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.