View Full Version : Organic Seed Sources in the US

Dennis Leahy
23rd February 2013, 06:00
(I hope this inspires some folks in a few other places in the world to start a similar thread for your area. It is probably better in many ways to get your organic seeds from your own country or at least geographic region.)

In no particular order:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: Missouri : http://rareseeds.com/
Friends of mine who have a huge organic garden have been buying their seeds for years. I probably buy some tomato starts - "Sungold" cherry tomatoes (sweet and yummy) - that these friends start from Baker Creek seeds, but haven't bought from them yet. I will probably buy at least a few packs of seeds from them in the next few days, as I am trying to support a bunch of different companies that need - and deserve - support. Beautiful printed catalog with "artsy" photos that are even more attractive than nude women. Well, almost. This is a catalog you'll want to read outside, while leaning on a tree. 1400 different heirloom varieties!

Arbico Organics: Arizona : http://www.arbico-organics.com/
Organic seeds and biological pest control. I have not used them, but it is good to know they have the biological pest control stuff (not many places do.) Green Lacewings, Ladybugs, Nematodes, Praying Mantis, and more...

Territorial Seed Company: Oregon : http://www.territorialseed.com/
Some "conventional" some organic seeds. Another company I know of but just haven't shopped there yet. They've been around for 30 years.

Johnny's Selected Seeds : Maine : http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
Johnny's is a medium sized company that sells some organic, some heirloom, some hybrid seeds. Although I know that "heirloom" seeds are precious partly because they hold their characteristics from generation to generation of collected seeds, hybrids are deliberately pollinated crosses of two species that do not hold the genetics past one generation. Save seeds from a hybrid plant, grow them next year, and you will likely be disappointed, because the hybrid was better than either parent. I personally do not have a problem buying some hybrid seeds (some organic gardeners see them as inferior because they do not pass-on genetic characteristics. Your choice. I really like the Sunshine Orange Kabocha squash, so that is one hybrid that I buy (but it certainly not the only squash seeds I buy.) Johnny's has supplies for small organic farmers ("such as "community sustained agriculture".)

Seed Saver's Exchange: Iowa : http://www.seedsavers.org/
Just what it sounds like: people saving heirloom varieties that get a few seeds to these folks.. who then plant and harvest for seeds for sale (which may take them more than one season.) You'll see plenty of heirlooms here you won't see very frequently at other organic seed providers.
From their site: "Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners."

High Mowing Organic Seeds : Vermont :http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
All organic, nothin' but. Another one of the pillars of the organic seed market.

Seeds of Change : California : http://www.seedsofchange.com/
One of the stalwarts standing tall against sh!theads like Monsanto.

Horizon Herbs : Oregon : https://www.horizonherbs.com/
Wonderful small business of very dedicated people. This is exactly the kind of company that NEEDS our support - certainly a hell of a lot more than Burpee (that is a giant company that does supply some organic seeds.)

Peaceful Valley (Grow Organic) : central California : http://www.groworganic.com/
Just became aware of them this year

Maine Potato Lady : Maine : https://www.mainepotatolady.com/productcart/pc/home.asp
Great folks with potatoes that grow in northern climates. Not all of their varieties are organic, but if that's the only place to buy some species you want to try...well, by the second year, I guess your potatoes would be 100% organic.

St. Lawrence Nursery : "upstate" New York : http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/
Organically grown fruit and nut trees and berry bushes grown for northern climates. Bill MacKentley (owner) is a great guy - I could have talked with him for 2 hours, easy. Very much in-tune with what is going on in the US and the world. Retiring soon, and will probably be his daughter's business. The trees are smaller than you're used to seeing, for the age of the tree, but they were not "pushed" with inorganic fertilizers, and are grafted onto stock roots that can handle relatively deep winter conditions (Zone 3) and they are tough.

Not seeds or trees or bushes, or organic fertilizers or beneficial bugs, but...

Rock Dust:
One of the most wonderful things that happens in organic soil is that micro-organisms thrive. Some of them eat rock. Yep, like the lichens you see on rocks that slowly break down the surface of rocks, some micro-organisms "eat"/consume/break down tiny rock particles... and not only release the minerals and micronutrients for your plants, but actually create forms of these chemical compounds that are "bio-available" for plants. In real estate, it's: location, location, location. In organic gardening, it's nutrients, nutrients, nutrients - and the missing ones in most gardens are the micronutrients. You can sift your own (should be finer than sand), try to get a local rock quarry to allow you access beneath a conveyor belt (I'm going to try to do that this spring), or order crushed/pulverized "dustified" hahahaha rock from some supplier online. Shipping will cost more than the rock dust. I read somewhere that if the rock dust is too fine, it will not be beneficial, and may actually clog root pores, but that may be someone's marketing hype. I don't know. This year will be the first year I use rock dust (and biochar.) Your local nursery may have "greensand" and that is worth trying, but the "rage" seems to be pulverized igneous rock - supposedly has a good variety of micronutrients. Oh,. I should mention kelp here. Kelp is also used in gardening to add micronutrients.

Googke "rock dust gardening" without the quotes and you'll find quite a few sources.

New to me this year, found about it here at Avalon, and I am really excited to try some. Not quite as expensive as rock dust to ship, but still, it would be nice if some local nursery got a truckload of this stuff and passed on the savings from shipping bags or 5-gallon buckets. I'll update this entry with a link to the Avalon threads that talk about biochar, and a source or two...

Here's Cjay's thread that discusses biochar and includes some eye-opening short videos: http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?52523-ANNOUNCEMENT-Huge-Scale-Environmental-and-Humanitarian-Projects-to-Repair-The-Earth

Here's one place in the US to buy biochar (and activated charcoal for your homestead's drinking water filtration {hint, hint} : Buy Activated Charcoal dotcom (http://www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com/biochar)

Please add any US organic seed companies to this thread, especially if you have dealt with them and like them. There are quite a few more than I listed.

If Canadians are able to buy these seeds, then please include Canadian companies here as well - unless you prefer to start a Canadian organic seed supplier thread.

Based on active members at Avalon, someone should definitely start thread like this for Australia, another for the UK or maybe all of Europe. Do it quickly, please. Time to get going for those in the northern hemisphere. (Hey, and those in the southern hemisphere should be saving seeds right now!)



23rd February 2013, 10:44
I just ordered some seeds from this site: http://www.mypatriotsupply.com/Articles.asp?ID=245

They got me my order within four days. They are located in Hartford City, Indiana, USA.

Nanoo Nanoo
23rd February 2013, 11:38
Hey Dennis , excellent article , thank you !
i particularly enjoyed reading about bio organic organisms eating rock dust and converting it into minerals for plants to grow.

i have been experiemnting in re mineralising water and using crystals as well. the water im getting is , if its made the right way and drunk soon after , quite energising and you canfeel it inside. water and minerals i believe carry many building blocks for healthy nutrition. While plants really only need 9 essential minerals to be healthy ,. not all plants get these.
one thing i have been trying , you may know , is burning off the dead wood and bark , leaves etc from the yard and using the ash as a fertiliser. its been miraculous the chnge its made !

silt is also a good one as its usually very rich in minerls

thanks again


23rd February 2013, 17:54

23rd February 2013, 19:11
I use most of what you suggested Dennis, but I use this company the most.


I would also suggest everybody understands the difference between heirloom, open pollinated, hybrid and gmo.

First three are good seeds . . . even the hybrid type. If the description does not include at least one of the first three words then it is most likely gmo

23rd February 2013, 20:08
Thanks Dennis. This is extremely sensible advice and you are quite persistent about giving it (and I hope you will continue to be). Time for me to get off my duff and think about planting a bit more than three tomato plants this year.

If I can muster up the discipline to carry out this plan and the distribution network fails, we will have great fresh food. If we have a financial collapse, seeds will be a great commodity to barter with. If life we are all just paranoid conspiracy fanatics worrying ridiculously about something that just isn't going to happen, then we will just have a great time planting and eating healthy food.

Dennis Leahy
24th February 2013, 06:44
I use most of what you suggested Dennis, but I use this company the most.


I would also suggest everybody understands the difference between heirloom, open pollinated, hybrid and gmo.

First three are good seeds . . . even the hybrid type. If the description does not include at least one of the first three words then it is most likely gmo

Yes, blufire, I forgot Fedco. Thanks! The community gardening program I'm part of buys some seeds and some fruit trees from them. So does the woman that I buy most of my "starts" from.

If someone wants to start their own broccoli, tomatoes, or peppers, then based on my failures and partial successes, I'd say: you need lots of light, intense light. Plus, use a small oscillating fan in the room, to gently blow the seedlings around a bit after they germinate and sprout up. The fan will make the stems tougher, and the intense light will make sure they do not have spindly, thin stems. However, a fan will dry soil out, so watch carefully and give them sips of water as needed - sometimes twice in a day. The tiny plants will do better if the soil is very fine and porous and light. Remember to start "compost tea" brewing a couple of weeks before starting seeds, so you'll have some gentle but important nutrients for the little guys.

Good idea to stop and explain these terms, blufire:

heirloom, open pollinated, hybrid and gmo (and let's throw in the term "treated" and "organic" as well):

For the sake of simplicity, you could simply buy organic seeds. That alone eliminates GMO and chemically treated. I want to support the companies that are working hard to bring organic seeds to us, but if there is some variety I want to grow where seed is not available as certified organic, I may buy it and just grow it using organic gardening methods. Other organic gardeners won't buy any seed unless its organic. You decide for yourself.

As blufire states, if you want to know more about the parentage of the seeds and whether you can save them from this years crop to produce the same variety next year, you need to pay attention to the terms "heirloom", "open pollinated", and "hybrid" (sometimes called "F1 hybrid" or "F2 hybrid")

I'll put it in my own terms, but this page (DigIt (http://www.dig-itmag.com/features/lifegarden_story/504_0_6_0_M/)) has a good description of several of these terms. Note what the CEO from Burpee says about heirloom varieties. I think he is being honest. He also states that GMO seeds are not sold to gardeners in seed packs, only to farmers - I did not know that. Interesting info about corn as well. Worth a look.

heirloom : all heirloom seeds are open pollinated, but not all open pollinated seeds are heirloom. "Heirloom" is a bit of a loose term depicting a scenario where the seeds have been saved and passed down through the generations. If you save seeds, you'll get the same variety again.
open pollinated : seeds that are naturally wind or insect pollinated, and if you save seeds, you'll get the same variety again. These could be heirloom or more recently stabilized hybrids.
hybrid : a deliberate blend of two or more [I]varieties of the same species, producing a variety that (at least someone) considers as better than either parent variety. If you save the seeds, they will not produce the hybrid again, but will revert into one of the parent varieties. F1 hybrid means first generation, and you can be relatively assured it will be what you expected. "F2" is a second (or subsequent) generation from F1 seeds, and may include some plants with F1 characteristics, and some that have reverted to one of the parent stock.
GMO : Genetically Modified Organism - An impossible hybrid of two or more species, and the species could be as different as a plant and an animal (yes, it has been done: a tomato with some fish genetics cross, but it did not sell well and has been dropped.) I personally believe these were developed specifically for reasons of greed, not for eugenics, but I could be wrong. Because of the DNA tinkering and sometimes using viral agents to perform some of the process, I believe these seeds produce quasi-food not fit for consumption by living creatures - from microorganisms to humans. If you eat them, you are a "lab rat."

treated : one or more non-organic chemicals (fungicide or pesticide, probably) have been applied to the seed. Even if the seed started as organic, it no longer is.
organic : there are various governmental agencies, including the USDA (under our pal "W" Bush) that have commandeered this term away from what I believe were the real stringent standards set by "Oregon Tilth" and "California Certified Organic." I know the USDA weakened the standards, but I can't honestly tell you by exactly what (http://cookingupastory.com/the-organic-community-the-usda-and-the-morning-after) off the top of my head. But, the standards, weakened or not, are still regulating most of Giant AgriBiz chemicals as not organic. Also, GMO cannot be considered as organic.

In buying herb seeds, you may also see the terms "annual", "biennial", and "perennial"

annual : this plant lives 1 year, produces fruit or grain or seed, and dies.
biennial : this plant lives for 2 years - the first year it grows roots stems and leaves, the second year it finally flowers (producing seed) and then dies. I can't think of any fruits or vegetables in this category, but some herbs
perennial : often woody-stemmed, this plant comes back year after year (if it can handle your winter)

In the world of fruit and nut trees, you'll also see the terms "pollenizer", "needs pollenizer", or "self-fertile"
Trees are a bit more complex than the garden fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Some trees can be grown solo, and will produce nuts or fruit. It is said to be self-fertile. Other trees either produce very poorly without a companion, or not at all: these trees are said to "need a pollenizer." A pollenizer is a secondary tree to provide pollen for the first tree. Surprisingly, this is not always a tree of the same variety - you may note that one variety of apple tree is a good pollenizer for a list of different apple tree varieties.

I'm going a bit off-topic of organic seeds, but not too far. :~)

I want to mention one more thing about hybrid seeds: If you have a small garden, and for example, have different varieties of squash plants (that might themselves be heirloom or open pollinated, non-hybrids), the bees will go from flower to flower and will cross-pollinate all of your squash. You'll have natural hybrids. Save seeds, and next year, you will get ALL weird squash. (My experience was that NONE of the "natural hybrid" varieties was anywhere near as good as the original varieties.) So, if you consider "hybrid" seeds as a negative, do realize that unless you can isolate your varieties (of species that easily form natural hybrids), you'll be buying new seeds again next year anyway. The seed companies plant large patches of these varieties, and isolate them from other varieties that could hybridize with them.

Another post coming soon about "seed potatoes."

Ahem... have you bought seeds yet?


Living Food
24th February 2013, 15:44
Not somewhere that you can buy trees, but if you fill out an application you could get up to multiple dozen fruit trees shipped in and planted in your community: http://www.ftpf.org/

No matter what happens, they'll be a great resource to have.

As for biochar, you can make your own very easily. There's no need to buy it.

¤=[Post Update]=¤

I also think that it's very important to buy some nut trees as soon as possible, because they take quite a while to mature. But most varieties will keep producing beyond your lifetime and be an excellent source of nutritious food.

It's slightly off topic, but it's also vital to learn what wild plants are edible. I even gather weed seeds and plant + sprout them later. Wild plant seeds = way beyond organic, and never tampered with by man either.

24th February 2013, 16:44
Dennis, you are such wonderful teacher and mentor.

Personally, something I have been adding, researching and considering diligently to my gardening and homesteading is the ability to adapt to our extreme weather and climate change.

I have ‘stressed’ seed for many years by not watering the plants much or leaving them to fend for themselves through the heat and weeds and insect attacks. Then I harvest the best from the plants and save the seed for the following year and then subject them to new stressors. I have seed that goes back 20 years.

Also, we have to pay attention to the seed varieties we used to use years ago . . . they are becoming incompatible with this extreme weather and climate. I feel for new gardeners because gardening can be challenging in the best of conditions and the new gardeners are starting during a time that can be challenging for us old timers.

The overall most valuable addition to my gardens is ‘high tunnels’ or basically unheated greenhouses. They allow me to take vegetable production through the winter and start vegetables earlier in the spring, as well as, with shade cloth I can provide protection from the blistering sun through the summers.

Just last night we had carrots and swiss chard from the high tunnel gardens. It is such a treat to have fresh greens and veggies in the dark of the winter.

And I will voice Dennis’ question from above post . . . . have you bought your seed yet??

Dennis Leahy
24th February 2013, 18:09
As for biochar, you can make your own very easily. There's no need to buy it.Thanks, Living!

Another Avalon member sent me some info on making biochar, pre-loading the biochar with nutrients before putting it in the garden, and on Korean natural farming/gardening techniques. I think it needs a new thread, so this one can stay mostly about seeds.


24th February 2013, 19:47
I learn by reading books (and some web pages, nowadays.) I don't have any planting seeds to speak of, no garden tools to speak of, and no clue and little interest in such, by my long standing habit.

I can imagine circumstances changing, such that I became more interested. Stale rice and beans could get borrowing, and would run out after a while.

Can you (Dennis, blufire, etc) recommend some reading and some "kit" (tools and starter seed selections) that would be better than nothing in such a situation, though still of course not close to what could be done by someone who had been preparing and had already developed good habits for such ? Something that might increase one's odds of getting through a rough patch of a few years, even if the odds still rather sucked. I don't mind making my choices of where to focus, and accepting the consequences.

T Smith
24th February 2013, 20:58
Hi Dennis,

I recently ordered heirloom seeds from Dri-Harvest Foods.


Still haven't arrived and I know very little about the company. Relatively small investment, so I hope this company is in league with the recommendations above. Are you familiar with them?

Dennis Leahy
25th February 2013, 01:53
Do watch out for the "kit" stuff I have seen advertised on some survivalist/freeman/sovereignty type sites. I saw one that sells 2 ounces each of 7 types of bean seeds - for $59. If you go to a health food store that sells organic beans in bulk, most beans are under $2/pound, and they will sprout and grow. So, that's about $1.50 worth of beans being sold for $59.

This pisses me off.

Let's make our own "kit."

What do you like to eat, what are common things many people like to eat (now you're thinking like a smart trader/barterer), what has enough variety to supply a variety of nutrients as well as be interesting to your taste buds, what will grow in your climate, what will grow without a lot of fuss, what will grow in a relatively small area? Those are some good questions to start with. Another smart choice would be to have some seeds that can be harvested in a month or so. (Yes, insert "sprouting seeds" in the overall "kit" too - they can provide tasty food in DAYS! See "Johnny's" 2013 catalog, page 70.) For plants that can be harvested in a month or so, think of lettuces, spinach, and other "greens."

Seeds you may want to ignore: corn and most other grains, melons, large squash like pumpkins. Why? Well, most of us do not have enough room to grow a big garden that can sustain us, family, and friends, so we don't want big plants and plants that require a lot of space.

Footprint-space-conscious seed varieties would include pole beans rather than bush beans, and indeterminate tomatoes rather than determinate. In these cases, the plants grow taller, and thus produce more per square-foot of garden. You can also "companion plant" some things that will intermingle. Look up "square foot gardening" and "French bio-intensive gardening" to learn more about cramming plants closer together. Also look-up "vertical gardening" and you'll be amazed at the clever examples that you'll see for growing more in less square feet. "Container gardening" and "community gardening" as search topics will help you out if you simply have no garden plot at all.

Store seed packets in a cool, dry place, and they will be viable (will sprout and grow) for years. We have all heard of seeds found in pyramids or sealed in earthenware jars in caves that still sprouted after centuries or even millennia. So, don't think this is a waste if you buy a bunch of seed packets and for some reason do not grow them this year.

If I had to make a quick list, off the top of my head, right now, I'd buy:

beets (bulls blood, Detroit dark red)
carrots (atomic red F1, deep purple F1, danvers, bolero F1, scarlet nantes)
peas (some "snow" peas and some sugar "pod" peas like Arrowhead)
spinach (Bloomsdale, Corvair, may try Pigeon)
several kinds of dark green and red lettuces including Mesclun mix, red romaine
kale (red Russian, Lacinato)
Swiss chard
red cabbage
brussels sprouts
several kinds of winter squash (see list below)
pole beans

a few varieties of onions (red and white - most require over 100 days and so none of them grow particularly large in my northern climate - I keep trying new varieties)
cucumbers (Northern Pickling)

sweet basil (Genovese, lime, Amethyst purple)

broccoli* (Early Green)
tomatoes* (Black Krim, Sungold F1, Pruden's Purple, Moskavich, trying "Indigo Rose" and "New Girl F1" this year) {Black Krim is really pushing it for my climate: 80 days! This one is a hassle for me, probably means blanket-covering plants through the first frost or two}
peppers (some sweet, some hot)*(sweet:Marconi red, Jimmy Nardello, Carmen F1, Sweet Chocolate) (medium hot: Early Jalapeno, Conchos Jalapeno F1, Hungarian Hot Wax) (hot: if you can eat hot peppers, get some Habanero and Cayenne chiles. Cayenne is also medicinal)

*(marked with an asterisk means I am not thrilled with having to start these plants myself, usually preferring to have an organic grower with a greenhouse start them, but I do have packs of these seeds "just in case")

All the seeds will last years if properly cared for. Noting that these are only for this year's garden, I would add:
"seed" potatoes (either small organic potatoes, or potato pieces cut from large potatoes that have at least one "eye" - preferably two)
"seed" garlic (organic garlic cloves - the bulbs are broken and individual cloves planted in the fall (http://www.motherearthnews.com/grow-it/how-to-plant-garlic.aspx)), so this isn't something to worry about until fall)

"If I had more room" and "what's missing from the short list"
Summer squash: for example a single zucchini plant, will probably give you more zucchini than you and your friends want. They are not really very nutrient dense, and kind of boring.

"In small towns and rural settings, it is recommended that you lock your car in mid summer - otherwise, you are likely to have a car full of zucchini." Melons and some types of squash, like pumpkins, really require a lot of space. I love the taste of melons, but I cannot give up my garden space to grow them. They also prefer more heat and a longer summer than we have where I live. Pumpkins are high in vitamin A, but even if I had space to grow them, it would not be the big ones, but rather the small "pie" pumpkins.

I do dedicate 1/3 of my garden space to growing winter squash. Other than dried or canned garden produce, there are not many crops that I have been able to successfully keep throughout the winter. My best successes have been with potatoes (some 'long-keeping' varieties), carrots, and winter squash. When I select specific winter squash seeds to grow, I get:

butternut (keeps the longest)
kabochia F1 hybrid variety called "Sunshine" (makes better "pumpkin" pie than pumpkins do!
spaghetti (my daughter's favorite)

I have had as many as 8 varieties of winter squash growing at once. They also make great gifts and the local soup kitchen will love you when you drop by midwinter with such a great addition to a stew or soup.

You don't see some things like okra, eggplant, turnips, parsnips, and radishes on my list because I am not too fond of them - and no one in my family asks for them. Kohlrabi and rutabagas are kind of bland - I might grow them for variety, as I have before. I gave up on trying to grow cauliflower. I grew leeks ("prizetaker") last year and made one large cauldron of leek soup. Probably not worth the garden space for me. I really don't like bitter greens, but I force myself to eat them because they are so nutrient dense. After eating a lot of fresh kale throughout the summer, I dried and flaked a quart jar of kale at the end of the season, which can be sprinkled into veggie soups as long as you don't go crazy. Add collards to your list if you will eat them. Actually, I do eat bitter greens, but prefer to hide a small amount of them in a salad. Remember you can eat beet leaves, and broccoli leaves too - smaller is more tender.

I am still pretty ignorant about medicinal herbs (I hope someone will start a topic on which ten medicinal herb seeds to grow!) (Including some herbs that are both culinary and medicinal), last year I grew Tulsi ("Holy Basil"), Lemongrass, dill, cilantro, basil, oregano, marjoram, spearmint, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme {hahahaha} and lavender - and harvested some volunteer yellow dock, dandelion, and mulein. In my yard, I have coneflower, yarrow, marshmallow, and monarda. An herbalist could probably find at least another dozen useful herbs in my yard.

Besides tomatoes (technically a fruit), it is not easy to plant fruit plants that produce the first year. You might get some strawberries the first year from new plants; the second year they will be great. If you plan on living longer than one year, plant berry bushes (whatever grows in your climate), and if you are so bold as to believe someone in your family - or some member of humanity - might survive for 3 to 5 years, plant fruit (and nut) trees!

p.s. I had most of the list done "off the top of my head" but decided the list would be more valuable if I took the time to look up specific varieties, so this is not all off the top of my head)

Dennis Leahy
25th February 2013, 02:10
Hi Dennis,

I recently ordered heirloom seeds from Dri-Harvest Foods.


Still haven't arrived and I know very little about the company. Relatively small investment, so I hope this company is in league with the recommendations above. Are you familiar with them?
T, I don't know the company, but that looks like a pretty good mixture, several varieties I know and recommend, and at about $3/packet, that is not a high price. (Organic and heirloom seeds run $2.50 to $3.50 a pack.) Does it include what you and your family enjoy eating? Wheat, buckwheat, and corn are not seeds I would have picked out, but it adds to the variety of seeds in the kit.

Note that if there is a Menards near you... they sell Burpee organic seeds at 40% off list, which makes them $1.50/pack. So, if you want to add a few packs of Mesclun mix and some red lettuce, you'd have the "1-month to harvest" plants covered pretty well. They also sell some packs of mixed varieties of carrots, including red and purple, sweet basil, cilantro...


25th February 2013, 03:00
Let's make our own "kit."
Thanks, Dennis !

25th February 2013, 03:09
I stand by seedsavers!

25th February 2013, 04:53
Thanks for the thread, Dennis. When you said 'start a topic' on medicinal herbs, did you mean a post within this thread? Or a different thread? I will move this if you meant a different thread. :)

I would add leeks to the list of vegetables. They grow easily from seed, similar to onions. They do take a long time, you'd have to start very early in the spring to have them big enough to transplant out and harvest by fall. The great thing about leeks is that they winter over, and you can harvest them in the winter as long as the ground doesn't freeze. And even if the ground freezes, mine have always been fine to harvest again when the ground thawed.

If you live in a really cold climate, like Dennis does, you might look for a winter variety. I don't recall the names but I've seen some designated as winter varieties. Living in zone 5 or warmer, any kind I've tried has been fine. Leeks are like elegant onions, with a more subtle taste.

If you let cilantro go to seed, you'll have coriander seeds. Get a pepper grinder to make flakes/powder.

Medicinal Herbs

If I had only have one medicinal herb, it would be stinging nettles. It's a royal pain to have around, and you don't want it in your field near cows/cattle (they eat it with bad consequences). Plant it where you can contain it, where kids and pets won't be playing, and it's the best herb/food. You can use it as a nutritious green (think spanokopita/spinach pie), make a dried tea or tincture. Harvest it with leather gloves, then leave it in a pile in the yard til the stingers wilt. If you harvest it a couple of times a year, it shouldn't spread.

Chamomile is called the physician's plant, because it helps other plants to thrive. And it has many medicinal benefits of its own. Brew it less than 3 minutes, and it's a calming tea. Brew it more than 3 minutes, and the carminative qualities come out to make it a digestive herb. Said to be good for baby's colic (a teaspoonful is a dose).

Calendula (pot marigold) is one of the best lymph cleansers around, and it's a gorgeous little flower that will grace your garden. It has many other uses too.

Peppermint is good for digestion and IBS. It treats fever; good combined with yarrow at the onset of a cold or flu.

Thyme is strongly antibacterial. Similar properties to Oregano and Marjoram.

Yarrow is an effective lymph cleanser (use at the first sign of a cold along with peppermint).

Feverfew has given relief from migraines.

Lemon Balm (Melissa) is useful for depression and promoting relaxation. It's good for digestion.

Lemon Verbena is the most intense lemony herb you'll find. It is digestive and antibacterial.

Rosemary is useful for infections.

Garlic - we all know the benefits. It's easier to grow than you might think. Check whether soft neck or hard neck is best in your area. Most varieties need to be planted the fall before, for harvest late summer/fall.

And one more, not of the culinary variety ... Prunella vulgaris (Self Heal or Heal All) is a little plant with a purple flower that you might find in your yard. It's only a couple of inches tall. It's said to be effective against MRSA (resistant staph infection that's become widespread in hospitals).

And three of my favorite culinary plants ... Chervil, Tarragon and Summer Savory. You don't find them often as dried herbs, although you will find tarragon vinegar. Chervil will enhance the flavor of virtually any dish. The dried herb does not retain flavor well.

These descriptions are short and simple ... but most herbs have many uses.

EDIT: Google 'companion planting' to see which plants grow best together ... for example, a couple of onions planted next to a tomato plant. I like to interplant herbs amongst the vegetables and flowers.

Dennis Leahy
25th February 2013, 06:09
... I don't have any planting seeds to speak of, no garden tools to speak of...

Can you (Dennis, blufire, etc) recommend some reading and some "kit" (tools and starter seed selections) ...You can garden with one shovel and your hands. A spade-type shovel with a pointed tip and a strong hardwood handle (ash or hickory, for example.)

You can turn (and I have turned) over an entire garden with nothing but one of these. Sure a rototiller is nice (don't buy one, just rent it for a half day once a year!), but a rototiller is not necessary. If I had a giant garden/microfarm (like my friends with 5 of the hoop-tunnels that blufire mentioned) then I would buy a rototiller. My garden is teeny-tiny in comparison (15 feet by 85 feet) - it took four 50-foot rolls of 6-foot high deer fencing to surround it.

The tool you'll use the most (after the shovel) is no tool - just your hands. There's nothing in the world like sticking your hands in the dirt, crumbling the clumps, mixing, digging, smoothing, patting, nurturing the soil with your hands. I don't even like to use gloves (although that means my hands will be rough like 36 grit sandpaper.) An old rug or a piece of cardboard is good to sit on and save your back a bit of strain.

If I had to recommend a second tool, it would be a very small shovel, used for transplanting.

For a third tool, I'd recommend a hard metal-tined rake (nice for final preparation of the beds before planting.)

H2O: A fourth would be a watering can, with a "shower" head (even if you have a hose with the same type head. The can comes in handy.) My garden site has no water! (The gardening program has been trying to save up to dig a shallow well for a few years, but 1,200 feet of deer fencing, posts, and gates killed the budget.) So for me, I need a large trashcan (my "barrel") and half a dozen 5-gallon watering cans to haul water whenever I go to the garden site (about 12 minutes from my house.) This is not ideal! I live in town, and the houses create too much shade - too little sunny patch - for me to garden at home. I do just some containers and herbs at home. Anyway, that "barrel" is my reservoir, and where I dump in the compost tea I make in yet another 5-gallon bucket. So, for me (and others in my situation), the "barrel" is as critical as my shovel. The 5-gallon plastic buckets serve as a chair when flipped over, a collecting bin when harvesting, a container for holding rocks picked out or for weeds if you compost them (sometimes I just pull weeds and leave them on top of the soil as mulch.)

Other tools I use are a hammer for pounding in stakes, and a "utility" (razor) knife, and a set of pruning shears. Sometimes I get fancy and use a battery-powered drill to drill through stakes, to make a course for the twine.

Fencing: Almost everyone has some sort of critters: rabbits or deer can devastate a garden in a single night. If you have a big heart and want to share with them, put up a deer fence and grow their food on the outside of the fence. Seriously. No fence=no food. So, though a fence is not a "tool", I believe it is a critical component of a garden. Again, I'm in a community gardening program, and 2 years ago, erected a fence around the entire community garden - all 60 gardening plots (making my own garden fence moot.)

Before the fence went up, every year, one or two brand new gardeners - fresh, enthusiastic gardeners, would show up and say they would take their chances and not put up a fence. "No fence, no food.", I'd tell them, and I'd offer to help them put up a fence if they would buy the materials. "I don't mind if the critters eat some of it.", they'd answer. Invariably, all of the plants in their garden were eaten by rabbits and deer.

It was difficult to see the look on their faces the day they would come and realize how devastating those critters are. They don't share; they just eat. Organic gardeners have to deal with voles, slugs, cutworms, aphids, potato beetles, squash beetles, wilt, rust, etc... and you can survive those attacks. You cannot survive rabbits and deer.

Buy your seeds, everyone! Folks in the warmer zones should have seeds already started in paper cups or the commercially available starter trays. Folks in even warmer areas (http://www.weather.com/weather/tomorrow/Dallas+TX+USTX0327:1:US) of the northern hemisphere should have some seeds in the ground real soon.


25th February 2013, 09:30
Lots of good info there, Dennis. Thought I'd add what I use: a garden claw and I love it. They can also be found on EBay. http://www.gardenweasel.com/weasel_products/garden_weasel_products/garden_claw.aspx

Happy gardening!

25th February 2013, 13:36
Love me some SeedSavers, also www.heirloomacresseeds.com www.grannysheirloomseeds.com www.tradewindsfruitstore.com

Also, regarding what I've researched over recent months (thanks, LivingFood) I have arrived at this www.soilminerals.com and I will soon be investing in Agricola's 4-8-4 "high octane" fertilizer.

Heirloom acres is especially great, a family business that sells a lot of seeds by weight, which means *a lot* of seed for the money. Granny's is pretty good for that, too. I have just placed my first order with Trade Winds, so I can't readily speak to the quality, the prices aren't the best but the selection is way beyond any of the others.

25th February 2013, 22:08
Seed starting calendar (northern US)

27th February 2013, 13:40
Sometimes, here on PA, I tend to forget we're not all in the same country. ooops

27th February 2013, 21:40
I thought I would input my 1 1/2 cents worth, and I know that this is titled as Seed Sources in the U.S., but hey - there's folks in other places too. So, if its ok - I will throw out a few here

Canada -

Heritage Harvest Seed - http://www.heritageharvestseed.com/
Prairie Garden Seeds - http://www.prseeds.ca/
Salt Spring Seeds - http://www.saltspringseeds.com/
Solana Seeds - http://solanaseeds.netfirms.com/welcome.html
Terra Edibles Canada - http://www.terraedibles.ca/
T&T Seeds - http://www.ttseeds.com/PHP/home.php
Tree and Twig - http://www.treeandtwig.ca/
West Coast Seeds - http://www.vancouverseedbank.ca/manufacturers.php?id=25
William Dam Seeds - http://www.damseeds.ca/productcart/pc/viewcategories.asp?idCategory=2
Yuko Horiuchi - http://www.yuko.ca/

Some Canadian Seed Company's will ship to the U.S., some won't so check each one's availability.

I have some for Europe also and gobs for the U.S., which I would provide if folks would want them.
I guess we will see how these go first,
smiles everyone :)

27th February 2013, 22:02
There is an importance to the issue of GMO, GE, transgeneric organism, Frankenseeds
Hawaii is proclaimed to be the GMO testing capital of the world.
This site has some important information for those that are not that familiar just to what extent food crops have been taken.


Dennis Leahy
27th February 2013, 22:15
I thought I would input my 1 1/2 cents worth, and I know that this is titled as Seed Sources in the U.S., but hey - there's folks in other places too. So, if its ok - I will throw out a few here

Canada -

Heritage Harvest Seed - http://www.heritageharvestseed.com/
Prairie Garden Seeds - http://www.prseeds.ca/
Salt Spring Seeds - http://www.saltspringseeds.com/
Solana Seeds - http://solanaseeds.netfirms.com/welcome.html
Terra Edibles Canada - http://www.terraedibles.ca/
T&T Seeds - http://www.ttseeds.com/PHP/home.php
Tree and Twig - http://www.treeandtwig.ca/
West Coast Seeds - http://www.vancouverseedbank.ca/manufacturers.php?id=25
William Dam Seeds - http://www.damseeds.ca/productcart/pc/viewcategories.asp?idCategory=2
Yuko Horiuchi - http://www.yuko.ca/

Some Canadian Seed Company's will ship to the U.S., some won't so check each one's availability.

I have some for Europe also and gobs for the U.S., which I would provide if folks would want them.
I guess we will see how these go first,
smiles everyone :)
What I had mentioned earlier was that if the Canadian seed companies can ship to the US, then add them in this thread, and if they don't, maybe start a new thread.

Now I'm sorta torn between asking the mods to change the title of this thread to "Organic Seed Sources in the US and Canada", or asking them to split off the Canadian entries into a new thread perhaps called, "Organic Seed Sources in Canada"

What you you Canadians think? One way or another, I want to make sure Canadians can search for and find the thread that has Canadian seed companies in it. :~)


28th February 2013, 18:32
Here is a valuable link to the Univ. of Minn. website that has an abundance of info for plant sources, as they have noted on their page -

Use Plant Information Online to discover sources in 1023 North American nurseries for 97248 plants, find 329396 citations to 167618 plants in science and garden literature, link to selected websites for images and regional information about 18101 plants, and access information on 2703 North American seed and nursery firms. Plant Information Online is a free service of the University of Minnesota Libraries.


I hope this will help everyone...
Smiles and good cheer... :)

1st March 2013, 15:38
Great thread, Dennis. My seeds should arrive today from SeedSavers.org (http://www.seedsavers.org). I'm looking to purchase more. I don’t have land. I’m thinking of tiny garden on my deck. If not, at the very least, I’ve got seeds in case of community involvement and/or barter.

This is a good place to add here. I made 9 quarts yesterday. It was really easy. The vegetables keep for months: “Lacto-Fermented Vegetables (http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2012/02/how-to-make-lacto-fermented-vegetables.html)”. It’s a 6 minute vid, a reference and ideas section. It takes about a week to ferment and then you refrigerate.

Back again to add a little of the finished product.


Dennis Leahy
1st March 2013, 23:41
Here'a a link to "Occupy Monsanto", and their list of companies selling seeds that are not only non-GMO, but to get on their list, none of your profits can go to a GMO company. (In other words, your company cannot be owned, in whole or in part, by one of the GMO corporations.) They are calling their list: "Monsanto-free Seed Companies."



5th March 2013, 21:17
Thank you kindly for putting this together Dennis. Great Thread. :)


And thank you Marianne for the Medicinal Herb list. A great addition.

Any recommendations regarding a good gardening book. Saw this on the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds website:
Vegetable Gardener's Bible Soft Cover