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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Drowning In Tomatoes? Try Something Different This Year.


If you’re a home gardener about to drowned in tomatoes rolling in off the vines and demanding to be consumed before they go bad, hang on. Here comes a life preserver.

I chop up a small bowlful of fresh very ripe tomatoes, add chopped red onion or scallions, minced garlic, chopped fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.  I sometimes add Kalamata olives. I make this dish in the morning and let it set on the kitchen table all day. By evening meal time, the flavors have melded nicely, and I serve it over hot cooked spaghetti noodles and top it with fresh grated parmesan for an easy meal on a hot summer day.

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