For the month of February Garden Seeds is featuring Heirloom Seeds Seed Company. They have been selling heirloom seeds since 1988. All of the varieties Hierloom Seeds offers are open pollinated (non hybrid) and have been grown by generations of backyard gardeners. Heirloom seeds are non-GMO seeds.
Here is some of the trivia that is posted on Heirloom Seeds website:
Eggplant was once believed to cause fever, epilepsy and insanity. This misconception was circulated by Sir John Mandeville, a fourteenth century traveler, who also told tales of meeting mermaids and monsters in his many journeys.
The most popular squash grown today is the zucchini. While the zucchini has been popular in Italy for over 300 years, it did not gain widespread recognition in North America until the 1950’s. Now it is so widely grown, that in some areas of the country, people are warned to look out for “Zucchini Fairies” …. gardeners who leave baskets of squash on neighbors doorsteps! “Zucchini Fairies” like to appear during the middle of the night in order to dispose of their excess crops!
Lettuce has been in cultivation since at least 550 B.C.! Herodotus tells of it being served at the royal banquets of Persian kings during this time period.
Did you know that on the average, each American consumes over 30 pounds of lettuce every year!
Flax has been used all throughout the recorded history of man. It was used in clothing by the Swiss Lake Dwellers (the earliest Europeans for whom remains exist), the Egyptians used linen in wrapping their mummies, Christ wore linen as He lay in His tomb, Homer tells of sails made of linen in his Odyssey, and for more than two centuries, early Americans used flax to make their homemade linen and linsey-woolsey clothing.
I found a movie on Netflix that tells the story of a seed company and the lengths they will go in their cover-up of the fact that GMO crops and food cause health risks. The government watchdogs rely on the studies the seed companies do on the safety of their GMO seeds. These companies have a lot to lose if the whole truth gets out.
Many countries are starting to ban the import of GMO crops because they do not feel they have been proven safe. Great Britain worked hard to prevent the EU from banning GMO crops and products but now that they are leaving the EU more EU countries will try to ban GMO crops from the USA. GMO News.
Here is the trailer I found on Youtube for the movie Consumed. The full movie is on Netflix.
Many leaves make one tree. They are all connected and work together via the stems and branches of the tree. What if something connected all the plants in the forest in a similar way? I hypothesize that mycelium is actually the central nervous system of the forest. Mycelium grows in and around the roots of the different plants
I hypothesize that mycelium not only coordinate the sharing of nutrients between the different plants, they also share information between the plants so that the forest can work in a coordinated way. When I was looking for videos on fungi for the Fungi Academy page I found this video about how plants can think. It had a picture of mushrooms on it so I thought that it would validate my ideas.
It is a great video showing that plants even have memory and can react to their environment. It even went so far talk about the root brain theory which basically says the plants "brain" is in it's roots. Unfortunately it did not talk about the role that mycelium play in this thought process.
I launched a web page for the Fungi Academy where Basswood is working. I started working on this page a couple of months ago, but I got side tracked with work etc. Today I found several videos about mushrooms that I thought were really awesome. I added them to the bottom of the page. I hope you will take the time to learn more about mushrooms and the many benefits they offer us and our gardens.
Garden Seeds features landrace and heirloom seed companies as a way to promote the use of landrace and heirloom garden seeds. We believe individuals and small seed companies saving and sharing seeds is an indispensable link in the chain of food security. If everyone got their seed from one company and something happened to their seed crop there would be a famine. There would also be famine if a crop was attacked by a disease or pest that it was not genetically predisposed to fight.
If we grow several different heirloom varieties of a crop and one is overcome by disease or does poorly one year, we still can get a harvest from the other heirloom varieties. There are different heirloom varieties that do better under different conditions. Some heirloom varieties are frost hardy, others can tolerate drought or heat. The heirloom tomatoes that grow well in Florida will not do as well in Minnesota. This is why we encourage you to find a heirloom seed company or two that has heirloom seeds that do well in your area.
Landrace seeds are something we are really excited about. Landrace seeds are genetically diverse seeds that are adapted to a local area. You can start a landrace of seeds that will adapt to your local area by getting as many different landrace and heirloom varieties of a crop as you can and then grow them together. At the end of the season you save the seeds from several of the plants you like and grow those seeds next year. After a few years of growing these genetically diverse seeds you will have a landrace that is adapted to your growing conditions.
Each month last year Garden Seeds featured a heirloom seed company. We were so impressed with some of these seed companies that we made a web page about them on our site as a way of promoting them more. We try and promote only non-GMO heirloom seed companies because we believe that GMO seeds and products can be dangerous for us and the environment in ways that we can not even imagine yet.
Here are some of our favorite seed companies and the web pages we made for them:
Baker Creek Seeds was one of the first heirloom seed companies we found and they inspired us to try and use only healthy non-‘GMO seeds.
Native Seeds is my personal favorite. I think it is awesome that a seed company is saving the landrace and heirloom seed varieties that the indigenous people of America developed and grew.
Seed Savers Exchange is another great seed company. We went there to visit on a family vacation and enjoyed their beautiful grounds. We think their seed saving mission is very important and we encourage you to learn how you can save and share seeds.
Seed Save is an organization that promotes saving seeds. They have a lot of great information on their site.
We hope you will learn about the benefits of using landrace and heirlooms seeds and that you will check out some of these seed companies to help you get started.
I wish I had the time to go down to Guatemala. Not only to see Basswood, but to also to learn more about the benefits of mushrooms and other fungi. I have been telling myself that he just heads south to get away from the Minnesota winters The reality is it is getting harder to convince him that he needs to come up to Minnesota for the summer.
How is Basswood? That is the question that was weighing heavily on my mind all day yesterday. I woke up early this morning to check for messages and there were none...
Two days ago Basswood called first thing in the morning to talk with me, usually he messages on Facebook. He only calls when it is someone's birthday or a special holiday. Yesterday was neither, so I knew it must be important. I got back to him as quickly as possible. One of his friends was sick. He wanted to know if I had any suggestions for treating a high temperature, bone aches, and vomiting.
I told him they should take his friend to a doctor. He said his friend was too sick to make the trip. It is a twenty minute hike down the mountain to get to town. In the town nearby there is only a clinic. The day after Basswood arrived at the fungi Academy he cut his hand pretty deep and had to be taken to that clinic where they sewed it up. From that town it is still a long drive to a hospital.
In the evening Basswood wrote to say he felt fatigued and his bones ached. I encouraged him to stay hydrated and rest. I wrote him the first thing yesterday to see how he was doing. He wrote back one word.
That is all he wrote yesterday. Before I went to bed I wrote to ask if he was still alive, and first thing this morning I checked to see if he had responded. There was nothing. I tried not to panic. Finally after about an hour he wrote.
"Woke up pretty rough, but I'm walking around now."
Well he is still alive. I wish he was home so that I could take care of him. I can not wait until spring when he comes home to help me plant our landrace gardens. A few days ago he said he has been going to permaculture farms every chance he gets. He visits these permaculture farms to try and learn their gardening techniques and to ask them for seeds.
Before he got sick he said he was planing a major terrace project for the side of the mountain where the Fungi Academy is. He wants to use the genetically diverse landrace seeds he has collected to start growing food for the staff and students at the Fungi Academy.
Basswood really is feeling better. He has been writing me for the last few minutes about his plans to start a "Major landrace breeding project," at the Fungi Academy this year. He said, "I found a squash landrace with pure blackish green flesh."
Food security is vital to our very existence. Most people collect money and/or gold to save up for a time of need. These same people will gladly give you all their gold in exchange for food when they are hungry. We at Garden Seeds believe that the lack of genetic diversity in our country's seed supply could one day lead to a famine. Just look at what happened to Ireland in the 1800's because everyone was planting the same potato.
Do we really trust the big seed companies to think about our long term safety and security? They are so busy developing seeds to increase their profits that they have even developed seeds that will not grow again next year if you save the seed. Wait... does that mean that they could demand all our gold in a time of crisis? We should all start growing only landrace and heirloom seeds that we know will grow again next year from the seeds we can save if need be.
Every month Garden Seeds features an heirloom seed company. This month we have chosen to feature Heirloom Seed Banks. They are a seed company that sells family sized seed banks that are packaged in Mylar bags for long term storage. They have the heirloom seeds that could provide food security for you in a time of food scarcity.
They wrote an article about Basswood in the local newspaper entitled From Seed to Shining Seed. It tells how he is out to see the world by hitchhiking or taking buses. The article tells how Basswood meets people to learn about their way of life. “’When he works for room and board, he is really there for a free education,” Scot said. “Many people actually pay permaculture farms for the privilege of working on them for a month or two to learn permaculture design and techniques.’”
Basswood has worked on permaculture farms in California, Hawaii, Turkey, Guatemala, and visited several in Mexico. Basswood is now working at the Fungi Academy where he is learning about the benefits of fungi. This year he hopes to learn about using mushrooms and other fungi in food forests and other permaculture designs. He wants to bring this knowledge back to Northern Minnesota in the Spring where we will use it as we develop our permaculture farm here at Garden Seeds.
Before Basswood left for the winter he cleared another acre of land where we plan on planting trees and bushes along the forest edge to make another food forest. In the new open area we plan on developing a landrace of corn with some of the corn seeds he collected on his trip across Mexico that he just completed.
Basswood and the Fungi Crew made it to the Fungi Academy in Guatemala. About six hours after Basswood sent me the message that he made it safely he sent a message saying he cut his hand pretty bad and had to get stitches. He said he has to go to the clinic for daily dressing changes. I was worried that he would not have enough money to pay for all that. He wrote back and said, "health care is free in Guatemala."
Like don't I know that only in the US does our health insurance cost over $1500 a month and then we still cannot afford to go to the clinic because of the high co-pays. I am glad that he is at a place where he can get the help he needs when he needs it. Getting hurt does not seem to have slowed him down to much. He says that he is in charge of landscaping and setting up the gardens for the Fungi Academy. Knowing Basswood, he cannot wait to get some of those landrace seeds in the ground that he collected on their trip from San Francisco.
Everyone is working hard to get ready for the week long fungi seminar that is coming up in January. I wish that I could join them and learn more about the benefits of fungi.