Everyone gone out? Good. Time fo make a pot of tea or coffee, or mabe pour yourself a glass of wine. It’s time to start browsing the seed catalogues.
Pen and paper at the ready. Favourite seed companies pages bookmarked? It’s time to gather up the post-it-notes with a name scrawled on them, to flick through the back of notebooks and diaries for details and ideas you had last summer, time to reflect on what did well, what didn’t work but you want to try again. And time to sort out those opened seed packets and take a rough inventory. In my case that’s a LOT of seed packets stored in boxes and tins in my study.
All those dreams, bundled into packets and boxes. All that potential!
But before you get carried away with the glossy photos and the marketing blurb, have think about what you want to grow, what you want to eat, your limitations and abilities – experienced or newcomer, your local climate, your soil – heavy clay or light sandy loam, the time you will have to garden, and of course your budget.
Thought those through and have some ideas? Great! Now have a think about the actual seeds and the seed companies. Who do you want to do business with? Who could you value and encourage? The big agribusinesses, who buy their seeds in, in bulk from other suppliers. A small family run business, specialising in specific plants or varieties. Or a not-for-profit organisation that is about promoting gardening and growing for the next generation to enjoy, or for a better, cleaner, healthier planet.
Decisions need to be made. We are consumers. Do you want to only buy seeds that are organically grown? Do you want to buy seeds that have been ethically grown, the growers and the workers getting fair wage – I haven’t seen any Fair trade labeled seed packets. Maybe they exist, maybe they don’t?
And then to the seeds themselves. Do you want to buy the newest and latest varieties? Varieties that have been grown to resist common pests and diseases? Or do you like the idea of varieties that have been grown for maybe hundreds of years – heirloom/heritage, or varieties that have been passed down a couple of generations in a particular area – landrace. Do you want to try and save some of your own seeds? Then you will need to consider whether to buy open-pollinated or F1’s.
And of course filthy lucre. Money. Value for money. Do you want to get lots of seeds, you could bulk buy. Or do you want to buy only a handful to try out a new variety. Or maybe you fancy going to a seed swap event, where local gardeners and growers share their homegrown seeds, a lot of the bigger events will invite some growers and producers to run a stall, where you can buy seeds at the same time as talking to the seedmen.
Everything has a price, and everything comes at a price.
I’ll talk about a few growers and sellers in my next post as I start to firm up my dreams, and gather the lists!
- Seed Saving Circle (promenadeplantings.com)