The old year has not even ended…why should you think about your seed order now? Well, for several reasons. The first is that there has been a resurgence of home gardening to rival the victory gardens of WWII and there are many more people in the US now than then. So you are competing with millions more gardeners. I have found more seeds selling out in the last year than ever before. Those same multitudes of gardeners are also demanding organic seeds and I have found that organic seeds sell out faster than non-organic and GMO seeds. So if you want a special variety in organic now is the time to buy.
Remember ‘tho, if you have left over seed you have time to put some in damp paper towel and see if it germinates. If you put seed in multiples of ten you can determine easily the percentage germination rate. Or, you can plant the seed in the house so you can get the amount of seedlings you want. In addition, some companies are selling subpar seeds, those without enough plant germ to grow. Those completely flat squash seeds might really be flat so if you see a number of them in your seed packet break open a few and check. I did that and found at least a third had no meat in them, they would never have produced a plant. And, that finally answered my question why some of my plantings in the past produced nothing at all.
Buying organic seed also insures that you are not getting GMO seed. Not all sellers are reputable and are selling genetically modified seeds that no one should be planting in a home garden. (Nor in any agricultural situation but that is another long and fraught story). If you are buying an organic seed by law it (currently) cannot be genetically modified. But organic seed also means that the soil that grows the seed is also organic which means that it has been lovingly cared for and supports the flora and fauna that good soils encourage, everything from bacteria and mycorrhiza, to springtails and worms. The plants that grow the seeds are home to insects of all sorts and the many bees and other insects that pollinate them and the birds that eat them. Things are better downstream as well since there is no toxic run off to poison fish and other animals. And, while this is certainly a minor issue, the farmers and their children do not have to have toxic pesticides and other unpleasant agricultural chemicals on their skin, in their eyes or in their lungs.
Non-GMO does not necessarily mean organic. You can buy seeds that are in their natural state but grown with commercial pesticides and fertilizers. Everyone must decide for themselves how far they are going to go to keep the food chain clean and pure. A highly reputable and quite old seed seller breeds all their vegetables and flowers. They do not have any GMO seeds or plants. And they are not inexpensive. It costs time and money to painstakingly breed a new and better variety of cucumber, year after year, until the goal is reached. This not as fast as moving some genes around in a lab and actually harder to protect. Gene mods can be easily patented but something that is bred naturally can be easily pirated.
Then too, when plant germ is patented that usually means that the company made a very small change in the plant, perhaps something unnoticeable, even something that makes no difference in the plant at all. But…this means that the plant germ, which evolved over the years of the earth and was formerly available to all for free, is now the sole property of the company that patented their ‘change’ in the plant germ. In short, they have stolen our common heritage and are now making a profit from that theft. And telling everyone how important the change was and how much it cost them and how good for everyone it is. Read between the lines…the companies that genetically modify plants do not want any seed to have the Non-GMO label just like the companies that sell you foods with GMO ingredients do not want there to be labels saying that the food has GMO and they do not want labels that say the food does not have GMO. In short, your ignorance is their profit.
A word on seed catalogues. Many are wonderful to read and full of information and all of them are costly to produce. So far this year I have received three of the same catalogue from the same company each with a different picture on the cover. You can order on line and save many trees. Buy a book of gardening information and skip the glossy pictures. Besides all of them are available on line at all the companies that send out the catalogues. Or…you can check out Fedco Seeds which company sends a newsprint catalogue, has lots of organics and more every year, lots of plant info, every garden amendment you will ever need and they never, ever knowingly sell anything genetically modified. Oh, and they are a member owned company.
P.S. I’m calling the companies with the multiple catalogues and complaining!