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Where to Find Seeds to Grow Traditional Latino Herbs and Vegetables

  • Chiltepin
  • Pipicha
  • Ezpazote
  • Anne Randle.

Believe it or not, spring is here! It is time to prepare the garden, beginning with choosing what to grow. Seeds for common vegetables and herbs are easy to find in home improvement stores this time of year, but you may be looking for something a little harder to find. Maybe you would like to grow chiltepines, pipicha, or epazote. Many traditional Latino herbs and vegetables will grow here in the Southeast U.S., and luckily it is becoming easier to find the seeds. Here are a few good seed sources for those plants:
Johnny’s Selected Seeds www.johnnysseeds.com
Johnny’s offers vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Some small fruit trees are available as well. One of the best things about this company is that they provide detailed growing instructions. Highlights from their catalogue include pipicha, epazote, anís, and a wide variety of vegetables suited for this climate.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange www.southernexposure.com
This company specializes in heirloom seeds, passed from one generation to the next. Many old varieties can be found here. Papalo, amaranto, and wild cherry tomatoes can all be found here, as well as popping sorghum.
Native Seeds/SEARCH www.nativeseeds.org
This non-profit based in Tucson, Arizona works to preserve and distribute rare heirloom seeds. Although these seeds are from the Southwestern U.S. and Northwestern Mexico, many will grow well in our region. This catalogue has a huge selection of corn, beans, and peppers, and is also one of the few places you can find chiltepines.
Las Cañadas http://www.bosquedeniebla.com
The seeds sold by Las Cañadas support efforts to teach agroecology in Veracruz, Mexico. This catalogue offers the widest variety of traditional herbs and vegetables, but placing an order is complicated. Some of the more unique offerings include chaya, chía, huauzontle, and jícama.
There are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to grow crops here in the Southeast. Many of the plants from Mexico, Central America, and South America are adapted to hot, dry climates. In Georgia, we have enough heat during the summer months to support these plants but humidity often causes disease. When planting something for the first time in our climate, give plants plenty of space to grow. Crowded plants are more likely to suffer from disease.
Also, remember that our winters may be more extreme than some temperate areas. Plants that might survive the winter in other parts of the world will be killed by frost here. And do not be tempted to plant early. The last frost in Savannah is around March 21st. Plants may be killed if planted outside before this date.
Growing traditional herbs and vegetables is not only a way to enjoy flavors from the past, but is also a great way to share this culture with children. As your garden grows, remember that the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is a free resource for you. Please contact your local county agent at extension.uga.edu with any home gardening questions.
Anne Randle is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent for the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension program. For more information on this or other home gardening topics, she can be reached at 706-653-4200.

Issue Month: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017