Seed Catalogs

It was seed catalog heaven this weekend as I poured over all my seed catalogs to send for the year’s seeds. Took my mind right off the sawdust and jet engine construction noises in the next room!

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My favorite catalog remains the Seed Savers Exchange- All their seed is saved by their members, and they fight the good fight against GMOs.

I love that they share the stories of how seeds get saved.

One tomato I am getting from Seed Savers this year is a yellow tomato called Emmy. It’s rescue as a seed involved a woman named Emmy. To save her life, she had to flee from Transylvania at the end of WW2. She actually grabbed a tomato from her garden as she ran from her home, hoping to preserve this tomato as well as her own skin. I have to respect this kind of serious gardener. I can’t imagine thinking straight enough to save a tomato from extinction in this kind of situation!

It has surprised me how many dramatic seed saving stories I’ve heard over the years.

During the break-up of the Soviet Union, Soviet citizens escaped the country via the Caucasus mountains in order to save seeds. Others risked serious consequences when they handed US tourists parcels of seed through tour bus windows, entrusting literal strangers to save precious plant varieties. The seed situation became a crisis in the faltering Soviet Union when seed banks were subject to power outages and government seed inventories were no longer kept under proper conditions for preservation. Getting these seeds into the hands of actual gardeners who would grow them was both heroic and visionary.

I can see how important it is for us to have actual gardeners growing the seeds of earth, not just trusting to seed banks to keep seeds safe. May more and more people find themselves preserving the diversity of earth in this way (hopefully without having to run over any mountain ranges to do the job).

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It may shock people that I buy seeds from Parks and Burpees as well as Heirloom organizations, but the resources they can bring to seed hybridization means they sometimes have real treasures. Our beloved Mehera White Marigold seeds took Burpee 56 years work. I will always be grateful to the member of the Burpee family who was as crazy about this Flower as I am!

I watch with delight the rise of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The catalog is passionate and flaky and chock full of heirloom seeds, and somehow the man behind the catalog is keeping it all together even as he buys up failing seed houses, runs a replica Ozark village in Missouri and takes photos of his four year Sasha eating every vegetable under the sun.

If he can buy the Petaluma Savings Bank in Petaluma, CA and transform it into a thriving seed bank- Well props to him! And props to all who are buying and growing and saving heirloom seeds and saving our heritage just like Emmy with her yellow tomato!