest and most tender corn ever. The stalks grow five or six feet tall, and produce two medium-sized ears. The kernels are white at the milk stage, and that's when they taste best. They turn black as they get starchy. Like many heirloom corns, this is one of those "get the water boiling before you pick the ears" varieties. Almost lost.
Could there be anything finer than a perfect ear of corn? Over the years, different varieties have been popular at different times, but this one has held its own for the better part of 100 years.
'Country Gentleman' was developed to solve a problem in an even older variety called 'Shoe Peg'. The original 'Shoe Peg' was a very high quality white corn. It was sweet, tender, and very tasty, named because its kernels were tall and narrow, shaped something like a shoe peg. About the only flaw this variety had was that its ears were smallish. Seedsmen set to work to solve this problem, and Frank C. Woodruff of S. D. Woodruff & Sons came up with this variety in 1890. A year later, Peter Henderson listed it in his catalog. Even as late as 1932, it was still, according to noted horticulturist U. P. Hedrick, the "best of its type".
'Country Gentleman' grows about seven feet tall. It produces cobs that measure eight or nine inches long. Like the original 'Shoe Peg,' it has peg-like kernels that appear tightly packed on the cob, but not in even rows like most other varieties of corn. Today, 'Country Gentleman' is another of the many varieties that are disappearing from seed catalogs. Twenty years ago, more than 40 companies sold it. Now, it's down to half that many.
Introduced in 1905 and once the most popular mid-season white corn, 'Howling Mob' has one of the best names ever. C. D. Keller, the Toledo, Ohio grower who developed this corn, claimed that when he took this corn to market, his customers went wild. 'Howling Mob' grows six or seven feet tall. The ears, which are eight or nine inches long, have 12 to 14 rows of kernels. Nearly lost.
Old variety known from at least 1880, and perhaps 1865. 'Boston Pickling' produces cylinder-shaped fruit that grow six or seven inches long and are a little darker than most other picklers.
The 'Early Cluster' may be the oldest cucumber still in cultivation. It was introduced by 1778, and American garden writer Thomas Fessenden recommended it in 1834. In 1886, Peter Henderson reported that it was "a much esteemed early variety, growing in clusters and extremely productive". Even as late as 1943, noted plantsman Liberty Hyde Bailey recommended it.
The 'Early Cluster' produces blocky cucumbers that will grow five or six inches long. Just as its name indicates, these fruit, which are light green and have many warts, appear in clusters. Picked small, they are used for pickles. They can also be left to grow a little larger for slicing cukes. To be fair, the 'Early Cluster' is not the easiest cucumber to grow. The vines appreciate pampering. Without rich soil and ample water, they languish. But then, sometimes you have to make allowances for the quirks and crotchets of 200+ year-olds.More Heirlooms, Part 4 ->