Bring On The Organic Garden Catalogs! Which Are the Favorites For 2017?

garden catalogs
Garden catalogs piling up on my coffee table.

Here come the organic garden catalogs!  They pile up in my mailbox, then they are brought home and heaved on to my kitchen table, eventually, one by one, they are transferred to my coffee table for a thorough look-see.  I’ve been gardening all my life, so obviously,  I’m on everyone’s mailing list…I get a LOT of garden catalogs.   Not to complain; I love getting them!  This is one time when I don’t mind the paper used and energy consumed to make these visual reference materials.  I settle down next to a warming fire and I read through each catalog, studying every product description, while trying to discern what makes each seed offered different from the next.  I have to admit that after awhile, they all start to sound the same.

“A champion…” “flavor rich…” “easy to grow…” “out performs all others…”

Still, I find small clues that help me to choose just the right seeds for me.  I earmark pages and scribble down notes all over the pages.  The seeds that promise to grow in my planting zone move to the top of the list and I absolutely refuse to buy anything but organic, non-GMOs.  I will occasionally buy hybrid seeds, but always prefer the non-hybrid/heirlooms.  Oh…and I can’t resist some of the novelty seeds too, like Cinderella pumpkins, or mini, white eggplants.  They’re just too much fun to pass up.

I usually have a featured plant for each season.  I pick a focus plant and will try several, different varieties to see how they do.  Some years I’ll grow ten different kinds of tomatoes, other years it’s all about unusual herbs.  This year I’m going all in for corn.  I have resisted planting corn in the past, because it takes up so much space and let’s face it, corn is cheap.  However, with the whole GMO issue now on our garden steps, I feel that organic, non-GMO corn should be in the forefront of my garden plan.  In reality, I do have the space; I just have to prepare the soil and put up a fence to keep out the wildlife.  It’s a major task, but a worthy one, so I’ll move ahead this year and get it done.

I have thought about growing other grain crops such as quinoa, millet, wheat, etc. Those catalogs…they entice me.  However, my biggest worry is that those crop seeds will scatter to the, “wild side,” and disrupt the fragile ecosystem of our area.  Anyone that travels the roads of the California coastal areas and sees the persistent fennel and blackberry plants choking the sides of the highways, knows how an innocent planting can get away from the confines of the home garden and take off on its own, creating a major eco-nuisance.  Corn, on the other hand, should be a little easier to control, compared to some of the other, smaller seeds, that could be easily carried afar by the winds and birds.  My fingers are crossed.

So, my task now is to find the organic garden catalogs with the best corn seeds.  We use corn for so many things, so I’ll need different types of corn: sweet corn for eating, popcorn, (the hubby’s gotta have that,) milling corn for polenta, flour and tortillas and last, but not least, feed corn for my chickens.  I’ve started my quest and have already found several catalogs that offer non-GMO, organically grown, corn seed.  (So THERE, Monsanto!)  I’ll be posting a list of my personally approved, organic garden catalogs and seed companies on another page for reference.  The list is constantly being updated, so please check on it from time to time.

Before I go, I just want to stress on how important it is to grow your own food and more importantly, the significant impact that our small, seed companies have to the organic gardener.  Without these passionate, entrepreneurial spirits, we would be stuck with just a handful of seed choices from only a couple of mega corporations that frankly, do not have our best interests in mind.  Their offerings would most likely be non-organic, or Non-GMO options.  So, I hope that you will join me in supporting these smaller seed companies and organic garden catalogs by giving their seeds a try.  A pack of seeds is a cheap investment in continuing seed diversity and assuring personal food choices. It’s the least one can do.

Keep growing…

~ C


Vote With Your Dollar – Create Change


Vote With Your Dollar
Vote With Your Dollar

It is the day after the US Presidential election and at our house, let’s just say that things didn’t go as we had planned and hoped for.  And while this blog is not meant to be a political commentary, I hope that you, my dear readers, will indulge me as I stray from gardens and food for just a moment to let you know what I think.

My children were frantically texting me all last night and this morning, aghast as to how the political map was shaping up.  They couldn’t believe what was happening…and although they’re now adults, they are still young.  Personally, it was not so new to me, for I had seen many elections in my lifetime.  Some went my way and others did not.

They asked me for guidance and advice on how they could prevent this election outcome again.  My daughter couldn’t believe all of the polls had been so wrong.  My son was watching the angry students protest outside his door in Berkeley and one person had already been seriously injured.  This was all scary stuff to them.  I had lived through the 60s, so I was not as alarmed, but I had to think for awhile to give them a solid answer.  Actually, it was 2 answers.

First answer: GET OUT AND VOTE!  Never miss an opportunity to cast your ballot…ever.  Vote for the grass roots measures and candidates and not just for the president. That person actually matters the least.  If you don’t understand the issues, for Gawd’s sake, do some research and find out.  It all starts right at home, in your own backyard.

The second answer is, I believe, even more important: VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLAR.  You can do this every day, in every way, thousands of times a year.  If you ever think that it won’t matter where and how you spend your buck, trust me, you are dead wrong.  In this great United States of America, we are a capitalist society and the dollar reigns supreme.  If you don’t like GMOs, read the labels, then don’t buy them.  If you want your food to be grown organically, then buy just organic foods.  If you want to find out how to stop global warming, find out and put your dollars where they make a difference.  If you don’t like what’s politically happening in the corn belt, then don’t buy non-organic corn from the Midwest.  Trust me, they’ll get the message.  It’s as simple as that.

For example, housewives, especially, “working housewives,” (you know, the ones that work all day at a regular job and then go to the grocery store for another hour after work just to buy food to feed their families,)  have known this for a long time.  These savvy shoppers have turned our own local, big-chain, grocery store, which was just a food wasteland only a few years ago, into a happy place of organic foods and produce.  How?  They decided WHAT they were going to buy…quietly, persistently.  They didn’t raise a fuss.  They didn’t go out to the streets to protest…they didn’t have the time to do that.  They just laid their chosen products on the conveyor belt and handed the cashier their cash and coupons.  The slightly more demanding shoppers were happily obliged by simply asking the store manager to carry certain products.  The stores heard their message.  They had to give the customer what he, or she wanted, or go out of business.  Did farmers get the message too?  You bet!  The growers either had to change their farming practices, or risk the possibility of losing their lucrative contracts with the supermarkets.

I could give you countless other examples of how valuable this “vote with your dollar” notion is, but I don’t have the time, or space in this blog.  Never, ever underestimate the power of the way that you spend your money, no matter how little you have of it to spend!

Now, that being said, I must assure you, it will all be OK…Just get out there and vote!

~ C