Growing plants from seed – especially our native, seasonal produce -- is essential to our food supply.
Besides buying from local greenmarkets or farmer’s markets, it is really, really important to grown your own food.
As the food thought leader and author Michael Pollan advises with his 7 Words & & Rules for Eating, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Think of seeds as the “Warriors” or “First Responders” in our battle to retain taste and diversity and local cuisine.
Any gardener worth their salt, er seed, delights in growing some edible basics, including tomatoes or cucumbers or zucchini or peppers.
But it’s just as easy and fun and delicious to grow a very wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
Don’t just replicate the store or familiar plant variety. Please.
And while one can get the more familiar, “staples of the table” plants at a big box store or nursery, why bother?
Frankly – if you are going to grow your own -- why limit yourself with the ordinary?
There is a vast, thrilling, visually enthralling and unlimited supply of deliciously, unique plants just waiting, beckoning to be tried.
Like a fashion Lookbook, you will be giddy with anticipation, merely turning the catalog pages.
Check out these beauties -- the color, the texture, the glamour!
|Rainbow Sweet Inca Corn|
You know you want to show off your Marc Jacobs - so indulge and show off your amaranth!
Plus, the big superstores were more than at fault in the tomato blight issue a few years back.
The corporate food retailers/big box stores sourced their tomatoes from China and other far-flung, non-local regions and the results were disastrous.
|Tomato Blight Photo credit: tomatocasual.com|
|Tomato Blight Photo credit: vegegarden.com|
There is a happy, healthy, tasty, easy-to-grow alternative.
Where to Source Seeds and How to Grow
There may not be a better place to start than the book, “The Heirloom Life Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally,” authored by Jere & Emilee Gettle, cofounders of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.
No less than the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and Melissa Clark – a trifecta of homegrown food advocates – have provided blurbs for the best selling book.
“Gettle is the Indiana Jones of seeds,” according to the book cover banner quote credited to The New York Times Magazine.
I received "The Heirloom Life Gardener"for review last year.
I remain very impressed with its presentation and content.
The importance of growing food free of pesticides, genetically modified Franken-melons or what have you, continues to resonate and is only gaining in popularity.
The book is an engaging how-to, for beginners and for more experienced gardeners.
The zen of gardening, after all, is the understanding of the art of gardening, especially as I am advocating pursuing myriad plant collections and not just the monoculture of growing a few varieties.
While I have read that some take issue with the somewhat protracted author biography, I think they missed the point here.
The purpose is to establish the author’s credentials and philosophy.
Why follow the leader if you don’t know where they’ve been?
In addition to Gettle, every vegetable and fruit has a history – a provenance.
Those stories need to be told in a book.
With the passion and expertise that inspires a lifetime of gardening knowledge
The artwork of those early seed packets, alone is worth a book. (The New York Botanical Garden curated an exhibit of seed packets a few years’ back and one might look into this display of agricultural art.)
Otherwise, just Google what you seek! Or seriously, contact your local Master Gardener’s Extension Coop.
A book is an exploration and a reference. A friend.
Further, this grow-your-own-food book showcases full-color photographs to enchant and excite the home gardener. The images are a passport to the world of plants that most don’t ever see.
I will hate myself for saying this, but even if the reader doesn’t get to growing much of the beauties offered in the book, they can take the book to the Greenmarket and discover jewels of the earth such as the candy striped Chioggia Beets, for example, or carrots.
Lest one be deterred, the full color sidebars and tips do make it all so easy and tempting to jump in and get planting.
Chapter headings help tell the Heirloom story too. Here is a sampling:
Growing Up with Heirlooms
Seeds in America
Collecting Seeds Around the World
How to Garden
A to Z Growing Guide.
You will enjoy the good-food stories, the history of heirlooms, how to garden even in urban settings, and cooking tips.
Seed and bulb sources are a cornucopia of garden information! Plus they give it away. For free. Take advantage of that expertise. The seed companies we use earn our loyalty be providing outstanding, quality product along with unbridled, solid growing tips and tricks. For example: http://rareseeds.com/planting-guide
At our Garden State farm-ette, my husband Bill and I grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Some of our favorite, tested seed and bulb resources include:
Kitazawa Seed Co. - Especially for their Shisedo Peppers http://www.kitazawaseed.com
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – more than 1400 heirloom seeds. If you can’t find something here to tickle your carrots, click off! http://rareseeds.com
Maine Potato Lady – for their garlic and potatoes http://www.mainepotatolady.com
John Scheepers Garden Seeds – for their eggplants, especially the Black Opal, and Turkish Orange www.kitchengardenseeds.com
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs - http://www.thebulbshoppe.com/gardens.php
** Don’t forget to plant your Peas! St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional calendar date to plant the peas and hope for snow! If you are further south, happy pea harvesting.
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