Seed Buyer's Guide

Another source of heirloom seeds!

Most gardeners are familiar with the mission and the work of Seed Savers  Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. Another group with a similar mission has come to our attention. Native Seeds/SEARCH located in Tucson, Arizona conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. Native Seeds promotes the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities. 

While it might seem strange to be excited about heirloom seeds from the southwest finding a place in western South Dakota gardens, recall that many of the old seeds from the southwest have been valued throughout history by the Native farmers who grow their crops in the high (5,000' and more) dry (that's us as well) portions of the southwest. It is worth knowing about some of these seed types. And absolutely it is worth growing some.

Native Seeds is a relatively young business (less than 30 years). It is an excellent example of sharing, in this case with a native tribe, seeds on the verge of being lost, that had been used for centuries. Readmore about the exciting history. The business and the mission clearly illustrate that there is great value in matching seeds with growing conditions and cultures that support traditional agriculture.

Their seed list is on the website. For good reason, at this time, they do not list days to maturity. For those of us here, the best bet is to choose the 'early maturing' varieties and possibly pay attention to the growing conditions that are given. Native Seed has just put up a Discussion board (not a blog) where growers can post their observations about the germination and growth of the seeds. 

As the result of receiving a grant, Native Seed has been able to print a quantity of  a seed buyer's guide, Seed Watch, roughly the size of a credit card that fits easily into a wallet.  This is the clearest, most easily understandable guide to seed selection that I have found. They list the key identifying words under BEST Choices, GOOD Alternatives and AVOID. 

BEST Choices are identified by these terms:  Your Own Saved Seeds, Locally Grown Seeds, Open-Pollinated, Non,Hybrid, Heirloom, Organic, Certified Naturally Grown and Wild-crafted.

GOOD Alternatives are identified by these terms: Regionally Grown Seeds, Open-Pollinated, Non-Hybrid, Heirloom, Organic, Certified Naturally Grown, and Organic Hybrid Seeds.

There are recommendations to AVOID the following: Industrial (F-1) Seeds, Treated Seeds, GMO Seeds, "Bix Box" Seed Rack Seeds, Industrially-Produced, "One Size-Fits-All" Seeds from large corporate seed companies.

Cathie Draine

(posted 2-23-2012)

Seed Buyer's Guide

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Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News