Fall is always a bittersweet time for most gardeners.
The bitter is the end of the season, the death of all the plants we nurtured from embryo and childhood to full blow adult. The end of gazing at green dotted with red tomatoes, deep purple eggplant, multi-colored peppers and the deep blue and black of berries on the bush.
The sweet is all in the future – picking out next year’s crops and planning where these special additions will live in your garden.
Which Comes First – Picking or Planning?
This used to be a real conundrum for me so, sometimes I’d pick – sometimes I’d plan and sometimes. I do the exact opposite. It doesn’t matter to me because I am a lot more relaxed about my garden than I used to be. And frankly, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter…except when it comes to buying your seeds.
There are a whole lot of places you can find and buy seeds. The market place gets a little narrower if you only want to plant organic seeds and narrower still if you are only going for heirloom seeds.
As an organic gardener, I really do work hard to avoid buying seed from companies that have anything to do with GMO. I also don’t want my seeds coated with anything or doctored in any way. Sure, some of the seeds won’t sprout but here’s my philosophy. If it was meant to grow in my soil, it will.
So when it comes to acquiring seeds, I shop for organic and heirloom. And I have a few favorite places to buy them. Since I’ve been buying seeds for many, many, many years, my criteria haven’t changed but some of my sources have, thanks to the Internet and my gardening friends around the world.
Nonetheless, I love opening my mailbox and finding the first seed catalogue in it. It’s the signal to start browsing all the possibilities and putting in my order. NOTE: I know it’s fall. I know you won’t be planting until February or March (especially if you are a seed starter). But don’t wait to order. This is especially true if you are buying organic and heirloom seeds.
If you wait to place your order, you may be disappointed. The latest data indicates that about 50% — half of the population – are doing some back yard gardening. Ordering seeds now means that you will get the ones you want.
The internet has opened up a whole new world of where to get the best organic and heirloom seeds. Here are some of my favorite places to shop and a bit of a reason on why I like them.
High Mowing Organic Seeds
High Mowing Organic Seeds started as a hobby in one man’s backyard garden. In 1996, founder Tom Stearns planted just 28 varieties of veggies. Converting his tool shed into a seed packing area, he had no trouble selling the seed he grew that first year. The unmet demand for organic seed helped Stearns expand his business, first by renting parcels of land to produce the seed he was selling through a hand-made catalog then by working with select commercial growers. High Mowing Organic Seeds offers over 600 heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seed.
An Aside: there is another reason that I just love this small and “growing” company. They share all of their knowledge, including their mistakes and their solutions, freely, literally. Here’s a good example of the caliber of information High Mowing Organic Seeds posts for everyone to read and learn from. This article is on growing spinach. http://www.highmowingseeds.com/blog/spinach-for-winter-production/
So I buy their seeds and subscribe to their newsletter. A win for me.
Hudson Valley Seed Library
I also buy from a small but growing farm network — Hudson Valley Seed Library.
Like High Mowing Organic Seeds, Hudson Valley offers only organic seed. Like High Mowing, Hudson Valley started small. But this is where the comparisons stop. Hudson Valley offers an online seed library for all gardeners…but it also offers an online seed catalog that is focused on the Northeast. The idea that was hatched in the town library has grown to a full-blown seed farm where open-pollinated seeds are grown, saved, and packed by hand.
High Mowing has close to one thousand seed library members and it has offers a surprise with every seed packet – heirloom seeds in unique Art Packs designed and created by artists who submit art work for consideration and inclusion in this unique living art gallery.
The farms that make up this group raise seed you can trust, that’s a given. But the partners who started this business, Ken Greene and Doug Muller, also use artists to create seed pack covers and donate free seeds to a school garden, community garden, or garden organization in need.
I love the seeds and I love what the company stands for so I will spend some of my hard-earned dollars with Hudson Valley to get great seeds and support a worthy cause.
When I want to raise tomatoes and peppers that grace Italian kitchen gardens and enrich the already luscious cuisine of Italy, I only buy Franchi seeds.
This is a U.S.-based business but the seeds only come from Italy. And what wonderful varieties you can find on their website and
You can get a catalogue, too, but don’t expect a glossy 5 color magazine with gorgeous photography and elegant descriptions. Grow Italian is mostly a one man operation.
Territorials Seeds is sometimes considered the “granddaddy” of organic and heirloom seeds.
This company started when organic was in its infancy way back in the late 1970’s. Today, it is still owned by Tom and Julie Johns. They bought the small enterprise in 1985 from its founder Steve Solomon. Although the business has grown over the last 20 plus years, Tom and Julie have not strayed far from the original course set by Steve.
And Territorial Seeds doesn’t just sell veggie seeds, they share information including a garden planter guide and growing guides that I still use after years of gardening, myself.
Next week, I will be sharing some of my favorite books and web sites for organic gardeners. Also, beginning next week, Grow So Easy Organic will be published on Saturdays…now that I have a full-time job!