Sunday, February 01, 2009

In the Garden (Part 1 1/2): Of Seeds and Such

This blog post contains photos that may cause you to be discontent with your present lovely surroundings (if you are in Michigan or somewhere else cold and snowy that is), so please proceed with due caution.

Well folks, it's that time of year again.

Spring is just around the corner . . .

(o.k. so I'm being optimistic here) and our mail boxes are being inundated with seed catalogs. Or at least mine is. Mom commented the other day that there seems to be as many seed companies as there are letters of the alphabet. Choosing the right one to order from can be a bit confusing, if not frustrating.

Please don't think that I am the final authority on this, but for what it's worth, here are my "two cents" about the whole thing; take it or leave it.

Organic? Heirloom? Open-pollinated? Hybrid? Help!!
Unless you are planning on getting your land certified, or will be selling your produce this summer and plan on touting it as organic, don't worry about getting certified organic seed. This is where IFHO comes into play. (In Faith's Humble Opinion) I am all for chemical free gardening, and only use natural fertilizers on my plants, (fish emulsion, liquid seaweed and other great smelling stuff like that) and I have yet to do an in depth study on how/if the chemicals in seeds are passed to grown plants, but when the price of certified seed is two or sometimes three times as much as the regular seed, (and the "regular seed" doesn't mean it is chemically grown, but just not "certified" organic - read the fine print in the catalogs.) I'd rather buy the "regular" seed and save the money.

That said, here are a few certified organic seed companies for you to check out:

Seeds of Change

~ Peaceful Valley

~ Park Seeds - Organic

Some other seed catalogs have an "organic" section so look into that if you want more options.

Although opinions vary on how old a variety should be to qualify as an heirloom, most consider seeds grown prior to 1950 as heirlooms. I decided to try to grow almost all heirloom vegetables this year, primarily so that I can save the seeds for next year, (only heirloom and open-pollinated seeds will come true to seed) and save on the garden bill, and they also have many old varieties with flavor and other qualities that the modern hybrids can't touch. Plus it is a good start in learning how to be self sufficient. Heirlooms also have nostalgic properties, for us sentimental people:-).

Here are a few places that sell heirloom seeds:

~ Heirloom Seeds (very original:-)

~ Baker's Heirloom

~ Victory Heirloom Seeds

~ Granny's Heirloom Seeds

Hybrids are "something of mixed origin or composition." And just because I touted heirlooms as being so wonderful, doesn't mean all the work people have put into making hybrids is for naught. Many hybrid plants have resistance to diseases that some of the heirlooms do not. You will have to decide for yourself. It isn't imperative to grow all heirlooms, especially of those plants from which it is difficult to collect seeds(i.e. lettuce, onions, etc.).

(click the banner to go to their site)
I have the terrible habit of second guessing myself when it comes to ordering seeds. Just when I'm sure I've found the perfect catalog; wonderful selection, great prices; invariably I happen upon another company that sounds just as good or better! Well last year, about a week or so after I had ordered my seeds, a catalog for Pinetree Garden Seeds arrived in the mail. I mentally kicked myself and immediately decided that this was the place I was going to order from next year. They grew naturally, had superb prices, and carried a fine array of heirloom seeds. So when our mail box began to fill with seed catalogs this year, I didn't even blink as I sat down to order from Pinetree Garden. And of course what did I find a week or two later? The above mentioned "Granny's Heirloom Seeds." Now, I'm still not sure that Pinetree isn't the best out there for me. Every one will have a company they are more comfortable with, for some reason or another, how else would they all stay in business! But perhaps next year I will have to do a bit more research and comparison.

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O.K. now everyone refocus your eyes and wipe that bit of drool off your chin . . . you have been staring at the computer screen for way to long. Sorry this got so lengthy, but once I get going, there's no stopping me. I hope you found this a wee bit helpful!

Take care y'all,

Genesis 2:8 "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden . . ."