Welcome to Clio’s Garden

I have written many sermons, many articles and book reviews, but this is my first blog. It is my hope that the ideas presented here will encourage you to cultivate your own gardens–and by that I mean the ones where you dig in the dirt and grow actual food and the ones in your mind where you consider an idea and it stirs you to action. Here you will find book reviews and recommendations, interesting web sites and links to articles, comments on the passing scene and, occasionally, a short sermon.  Because growing food is the most important thing I do there will be actually quite a lot of information on how to grow the most nutritious food you can, in the least amount of space, in the shortest time possible while regenerating your soil using techniques from the most knowledgeable people around.

So, to begin as I mean to go on…..if you haven’t bought your seeds yet get to it. Seed companies abound on the internet and they are easy to order from and usually have color photos of the plants. Seeds are getting expensive for several reasons, the first being that all the basic ingredients of growing seeds, land, water, fuel, packaging, etc, are more expensive, the second is that the people growing the seeds want to pay their mortgages and raise their children above the poverty line and the last is that millions, yes millions, more gardeners are demanding seeds.

The result of the increasing demand means that popular seeds will sell out.  If they do, there still a good chance you can find an acceptable variety of the plant from a nursery selling plants.  Six tomato seeds cost next to nothing but six tomato plants, even very little ones, cost several dollars.  Please do not hesitate to support your local nursery if you are hesitant about starting your own seeds.  More on choosing plants later.. Another result of the greater demand is that unscrupulous sellers can sell you sub-par seeds and there is not much you can do about it.  What is a sub-par seed?  All seeds, including the ones we eat directly like corn and wheat, have a weight per bushel and that weight varies according to the actual nutrition packed into each seed. Wichita wheat variety can be 62 or 53 pounds per bushel and the resultant crop weighs five pounds less with the lighter seed which over hundreds of acres is a great reduction in harvested weight. It is difficult if not impossible for people to get seed weight and size from seed companies. I’ve tried it. They figure it is none of our business and I don’t agree. If you are buying a ton of bean seed you can get that information but if you want two ounces….well, what I would like to see is everyone inquiring about weight and size when appropriate and perhaps, after enough people made a big deal out of it,  sellers would respond.

Last summer I planted many varieties of squash and noticed that some of the seeds were flat instead of having a nice rounded, filled appearance. Some that I broke open had no seed meat inside at all and no plant would ever grow from those dead seeds. Some had just a sliver of meat and those germinated poorly.  The fat ones grew well and produced way too much squash!  I felt a bit like Goldilocks…

Here is a photo from Jones’ Organic Farm and CSA in Chelmsford, MA.  Seeds from the same package were separated according to size and planted in the same flat.  The largest seeds were planted on the left and the smaller ones on the right.  The difference in germination and vigor of the larger seeds is quite startling.

Organic Seed or Regular Seed?  Another important consideration in purchasing seeds is if you are going to spend the extra money to get organic seeds. Here is why you should break the bank if necessary to buy organic. Actual people grow seeds and if they are using artificial and/or toxic chemicals, herbicides and pesticides they, their families,  you and the earth will all suffer for it. If on the other hand, you support these growers in their efforts toward sustainability,  regeneration of the soil, non-genetically modified food and a safe environment it is a win/win for all. Later I’ll have a lot to say about each of these issues but we’ll leave it for now.

One last bit about seeds: don’t buy and don’t grow what you don’t want to eat!  If you don’t like beets don’t grow them.

Your comments and suggestions are welcome.  Thanks for reading, Clio

About Clio

I am an organic gardener with thirty years experience, a former minister, a former home-schooler, (they grew up), a current clarinet and flute player, knitter and spinner, and swimmer. I am interested in food security issues, food and policy issues, food preservation and encouraging people to become more aware and pro-active about their own food supply. I teach home food preservation, especially water bath and pressure canning, beginning organic gardening using bio-intensive methods, and give talks on food and food security for groups.
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7 Responses to Welcome to Clio’s Garden

  1. Becky says:

    I’m interested in this too! I’m so glad I found your web site. I can’t wait for more information. I’m a beginning gardener and I was looking for a place to get advice and ask questions about food preservation.

  2. Cheryl says:

    We should all be learning about “seed saving” which for the average small family gardener is a less expensive way to promote what nature intends. A favorite tomato’s seed can be dried out and saved in an labelled envelope until planting time comes round. Let me know if you want help with your garden, as I am willing & able to make the effort – it sets a good example and it great exercise, spiritual even!

  3. I love it. Glad my friend Karen forwarded your website to me. Not sure if it’s okay to talk brands here. But I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds this year and they have a wonderful website with blogs on most of the seeds that allowed me to purchased based on seeds that would work well in my climate. I highly recommend them but will know more for sure this fall after the harvest. Thanks for your writeup

    • Clio says:

      Marcia, you raise a good point about brand names. When I write articles for the Bionutrient Food Association and its’ Real Food Campaign I mention names only when I am listing what is available in our area, potting soil for instance. A blog is a place for the opinions and interests of the person blogging, those with similar interests and tidbits they have gleaned jump into the conversation. That being said, I like Baker Creek, too, as well as High Mowing and Fedco. All providers of organic seed should be supported with emphasis given to small and new businesses because they are generating new jobs for Americans.

  4. Kathy says:

    Thanks for blogging, Clio! I’ve never given a thought to seed size before, so I’ve learned something new already. I have a friend who blogs about her CSA farm in Rowley, MA. Here’s the link for anyone who may be interested in that, as well: http://mehaffeyfarm.wordpress.com/

  5. jackie M says:

    Clio, that was food for thought.

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