Grow Worldly Vegetables

Grow Worldly Vegetables
Gardeners who love to cook now can grow classic ingredients for ethnic dishes, thanks to companies that are importing seeds from around the world. Here are three sources for gourmet kitchen gardeners.

  • Seeds From Italy – This one-man Massachusetts firm is the U.S. mail-order source for Franchi Seeds, one of Italy’s oldest seed companies. Franchi’s heirloom seeds are “what nonna used to grow,” says Seeds of Italy owner Bill McKay. His biggest sellers are Genovese basil, San Marzano tomatoes, zucchini and other squashes, and spring greens like agretti and dandelions. Garlic bulbs, mushroom kits, annual flower seeds and regional collections also are for sale. Order online at
  • Kitazawa Seeds – Located in Oakland, Kitazawa has been selling Asian vegetable seeds since 1917. Founded to help Japanese Americans grow ingredients for traditional meals, the company has branched out to include seeds for Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian vegetables. Discriminating Asian cooks can choose among 10 kinds of beans and 18 varieties of bok choy and eggplant, as well as more unusual finds like spicy leafed perilla or Chinese leek. Order online at
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds – This Connecticut-based company scours the world for seeds for varieties needed for ethnic and specialty dishes. Fans of pickling cornichons will find them here, along with other French favorites like Soleil Filet and Roc d’Or bush beans, breakfast radishes and Petit Pois (peas). The range and depth of vegetables from other countries is equally strong. Seed collections like the French, Italian or Mexican Garden, also are available. Order online at, where you’ll also find growing instructions and recipes.



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