Seed Starting – Followup

Winter Sow vs. Starting Indoors

Back in March I posted about starting my seeds for this years garden. I have always started my seeds indoors in a sunny spot. But I had read about Winter Sowing and decided to give that a try as well.

I was very skeptical about the success of this endeavor because our spring has been so wonky. I think the results are mixed but overall I am impressed.

My winter sown peas did not come up. And my spinach didn’t do well at all. A few sprouted and died quickly (I was using old spinach seeds though so that could be the problem. And I have always had trouble growing spinach. The lettuce is doing very well though.

Winter Sown Lettuce

Winter Sown Lettuce

As are the marigolds.

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Winter Sown Marigolds

Indoor Sown Marigolds

Indoor Sown Marigolds

A few weeks after I started these I put out tomatoes and peppers. I have had a hard time with peppers in the past but both my indoor and winter sown seeds are doing great this year.

Winter Sown Peppers

Winter Sown Peppers

Indoor Sown Peppers

Indoor Sown Peppers

I think most impressive to me are the tomatoes though. My indoor seeds always struggle with growing strong and upright and tend to succumb to dampening off (although cinnamon helps with that). The winter sown ones are looking great though.

Winter Sown Tomatoes

Winter Sown Tomatoes

Indoor Sown Tomatoes

Indoor Sown Tomatoes

I really like this method of seed sowing. I am not sure I will give up sowing indoors all together though.
 

Seed Starting

I ordered my seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library a few weeks ago. I was so excited when they arrived. I love getting my seeds going in the spring. It feels like proof that warm weather is on it’s way. Although, I have a feeling this year it may take a little longer than usual to arrive.

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A while back I came across a seed starting idea on Pinterest called winter-sowing. I had never heard of it before. After reading the blog post on A Garden for the House it seemed to make a lot on sense though. So I figured I would give it a try this year.

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I followed his instructions for putting the holes in the jugs and cutting them. I found that some of my thicker plastic containers were a pain to put holes in with the heated screwdriver tip method so I used my drill instead. I mean anytime you can use a power drill you should right?

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I used a box cutter to cut the jugs, added my soil and seeds, watered, taped and set them outside. We will see how they do. I started lettuce, peas, spinach and marigolds. I plan to put out peppers and tomatoes in April as well.

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I also started some seeds inside, like I usually do. Mainly because I have done that in the past with success and I want to make sure I get seeds going. With my luck it will be a terrible year for winter sowing or something. Inside I started peppers, tomatoes, marigolds and sun flowers.

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The marigolds and sunflowers popped up really quickly. The others will take a week or two. I can’t wait for all of the little green shoots to come up. Gardening makes me giddy.

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I Dream of Seeds

My thoughts are constantly returning to gardening despite this wicked cold we have been having. The seed catalogs arrived earlier this year. I love looking through them and dreaming of and planning this year’s garden. The past few years I have been learning a lot about food, gardening and seeds and the importance of knowing where my food and seeds come from.

I went on a search last winter looking for non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)/GM (Genetically Modified)/GE (Genetically Engineered) Company seeds and found several lists of places that sell them.  (For more on why this is important see the Center For Food Safety and Institute for Responsible Technology.)

It appears that typical consumers would not need to worry about actually getting GM seed. It is (currently) only produced and sold to large scale farms (as far as we know). But who wants to risk that anyway. Really what we do need to be concerned about is supporting GM companies by buying their other seeds which are sold to, and then by, many, many seed companies.

So what we are looking for are companies who sell safe seeds and seeds that didn’t come from Monsanto/Seminis. You would think that would be easy enough but it isn’t. For reference here is a list (from 2/2012) of Seminis/Monsanto home-garden vegetable varieties. These are not seeds that are genetically modified but are varieties that are owned by Seminis/Monsanto and may profit from their sale. So be sure of the seed source before you buy. It is even better if the company grows them themselves and if their website states clearly that their seeds are organic, heirloom and/or GMO free!

For more info about keeping GMO companies out of your garden check out this post by The Healthy Home Economst.

I did lots of research, followed links and narrowed what I found down to seed companies in the North East.  My thought with that was the more local the better for the environment due to shipping.  Also, in the case of companies that grow the seeds they sell, if the seeds were harvested from plants grown in a climate similar to ours here they have a better chance of doing well here.

Hudson Valley Seed Library 2014 Art Packs

By far my favorite seed company that I found is the Hudson Valley Seed Library.  I love what they do and that they are near where I grew up here in NY.

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The full list of what I found (as of 2/2014) is here: (Please keep in mind this list is fluid, it changes frequently as seed companies adjust to public pressure, are acquired by other companies, sell-out existing inventories and change where they buy their seeds. Be sure to verify for yourself that the seed company is acquiring their seed from a good source before you buy.)

Non-GM seed companies in the North East:
(many untreated, organic and/or heirloom and to the best of my knowledge not Monsanto/Seminis supplied)

NY
Hudson Valley Seed Library * http://www.seedlibrary.org/
Turtle Tree Seed ~ http://www.turtletreeseed.org/
Fruition Seeds ~ http://www.fruitionseeds.com
Ommas Aarden Heirloom Seed ~ http://www.localharvest.org/store/M12935
WinterSown ~ http://www.wintersown.org
Invincible Summer Farms ~ http://invinciblesummerfarms.com
DollarSeed ~ https://www.dollarseed.com
Rooftop Ready Seeds ~ http://www.rooftopready.com/index/
(tailored for NY City/urban climate)
The Sample Seed Shop ~ http://www.sampleseeds.com

NJ
Dirt Goddess Super Seeds ~ http://www.dirtgoddessseeds.com

PA
Amishland Seeds* http://www.amishlandseeds.com/
The Ark Institute *~ http://www.arkinstitute.com/
Heirloom Seeds *~ http://www.heirloomseeds.com/
D. Landreth Seed Company * http://www.landrethseeds.com/
Good Mind Seeds http://goodmindseeds.org

CT
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds ~ http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com/
Select Seeds ~ http://www.selectseeds.com/
NE (New England) Seed ~ http://www.neseed.com

MA
Organica Seed * http://www.organicaseed.com/

VT
High Mowing Organic Seeds *~ http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
American Meadows ~ http://www.americanmeadows.com
The Vermont Wildflower Farm ~ http://www.vermontwildflowerfarm.com

ME
Fedco Seeds *~ http://www.fedcoseeds.com/
Johnny’s Selected Seeds ~ http://www.johnnyseeds.com/default.aspx
Wood Prarie Farm *~ http://www.woodprairie.com/
Pinetree Garden Seeds and Accessories ~ http://www.superseeds.com
Groundswell Seed Farm http://groundswellfarm.wordpress.com
The Maine Potato Lady ~ https://www.mainepotatolady.com/productcart/pc/home.asp

Key:
*Approved and endorsed by Farmwars
~ Signed Safe Seed Pledge

(Found by searching these lists:
http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/2012/03/06/monsanto-free-seed-companies/ (link now broken)
http://empowured.com/seed-saver-sources-organic-gmo-free-non-hybrid-untreated/
http://www.off-grid.info/food-independence/heirloom-seed-suppliers.html)

(List compiled February 2014)

Garden

I love to garden.  We don’t have a big yard but it is amazing what you can grow in a few raised beds.  It does my soul good to be outside in the sun playing digging in the dirt.  And even though it takes some effort to get the garden in, once it starts producing, it gives me such joy.  And the veggies taste wonderful to boot.

This time of year though, my garden has been winterized and will lie dormant (much like me) until spring.  So I hold on to photos of this summer’s abundance to remind me that life will come again in a few long months.

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