Monday, January 30, 2012

Planting Seeds, Growing Gardens

Judi Gerber writes, "..., it is estimated that farmers produced about 80,000 species of plants before the advent of industrialized agriculture, now they rely on about 150. This has resulted from a number of factors but, over the last two decades, large, multinational companies like Monsanto have taken over family-owned seed companies and focused on producing their own hybrid and patented varieties.

Why is this an issue? These hybrids don’t produce viable seeds and cannot be collected legally and used by farmers or home gardeners.
This means that both home gardeners and farmers must buy new seeds each year from these corporate sources. It also has meant that we are losing the knowledge and techniques of traditional seed saving and plant propagation.
More than that, local, heirloom seeds are better adapted to a local region and become better seeds for that area. They also provide more interesting and unique varieties that are often tastier.
This has led many to recognize the need to preserve the genetic and cultural diversity of the heritage seeds that are left, before they too are gone."
The idea of having lost so much is frightening.  From 80,000 to 150!  The loss of variety over the years is staggering and not the responsibility of just one company.  Many factors are at play in this situation.

 Of course, Monsanto has long been on my bad boy list, but mainly for genetically modified crops.   Here is an article with pros and cons of GMOs.   My personal belief is that the cons far outweigh the pros.

Seed Savers is dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties, and I plan to purchase some seeds soon to make a tiny preservation effort in my own tiny space.

I've been in the midst of some garden planning for several weeks now.  At present, I'm just walking through my small back yard and thinking about what shrubs to take out, where to put some raised beds, what plants I want (my old garden had lots of herbs and perennials that I want to include, but I also want some dyer's plants).  Dreaming....

my previous garden

 I did all of the work in my old garden myself, but it took several years.  I built all the beds myself,  hauled all the dirt, flagstone, and brick things and spent from daylight to dusk every day for months each year working in it.  By June, my garden time would lessen because of heat and humidity, but every spring March-May was spent working in the garden.

I'll hire someone to dig up the shrubs this time.  It took me days to dig up each shrub in the old garden, and I'm not sure I'm up to that again.  Hiring someone would not only save my back, but it would save so much time.  

love themed gardens, but I'm so eclectic (nice word for "indecisive" or "I like it, I want it").  What I really like are herbs, perennials, and prolific re-seeders.  In the end, I'd dug up most of our huge yard and created island beds with just paths of grass in between.  Finding a place for something new became difficult because I hated digging up even invasive plants like the mint and the yarrow, some plants had to be divided and took up more and more room, and I loved my weedy Queen Anne's Lace almost above any other flower in the garden.
Looking at the pictures from my old garden makes me realize how much I miss it.  However, after the tornado hit, there wasn't much of anything left.  So...after two years in this house, I'm now determined to begin a new, smaller garden.  It really is time.

How does your garden grow?


  1. This was very interesting and actually increases my interest in gardening. I really like looking at them, but I am not good at all at planning them or growing them or tending to them. I don't find the work rewarding. But I really need to replant everything at this house. The former owner let everything (including shrubs) be so overgrown, we had to tear it all out. This spring I will be replanting. I really need someone who can plan gardens well to help me!

  2. What gorgeous garden photos! I'm interested in the big tell!!!

  3. Stephie - Now is a good time to do your some of your planning. I have so many garden books that I've accumulated over the years, and I love looking through them to get ideas.

    My favorite plants are those that are heat & drought tolerant, perennials that come back every year, and those lovely plants that re-seed and send back volunteers each spring.

    Nancy - My husband found that bell at some garden shop and brought it home as a surprise. I loved the height it gave to the garden. Don't know where it ended up after the tornado!

  4. Your garden pics are gorgeous--no wonder you miss it!
    My last garden was 30 years in the making and I could garden all day every day if the weather allowed. But we have winter in Ontario!
    In our new home, I've begun a few garden beds, and they've done quite well. I, too, like to grow herbs and perennials along with a vegie garden but so far the vegies and more herbs have to wait.
    My father was a member of a heritage seed group and we have a wonderful heart-nut tree growing in our yard. I try to buy heritage seeds when possible as plant diversity is so important.
    I enjoyed this post.

  5. That was a very beautiful garden. I envy people who can do that. I planted a garden once. Our soil was 100% clay and every week I filled our trash bin with huge hunks of clay (I should have taken up pottery). Finally I had the soil amended enough and I planted things. I was so proud of myself. Then it frosted (in May!) and then the weeds took over. I lost all interest in gardening after that, but I sincerely appreciate the work that goes into making a [thriving] garden such as yours. And I love to see the flowers.

  6. Suz - Creating a garden does take years. It is accumulative, you do something now and add to it later. Thirty years in one garden--what a wonderful accomplishment!

    Neat that your father appreciated heritage seeds. My father did, too.

    Rian - Ha! I hate clay! We have a company here that sells Eco Mulch, a very friable composted soil. I bought it, they dumped it in the driveway, and I hauled it to the beds in the back. Many times over the years! But everything grew like crazy in that stuff.

    Weeding? My worst (and substantial) vocabulary surfaces in regard to weeds!


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