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Seeds & Soil

About Seeds:

"Members pledge to use mostly organic, non-genetically modified seeds in the garden."

OK, what does this mean, specifically?
To answer that question we first need to know....

Seed Packet What are Certified Organic Seeds?
Seeds are harvested from certified organic crops. They may be a hybrid or heirloom variety. In order to qualify for the USDA Organic certification, farmers must seek out organic seed. If they cannot find organic seed, they are allowed to use conventional, untreated seed.1.

What are Heirloom Seeds?
An heirloom is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination.2.

What are Open-pollinated Plants?
Open pollination is pollination by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants; however, because breeding is uncontrolled and the pollen (male parent) source is unknown, open pollination may result in plants that vary widely in genetic traits. Open pollination may increase biodiversity.3.

When to use Hybrid Seed?
Hybrid seed is produced by manually cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, and so forth. Hybrid seed cannot be saved, as the seed from the first generation of hybrid plants does not reliably produce true copies, therefore, new seed must be purchased for each planting. These are not however genetically engineered.4.

What about Seed Saving?
Open pollination is the key to seed saving. Plants that reproduce through natural means tend to adapt to local conditions over time, and evolve as reliable performers, particularly in their localities.5.

Tomatoes, Determinate or Indeterminate?
Determinate types bear a full crop all at once and top off at a specific height; they are often good choices for container growing. Determinate types are preferred by commercial growers who wish to harvest a whole field at one time, or home growers interested in canning.6.

Indeterminate cultivars develop into vines that never top off and continue producing until killed by frost. They are preferred by home growers who wish ripe fruit throughout the season.7.

Greta says it best - When it comes to genetically engineered seeds, we think Greta's Organic Gardens hits the nail on the head! Read more...

So, where can we buy organic seeds?
Some good sources to purchase "mostly organic, non-genetically modified seeds" online are...

Some additional reliable seed companies that the KWCG has purchased from that have had good germination results...

Bakers Creek - Heirloom seeds, OP

Heritage Seed Market - Short plant tomatoes and peppers suitable for hot, humid climate.

Johnny's - employee owned quantity, some organics

Southern Seed Exposure - OP, organic employee owned co-op

Kitazawa Seed Co - many Asian varieties

Hudson Valley Seed Co. OP, Organic, originated as a seed library co-op

Wild Garden Seed OP, Organic and small packets

Osborne Quality Seeds quantity seed, some organic and good info

Territorial Seed Co OP, some Organic, good info and photos

Seed Savers Exchange - nonprofit with long history of connecting gardeners to heirloom seeds - membership not required....

About Soil:

Each season the garden purchases a bulk order of soil from Strunks/Ace Hardware or other supplier to amend the soil. Each plot will receive 2 bags of soil and 1 bag of composted cow manure. Generally the soil will be available by the first of October at the garden. We will send out an email when it is delivered.

Ideally we'd like our garden to be self sustaining using only soil generated from compost made on site in the garden. So far we have fallen short on this commitment. If you would like to help with composting let us know. If you need to purchase additional soil to amend your plot, please purchase "Organic" potting soil.

Sustaining the Grassroots with Magic Underfoot
by Jody Smith-Williams

     What is the greatest natural resource? Clean air, clean water? Yes, we would certainly be toast without those. But the third resource of the three-legged human survival stool is equally if not more important. It filters the air and the water to make them clean enough to sustain life.

     Look up D-I-R-T in the dictionary and you'll find words like filth, impurity, "something vile". Au contraire. It's time that Dirt comes clean, and receives the respect, care and protection it deserves. Though much ignored and often abused, soil is the foundation of all life on this planet. In Canada they call it "earth," which to me is the most lovely and descriptive term for this magical substance. The Bible says that man is made of the dust of the Earth. Indeed, the same chemical elements found in soil make up our bodies.

     The wonders of soil are vast. Acting as the Earth's digestive system, it receives organic wastes and recycles their nutrients back to plants. It also holds and breaks down toxic wastes. We humans eat the plants, or the animals that eat the plants, and we receive all those nutrients present in the soil. Or not. Our own immune system is inextricably linked to the health of the soil. Epidemics of cancer, heart disease, auto immune disorders, and other chronic illnesses sweeping the country over the last several decades are closely correlated to the steady decline in essential vitamins and minerals in soil. Sure, our eating habits have gone down the tubes as well, but today's food, even the "good stuff," contains only a fraction of the essential elements that support a healthy immune system. Take away the body's natural defenses against disease, and we fall prey.

     Soil is alive and needs to be fed properly just like any other living entity. It also needs periodic rest if it is to continue to produce a rich harvest of nutritious crops. In one teaspoon of healthy, non chemically-treated soil, there are more than 20 billion living organisms. It also happens that soil is one of the very best "sinks" for storing carbon dioxide and keeping it out of the atmosphere. Left undisturbed, the carbon stays in the soil for tens of thousands of years.

     It takes up to a thousand years for natural forces to form one inch of topsoil, but only 40 years to strip that inch away through modern agriculture's destructive farming practices. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are murder to soil, destroying the majority of those 20 billion microorganisms that should be present in every teaspoon. Like an addict who no longer gets high from the same fix of his drug of choice, depleted soils depend on ever increasing amounts of chemical NPK to produce the same yield. I'm no economist, but the "law of diminishing returns" rings a bell. In this case, those diminishing returns are also killing us.

     Since 1976, one-third of America's topsoil has been eroded. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that between one-half to one percent of the world's topsoil disappears every year. You do the math: at this rate, Peak Soil is something to think about.

     Like so many environmental problems, Peak Soil may seem too big, too distant, too removed from our lives here in Paradise to seem relevant. After all, we live on an island chain of rock that has always been devoid of soil and we do just fine, right? Grocery shelves are brimming and our bellies are full. What will happen, though, when Peak Oil brings Peak Soil into focus, as the cheap food paradigm built on petroleum-derived fertilizers and pesticides that degrade the soil, is no longer cheap? And importing grapes from Chile and pineapples from Hawaii is just not feasible when the price of gas doubles?

     There is an easy thing we can all do, right here, right now, to reduce our "carbon forkprint." We can grow soil. In these hot and humid summer days, with a small amount of attention, compost happens in a month or two. I admit to being a bit obsessed on this topic, but witnessing the miracle of nature turning fruit and vegetable peelings, dried leaves, and yesterday's newspaper into black gold that teems with life and smells like the forest, makes me feel connected to a higher power and just plain happy. That's the power of dirt.


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, -