Sep 162011
Seed Packets

Seeds I use (click to enlarge)

I recommend that you get seeds that are easy to germinate, will have excellent taste, and that are organically grown.  Heirloom seeds  have been used and grown by generations of gardeners and deemed worthy. They are also open pollinated and not hybridized.  This means if you let your plants go to seed, you can harvest that seed for next season’s crop.

You can find many varieties of fruits and vegetables in seed catalogs.  Start by picking your favorite foods  and ones that taste best home grown.  Tomatoes are a perfect example. It’s hard to ship a ripe tomato, and unripe ones never taste good.  You can find  many unusual tomatoes in the catalogs that you would never see in a store.

I also recommend starting out with seeds that are easy to germinate. A rule of thumb is the larger the seed the easier it is to grow.  A bean seed is large and you can put it deep enough in the soil that it will not dry out quickly.  A small seed, like carrot seed, has to be kept on the surface of the soil and kept consistently moist.  It’s a little harder to get good germination from these seeds. Some seeds are better sown in pots and transplanted and others need to be sown directly in the ground.  To find out about your seed be sure to read the directions on the packet, or look it up online.

Just keep trying and experimenting.  Starting plants from seeds can be challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.  The following are some great seed catalogs that carry heirloom and open pollinated seed. When you click on the catalogs below you will find that they have a lot of information about what to grow and where to grow and when to grow your chosen seeds.

California Poppy seed from my garden

California Poppy seed from my garden

In the picture on the left you can seed the pods of California Poppies from my garden. They’re easy to pick and wonderful to sow in the Fall.  To buy them is fairly expensive.  To save your own is free and way more fun.

Sep 152011
Heirloom tomatoes

Amazing Heirloom tomatoes at the Expo in Santa Rosa

On Tuesday, September13, I went to the Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, California. It was truly amazing.  There were many vendors from seed companies, tool companies, produce, nurseries, irrigation, master gardeners, farms, gardens, restaurants. And everyone there was interested in healthy, organic food.  The ripple of movement towards healthy food is becoming a tidal wave.

The keynote speakers were Jeffrey Smith from the Institute of Responsible Technology, talking about genetically  modified foods and the dangers they pose to human health and the environment, Alice Waters, the pioneer of the local food movement and the Edible School  Yard, and Dr. Vandana Shiva from India, who founded the movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds.

Heirloom gourds

A mountain of gourds at the Expo defies description

Seed Savers Exchange defines heirloom seeds and plants as follows:

The genetic diversity of the world’s food crops is eroding at an unprecedented and accelerating rate. The vegetables and fruits currently being lost are the result of thousands of years of adaptation and selection in diverse ecological niches around the world. Each variety is genetically unique and has developed resistance to the diseases and pests with which it evolved. Plant breeders use the old varieties to breed resistance into modern crops that are constantly being attacked by rapidly evolving diseases and pests. Without these infusions of genetic diversity, food production is at risk from epidemics and infestations.

This is just the tip of the heirloom iceberg. How we grow plants, what we grow, how we take seed, how we harvest, sell and preserve this food is all part of the big picture of growing healthy, safe food, that is good for all living beings and good for the earth.

The simple act of planting food in your own home garden is an important step you can take to make a difference in your lives and your children’s lives. Choosing what to plant and how we take care of our gardens is up to each one of us.

Over the next few days I’ll be telling you about the wonderful seed companies, tool companies and more that I found there.  Just know, that you’re on the cutting edge.

Herbs in box

Herbs in box

Even a small wooden planter box can supply you with healthy, delicious herbs for the season. Start small and keep on going.

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