It’s right at this time when there are at least two more months of freezing temperatures ahead and the landscape has been brown, gray, and white for a couple of months already, that the colorful seed catalogs start arriving. Filled with promises of abundant summer harvests, they lure us into dreams of this year’s garden.
That’s a good thing. It’s time to take a look at my notes from last year, what worked and what didn’t (ugh, that tomato blight, and what about that pesky squirrel who ate the few tomatoes I did get?) and start planning.
A media kit I received from one seed company had the tag line, “Feed the Edible Garden Explosion.” Beyond the advertising intent, the sentence is a nice confirmation of the fact that there is an edible garden explosion going on. Seed companies for home gardeners report record sales on vegetable seeds in the past two years, and I can vouch for the fact that any food-related class I’ve taught at the New York Botanical Garden or Brooklyn Botanic Garden has had double the students the same classes were getting five years ago.
I think the interest in homegrown food is sparked by the convergence of several factors: increasing awareness of how our food choices impact the environment (including local vs. imported and organic vs. conventional), the lousy economy and the possibility of saving money by growing (or foraging) some of your own food, and the intense interest in the deliciousness of local, seasonal food spurred by celebrity chefs and authors.
One company, Hometown Seeds, has put together a package it calls “Survival Seeds.” The seeds are specially packaged to guarantee viability for up to five years if properly stored (instructions come with the seeds), and all are non-hybrid and non-GMO so that home gardeners could start saving their own seed from the first crop to plant the following year.
All of the company’s seeds are non-GMO, but not all of them are non-hybrid. The ones in the Survival Seeds kit are, so that as Scott Peterson from the company says, “You can save seeds from your harvest and they will grow producing plants the next year. So rather than have one seed for one year, you can see many harvests from the original purchase.”
Scott says that he “grew up with parents who were very prepared. We kept up to a year’s supply of the non-perishable foods we ate the most. This was our first line of preparedness. The second line were seeds we kept were for an extended need. My parents kept a seed bank for the possibility of a personal financial crisis where our family could garden intensely to reduce food costs.”
Hometown Seeds is offering a 10% discount on their seeds to readers of this blog now through February 28th. Just enter “thanks” as the coupon code.
Another seed company I like a lot is Pinetree Gardens. Their premise is that home gardeners don’t need the 100 or more seeds that are in most seed packets, and shouldn’t have to pay for what they don’t need. They offer packets containing fewer seeds at lower prices than most other companies.
Here’s to our 2010 gardens: may they thrive!
Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith