Gardening

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A few years ago, an article in The New York Times titled “Packets Full of Miracles” (1/21/10) polled gardeners as to their favorite seed choices. It was a fun read for a gardener certainly but it caught my attention from a different perspective. The New York Times was publishing an article on starting plants from seeds so had this technique become more main stream than in the past?
Until a few years ago, most gardeners preferred to buy transplants for their gardens.  Seeds were used for those things a gardener wanted to grow that were not available as transplants, such as carrots, corn, or beans. That is definitely not the case today! Gardeners have become much more interested in starting their plants from seed either indoors or by direct sowing when the weather allows.  Economics is one reason for the shift. As The New York Times article suggests, a packet of 20 seeds is often only a few dollars whereas the same amount of transplants might be $20.
But I suspect there are other reasons for the change. There is definitely more interest in vegetable gardening, and gardeners who I talk with are saying that they are more concerned about where their food is coming from and what has been applied to it. They want fresh, and growing your own is as fresh as you can get. There also seems to be a renewed interest in nature (alleluia!) as well as the interconnectedness of all the eco-systems.  I also notice that many gardeners are interested in growing more unusual vegetables and flowers, and those often have to be grown from seed.  And then there is the hunt for the seed with the journey being a big part of the fun.
While planting time is months away, now is the perfect time to plan your garden and gather the seeds. Don’t wait too long, as mail order sources will sell out quickly. Garden centers are beginning to set up seed racks and while there is a lot of choice to be found there, mail order and the internet hold many more options if you are after diversity. The following is a list of some of the seed sources for the more unusual:
• Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com)
• Fedco (fedcoseeds.com)
• High Mowing Organic Seeds (highmowingseeds.com)
• Seeds from Italy (growitalian.com)
• Seeds of Change (seedsofchange.com)
• Territorial Seed Company (territorialseed.com)
• Bountiful Gardens (bountifulgardens.org)
• Native Seeds/Search (nativeseeds.org)
• Nichols Garden Nursery (nicholsgardennursery.com)
• Johnny’s Selected Seed (johnnyseeds.com)
• Renee’s Garden(reneesgarden.com)
• Seed Savers Exchange (seedsavers.org)
• Botanical Interests (botanicalinterests.com)
• Hudson Valley Seed Library (seedlibrary.com)
• Totally Tomatoes (totallytomato.com)
Susan Pezzolla is Community Educator for horticulture and Master Gardner Coordinator for Cornell Cooperative Extension, Albany County. To reach Sue, call 765.3516 or email Sep37@cornell.edu.

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