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Believe It Or Not Garden Vegetables
Imagine beans and cucumbers a yard long, foot-long peppers, square tomatoes, round carrots, soccer-ball sized onions, and pumpkins so big a young child can stand inside them.
These are some of the rare and strange vegetables offered by Ripley's Believe It Or Not Seeds, Westport, Conn. The company says its catalog contains the world's biggest assortment of unusual seeds. Here's a few of the "Believe It Or Not" varieties:
Tomatoes - Gigantic Delicious Tomatoes weigh up to 7 lbs. 12 oz. Another variety, called the "Juice Tomato", is specially bred to produce more soluble pulp and is said to be ideal for making fresh homemade tomato juice. One of the most unusual varieties is the "Square Tomato" that was created to minimize harvest dam-age and to make packaging easier.
Pumpkins - "Big Max" pumpkins weigh 100 lbs. or more. Tiny "Little Max" pumpkins are deep orange in color and grow to only about 2 by 3 in. in dia.
Squash - "Spaghetti Squash" looks and tastes remarkably like spaghetti, says the company. "Hungarian Mammoth" squash, said to be the world's largest, grows up to 100 lbs.
Peppers - The "Big Jim" variety produces the world's longest chile pepper. It's medium hot with thick, fleshy pods 8 to 12 in. long with 25 to 40 pods per plant.
Cucumbers - The "Kyoto" cucumber grows up to 36 in. long and is a slender 2 in. in dia.
Sunflowers - The company's "Russian Mammoth" sunflower grows more than 14 ft. tall.
Gourds - The tough, fibrous interior of Loofa "sponge" gourds works great for washing dishes, pots, and cars. Loofa sponges are used in many foreign countries. The Japanese use them to manufacture slippers, mats, baskets, toys, and even shock absorbers.
"Birdhouse Gourds grow into natural birdhouses that song and insect-eating birds love.
Corn - One packet of "Broom Corn" seed is enough to make up to 12 brooms. Plants grow 10 to 15 ft. tall with 28-in. seed heads.
Beans - Yard-Long Beans produce bright green 25 to 30-in. pods. Sometimes called the asparagus bean, it's actually a tall-growing variety of cowpea that's widely grown in Japan, China, and Africa. You pick and use them just like snap or string beans.
Carrots - "Parisian Ball" carrots are round, 1 to 11/1-in. dia balls that make a great eye-catching side dish. They taste just like regular carrots.
Miniature Vegetables - Mini varieties include "Little Ball" beets (1 to 11/2 in. in dia.); miniature "Sugar Boil" snap peas that grow only 18 to 24 in. high and produce 3 1/ 2-in. long snap peas; "Sugarbaby" water-melons that grow only 8 in. across; and "Pot Luck" cucumbers whose vines grow no longer than 18 in., yet produce 6 to 7 1/2-in. long straight dark green cucumbers.
Ripley's offers a reward of $250 for any record-breaking tomato, sunflower, squash, or watermelon variety. Their seed catalog sells for $1.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ripley's Believe It or Not, World's Most Unusual Seed Catalog, 10 Bay Street, Westport, Conn. 06880 (ph 203 454-1919).
Stokes Seeds, Buffalo, N.Y., also sells unusual seed varieties, including:
Onions - "Kel'sae Sweet Giant" Spanish onion can grow as big as a soccer ball. The world record is 7 lbs., 7 oz., and average bulb weight is 5 lbs.
Popcorn - "Cutie Pops"4-in. long multi-colored miniature popcorn ears can be used for dried bouquets, or you can pop the seeds.
Contact: Stokes Seeds, Inc., Box 548, Buffalo, N. Y. 14240 (ph 416 688-4300; in Pa., Ohio, N.Y., and Mich. call toll-free 800 263-7233); in Canada, Stokes Seeds Ltd., Box 10, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2R 6R6).

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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #4