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
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
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
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.
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.