A very special delivery arrived today that I have been eagerly awaiting. The beginnings of my seed stock. I browsed through a couple of online seed traders that specialise in heirloom, organic and open pollinated seeds. For me as a beginner, Diggers Club seems to be the best -purely from my standpoint as they have a very large selection of multi variety seed packs - for example, a single pack containing a selection of heirloom tomatoes, or a single pack containing a selection of heirloom eggplants, or pumpkin etc. So overall, I can try out more varieties, without having to buy single packets of each specific variety, which would be far more expensive.
What I plan to do, is plant a couple of each variety, and test them - those that grow best for us and that we prefer we will continue to grow. I especially like the idea of growing food for a specific purpose. -Ie. tomatoes that are good for cooking vs tomatoes that are good for salads, instead of your mass produced non purpose specific, bland hybrid produce you tend to find in a supermarket.
I am really looking forward to the coming weeks as I plant them out according to the relevant moon phase and watch them grow. I am also going to take note of germination rates for the various crops in the different moon phases so I can better get a grasp of the whole moon planting concept -of which I am very much a novice. -I am still having issues with a bush turkey mounding up my garden, so I am going to have to grow the seeds in seedling trays and then transplant them into the garden once they're a little more established. I'd hate to plant the seed direct and then have him come along and turn my garden upside down. (As he so thoroughly enjoys doing)
In my picture are some other seed types not from diggers - a couple from ebay -which seems to be a great source of various seeds and cuttings -especially of harder to find varieties. I've also got quite a few packs of seeds from various discount/$2 stores. I've already planted up rocket, endive, spinach and lettuce from these, and the germination rate I would say is very close to 100%, so definitely give them a go - they don't of course seem to have a wide variety of organic seeds, although there are definitely a lot of heirloom varieties if you know what you're looking for.
I can tell you right now it was not cheap to buy all the seeds above. However,I consider it to be an investment as I have chosen (for the most part, and where possible) to buy organic and heirloom varieties. This means I can continue to collect and save my seeds for future crops without having to rely on buying more seed, as all the heirloom varieties will reproduce 'true to type'. (With the exception of cross pollination happening between plants of the same species/breed/what ever -ie. diff varieties of tomatoes pollinating each other etc) Hybrid seeds won't do this, they will seed, but the seed will not in most (if not all?) cases produce fruit the same as the original. - that is, they need to be grown from hybrid seed each time -they're not self perpetuating, if anything you'll end up with a stunted plant and fruit with weird mini-me fruit. (Does that all make sense? I've explained it in as much as I understand it myself, its all very fascinating stuff, takes you back to high school biology and Punnett squares and genetics)
Baring all this in mind, and that if stored correctly, seeds will last up to two years many even longer, depending on the variety (some not so long), I have picked up the following tips.
- Use heirloom seed varieties where ever possible as it means you can collect the seeds for use at a later date, rather than having to purchase more seed.
- Seeds need to be kept in cool, dark and dry conditions.
- Paper envelopes are best as the seeds will not sweat as they may in foil or glass. (recycled paper envelopes are ideal)
- Keep seeds in a dark place -I store mine in a wooden box in the house so they're sure to be in a consistent temperature, and stay dry.
- A sealed container is best, as insects (or mice!) given the opportunity, will eat the seed.
- Those little silica moisture sucking sachets that you get with your vitamins etc -stick one or two in the container you keep your seed in to suck away any excess moisture.
- Make sure if you discard the original seed packet label (or if you collect and store seed you've harvested yourself) that you label AND date the seeds clearly.
- Use your old seed first. -if you have a lot of old seed, try germinating them, they may still work but with perhaps a lower success rate. -At least this way you'll get a crop of produce that may have otherwise gone to waste as old seed, and you can of course collect the seed from the new produce to put back in your seed stock.
As I have said before, I am new for the most part to gardening (successfully) so if you have any of your own tips, please feel free to share.