Monday, February 1, 2010

Seeds and Seed Companies


The pile of seed catalogs is never far from reach these days. I sorted through my collection of seeds last week and made notes of what I needed; nothing really. I could get by just fine for years without buying any more seeds. However, what is the fun in that? I guess that means I get to try some new flowers and medicinal herbs this summer. Having said that I am going to put most of my effort into heavy producers. I am trying to resist late day vegetables, or novelties such as the melons that I find so irrisistable. I am trying to grow a balance of open pollinated and hybrid plants. I do like growing heirlooms and collecting my own seed, but their is also something to be said for vigorous heavy producing hybrids. Fortunately when it comes to seeds and other self sustainable investments, Dustin is totally on board. I never have to justify my seed orders. I do practice some restraint. I usually compile a large list of everything I want and then after adding up the grand total with shipping and seeing that my order is over the top for us, I then go back and cross out the items which I don't really have room for starting anyways.

My biggest seed decision is in deciding who to order from. In previous years I've ordered from Pinetree Nursery out of Maine, Irish Eyes in Washington, Territorial and Seeds of Change. I try to order from just one or two catalogs a year so as not to spend too much money on shipping. There is a lot of controversy out there about Monsanto and Seminis Seed Companies. Since Monsanto bought Seminis they are one and the same, however most catalogs acknowledge that they carry Seminis seed rather than Monsanto seed. What is so scary about Monsanto? Basically they own most of the worlds seed. They do not practice sustainable agriculture, on the contrary, they are responsible for products such as roundup and gmos (genetically modified seeds). It is challenging to find seed companies that are not owned or supplied by these companies. There are lists online of all the seed companies that buy seeds from Seminis and it includes a lot of the big ones. Last year I didn't order from Territorial, because even though they are privately owned they carry Seminis seed. It seems as though this year the seed companies are acutely aware that their customers don't want to support these huge companies. Searching online I found that some of the companies such as Territorial are disclosing the Seminis seed products that they are carrying so that consumers can avoid those specific seeds. It also shows that they are trying to reduce the amount of Seminis seeds that they are carrying. 

I enjoy knowing that my money is going towards small companies that are growing some of their own seeds. When I open up a catalog I usually read about the company and their farming practices. I also like to compare prices which can be tricky as you have to read what size the packets are and how many seeds they carry for each type of vegetable. This is the first year I have opened a Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog, and I can see the allure that the large companies such as this one have; large variety, great pictures and low prices. 

My favorite seed catalogs to look at are Seed Savers Exchange and Seeds of Change. These are also two of my more expensive catalogs. Generally I look at the pictures and then take my mental notes and order from a less expensive catalog. You would think that the smaller companies carrying a large proportion of organic seeds would be the most expensive, but I have found that Irish Eyes offers some of the best prices. The downside is that there is not as much variety to choose from.

Who am I ordering from this year? Well I am still undecided. I was initially going to try and order from just one catalog.  I just got a Peaceful Valley catalog for the first time. They offer seeds in their own name in addition to several different seed companies such as Seeds of Change, Renee's Garden Horizon Herbs. This may be a solution to the dilemma I have every year over who to order from as I can order from five different companies and pay one shipping fee.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Emily, you got to get Fedco's catalog just for the growing info. An added benefit is that they only charge a $5.00 handling charge for orders under $30.00. Over that - no charge except the seed price. They are very inexpensive, and have a great selection.

Happy Hunting!

Emily said...

Thanks for the tip. I'll check them out. Emily

Jon H said...

Great post, I have a love for the seed catalogs too!!
Great blog to by the way, first time ready and i like it!

Keep up the good posts and good luck!

kuskolady said...

Emily - did you make your seed packet container? It looks like a GREAT way to keep seed packets organized.

Emily said...

Kuskolady, I bought the seed organizer at a local greenhouse several years ago and it has held up well despite being overloaded. I'm sure it would be a fairly simple project for a sewer, not one of my strong points, yet anyways. Emily