Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Heirloom Seeds - Sustainable Living

Anyone can grow food! Everywhere I look, I'm confronted with articles and information urging everyone to get and store food, food, food! Political, spiritual and economical sources are all saying the same thing. Everyone who is "in the know", or who is watching the trends in our nation and world, are warning and urging everyone else to get ready. So let's do it!

I just want everyone to know that they CAN grow food for themselves - no matter where you live. If you are in a city apartment, you can grow vegies on your balcony, in your living room, in your kitchen, or in your bedroom! Maybe you can use a spot on the roof! Even if you just start with one package of seeds in one yogurt container -
ANYthing you do, is better than nothing at all! Please start. And once you do, you'll be hooked. Plants are "infectious", in a good way! Something about dirt and growing things has a healthy nurturing, even healing effect on us. Indoor plants also purify and recycle our air into good oxygen. So this is my best shot to inspire you all to grow something.

If you are already a gardener, many of you probably already have seeds in the dirt, especially if you live farther south than I do. But whether you've started or not, I want to pass on what I've learned about where to get the best seeds for the smallest price.

The goal is to grow "SUSTAINABLE" PRODUCE. That means you can collect some of your own seeds every year and continue to propagate your own garden from one year to the next without having to buy new seeds. Not all seeds will grow plants that can reproduce, and not all seeds will grow healthy, natural plants. But it's really simple if you are just aware of a couple of basic things to look for.

Non-Hybrid - HYBRID SEEDS DO NOT REPRODUCE. They are specially cultivated from "genetically dissimilar parents or stock" (dictionary). The plants will not produce seed that can be germinated, and they are genetically manipulated plants. I prefer to eat food that I know has grown naturally, just the way God made it to grow.

Hybrid plants are developed for a number of commercial reasons. They could be more insect or disease resistant, have brighter color, grow larger than normal, need less water so they can be grown in harsher climates, produce more "fruit", or many other reasons. Some of them are good reasons, maybe to help people in developing or third-world countries have food that they wouldn't have otherwise.  Never-the-less, I want real food that I can propagate and continue to live on.

Non-GMO - GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. I'd suggest that we all take the time to learn a little about it. It was an "experiment" started 40 or 50 years ago. More and more books are being written to warn us of the dangers of eating GMO foods. Our grocery shelves are full of them. They affect us, insects (like bees), the soil, and everything in nature adversely. The scientists do unnatural things like cross genes of a plant with a fish, or a goat with a spider. The results are ruining once-good soil content, killing important insects, creating devastating bacterias and other organisms, and even altering human DNA. That's all I'll say here, but the books will shock you with scientific study and evidence. Some of what is happening is like something from a horror movie. Here are a few of the most touted books, and I'm sure there are plenty of others. None of these are very expensive and would be well worth the education.

 Seeds of Deception

Genetic Roulette

The World according to Monsanto

Your Right to Know - Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food

When you are choosing your produce in the grocery store, you can watch the numbers on the little stickers that you find on each piece of fruit or vegetable. They tell you a little about the food's origin, based on the number of digits and what the first digit is:
  •  Organic - 5 digits, starts with the number 9
  •  Conventional - 4 digits, starts with a 3 or 4
  •  GMO - 5 digits, starts with an 8
I carry a little paper in my wallet, with that info for reference when I am shopping. 

Heirloom - This is the term used for seeds that come from original, natural, unmodified in any way plants. Many heirloom seed growers can trace their seeds back to the pilgrims and early settlers. Sort of like seed genealogy, I guess! Heirloom seeds are not GMO, or genetically modified. However, if the vendor doesn't say they are Non-Hybrid, they may not be. They could be from plants with mixed breeds, like a Crenshaw Melon with a Honeydew Melon. They could be cross-pollinated or grafted from original heirloom plants and still be sold as "Heirloom". I think that's wrong. Natural is natural. Nature never mixed an apple and a pear together. Man did. However, if you can find out what kind of "tampering" has gone on, and you are OK with it - that's fine. Just know what you are getting.

Where to buy - I buy all my heirloom seeds on E-Bay. Last year I spent days searching every heirloom seed seller I could find on the internet, only to discover that many of them also sell on E-Bay - for a much smaller price. On E-Bay, do a search for "heirloom seeds". You will find individual seed packets for a certain plant, herb, vegetable, etc., or "seed kits" or package deals with a huge variety of seeds for a bulk price. Just watch for "Non-GMO" and "Non-Hybrid" labeling. Many of them are also certified organic. If you collect a few seeds each year from your home-grown produce, you will only have to buy seeds once, and will be set with good healthy food for life!

If you've never sold or bought anything on E-Bay, here's how it works: The buyers rate (and can comment on) the sellers after they buy something. They rate quality of product and the service they received. The sellers who are not one-time and want to continue to sell on E-Bay, will have good products, send them out quickly, and have great prices. It's a great system that self-perpetuates quality assurance. I looked up a few of the current deals to give you a place to start:
  • 70,000 seeds,  $69.99,  seller is Mozybeau Auctions, and they are a Top Rated Seller on E-Bay.
  • 50,000 seeds, $59.99, Mozybeau Auctions
  • 30,000 seeds, $19.50, Seller is twinoak12, Top Rated Seller
  • 1900 seeds, $12.50,  twinoak12
  • Seller: Ohioheirloomseeds, Top Rated Seller - They have a lot of individual packets for sale. Like: 200 cabbage seeds for $1.99
That's only a very few. There are MANY more to shop from. The individual prices and number of seeds in a packet varies depending on what the produce is. You might only get 7 miniature banana tree seeds in a packet, but 1,500 carrot seeds. Most of the vendors also have links to info on the best way to plant your seeds, take care of them, and collect your own seeds for next year. Be sure and copy off that information while it's easily accessible. It does not come with your seeds.

How to keep your seeds -  Fresh seeds don't stay good forever. At room temperature, most of them will need to be planted within a year or two, maybe more, but as they dry and age and their living enzymes die, they won't germinate anymore. Storing them in a cooler place makes them last longer. Many people keep them in the fridge. I keep mine in the freezer. In the freezer, the enzymes go dormant, and most seeds can still be warmed back up and will germinate 15-20 years later, or longer.

You've probably heard about the World Seed Bank in the frozen mountains of Norway. They are freezing and saving seeds due to the fear of pending catastrophic global disaster that many are anticipating. (That was a mouthful!) Well, you can have your own Family Food Bank right in your freezer. We've already pulled a few out this year to start some corn, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and a couple of others, in the house while we wait for our "crazy weather" outside to mellow out a little.

I hope you are all inspired to get on-line and order a few good seeds. It's quick. It's inexpensive, and it's a lot of fun to grow your own food! And that "fun" may just end up being a life-saver.


  1. Well, it looks like you have done your research, as usual. I am going to have to save all your tips and print them out, as I think someday I WILL need this!

  2. I never thought about eBay. I just bought a bunch of seeds online the other day. I love gardening.

  3. awesome post! You really covered it all...:)

  4. Heirloom seeds are the real solution for insufficient nutrients from your body. Anyways, it really concerns the issue of starvation. It is the best alternative that everyone could do. It's for the benefit of the mankind. We're lucky because we have it readily available in the internet! It's easier for us to purchase it. Try some!

  5. Great Blog and useful information. I was wondering about the site www.basicseed.com they seem to have some awesome self reliance packages of heirloom seeds. They also carry everything in 1000 ct packages. Have any of you checked them out?



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