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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seed Ordering Time

January is seed ordering time here at Boulder belt. The seed order used to be a huge event for us that caused a great deal of stress (what if we forget something? What if we get it WRONG!!??!?). we would get the seed catalogs in the mail (most arriving by Jan 1st because we are commercial growers and commercial growers get their catalogs before the home gardening crowd). We would study the catalogs for days dreaming of spring and planting and warm mornings and fresh food being harvested daily and other unwintry thoughts. We would put big black stars by the seeds we wanted to buy and would fill out order forms and check them twice than send in the orders.

And every time we would discover we had missed something important and would freak out.

These days we do not find the seed order is such a big deal because we have started in the past two years putting 2 to 4 seed orders every year pretty much in every season. So if something is forgotten we no longer freak out. Instead we just order whatever it is we need and grumble about S&H charges that could have been avoided if we only had order whatever with the rest of the seeds.

So far this year we have put in our orders to Johnny's selected seeds and Fedco and have only forgotten one item-5 pounds of sugar snap peas, one of our best selling crops. I have not decided if I want to put in another order to Johnny's or Fedco or go with one of the Heirloom companies-Baker Creek or Seed Savers Exchange. Both have sugar snap seed, I believe. But we have not order sugar snaps from either of those companies before so don't know the quality. We usually get our peas from Fedco or Johnny's and do know what to expect form them.

Something that has come up in the various forums I use about seed buying-The fact that Monsanto bought Semenis seeds and now controls something like 85% of the global seed stocks. We at Boulder belt do research where the seeds we buy come from and we avoid buying Monsanto owned seeds. This has meant dropping several hybrids that have always done very well for us and finding substitutes. This has not been an easy task for a couple of crops. I have yet to find a replacement I really like for the Fat n Sassy green to red bell pepper. It has been fun trying out different peppers both hybrid and heirloom. I have found many heirloom varieties I like a lot but none have come close to replacing this red bell (but I have found some wonderful yellow, purple, brown, red cheese and other peppers that now have a place in the market garden)

We used grow a wonderful pure white sweet onion called Superstar that we dropped because of the Monsanto connection and have yet to find anything close. So now we grow heirloom sweet onions that are not as pretty but have no ties to Monsanto and have excellent taste, though rarely are as mild as the Superstar.

I am hoping today we finish up the seed ordering for this month. We still have to order some tomato seed. There are two heirlooms I want to grow-Paul Robeson, a black beefsteak mater named for the performer/activist, Paul Robeson and also Green Zebra because Miami University is interested and we have not grown a green full sized mater in years. We grew GZ about 6 or 7 years ago and it was prolific, pretty but not the best tasting mater that we grow. We also have to order eggplant and of course the sugar snap peas. I think we will also order several flower varieties. We have been wanting to grow sunflowers for years and I think this is the year to do so. Sunflowers can brighten up any day and it looks like we are going to go through a lot of very dark days and will need sunflowers to rescue us all. And we need yarrow and there will likely be many other seeds we will decide we cannot live without.


Robin Follette said...

I'm having the same struggles with replacing favorites. New Ace was a huge hit for green to red bell pepper last year. Revolution is my new favorite for big, blocky green bells. I stuffed a bunch for the freezer. I'm at the end of the eggplant I like. I have enough seeds for this year. It's a hybrid so I can't save it. Johnny's went in yesterday, Fedco tomorrow after I make the $$ deposit. Seedling prices are going up to $3.50 a six pack because seeds are so expensive.

When I realize I'm missing something I order online from Johnny's. If it's in by noon I usually have it the next day. I wish they were doing more to move from Monsanto. I'll order fall seeds later on. The spinach I like for fall/winter went to $26 a pound. OUCH!

jason said...

I love green zebras!