Wednesday

Awkward Family Photo or Photoshop Disaster?

While wasting my life away on Twitter I came across the Twitter account for The Seed Den, Inc., out of Oregon. At first I didn't think anything of the site because it looks like your basic minimal website that a lot of small garden businesses use. Then I scrolled down to this.

The Seed Den, Inc, Wholesale seed company

My eyes were straining so hard to read the quote on the picture that I didn't notice the Photoshopping. It is like an Awkward Family Photo and a Photoshop Disaster had a baby who grew up to be a gardener. I love it. You can see the original at The Seed Den's website. Wish I'd found them last year when I was looking to buy seeds wholesale for a project I was working on. I would've bought seeds from them for having the seedballs to publish this photo on their website.

In case you're curious, the caption reads "We are men and women out standing in our field getting to the root of the problem." LMAO. Win.

Thursday

Johnny's Select Seeds Seedling Survey

Over at the Growing Ideas blog of Johnny's Select Seeds they posted a link to a survey on the purchase purchase habits of their customers. Answer the six question survey, provide your Email and be entered to win a $25 Johnny's coupon. The survey is only six questions long and can also be found here. The contest ends December 23, 2010. Winner to be contacted via email by January 15, 2011. Johnny's Select Seeds is an employee-owned seed company.

Monday

Amy Goldman, Kent Whealy’s Nemesis, Joins ‘Fine Gardening’

Last week I received a press release announcing several people joining Fine Gardening, the magazine published by Taunton Press, as contributing editors. Among the list was Amy Goldman and I realized it was the same Amy Goldman who I'd been reading about on forums and blogs for a couple of years. Who is Amy Goldman? She’s a garden author, philanthropist and board member of Seed Savers Exchange and The New York Botanical Garden. In November of 2008 Kent Whealy, co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange, sent out a letter to the listed members of the Seed Savers Exchange. In the letter he warned about plans by SSE, at the direction of Amy Goldman and fellow board member and Cary Fowler, to deposit seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. What’s so bad about this? Well, according to Kent the depositing of SSE seeds into the “doomsday vault” may

…have exposed for patenting the 485 varieties that SSE deposited at Svalbard’s official opening last February. All depositors are required to sign the Svalbard Depositors Agreement (actually an international treaty with Norway) which links those deposits to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.), Article 7 of which states, “The Depositor agrees to make available from their own stocks samples of accessions of the deposited plant genetic resources and associated available non-confidential information to other natural or legal persons in accordance with the following terms and conditions:….” The agreement goes on to dictate that “original samples” (the other seeds of those 485 varieties being stored at Heritage Farm) are also covered by the terms of the FAO Treaty, which allows patenting on “derivatives” of those samples.

By signing the treaty, Seed Savers apparently cannot refuse any requests for seeds of those 485 varieties in storage in the seed vaults at Heritage Farm. That would mean Monsanto and others now can, as a right, request those 485 varieties of SSE’s heirlooms, splice in GMOs, patent the product and sell the seed. The actual movement of each sample covered by the FAO Treaty (including the “originals” of all samples deposited in Svalbard) will require the use and signing of FAO’s Standard Material Transfer Agreement (also part of the FAO treaty) that includes language describing a 1.1% tax on patents (the main way that the FAO Treaty will generate funding for itself)…

Back when this letter was published discussion of Kent Whealy, his removal from SSE and the contents of his letter were not allowed to be discussed on the SSE forums. People chose sides and either became Team Kent or Team Amy and a rift was created that has not healed. Judging by the speech that Kent gave at the Land Institute back in September that rift will never heal. In the speech Kent alleges that Amy Goldman used her money to buy influence with members of the board by financing their personal projects and stocking the SSE board with people who were “financially beholden to her.”

All of this in an apparent attempt to wrestle control of the board and ultimately oust Kent, which subsequently happened when he was fired from SSE for building a storage shed without the approval of SSE board, which describes a “fabricated charge.” You can read the full text of Kent’s speech here where he again warns about the possibility that the seeds provided by farmers and gardeners to SSE that have been deposited in the “doomsday vault” are at risk of being controlled by corporate breeders. The most shocking thing to me is his offer to pay the legal fees of SSE members who donated seeds to the Seed Saver Member’s Seed Collection and who want them back. 

Over on the SSE forum it looks like they’re lifting their ban on discussion of Kent and his speeches and letters. They’ve posted a response to his recent speech and even have a webpage on the SSE site where they are posting various responses and rebuttals.

Meanwhile, Patrick at Bifurcated Carrots is calling for a boycott (of sorts) of Seed Savers Exchange. He recommends potential members not join and current members demand the recovery of SSE member seed from Svalbard and the resignation of Amy Goldman, Cary Fowler and Neil Hamilton  from the SSE Board.

Thursday

Review of the J.L. Hudson Ethnobotanical Catalog of Seeds

When I first came across the J.L. Hudson Seeds website I didn't know what to make of it. Although I haven't sent away for a copy of the seed catalog it is on my list of things to do. Especially after reading this review of the catalog on Arthur Magazine by Mathew Erickson.

Here's a snippet:

"It must be the only seed catalog that has simultaneously appeal to those with a taste for fine printed works, radical politics, early Natural History, botany and gardening practices. The work being done by the company called J.L. Hudson, Seedsman is already well known and loved by plant growers, who have been ordering from the company’s stock for the past 100-plus years. Yet as far as I know, little has been written about the Hudson catalogs themselves, and what they represent aesthetically and politically."

Read the whole review here and visit the J.L Hudson Seeds website.

Friday

Seed Swapping on Facebook

Recently I was invited to join the Great American Seed Swap on Facebook. I haven't signed up, but it looks like a group on Facebook for gardeners who swap seeds either one-on-one in a round robin style. I'm not associated with the group and you shouldn't consider this an endorsement of the group or anyone who trades seeds there. Don't have a Facebook account? You can always swap seeds at various gardening forums around the internet.

If you know of any other Facebook groups set up for seed trade leave a comment and I'll add them to this post.

The Heirloom Life by Baker Creek Seeds

Jere Gettle has been described as "the Indiana Jones of seeds" and gardeners that count on the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company carrying rare and unusual vegetable varieties would probably agree with the comparison. The Heirloom Life is the forthcoming gardening book my Jere and Emilee Gettle.

The Heirloom Life gardening book by Baker Creek Seeds

The book will cover vegetable growing, preserving vegetables, and of course seed saving. The book is being published by Hyperion Books and will be available nationally in Autumn 2011. You can learn more about the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, their heirloom gardening magazine, pioneer village, and heirloom seed bank in Petaluma, California.

Saturday

Seed Dispersal & Germination Time-Lapse Videos

Japanese cheesewood (Pittosporum tobira) seed pods ripening reveal fleshy red seeds that look like the seeds of pomegranates.



Soybeans (Glycine max) seed germinate and break through the soil-surface and expose their first set of leaves. The video then zooms in to show us a view of at the cellular level of the leaves.




There are more incredible time-lapse videos of seed dispersal and seed germination on Odakatoshio's YouTube Channel.

Sunday

Professional Seed Organizations

Professional seed trade organizations may not be of interest to the average gardener, but they arose because of home gardeners. For example, the American Seed Trade Association was formed to protect American seedsmen against "fraudulant and unjust claims for damages," to fight for lower postage, and serve as a way for them to network. While most of these seed organizations don't have much information for the home gardener they may be of interest to you if you're researching seeds. Also, a couple of them have grants or scholarships if you're a student interested in the field. These website are NOT included in the Seed Snatcher search engine


If there's a seed trade association you think I should list leave a message in the comments or contact me.

Thursday

Seed Banks Around the World

Seed bank are ways people are protecting the genetic diversity. Some are small personal projects from hobby gardeners, others are run by plant societies and some are large scientific seed banks. The largest of the seed banks will not be accessible to the public, but the smaller ones are usually member driven. There is a separate list of seed societies, seed savers and seed exchanges. While there is some overlap between these two I think there is good reason to create separate listings. Below is a list of seed banks from around the world that you can find online. These are all listed in the Seed Snatcher search engine.

Australian Begonia Society Seed Bank (AU)
Cherokee Nation Heirloom Seed Project (US)
Seed of Success (US)

If you have a suggestion for a seed bank that I should add please leave it in the comments or contact me

Tuesday

Seed Societies, Seed Savers and Seed Exchanges

If you're looking for interesting or heirloom seeds to grow, bank or give as gifts seed companies aren't the only place to "shop" for seeds. There are plenty of seed societies, seed saving groups and places to exchange seeds. Here's a listing of non-commercial seed societies, seed savers and seed exchanges from around the world. There is a separate listing for seed banks from around the world. While there may some overlap between the goals of these groups with the seed banks, I think they deserve separate listings. You find all of these seed societies, seed savers and seed exchanges in the Seed Snatcher search engine.


If there's a seed organization, group or seed exchange group that you think I should add please leave a message in the comments or contact me. In particular I'm interested in listing regional groups and groups outside of North America.

Monday

The Seedy Side of Plants

I was updating the Seed Snatcher search engine last night when I remembered NATURE'S The Seedy Side of Plants on the PBS.org website. If you have an interesting in starting plants from seed for your garden, or saving seeds from your garden you have to watch The Seedy Side of Plants. It is an incredible documentary about seeds that covers a lot of information. You will be a better gardener, seed saver and seed starter if you get to know seeds. Unfortunately, the whole video isn't available on the PBS website, but you can see a short video on flying seeds and seed dispersal. Check your local listings for when this documentary airs in your area, or see if your library has a copy of the DVD. I can't recommend The Seedy Side of Plants enough.

Friday

Pavlovsk Seed Bank Saved, 'Sunflower Seeds' Closed

Two updates on seed-based projects that took social media by storm. 

The Guardian is reporting that Russia has rethought their plan to break up the Pavlovsk seed bank. If you don't know about the Pavlovsk seed bank you can familiarize yourself with its amazing history here. It seems more like an agricultural experiment station, but everyone and their mother describes it as a seed bank. Perhaps the seed bank label helps people understand what it is easier. 

Just days after it opened at London's Tate Modern the installation, 'Sunflower Seeds,' by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has been shut down. Visitors are only being allowed to see it from a distance. It seems the crowds, who were encouraged to interact with the seeds, were creating a "greater than expected level" of ceramic dust. There were fears that being exposed to the dust could be cause health problems. Too bad, I was planning a trip to snatch one of the 100 million hand-crafted porcelian sunflower seeds. :)

Update 11/13/10: Artist Ai Weiwei is under house arrest read about it here

SimplySalad Lettuce Seed Pellets

Is there anything easier than growing lettuce from seed? Doesn't seem like it, right? In the mail today I received a sample of what the Ball Horticulture Company hopes will make growing salads even simpler for home gardeners. SimplySalad™ is a mixture of loose-leaf lettuce and greens bred to be compliment each other and look attractive in your containers.

SimplySalad-Lettuce-Seed-Pellets, Ball-Hort

Here is what the front of the SimplySalad™ sample looks like. The lettuce seeds are in the pellets in the clear vial in the upper-left had corner. The instructions say you can sow 3-4 multi-pellets in a 10" container, and 4-5 mult-pellets in 12" or larger containers.


SimplySalad,Seed-Pellet-Mix

Here's the back of the SimplySalad™ sample pack.

The SimplySalad™ was developed by PanAmerican Seed, a breeding subsidiary of the Ball Horticultural Company. The lettuce seed pellets are currently available through mail-order seed catalog companies like W. Atlee Burpee, Harris Seed, Territorial Seed Co., and others. Home gardeners who do not buy vegetable seeds through seed catalogs will find them in garden centers across America in 2011.

Looking for information on starting lettuce seeds? Do a search of the Seed Snatcher search engine.

Wednesday

Seed Library's Preview of New Art Packs

Hudson Valley Seed Library art packs, heirloom seeds, where to buy seeds in New YorkThe Hudson Valley Seed Library is expanding their offering of Art Packs in time for the holiday season. This year the seed sellers will offer sixteen new designs. A peek at the top flaps of the new 16 seed packs is available on their blog. The new packs will be available starting in November 2010. Also, in November there will be a gallery show of the original artwork used to create the packs at the Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC.

On October 6, 2010 The New York Times published this great article on the Hudson Valley Seed Library.

Saturday

Territorial Seed Company Tomato-Taste Off

Territorial Seed Company, Tomato tasting contest, seed company, heirloom seeds, garden seeds


Territorial Seed Company's Great Northwest Tomato Taste-Off will be held on September 18, 2010 at noon during the Gathering of Gardeners Festival at the Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove, OR. Your best-tasting slicing tomato could be worth $500! See here for rules and printable entry form. There is no entry fee, but cherry tomatoes aren't eligible. Beginner tomato growers and veteran tomato growing gardeners are welcomed.

Thursday

Win a Hudson Valley Seed Library Membership

The Hudson Valley Seed Library is hosting a photo contest and call for art, the prize is a 2011 Seed Library Membership! I blogged about the Hudson Valley Seed Library art packs on my personal garden blog earlier this year. I received the seed packs in that post after given them pictures they could use on the Hudson Valley Seed Library online catalog. To participate in the current Hudson Valley Seed Library photo contest look around their online seed catalog and if you see a seed variety that doesn't have a picture, send in one of yours of that seed variety. Follow the directions for photo your photo or art at the link above.

About the Hudson Valley Seed Library:

"We are a regionally based seed company in upstate New York. We hand craft our seeds on our small homestead farm focusing on heirloom varieties with histories in the Northeast. All of our varieties are open-pollinated, non-GMO, beautiful and tasty. We also support local artists by featuring their work on our seed packages. Our seeds are available at select local retailers as well as by mail via our website."

If you're looking for information on starting, storing or saving seeds from your garden use the search box on this blog or use the Seed Snatcher CSE here.

Sunday

Seed Savers Exchange Seeks New Executive Director

Aaron Whaley, Executive Director and President of Seed Savers Exchange, Inc., has resigned to follow his dream of being a farmer.

Do you have what it takes? Check out the job description[pdf] for the Executive Director position at Seed Savers Exchange.

Via

Wednesday

Cubit's Organics Seed Grab Bag Sale

Cubit's Organics, out of Toronto, is holding a limited time offer Seed Grab Bag sale to prepare gardeners for next season. The summer sale consists of 20 packets (their choice) of organic seeds for $25.

Cubit's store on Etsy where the sale is being offered. Main website here.

Tuesday

Burpee Chairman Defends Hybrid Seeds

George Ball, Chairman of the W. Atlee Burpee company, wrote a guest column for the Des Moines Register. In the column he defends hybrids from "greener-than-thou gardeners" who are on a "crusade for heirloom seeds." He labels these unidentified gardeners as "anti-science," describes the history of hybrid plants, labels some NGOs as nouveau imperialists, and generally tries to explain the difference between heirlooms, hybrids and GMOs, (genetically modified organisms) so the average person can understand.

Shots fired? Not really. He never names these "greener-than-thou gardeners" or the NGOs who are giving hybrid plants a bad rap. I see what he did here. As a seller of hybrid seeds Mr. Ball needs to defend his product from what are really unwarranted attacks. I wrote a couple of pro-hybrid seeds post on Chicago Garden last winter because I grew tired of all the anti-hybrid seed talk on the internet I was coming across. There is nothing wrong with hybrid seeds, and like Mr. Ball points out, a lot of the anti-hybrid seed talk is born out of ignorance.

Since he doesn't name names what I didn't come away with was a real understanding of what prompted the guest column. Reading Beyond the Rows (I read Monsanto's blog so you don't have to) I gather that the guest column is an attempt to push back against internet critics of Monsanto's recent donation of hybrid seeds to farmers in Haiti. Which critics exactly? We'll never know. What we do know is that Monsanto sells some of its Seminis line of seeds through Burpee. The cynic in me believes the business connection explains why Mr. Ball is so vague in what could be a delicious gardener flame.

Speaking of delicious if you're looking for seed-saving tips use the Seed Snatcher Search Engine to find tips on harvesting and collecting seeds from your garden. See what I did here?

Monday

Red Hot Chili Peppers Arrive at Svalbard Seed Vault

No, not those red hot chili peppers-the kind you eat. U.S Senators and Congressmen spent the July 4th weekend delivering an "eclectic range" of New World chili peppers to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault:

...The seeds were delivered to the vault by a seven-person bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Congress, led by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and including Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL). The seeds were handed over to Dr. Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the institution that funds the operation and management of the seed vault, as well as the transport of unique seeds from collections around the world. The latest samples of seeds come from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) in Fort Collins, Colorado...


Ooh... Ooh yeah. Give it away give it away give it away now. Give it away give it away give it away now. Give it away give it away give it away now ...

Full Press Release here.

Seeds for Food

Seeds for food, seed saving, seed sharing, garden seedsWhat do you do with seeds from vegetables and fruits after you're done eating? Most eaters, who aren't gardeners, probably don't give those seeds a second thought. Seeds for Food is an organization that collects seeds from the dinner table and distributes them among Saharan refugees and teaches them how to grow some of their own food.

Learn more or get involved at www.SeedsForFood.org

Friday

Renee's Garden Hosting Seed Giveaways on Facebook

Renees Garden, free seeds, gardening seeds, seed companies, seed starting
To celebrate their 2000th fan on Facebook Renee's Garden is holding three different themed garden seed giveaways on their Facebook page. The 1st week's theme is container veggies with a giveaway of "Garden Babies" Container Butterhead Lettuce, "Round Romeo" Carrots and "Pot of Gold" Container Chard seed packs. Three winners will be chosen at randome on July 16, 2010 for the first week's contest.

More info here.

Sunday

Earthworms Eat Seeds!

Earthworms have long been considered a gardener's friend. They aerate garden soil and feed on decaying plant matter, but is that all they do? Researchers in Germany, studying the behavior of Lumbricus terrestris, have discovered that they will eat on live plant matter, seeds and seedlings to be exact.

Exerpts from the BBC article

Previous studies have shown that some earthworms will swallow plant seeds, while others appear to collect seeds, burying them in their burrows.

But it was not clear why, whether the earthworms were actually seeking rotting seeds, or whether they derived any nutritional benefit from the habit.

[...]

The earthworms selectively fed on slow-germinating, nitrogen-rich seeds and seedlings, actively ingesting the plant material, killing the young plant.

[...]

"They are invading several regions previously devoid of earthworms such as northern North America," says Dr Eisenhauer. Studies have already shown this can cause the extinction of some plant species, and Dr Eisenhauer's research provides one explanation why.

[...]


Wow.

Read the full article: Earthworms eat live seeds and plants, scientists find.

Friday

Seeds on Sale at Botanical Interests

botanical interests seed packsOnline seed-seller, Botanical Interests, is having a sale on select varieties of seeds. Seeds packs marked with the blue "SALE" tag are 75% off their normal price. Maybe you don't need seeds now, but you can store them for next year and save a few bucks.

Botanical Interests.

If you're looking for seed-starting information search the Seed Snatcher search engine, where you'll find articles and blog posts about everything related to starting seeds.

Monday

Pensioners Stealing Seeds in England

What's the most stolen item in garden centers in England?

"Recession-hit pensioners are using foil-lined bags to get past old-fashioned security tagging systems and steal thousands of packets of seeds from garden centres, according to a crime expert...Davies says seeds, the most stolen item from garden centres according to a recent survey, have a low profit margin and are often stolen by the elderly who do not see stealing seeds quite in the same light as taking grown plants. "


Yes, old people are stealing and their preferred items are seed packets. I always knew I liked those Brits had good taste. More about the crime wave sweeping garden centers in England at Hortweek. Via: Cristina da Silva at The Real Gardener.

BOGO Ferry Morse Seeds at Home Depot

Jenn, at Recycling Gardener, informs me that through April 24, 2010 there is a buy one get one free offer on Ferry Morse seeds at Home Depot in honor of Earth Day. Thanks for the tip, Jenn.

Do I need any more seeds?

Maybe...

Tuesday

Sprouting Seeds in Books

Sprouting seeds in books, Manga farmingKoshi Kawachi, an artist in Japan, has a creative way of sprouting seeds. Several manga books are used to sprout seeds, in what the artist calls Manga Farming. See more images here. In case you're wondering: it appears the seeds sprouted in these books are radish seeds.

If you're looking for information on starting seeds for your garden search the Seed Snatcher search engine powered by Google and get the best tips and techniques for starting seeds.

Saturday

Renee's Garden Spring Fling Seed Discount

Did you forget to order any seeds or saw seeds you wanted after you placed your last seed order? Renee's Garden is offering a Spring Fling Discount to entice you to buy those seeds you forgot the first time or try some new ones. Enter DSC410 in the "coupon code" box on the checkout page and get 15% off your next order. The offer is good until May 2, 2010.

Don't forget that spring isn't the only time to sow seeds. You can sow a second season of many herbs and vegetables and extend your harvest season well into the winter.

Tuesday

Seeds in Space


When the shuttle Discover launched on Monday the STS-131 crew was accompanied by willow seeds from a University of New Brunswick experiment. The idea behind the experiment is to observe the effects microgravity have on the density of cell growth and lead to some breakthroughs for the forest industry. This is the second batch of Canadian seeds in the project called Cambium to fly into space in recent months.

A search of the Seed Snatcher search engine reveals this isn't the first time seeds have gone into space for research purposes. In 2002 experiments were conducted with flax seeds to understand how plants know up from down.

In 1983 Park Seed Company partnered with NASA and has provided millions of school children around the world with seeds that had been taken to space and brought back to Earth to conduct experiments with. You can read more about their partnership here.

Seeds, boldly going where few gardeners have gone before.

Monday

Park Seed Company Files for Chapter 11



The Park Seed Company has been providing garden seeds to American gardeners since 1868. So, it is a little bit scary to learn that they filed for Chapter 11 last Friday. Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Inc., Park Seed Wholesale Company, and the Jackson & Perkins Company plan to restructure and don't expect that customers will be affected.

Here's the press release made available to me by Park Seed.

On Friday, April 2, 2010, the Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Inc., Park Seed Wholesale Company, and the Jackson & Perkins Company voluntarily filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of South Carolina. Customers should not be affected by the filing. Park Seed/J&P’s Greenwood, SC, business office, Garden Center, Call Center, and websites are open and functioning normally. Shipping and receiving areas are continuing their daily operations, delivering products to gardeners around the country as their hardiness zones open for the Spring.

According to a company spokesperson, “The horticulture industry is challenging and highly seasonal in the best of times. As the general economic situation declined starting in 2008, demand for luxury, non-essential purchases dropped sharply. All of our brands experienced significant decreases in sales for core products, including roses, perennials, and garden-inspired gifts. This created cash-flow issues that worsened with each passing season. Despite deep cost-cutting and numerous attempts to execute supplier payment programs on our own, we simply could not meet our short- and long-term operating cash requirements. Seeking court protection and restructuring is clearly our best option for returning to a position where we can focus on delighting our customers and resuming sound relationships with our supply chain partners.”

The companies are currently functioning as a “debtor in possession,” under the leadership of a court-appointed Trustee. The companies have 120 days following the filing to prepare a plan that contains a new capital structure for the company and that treats all creditors equitably. The Park Seed Company/Jackson and Perkins management team is confident that this experience will ultimately strengthen the business and lead to long-term success.

# # #
The Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Inc. (ParkSeed.com) has been providing innovative, top-quality gardening products to generations of American gardeners since 1868.

Founded in 1872, Jackson & Perkins is America’s premier name in roses and garden-inspired gifts (JacksonandPerkins.com).

Park Seed Wholesale has everything needed to run a small to medium-sized greenhouse, nursery, or growing operation. Since 1870, Park Seed Wholesale (ParkSeedWholesale.com) has been known for delivering world-class products with downhome, friendly service.


I for one am rooting for them because it would be a shame for such an old seed house to go under. Especially when you consider how many new gardeners have taken up gardening in recent years. Although, it isn't surprising to learn that there's a decline in purchase of "luxury" goods when it related to gardening. It isn't just a symptom of the recession but a discernible movement within gardening.

Update: Carri brings up a good point below. On my Facebook page the conversation on this post took an interesting turn. I brought up last year's USA TODAY article about the increase in seed sales due to all the new gardeners and the recession. Carri pointed out that in that article Park Seed reported a 20% increase in seed sales compared to 2008. So, indeed: why is Park seed in trouble?

Update #2: In bad times, seed sales grow. hat tip: Carri via Facebook.

Update #3: I signed up with Google's Affiliate program through the MrBrownThumb blog. Moments ago I received an Email from them informing me the Jackson & Perkins affiliate program was being terminated effective tomorrow, April 7 "due to bankruptcy." It informs me that all links and banners belonging to Jackson & Perks have to be removed. If you're a blogger who has signed up for an affiliate program through sites other than Google you should check the status of the Jackson & Perkins and Park Seed programs you are part of.



Sunday

The BBC's "Dig In" Veggie Seed Giveaway

The BBC has this really neat vegetable seed giveaway promotion in the UK called "Dig In." They're giving away French Beans, lettuce, carrots, basil and courgettes seeds. What? Oh, that's what they call zucchini! There's a really nicely designed website with a newsletter, recipes, seed starting and garden planning information for windowsills, balconies, backyards and patches. Too bad those of us outside the UK can't see the videos.

I wish an American television network would copy this idea. Instead all we get are bad remakes of perfectly good British television shows. Too bad I can't mail away for these free seeds. But if you're in the UK, why not DIG IN?

Saturday

Petaluma Seed Bank

The Petaluma Seed Bank isn't a seed bank in the traditional sense, it is a seed store in what was once a bank. The store is part of Baker Creek Seeds which specializes in rare and heirloom seeds. Take a tour of the Petaluma Seed Bank on YouTube.


Friday

Vintage Seed Catalogs in Smithsonian Libraries Blog

Ratekin Seed House seed catalogVintage seed catalogs are highly collectible items among gardeners, but also collected by people who collect advertising & catalog memorabilia.

During the winter while searching for seed catalogs to request I came across the Smithsonian Libraries blog that periodically posts images of the covers of seed catalogs.

The cover for this Ratekin's Seed House catalog was posted on the Smithsonian Libraries blog for the 4th of July. That is a very patriotic cover but the placement of the ear of corn gave me a chuckle when I first saw it.

I haven't found any information on what happened to the Ratekin's Seed House, except for this mention of a lawsuit over the quality of their corn.

You can view the collection of seed catalogs posted at the Smithsonian Libraries blog here.

Seed Stuff in Popular Science Archives

Recently, Popular Science teamed up with Google to digitize their archives. Here are some interesting seed related articles I found in Popular Science's archive on Google Books.

My favorite of the bunch is Growing Garden Seeds Now Industry Giant. It takes you on a behind the scenes look at a seedman's nursery and shows how several seeds are harvested processed and stored before landing in home gardener packets.


May 1933, page 28
Seeds stored in bags are apt to become infested with bugs and so ... Collected in trays, the ripe seeds are washed in screen-bottomed containers.

May 1897, page 106
SEEDS that remain in keeping without losing the faculty of germination are ... Van Tieghem and Bonnier proves that seeds may retain their vitality for a ...

January 1940, page 108
Spurred on by this success, he tried his flotation system on other seeds. ... At first, he thought it was because fertile seeds were heavier. ...

October 1921, page 66
The seeds are placed on the covering and then protected from the outside ... The percentage of seeds that eventually sprout is the evidence upon which the

October 1920, page 48
Separating Seeds by Their Shape A NOVEL seed-separator divides round ... It consists of two series of spiral channels through which the seeds are passed.

More results here.

D. Landreth Seed Company: Barbara Melera

At the Chicago Flower & Garden Show I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara Melera of the D. Landreth Seed Company, America's oldest seed house. I found her to be a very nice person who really has a passion for seeds and the seed business. I attended a lecture by her that had lost of interesting seed company history, but unfortunately my tape recorder was acting up. I took notes, but it will take some time for me to decipher my own handwriting and pull out the most interesting information.

Barbara was a test subject of sorts as she's the first seed company owner whose autograph I collected for SeedSnatcher.com.

Thursday

Botanic Gardens Series by Botanical Interests

The Botanic Gardens Series by the seed company Botanical Interests turns the average gardener into a conservationist. The idea behind this series of seeds is to team up with botanic gardens to highlight native plants and flowers that are at risk of being lost and sell those to the average gardener to make sure these plants are preserved.

Like the Doomsday vault, except instead of being frozen and stored the seeds are alive and can be saved and shared assuring their survival.

Friday

Half-Million Mark for "Doomsday" Seed Vault

The Arctic island "doomsday" seed vault has amassed half a million seed samples in just two years. Although, an impressive number this article states that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault still has significant holes in its collection.


Read the story and watch a video on the doomsday seed vault.

"Haagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees"

Seed packet given to me at a local event. It is a packet of seeds containing a "wildflower mix" of "bee friendly seeds."

Bee Friendly seeds packet by Haagen-DaszThe back of the seed packet reads:

Honey bee colonies are vanishing at an alarming rate. Their disappearance is unsettling considering they're responsible for pollinating one-third of all the food we eat, including many ingredients that define our all-natural ice cream. Fortunately, you can do something about it. Plant these seeds and with a little sun, water and luck, you'll grow some bee-friendly flowers that will provide much needed food for our hero the honey bee. Learn more about the plight of the honey bees at helpthehoneybees.com.




Bee Friendly Seed Packet by Haagen-DaszThe directions read:

"Sow seeds 1/8 inch deep and 12 inches apart outdoors in an area of direct sunlight. Seeds can be started indoors in individual pots 3 to 4 weeks before setting out."


No information about what kind of seeds they are or who grew and packaged them.

Thursday

Where are Zinnia Seeds Grown?

"...Zinnias seeds used to be grown in Colorado but are now grown in the Middle East, because of issues with water rights. Specifically, they are grown in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan..."


From a conversation with Barbara Melera, owner of the D. Landreth Seed Company, in the winter of 2009.

Ripley's "World's Largest Tomato" Seed Packets

This Ripley's Believe It or Not! seed packet dates from 1996. It was a seed packet distributed by Indianapolis Power and Light as part of a promotion.

Ripley's Believe It or Not! World's Largest Tomato seed packetThe copy on the Ripley's Believe It or Not! tomato seed packet reads:

"Delicious Tomato Variety. World Record Tomato. Grow 2LB...3LB...And even larger with this world record variety! This astonishing tomato variety is a record breaker in Europe and America! It consistently produces huge tomatoes with solid centers! It has an excellent flavor too! great for ally your salads and sandwiches!"


The box on the upper right-hand corner reads:

"A 7lb. 12 oz. tomato was grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, OK in 1986, setting a new World Record."


Mr.Graham is deceased and I believe his "Delicious" tomato variety still holds the World Record.

The back of the seed packet doesn't contain sowing or growing information, but it appears there is more information on the inside of the seed packet. The outside of the seed packet doesn't list who grew or packaged the seeds. This thread on GardenWeb seems to indicate Ripley's also had a giant sunflower variety they sold, but I've not been able to find pictures of those seed packets on the internet. The conversation at that thread points to the Page's Seeds being the source of at least the sunflower discussed.

Seed packet given to met by SnarkyVegan.com

Selling the "Crisis Garden"

SurvivalSeedBank.com is a seed seller that I've come across a few times. They're recently attracted some attention after becoming advertisers on the Glenn Beck show. I first caught wind of them after President Obama was elected and I started getting referrals to the MrBrownThumb blog posts about seed starting from survivalist message boards and blogs.

Their marketing campaign is interesting and this, commercial posted by MediaMatters, gives you an idea why.



While tame by advertising standards if you listen closely you'll be able to hear a couple of dog whistles. Seeds more valuable than gold or silver? I could get behind that. Although, I don't like the fear mongering in vegetable gardening I guess the "crisis garden" is the underground equivalent of the victory garden.

Sunday

Blogs by Seed Companies

Here is a collection of blogs maintained by seed companies. Unlike in the Seed Snatcher search engine I will not edit out seed companies based on them taking the Safe Seed Pledge. However, I will only list stand alone blogs. That is blogs not attached to a company's website. The seed blogs listed here are only for information and/or research purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement of their business or seed suppliers.


Renee's Garden Seeds. Blog by Renee's Garden
TM Seeds. Blog by Thompson & Morgan US/Canada
Growing Ideas. Blog by Johnny's Selected Seeds

I will add more as I come across them.

Seed Distribution and Conservation

The price for a packet of seeds can range anywhere from a few cents a packet to a couple of dollars. The prices aren't really outrageous when you consider how much we spend on things that aren't half as useful as garden seeds. Even so, there are ways you can get seeds for free if you participate in various types of projects. Here are a few seed distribution and seed conservations for projects that gardeners and citizen scientist can participate in.


Native Seed Gardeners
Seeds of rare native plants are collected grown and handed out to gardeners to grow. These gardeners then return seeds from the plants they have grown to be used in restoration projects.



free gardening seeds in Chicago


One Seed Chicago
Lets Chicagoans vote for one of three plants and then distributes seeds of the popular vote winner to everyone who voted. Seeds are free and part of a community building project.






free sunflower seeds, great sunflower project

The Great Sunflower Project
Distributes Lemon Queen Sunflower seeds and encourages people to keep track of the bee populations that visit the sunflower.$3.00 fee to pay for shipping of seeds.

Wednesday

Sowing Small Seeds & Smoking

The W.D. & H.O Willis British cigarette manufacturer out of Bristol, England included advertising cards in their packs of cigarettes. In 1933 the company produced 'Garden Flowers' among other general interests cards like ones about British butterflies.

This one (ca. 1935-1939) gave garden hints like how to sow small seeds.

sowing small seeds garden tipsThe seed sowing advice on the card in part reads:

...The beginner will find the work easier if a small hole is made in one corner of the seed packet through which only a few seeds can fall at a time...


There is even a card demonstrating how to sow small seeds by submerging the pot in water, instead of sprinkling water from the top on your seeds which will cause them to spill out.

Watering seeds or seedlings. Digital ID: 1603224. New York Public Library

You can see some of these beautiful gardening related cards here, the images in the post are from the NYPL Digital Gallery.

Sunday

Seed Forums

If you're looking for seed growing information the best way to search the internet for tips on starting seeds is to use the search engine on this blog (available here as a standalone page), but if you find that you have a question that it doesn't answer; a good place to get information is at an online forum.

GardenWeb: Seed Saving, Growing from Seed
YouGrowGirl: Seeds, Seed Starting & Growing
Nings by seed companies: Renee's Community Garden, Botanical Interests Gardening Network
Forums by seed companies: Seed Savers Exchange Forum


Know of another forum that discusses starting, saving and growing from seed?

Update: In the summer of 2010 Botanical Interests decided to stop using their Ning and focus on their FB page.