It’s not yet spring, but with days growing perceptibly longer, the season of the seed catalogue has arrived. Many backyard gardeners still rely on packets from the grocery store or from the gardening center at a big box store, where all the carrots are orange and all the beans green. But there’s an extraordinary array of gorgeous, enticing flowers, herbs, and vegetables out there, specially bred or else researched and saved by heirloom and organic seed growers.
On today’s show, I’m joined by representatives of four seed companies that offer largely or exclusively organic seeds: Jim Weinburg, who owns Organica Seeds (Massachussetts), Tom Stearns, founder and owner of High Mowing Organic Seeds (Vermont), Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Virginia), and John Pederson from Seed Savers Exchange (Iowa). Each one tells us a bit about their own company or organization, and then shares with us a few of the most interesting, undervalued, or popular seeds they carry. Finally, they talk about some of their own personal favorites.
From Jim, you’ll hear about cotton that grows in different colors, and from Tom about melons that are “eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head” sweet; Ira mentions in passing that Southern Exposure carries twenty different kinds of okra, while John touts a potato that tastes as if it’s already buttered.
Before any of these folks even get started, however, I grab the chance to hold forth on some of the terms and categories that sometimes confuse beginning gardeners: Heirloom, hybrid, GMO, and “treated,” in reference to seeds. If this dash through the pollination and politics of seeds doesn’t leave you so breathless your mind quits on you entirely, it might help you make sense of the occasional jargon that creeps into the interviews.
All of the links, along with pictures of many of the vegetables mentioned and links to others, can be found on the blog, The Manic Gardener.