Category Archives: Plant info and reviews

Are Seeds On Your Mind?

Baker Creek Catalog

Vance and Nancy looking over the 2015 Baker Creek seed catalogs at Blackacre Nature Conservancy in Louisville..

Our seed swap is coming up and that always generates a lot of seed questions, particularly about seed types: genetically modified, hybrid, open pollinated, and heirloom.

GM (Genetically Modified) crops are created by adding genetic material from one species into the DNA sequence of another species. The result of genetic modification by laboratory methods is a combination of genetic materials that could not occur naturally. You will not find GM seeds in a home garden center at this time.

Hybrids are developed through traditional breeding, where pollen is moved between members of the same species. Plant breeders carry pollen from one plant to another by hand or with the help of insects to produce controlled crosses of two individual plants. Hybrids are typically bred for increased vigor, pest resistance, larger fruit size, or for the ability to withstand shipping and handling. Hybrid cultivars are developed over many years. A few examples of hybrid plants are Sun Gold tomatoes and many of the “super hot” chili peppers, such as the Carolina Reaper. You cannot save the seeds from hybrid plants for planting, you will have inferior plants that are not true to the parent plant. You are able to root cuttings (“take clones”) if you would like to reproduce a hybrid.

You may hear discussion about open pollinated seeds. Open pollination is achieved by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants. One of the bigger challenges in maintaining a strain by open pollination is avoiding introduction of pollen from other strains. Based on how broadly the pollen for the plant tends to disperse, it can be controlled to varying degrees by greenhouses, tall wall enclosures, or field isolation.

Heirloom seeds are open pollinated cultivars that have been kept true to variety, with no cross pollination, through careful cultivation methods for over fifty years. Baker Creek Seed Company is using tent enclosures in its own gardens to house the plants. Bumble bees are then introduced to control the pollination. This prevents cross-pollination from undesirable sources, as well as preventing cross-pollination between strains. Heirloom seeds can be saved and replanted, ensuring a trustworthy supply of family food year after year. When saving seeds, separate cultivars of the same plant variety to prevent cross pollination.

NOTE:  Both Baker Creek and High Mowing Seeds are Non-GMO Project verified. They are the only two seed companies in the US currently testing seeds at high risk for GM contamination for cross-pollination with GM varieties.

SEED STARTING VS BUYING PLANTS:  Benefits of seed starting include increased variety of plants to choose from, having complete control over what is used on your plants, and quite often, healthier plants to start your garden. Healthier starts = healthier and better garden performance, and better harvests. More and more plants are available that are locally grown and organic, or at the very least, not sprayed with pesticides.

Starting your own plants is not difficult with the right equipment and space, primarily a grow light of some sort and a warm area.

To assist with timing your plant starts, there are several apps and online resources. One of our favorites in from Mother Earth News, it is a free, personalized planting reminder called “What to Plant Now” that is emailed to you directly. http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/what-to-plant-now-zl0z0903zalt.aspx

GMO Seeds, Hybrid, Heirloom. What’s the Difference?

seedswapping

Our stash of saved seeds for swapping with friends and fellow gardeners.

Quite often we have people ask us if we have non-GMO seeds. Frankly, every garden center and big box store has non-GMO seeds, or at least seeds that are assumed to be non-GMO. To explain, we will start with a quick explanation of genetically modified seed. GM (Genetically modified) crops are created by adding genetic material from one species into the DNA sequence of another species. The result of genetic modification by laboratory methods is a combination of genetic materials that does not occur naturally. The good news is, you will not find any GM seeds in a home garden center at this time, they are only used in commercial applications. We are seeing cross pollination and seed contamination from GM crops here in the US. To be absolutely sure you are getting 100% GM-free seeds, we suggest you purchase seeds from Non-GMO Verified seed companies. Both Baker Creek and High Mowing Seeds are Non-GMO Project verified. They are the only two seed companies in the US currently testing seeds at high risk for GM contamination for cross-pollination with GM varieties. You can find them online, or stop in our store to see our wide seed selection.

Hybrids are developed through traditional breeding, where pollen is moved between members of the same species. Plant breeders carry pollen from one plant to another by hand or with the help of insects to produce controlled crosses of two individual plants. Hybrids are typically bred for increased vigor, pest resistance, larger fruit size; or for commercial purposes, shelf life and shippablity. Hybrid cultivars are developed over many years. A few examples of hybrid plants are Sun Gold tomatoes and many of the “super hot” chili peppers, such as the Carolina Reaper. You cannot save the seeds from hybrid plants for planting, you will have inferior plants that are not true to the parent plant. You are able to root cuttings (“take clones”) if you would like to reproduce a hybrid. Hybrid seeds are still able to be classified as organic, if grown and produced by organic methods.

You may hear discussion about open pollinated seeds. Open pollination is achieved by insects, birds, wind, or other natural forms of pollen movement. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants. One of the bigger challenges in maintaining a strain by open pollination is avoiding introduction of pollen from other strains. Commercially, this is controlled with greenhouses, tall wall enclosures, or field isolation. We home gardeners can simply use caution in our garden planning and place various raised beds or garden plots in separate areas of our property when we are hoping to harvest seeds. ,

new-packets

High Mowing Organic Seeds are certified organic and non-gmo verified. Find them here at the shop year round, for indoor and outdoor gardening.

Heirloom seeds are open pollinated cultivars that have been kept true to variety, with no cross pollination, through careful cultivation methods for over fifty years. Baker Creek Seed Company, who only sells heirloom varieties, uses tent enclosures in it’s own gardens to house their plants. Bumble bees are then introduced to control the pollination. This prevents cross-pollination from undesirable sources, as well as preventing cross-pollination between strains. Heirloom seeds can be saved and replanted, and should remain true to the parent plant.

We hope this had cleared up any confusion about the seeds and plants your are planting this spring. Happy gardening!

Tomato Review: 4th of July

Today we are getting our first delivery of tomatoes and peppers from our friend Connie, Louisville’s Garden Geek. Maybe you have seen her at the J’town Farmer’s Market, where she brings in loyal, return gardeners year after year. Connie is a long-time New Earth customer, and we have been a fan of Connie and her amazing, organically-grown seedlings for many years. This year, we will have many of her unique varieties here for you to enjoy.

Connie is a big fan of the 4th of July tomato cultivar for early production. Time for a shameless plug here:  If you grow tomatoes all winter, indoors, you won’t be nearly so anxious for those first tomatoes!!  But if you are anxiously awaiting your first outdoor-grown tomato, pick up a 4th of July tomato plant for your garden.

4th of July is an indeterminate, 49 days to maturity plant that puts out plentiful, 2 – 4 ounce fruits. 4th of July is a hybrid, which means any seeds you save will be inferior and not true to variety. We do NOT suggest saving hybrid seeds.

We have heard varying reviews on flavor, and as you know, flavor is determined by the plant’s nutrition and environmental conditions as well as plant variety. We expect this to be a pretty tasty, slightly acidic, early bite of summer. We plan on trying one or two of these in our home garden and will keep you posted!