Why choose Heirloom and Organic Seeds?
According to the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, conventional seed farming has a higher allowance of chemical usage than crops registered as food. Seed crops are also in the ground longer and require more applications of these chemicals. By choosing organically grown seeds you can help cut down the usage of these chemicals. Organic seed growers choose varieties that perform well in their region without the need of being genetically modified or the use of chemicals.
Heirloom seeds are plant varieties that have been passed down from farmers for hundreds of years and have been chosen because of flavor and plant performance. These seeds have been open-pollinated by birds and bees, and harvested afterward so that they retain the same characteristics as the parent plant. By choosing heirloom seeds, you are able to collect the seeds that they produce, and re-grow them again from season to season. Start this process by selecting seeds each year from the plant that has done the best in your garden. Over time, this will produce a slight strain difference that has adapted perfectly to your particular climate and conditions.
Why grow your own vegetables and herbs?
- TASTE: If you ever have had a garden-fresh tomato you will understand when I say that tomatoes from the grocery store do not compare. Produce for grocery stores are often picked from the plant while still green. The produce ripens on its way to the store but suffers in taste and texture. By growing your own you can also find the best variety to suit your needs. Maybe you want a good slicing tomato, or maybe a bean great for freezing.
- CONVENIENCE: By choosing veggies and herbs that you find yourself using frequently during summer months, making meals tasty and healthy is a snap. Walk outside into your garden for a little inspiration and tailor your meals to what is growing.
- KNOW WHAT YOU GROW: Many pesticides and fungicides are used on the produce found in our local grocery stores while they are growing. Wax and other products are often used once harvested to keep them glossy so they look nice and tasty. By growing at home you can control what goes into your veggie garden. You can be confident knowing that with just a quick rinse your vegetables are 100% ready to go and safe to eat!
While we have over 1,000 types of seeds to choose from, here are our top 5 picks from our heirloom and organic seeds:
Bean ‘Gourmet Blend’
Brightly coloured stems of yellow, crimson, gold, orange, violet, purple, white, green and pink with contrasting dark green, crinkled leaves. Leaves have a lighter taste than the standard chards. As Rainbow produces such a colourful display, it is often used as an ornamental in flower gardens and containers.
Organic Carrot ‘Rainbow Blend’
An eye-pleasing blend of coloured carrots, each with its own crunchy texture, distinct sweet flavour and different mature size. Rainbow Blend includes: Atomic Red, Bambino, Cosmic Purple, Lunar White and Solar Yellow.
Heirloom Root Parsley ‘Hamburg’
The slender 15 cm (6″) parsnip-like roots have a delicate parsley taste and are great for flavouring soups and stews. This variety stores very well through the winter. A great dual purpose plant as the coarse leaves contribute a parsley flavour and can be used as a garnish. Soaking seeds in water over-night improves germination. Parsley is widely used as a pest control plant in gardens as it attracts beneficial insects.
Heirloom Radish ‘White Icicle’
A handsome long radish with glistening, pure white roots up to 12.5 cm (5″) long and nearly 2.5 cm (1″) in diameter. Flesh is crisp and sweet with a mild flavour. This is an attractive variety for both commercial growers and home gardeners.
Heirloom Radish ‘ Round Black Spanish’
An almost forgotten variety, this variety is a winter radish; this means you can start in early spring outdoors in an un-heated greenhouse! Roots are globe shaped, about 10 cm (4″) in diameter and black skinned with pure white, very solid, pungent flesh. A good keeper. Although frost hardy, roots will not survive freezing.
Tips and Tricks for Starting Vegetables Indoors
- Start your seeds in small pots. For many seeds, it is best to start in small peat pellets or small cells with a good soil-less potting soil. For convenience, place these in trays that have no holes. It is a good idea to also use a plastic greenhouse lid on these trays to help keep in moisture and heat
- Don’t over-water! A good way to water is to pour a little water in your tray and let your seedlings soak for about 15-20 minutes. Drain out any remaining water
- Seeds need LOTS of light. The best place you can put your seed tray is in a window that receives a full day of light ( 8 hours). Once they start to grow, make sure to rotate the tray to prevent stretching. If you are using a lighting system, make sure the light is within 8″of seedlings and move the light accordingly as the grow
- If you find that your seeds are not germinating, you may want to try a heating mat (bottom heat is crucial in proper root growth)
- Your seedlings will first emerge with their rudimentary leaf. This leaf will then wither and they will produce their true leaves. At this point, you will need to provide nutrients. Choose a well balanced fertilizer or one high in nitrogen and potassium to encourage healthy root growth
- Once they have their true leaves, you will want to thin out your seedlings. Separate the seedlings into individual pots or cut off all but the strongest seedling if more than one is growing per pot
- Once you thin out and you begin to see good roots develop, you should pot up your seedlings. A 4″ pot works best, as this gives your new plant plenty of space to grow healthy roots. We recommend using a fibre pot, as these are biodegradable and you can plant them directly into the garden
Damping off is a common fungus problem for household seedlings. It causes a healthy looking seedling to topple over, wither, and die. This fungus can be triggered by over-watering, so watch how much water you are giving your seedlings. Over-crowding is also another common factor in damping off. Make sure you have proper spacing in between your seedlings so that they dry properly in-between watering. If you still are experiencing damping off you may want to try two natural remedies:
- Cinnamon: Sprinkling the soil surface with ground cinnamon will stop damping off
- Chamomile: Make a tea to water your plants. Take three chamomile teabags, steep for 20 minutes, then mist over the seedlings once cooled