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The Seed Thread

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  • Wed, Jun 10, 2009 - 07:34pm

    #1
    Cloudfire

    Cloudfire

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    The Seed Thread

 

A recent post in the Agriculture/Permaculture thread reminded me of a thread that I’ve long been intending to start.  It’s still planting season here in USDA zone 5b, so, I’ll try to be concise, and kick this off with little fanfare. . . . .

With regard to the rationale for saving seeds, here’s my response to a recent post in the Agriculture/Permaculture Thread, regarding prepackaged "survival seed kits":


With regard to prepackaged "survival seed kits", I would maintain that, while they are better than nothing, there are several vulnerabilities in this plan:


• The chosen varieties cannot possibly be appropriate for all climates.
• If your stash is somehow damaged or stolen, your whole plan is
caput.
• Survival depends on your successfully raising a productive crop on the first attempt.


To expand on that third point, it would be a more sound strategy to plant a nonhybrid, nonGMO garden now. This has the advantage of having an existing petroleum-driven economic structure to assist you with the work or building the garden and soil amendment. Additionally, you would be developing the necessary agricultural skills, while you presumably still have a safety net for sourcing food. Meanwhile, you can collect seed from the most productive plants, thereby gradually developing seed that is specifically adapted to your soil and climate. To further ensure your security, you can share that seed with your community, thereby creating a reservoir of seeds that you can tap if something catastrophic happens to your stash.

 

So much for the rationale. . . . . Here’s some guidelines for posting in this thread:

  • If you have harvested seed that you’re willing to share, exchange, or sell, please post the following:
    • The common and Latin name of the plant (if known), in the subject line, please.
    • Your USDA zone (e.g. USDA 5b), or the zone applicable to your region of the world.
    • Moisture, drainage and rain conditions in your area (e.g. arid, semi-arid, etc., as well as boggy, sharp drainage, etc.).
    • Soil conditions in your area (e.g. sandy loam, clay loam, etc.).  pH, especially if extreme, would also be useful. 
    • Any characteristics of the plant that make it particularly desirable (e.g. spinach that is resistant to bolting in heat, or green beans that are particularly productive). 
  • If you have purchased seed that you’re willing to share, exchange, or sell,  please post the following:
    • The common and Latin name of the plant (if known), in the subject line, please.
    • Any claims made for the performance of the plant.
    • How your experience with growing the plant compares with the claims of the seller.
  • If you are searching for a particular seed, please post the following:
    • The common and Latin name of the plant (if known), in the subject line, please.
    • If you are simply searching for a type of plant with specific qualities, then state those (e.g., spinach that does not bolt readily, green beans that are not susceptible to mildew).

If you do not have the full contingent of info described above, please do not hesitate to post your seeds anyway.  Alternatively, you can post your location, and leave it to the reader to go to other resources to determine the soil type and climate.

Also, if you discover that a particular variety of nonhybrid, nonGMO plant is particularly well adapted to adverse conditions, please post it here, even if you have no seed to offer.  For instance, last year the US midwest suffered a particularly severe infestation of Japanese beetles.  If you grew several varieties of raspberries, and one was relatively untouched by the beetles, please post that information here.  In this sense, this is also an information exchange.

I have a few hundred seeds in my stock, and will post them as time allows.  I suspect that this thread will largely lie dormant until fall, after we have completed the year’s garden chores.  I am initiating the thread now, so that folks will have the concept of seed saving in the back of their minds, so that they can plan to let a few radishes, lettuces, and broccoli go to seed for this winter’s seed exchange.  

Please also feel free to post any general comments or suggestions about seed keeping and exchanging, as well as trusted sources for nonhybrid, nonGMO seeds.  Toward that end, here’s one of my favorite sources:  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:  http://rareseeds.com/.

Well, as that danged carrot-eatin’ varmint says, "That’s it folks!"  Happy Gardening!

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 02:44am

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: The Seed Thread

Hi C1oudfire (and others)-

   Good thread!  If one’s serious about achieving a sustainable lifestyle, I believe you need to be serious about perpetuating the source of your food.  So I am a recent initiate into the world of heirloom seeds!

   Here’s a site in Central NY that sells Heirloom seeds and is a proponent of seed saving.  I found it when I was searching earlier this spring for sources of heirloom seeds.  It is Ommas-Aarden, Dutch for "Grandmother’s Earth", at http://www.ommas-aarden.net/heirloom.htm .  I have found that the information provided on each pack of seeds is quite good. I’ll let you know this fall how well their seeds produced.

    Here is their story (below).  If you go to their site, they list all the different seeds they offer, as well as the level of expertise needed to [I think] save their seeds. 

The Ommas-Aarden Story

Researching the damage caused by genetically altered seeds, and headlines like…
"Industry Aims to Strip Local Control of Food Supply" helped us decide to take responsibility for our own food source; and to help others take responsibility for theirs. So Ommas-Aarden Heirloom Seed was created. Our ability to grow our own is in jeopardy, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. I searched for a name that signified an earlier time. My mother-in-law raised her children on this land and her grandmother name is Omma, (Dutch for Grandmother) and ‘Aarden’ is Dutch for earth.  Ah, – Grandmother’s Earth – perfect !


I have saved seeds for the last 20 years. I can certainly teach others how to do it too. Since I didn’t want to waste my time on nutrient-low foods, I looked up the healthiest foods and found this site,
whfoods.com; it taught me where my energy should be spent in my own garden. Saving seeds is easier than you might think ! There were so many seeds when I harvested, I couldn’t possibly use them all, so I thought I would sell them, and teach people about the nutrition each variety holds. I designed the seed packet to have all the information needed to save seed and a little nutritional information to nourish the mind.

Heirloom seeds come from non-hybrid (open-pollinated) varieties of vegetables. Growers can save their own seeds from heirloom seeds, as opposed to most modern hybrids which produce sterile or unreliable seeds. The term heirloom is used because the seeds for many of these varieties were saved by hand for generations. Farmers of the past dedicated their entire lives to producing seeds for plants that would grow well in their local area, only to have them go extinct due to commercial interests. On average, food travels over 1,000 miles to get to your plate. 70 to 90% of the food in any store is *GMO ! It’s time to turn this around and get local. The more I learned, the more I knew this was the path for me.

GMO companies like Monsanto are part of the pesticide industry and they have been aggressively buying up seed companies for more than 20 years. I don’t want to rely on them for my seed… I don’t know if the seed I buy from them isn’t genetically modified, or hybridized past the point of healthy. I question what they have done. I know their priority, and it’s not health, either yours or mine. Large corporations aided and abetted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have lowered organic standards. We will not stoop that low. Seeds are treasures and seed diversification is essential if we are to withstand food viruses such as the one that caused the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in the 1840s. With proper storage, most seed can last indefinitely. We need to take back responsibility for our food source and our health. Fortunately, this is neither difficult nor time consuming.
Together we will take back control over nutritional integrity. It can’t get more local than when you grow your own – from your seed. No more worries about the food grown for the masses being tainted because when you grow your own, that concern is minimal. The fresher your food source, the more nutritious it is. When you grow with your own seed, you and your family don’t have to rely on anyone to provide something that you can provide yourself.

What seed we don’t grow here in Lewis County, New York, we buy or trade with other small family organic farms. Pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers annihilate soil. The food grown in these conditions isn’t healthy.  If the minerals aren’t in the soil, they won’t be in your food. We believe heirloom seeds go hand in hand with organic gardening and organic farming. The more people know about how to grow their own food and save seed,
the better. Nutritional information and seed saving how-to come with all vegetable seeds that we sell. Our goal is to offer the best varieties for you to begin your own seed saving adventure.

We encourage you to save the seeds from individual plants that meet your standards.
We adhere strictly to the Safe Seed pledge, returning to the earth with seed from an earlier time, before corporations took control over and advantage of our food sources.

Ommas-Aarden Heirloom seed. — We must work together to assure the future of our
food source. Remember -nutritional information and seed saving instructions comes with all vegetable seeds.

*Genetically Modified (GMO) seeds are patented and require a license fee and a contract to use certain pesticides. Some GMO crops are designed to produce sterile (terminator gene technology) seeds. GMO seeds mix both plant and animal matter in ways that nature never intended. Recent studies showed that GMO crops have 10% lower yields, and create genocide on the cycle of life."

   Another source of heirloom seeds I found was http://www.localharvest.org/.  You can search for a supplier of seeds within a certain distance of your location.  I believe the idea is to give you a better shot at getting seeds produced closer to your local area.

 

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 03:41am

    #3
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: The Seed Thread

Hi c1oudfire, Great idea for a thread, I have been slowly trawling through the Agriculture/Permaculture thread (found it late) and have found it fantastic. I really just want to flag this thread to keep an eye on it. Is there an easier way than actually posting?

Anyway, I thought I would also share some links for heirloom seeds here in Australia.

http://thelostseed.com.au/

http://www.diggers.com.au/

I am glad to say that after 9 or so months since seeing the Crash Course, we have now sold our Apartment and are moving to a rental house with some land where I can start planting an organic garden with heirlooms seeds. so much to learn and so much to trial. But I feel much happier about the direction my family is taking. Thanks for all that people have been sharing on this site, it is such a valuble resource for me.

Jon

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 09:52am

    #4
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: The Seed Thread

 

Hiya Pinecarr!

I can always count on you for great contributions!  Thanks so much for all of the great links!  They’re all on my "favorites" menu now. . . . I had visited the Local Harvest site before, but it is certainly improved with the interactive map that makes it easy to find local sources of healthy food.  And I loved the Ommas Aarden site, as well . . . . . I’ll be checking them out when it’s time to order seeds this fall.  Thanks again, bud!

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 10:01am

    #5
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: The Seed Thread

 

Hi, Jon;

Thanks to you, too, for the great links.  I especially liked The Lost Garden, where I picked up a few new books on gardening (I think I’m bordering on garden book addiction, of late!    Anyway, thanks for "tagging" the thread . . . . . It’s perfectly fine with me, as it’s the best way to follow a thread reliably.  Thanks for contributing!

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 10:08am

    #6
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    Re: The Seed Thread

Hello c1oudfire and all,

thank you very much for this thread and the shared informations. A good source for heirloom seeds in germany is the company "Dreschflegel" http://www.dreschflegel-saatgut.de

One question: what is "usda zone" ? Where can I get more information to compare zones? I live in the upper north of Germany near the Danish border – and think that the climate here is comparable to f.e. Massachusetts? Do you have any idea?

Best greetings

yours Regina

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 11:06am

    #7
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    southern exposure seeds US mid-atlantic

http://www.southernexposure.com/index.html

is an heirloom seed company specializing in the US mid-Atlantic region. They are proponents of herloom varieties and seed saving. We bought our seeds from them this year and are having good luck so far, especially considering I am a newbie gardener.

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 11:21am

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    Re: southern exposure seeds US mid-atlantic

Thank you Steve!

The catalog is full of a lot of useful information.  I sent the site to the food storage group.

Thanks!

Cat

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 11:38am

    #9
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    Re: The Seed Thread

[quote=spectrabil]

Hello c1oudfire and all,

thank you very much for this thread and the shared informations. A good source for heirloom seeds in germany is the company "Dreschflegel" http://www.dreschflegel-saatgut.de

One question: what is "usda zone" ? Where can I get more information to compare zones? I live in the upper north of Germany near the Danish border – and think that the climate here is comparable to f.e. Massachusetts? Do you have any idea?

Best greetings

yours Regina

[/quote]

 

Hi, Regina;

Here’s a website with maps of the various hardiness zones around the world, including the one commonly used in the United States, the USDA hardiness zone map: 

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/files/Maps/Maps_EuropeHZMap.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/HardinessZoneMaps&usg=__ItCLcRPo4PESqLpB8S2EXzJhIKg=&h=777&w=1098&sz=236&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=NiR40VEtlcCLGM:&tbnh=106&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3DEuropean%2Bhardiness%2Bzones%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4GZAZ_enUS272US272%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1.

Generally speaking, hardiness zone maps help gardeners and horticulturalists predict the likelihood that a plant will survive the lower temperatures of the winter soltice.  So, for example, in my zone, (I’m on the cusp of USDA zones 5a and 5b), I can expect a minimum winter temperature of -10 to -20F (-23 to -28C).  Growers and garden writers here often indicate the USDA zone for any given plant in their publications.  This acts as a guideline for deciding whether, in terms of hardiness, a plant is appropriate for my locale.  It should be noted that these are guidelines only, and that, depending on other conditions and microclimates, these zones can be "pushed", quite a lot, in some cases.  But it is a place to start, if you’re considering a plant with which you have little experience. 

Knowing your zone, and how it translates to other hardiness zone systems can be very useful when reading literature published in a distant location.  For instance, as a budding garden designer, I often read publications from England.  When the prose in those publications indicates that a plant is "fully hardy", it certainly doesn’t indicate that it will make it through the winter here in northern Illinois, where temps drop to subzero Farhenheit routinely.  I prefer publications that use the more objective hardiness zoning systems so that I may extrapolate whether the plant will do well in my location.

For the purposes of this thread, the main thing is that one gives some indication of cold hardiness . . . . . I would have no objection if you simply stated the usual low winter solstice temperature range for the area in which you are growing the plant.  It would also be useful to state the reputed cold hardiness of the plant, and indicate whether you have noted any discrepancy between your experience and the published claims.

I don’t want this to get too burdensome for folks who aren’t conversant in the concept of hardiness zones, but any information you can provide will help users determine whether the seed will be useful for them, which will save time and effort by helping to ensure that seed travels in the directions in which it can be most useful.

 

  • Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 12:59pm

    #10
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: The Seed Thread

I like to plug this website, if there are any other desert gardeners out there: 

http://www.nativeseeds.org

They are a company out of Tucson, and specialize in seeds native to the desert Southwest. I’m growing some amaranth, some black beans, a native watermelon and some lemon basil (smells sooo wonderful) from them. They have a wide variety of eclectic seeds.

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