Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Seeds, Seeds, Seeds

I always placing my first seed order for the year. For some vegetables I save my own seed and for some I still have plenty. But sometimes I neglect to save seed, or like my favorite Kentucky Wonder beans, the seed crossed so isn't pure anymore. Some seed I buy is hybrid like my corn, onions and some brassicas. And some seed takes a lot of space for a over time to save. Onions are one of these types. I'd have to grow the onion the first year then save it over the winter than plant it back the next year. Onions are also plants that have inbreeding depression, so you need to plant a decent amount of them to keep the line going. I don't get to eat anything out of the space. With things like these have have two choices. Give more space to that plant and maintain a line that could over time do very well in my area. Or I could grow more crops to eat locally. My yard is only 9000 sqft and shared by both townhouses. I really don't have space to do both. So I save what I can but my priority is to grow more food.

In fact my choice this year is to take one 4'x'8 vegetable bed out of production in veggies and put in a few more blueberry plants. I could eat pounds and pounds of these every year if I could just grow more of them. We do have some blueberry plantings in the front yard. But most of them are lowbush blueberries as landscaping. The bed that I'm going to plant up as blueberries is the shadiest part of the garden. It always unfreezes late in the spring as the neighboring houses shade it. But blueberries will be just fine with that space.

My favorite place to order seeds from is Fedco. It is a New England cooperative owned by the the consumers and workers. They aren't a company like Park or Burpee that push to sell to anywhere. Their focus is New England and they have seed that works in our climate. The descriptions sometimes will contrast how a seed will grow in Northern versus Southern New England. It isn't that the seed won't grow in other climates, but I know it will work in mine.

So here is my first order. I might or might not place another order. I haven't yet decided.

  • Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean
  • Serendipity Bicolor Sweet Corn*
  • Sensation Melon
  • Mokum Carrot
  • Sugarsnax Carrot*
  • Andover Parsnip OG
  • Oasis Turnip*
  • Copra Onion
  • Ailsa Craig Onion
  • Space Spinach*
  • Giant Winter Spinach
  • Argentata Chard
  • Gigante d’Italia Parsley
  • Early Mizuna OG
  • Ruby Streaks OG
  • Shuko Pac Choi
  • Purple Pac Choi
  • Kolibri Kohlrabi*
  • Winner Kohlrabi

* means that I purchased more than one packet or a large packet. I buy carrots and spinach every year because old seed is unreliable for them. I buy a lot of them because I grow so much of it. Things like turnips or kohlrabi have long lasting seeds. I may not grow that much each year, but I'll use the same packet for several years.

My total is $42. I always have to purchase at least $30 or I get hit with a $5 shipping fee, and I like my free shipping. No trouble this year. In fact I ordered a little more since I'm ordering for Granny and those don't go into my totals. This total won't go on this year's tally. I'll be starting next year's tally with it since it is for next year's crops.


  1. I sent in my first seed order of the year yesterday too. Mine was to Plants of Distinction (probably not available in the US). One of the many reasons I like them is that they have superb photos in their catalogue, which really make you want to grow what they are selling.

    1. You would hate Fedco then. They have a totally black and white catalog on newsprint paper with no photos to keep costs down. In some ways it is more oriented to market farmers I think. Which would make sense because they own a lot of the company.

  2. I get a lot of my seeds from Fedco. They have many varieties that work well for me here in the midwest, and their prices and service are hard to beat. I also get a lot of seeds from Johnny's - another NE company.

    You are ahead of me on ordering though. I haven't even done an inventory yet of my seed supplies.

  3. It doesn't get much better than looking through seed catalogues does it.
    Do you have a system of how you keep your seeds?
    Love Leanne

    1. I try to keep it down to two airtight plastic containers that I keep in the fridge. Some beans are kept in my bean containers outside of the fridge since they are large seeds and I don't have room. Occasionally they don't all fit. I let them take about half a day out of the fridge before I open them so they don't condense. It works pretty well.

  4. Baker Creek only for me. Their philosophy gels with mine, and as long as I know what grows here (I'm near you) I do well with them.

  5. I appreciate your emphasis upon growing more food over maintaining the seed line. I wish we had time and, as you've pointed out with onions, to do both, but we don't. We're reluctantly accepting hybrid brassicas (at least they are from an independent and local greenhouse) and melons. We like Fedco too! I think you inadvertently introduces us to them. Thanks!

  6. I'm in the mid-atlantic and love Fedco. I've been ordering from them for years. It was their huge lettuce section that originally sold me on them.

    I really do need to get my order in!

  7. I only save seed for certain items - for the same reasons you expressed. I am planning to do my garden planning and seed orders this weekend and/or on News Years day while I have some time off from work to devote to that task. I intend to bring back a few items I have skipped growing for a year or two, and reduce the amount I produce on others. Fine tuning production to try and better match our current family eating needs.

  8. I should really make sure I've got seeds for my winter crops but somehow I don't seem to have got round to it yet. Funnily enough my winter list will probably look pretty similar to what you've just ordered - minus the melons, beans and corn of course.

  9. Out community garden places a group order with Fedco in early February. That gets us free shipping (to one address), a 10% discount, and the community garden gets a 10% contribution. They are pretty sophisticated too. Their mesclun mix is packed in two separate envelopes for lettuce and mustard, which have different germination and growth rates. I plant the lettuce mix a week or two before the mustard mix so they both get to cutting height at about the same time.

    1. Fedco seems to really like group buys. The Northeast Organic Farmers Association does a bulk buy every year with quite a handful of drop off locations. I did it two years ago and will probably do it again this coming year. It isn't for seeds though. It is for the growing supplies.