Hello readers! It's been while!
Since we are almost through this project for 2017, we thought we'd talk a bit about how we choose our seeds. ** Edit: at time of posting...we're totally done. We have a whole box of seeds! :D **
About 90% of our seeds come from Fedco, a cooperatively-owned seed company that has been in business since 1978. Not only does their catalog have some pretty delightful illustrations...
...but they've made transparency a staple of their business. We see in them the same commitment we have to do business as ethically as possible. For example, Fedco has a supplier code that lets us know exactly what type of supplier the specific seed we're considering comes from.
These codes are indispensable to us. We firmly believe in voting with our wallet. We choose the seeds coming from the #1, 2, 3, and 4, suppliers to keep our money away from those who do not share our (collective) values.
Ideally, all of the seeds we buy would be organic and from a #1 supplier, but since we do not subscribe to the racket that organic certification can be, we're just as happy if the seeds come from small farmers like us, even if they aren't certified organic.
A few different veggies really tested our mettle this year, but we were intent on choosing absolutely no #6s and, if necessary, a few #5s and #4s As is our tradition, more than one conversation got existential when we asked "What really is 'necessary'?" Breatharianism pending. We were mostly successful. We ended up ordering only two #5 varieties (Sungold cherry tomatoes- because we're still transitioning our customers to the indomitable Pink Princess- and Oasis turnips).
Let's start with the Hakurei salad turnip. In 2016 we grew mostly Hakurei in place of other turnips, deciding that it didn't matter if other turnips store better if people just don't like turnips very much. We thought Hakurei was a game-changer; so sweet and tender (as turnips go) and almost everyone who tried it at the market bought a bunch on the spot. We were loath to cut it out this year, but we learned that it is owned by Monsanto, and you just can't un-know something like that. Fedco's suggested replacement, Oasis, actually comes from a #5 supplier, and we went for it to phase our customers out of the Hakurei daze. Oasis may meet the same end if we can't find a different supplier.
Cauliflower selection was especially vexing. There is not a single variety of white cauliflower offered by Fedco that is not from a #5 or #6 supplier, while last year our favorite varieties came from #3s. Unable to find in other seed companies the same transparency that Fedco offers, we went with one green variety from Fedco (a #3) and an organic white from another. Dazzled by those beautiful purple heads we saw in markets this past year, we hopped on and quickly off the 0.5 second rollercoaster of finding "Graffiti" in the catalog and seeing that it came from a #6. Beauty is cruel master.
Brad, haunted by a couple absolutely devastating tomato seasons, struggled with letting go of a hybrid red slicing tomato. Ailsa displayed the typical cavalier "all-heirloom" attitude that winter tends to inspire. The favorite hybrid, Jet Star comes from a #5 supplier. We almost went for it, the #5 turnip in our cart presenting a pretty slippery slope. Instead, we spent an unusually large amount of money on an organic hybrid from one of the more expensive companies and we're crossing our fingers for another great tomato year.
Above you see Brad doing seed yoga. Ever heard of it? It's brand new. We will be using the Jang seeder (video here) to fit some extra rows in there, maybe use less seed. We're not huge on meticulous record-keeping or seed-weighing, often opting to cuddle instead. That was last year, but we won't fixate too much and we may end up cuddling less as well because there appears to be a Constitution in desperate need of upholding this year.
Pictured in the black and white catalog on the right is Magic Molly (also a highly-credentialed purple potato variety that we are forgoing due to price this year), who is "roaming the cosmos rooting out corporate tyranny." Good look, Fedco.
Time to clear this post out of the draft folder after a whole year! We're looking forward to expanding and expounding our thoughts, projects, justifications, etc, but mainly we're just going to grow the food. So...maybe we'll see you back here some time...