Seed Catalogs

Has your mailbox started to be filled with seed catalogs? In addition to the regulars, like Burgess and Burpee’s, we’ve received lots of information about heirloom seed companies and organizations that are focused on saving and sharing rare seeds for biodiversity. I hadn’t thought much about diversity in plants, but it does make sense that different varieties might be better adapted for different locations. We are so dependent on plants for food, shelter and clothing, a diverse plant world could avoid food shortages. An estimated 75% of the world’s crop diversity has been lost since the 1900’s, estimates the Food and Agriculture Organization. 

Seed Savers Exchange

One of my favorite online catalogs is produced by Seed Savers Exchange. A blog post at discusses the importance of food diversity and introduces the Ark of Taste, supported by the Slow Food Foundation.  The Ark of Taste catalog contains seeds of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. Each vegetable has it’s own story of origin and description. Since we can have a year-round garden in Pensacola, I’m always looking for plants that can be grown in cool weather, like Speckled Organic Lettuce, introduced from a Pennsylvania Mennonite family.   I’m also fascinated by the Chioggia Beet, a pre-1840 Italian heirloom, named for a fishing town near Venice, Italy. It has alternating red and white concentric rings. Beets are good for lowering blood pressure, you know.

Keep a Gardening Journalspring garden plans

I’m looking forward to adding some unique plants to our garden in 2014. Which seed companies do you like? One thing I’ve learned about planting a variety of seeds is the importance of keeping a written record. Keeping a journal helps me remember what I bought, when, and where. Here are some suggestions for what information to keep:

Plant name and variety, where you got it, when you planted, germination date, and a very important: how did the seeds germinate (did a lot of them come up or just a few), how many plants, did you start them indoors, date of harvest and yield. One last thing, did you have any specific problem, like susceptibility to pests or fungal infection.

As a part of your preparedness program, now is the time to plan that garden. Spring will be here soon.

Billie Nicholson 2014

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