Choosing and Buying Heirloom Seeds

My very first blogpost ever was about buying seeds, and I love to re-post that article around this time each year because it is so appropriate. What are you going to plant this year? 
I am going to focus on tomatoes and tomatillos, and I plan to put them in a sunny corner of my herb garden on some trellises against the house among the clematis. My son has developed a passion for Mild Verde Sauce, so I hope to can some this summer, and make a whole bunch more tomato sauce (we are almost out of what I canned, just one jar left!) I do still have a couple quarts of my dried tomatoes left which will last us until the local hot-house tomatoes begin to come in. They go in our pasta sauces, on our salads, in soups and stews, and are gobbled up plain for snacks.
This year I've decided to look into some new seed companies, I'll let you know how that turns out! If any of you have any suggestions for great climbing, heritage tomato breeds or a favorite seed company, let me know.

This winter has been particluarly hard on most of the people in my region, with leaking roofs, collapsing barns and 12 foot snow drifts on everyone's mind. So spring and seeds are a welcome focus! Enjoy the rest of my article, and have fun buying seeds.

"Having turned the corner through the dead of winter, our days are getting longer and everyone (at least here where I live) is dreaming about Spring and days that don't begin with a stoking of the fireplace. Seed and plant catalogues are a great way to feed the mind and soul during winter, with beautiful images of flowers and vegetables, herbs and exotic grasses. I recently found a great article from Mother Earth News that had links to seed companies all over America. This is a fantastic resource, because when you buy seeds locally you are accomplishing two things: you are supporting local business communities and your plants are more likely to thrive in your soil, having been bred for generations in that spot of earth.

When you are reading about seeds, you will come across the terms Hybrid (F1), Open-Pollinated (OP) and Heirloom. Hybrid seeds produce specially bred varieties that are often disease and drought-resistant, or have special production properties. They are also usually designed to create more seed buying and protect the seed company's economic interest in their stock, which means that they will not breed true: if you want the same plant next year, you'll have to buy the seeds again. If you try and use seeds you collected from the plant, they will grow into a different plant, generally with different fruit production, or not even germinate at all.

Open-pollinated seeds breed true, and are often organic or grown without pesticides. You can save seeds from an open-pollinated plant and expect the exact same plants the next year. Environmentally, they present a better heritage for our children because these seeds are dependable and safe. Heirloom seeds are generally considered open-pollinated seeds which have been growing true for over 50 years or plant generations -- these are the seeds of our grandmothers, and theirs. Some heirloom varieties are endangered, and I love knowing that I am preserving a little bit of istory by planting these varieties in my garden. Here in Connecticut, I often choose to order from two companies. The first is Comstock, Ferre, which had many OP seeds to choose from, does a lot of their own growing, and is the oldest seed company in the United States. How cool is that?? The other is a small company just a few towns aways from me, in a really tiny town, actually, called John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds. I also have some seeds from last year from Park's and Seeds of Change that I will use up."
Another great resource for those of you who are uber-serious about saving and using your seeds for next year is the fabulous book, Seed to Seed.

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