Ring in the New Year with Seeds!

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may your seeds grow true 

**Being named a “Top 10 Gardening Blog” by Better Homes and Gardens this past year was definitely a highlight of 2014, but it’s the regular support and encouragement that I’ve received from you here and on my Facebook page that’s meant the most to me. To thank you, I’m sponsoring a seed giveaway! Read on to learn more.

 

If you agree that preserving biodiversity is important, are you doing your share? Not just for some far-off ecosystem alone, but in the small speck of the planet that you inhabit — your backyard, patio, or apartment balcony. What are you doing to promote biodiversity in your own gardening space?

Certainly our gardening practices impact the number and diversity of organisms that reside there. But if you’re only thinking about your garden’s pollinators, beneficial insects, microorganisms, and wildlife, which are largely out of your control, think again. You can be more intentional about conservation, starting with your seed order.

Have you considered that different garden vegetables and fruits are also a precious genetic resource? Each distinct variety is an important reservoir of favorable traits, beyond just attractive appearance or flavor. Some plants tolerate disease, pests, or environmental stress better than others, or are better adapted to certain soils or climates. Since we never know Agriculture’s next big challenge, it just makes good sense to preserve plant diversity for our own future food security.

What can you do about it?

1) Diversify

Even though my garden is only 6/100ths of an acre, I still pack at least 60 different vegetable varieties into it, no matter the season of the year. Through my constant experimentation with vegetable varieties, I’ve discovered incredible things that have benefitted my garden and table — the amazing difference in cold tolerance of crops like turnips or cabbage, how bugs ignore some mustards and not others, and the watermelon that stores to Thanksgiving. Since most varieties have different maturity dates, my harvests are also more spread out over time, insuring that I always have something fresh on hand. And it’s just so much darn fun — I just love the anticipation of waiting for a new-to-me vegetable to mature.

Yes, I still have my “favorites” when it comes to vegetable varieties, but I grow others for more reasons than just the fun of it. Monoculture can be risky, after all. What if I plant 30 tomatoes of the same variety, and I happen to be hit with a disease or environmental stress to which it just happens to be very susceptible? And if I plant that same favorite variety year after year, am I unknowingly selecting for a pathogen in my garden that is infects it more easily than others? Having a diverse vegetable garden is great insurance.

2) Buy organic
If diverse vegetable varieties are an important pool of disease and pest resistance, then it makes sense to grow them under conditions in which they aren’t coddled by synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. And if you garden without using synthetic chemicals, you’ll get better results from a variety that has proven to be a winner at organic farms. To learn more, and even make a donation that will help organic plant breeding efforts, check out the fine folks at the Organic Seed Alliance.

3) Grow local
Plant breeders aren’t limited to seed companies, but can be found in many backyard gardens and small farms. Locally-produced seed is more likely to be adapted to your area’s unique soils and climate, so make it a point to connect with other gardeners at community seed-swaps or at your local Cooperative Extension office. Alternatively, check the Seed Savers Exchange catalog for potential seed sources near you.
One downside to growing multiple vegetable varieties is the expense — it’s tough to diversify when seed packets cost $3 to $5 each. So let me help you by introducing you to a FANTASTIC seed company — one that offers quality seeds in smaller packets.

The Sample Seed Shop does just what the name implies, but don’t let the name fool you — these are generous samples. Tomato seed packets contain a minimum of 15 seeds, and cost only $1.50! Want to grow three different types of peppers this year? You can buy them all, for the same price as a single standard packet from most other companies.

Just because you’ll pay less at The Sample Seed Shop, don’t think these seeds are subpar. They are guaranteed to grow true, and The Sample Seed Shop is ranked by Dave’s Garden among the Top 5 seed companies for both tomatoes and perennial flowers.
I discovered The Sample Seed Shop at a seed swap hosted by friend and renowned seed-saver, Bill Best. The owner, Remy, is both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the seeds that she grows and sources. She has introduced me to some outstanding seeds, such as Dixie Speckled Butter Pea and Amsterdam Cutting Celery, and she has many other hard-to-find or unique varieties from across the country. I’m happy to introduce her to you, and to help you get to know her and The Sample Seed Shop a little better, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of her seeds!

One lucky reader will win a $50 gift certificate towards a purchase at The Sample Seed Shop. Remy also graciously offered to add seeds of some of her favorite varieties, which include:

Stump of the World’ tomato
Earl of Edgecombe’ tomato
Beaver Dam’ hot (but not too hot) pepper
King of the North’ sweet pepper
Alma Whitaker Cornfield’ bean
Caserta‘ summer squash
Merveille de Quatre Saisons’ lettuce
Tsakoniki’ eggplant
Nero di Toscana’ kale
Northern Lights’ Swiss chard

Interested in winning? First, please visit The Sample Seed Shop and Mother of a Hubbard on Facebook and consider giving us a “like” while you’re there — liking our pages is NOT required to win, but it’s good karma and we’d sure enjoy your company. Next, just submit a comment below that you’d like to enter the giveaway, and let us know what your 2015 gardening resolution will be. That’s it! The winner will be randomly selected one week from today and notified by email. Good luck!  The submission period for contest entries is now over. Good luck everyone!

Great Reads about Seeds

(affiliate links)

 

 My Wish for You in the New Year

A garden that’s green,
Plant diseases unseen.
Weeds that don’t grow,
Only plants that you sow.
Seeds that grow true,
Insect pests few.
Gentle winds,
Gardening friends.
A garden that bears,
healthy harvests to share.
This is my wish for you.

~Cathy Rehmeyer

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