It’s almost spring in Missouri, I think.
Salads are reappearing on fast food menus and Walmart restocked their sunscreen and swimsuit inventory. And seeds. And plants.
The last two caught me off guard. Seeds? Plants? What? Already?
But I’m walking into my second growing season (ever!) with a better head than I had last year. I slacked on the blogging at the end of my harvest period, but I did end up planting a fall garden, and it fed us through December, which was amazing and rewarding. But looking back on the whole thing, the first time around, I blindly ordered what looked pretty, planted haphazardly, and desperately tried to correct my missteps a step too late. I’d like to do just about everything possible to prevent that from happening again.
The first step starts with the seeds.
My plan is to start everything from seeds this year (last year we cheated with a couple pepper and tomato plants) because I want to take full credit for everything I grow and eat and share. There’s no dishonesty to buying starters and transplanting, but you miss out on the magic of watching a tiny thing unfurl from a pile of dirt.
Plus, it’s just plain cheaper to buy seeds. Today I paid $2.50 for a packet of 25 brandywine tomato seeds. If you plan on running down to Lowes or Walmart to grab some tomato plants when the time comes, consider that you’ll likely fork over about $4.00 for a single plant. That’s a 250 percent markup cost to you. In my opinion, that’s totally unacceptable.
I have to show the math to this… because it took me a long, long time to calculate, and I eventually had to Google the equation, and the entire process reminded me of why I loathed every math class I’ve ever been forced to take and took up writing instead:
- Question: $0.10 is what percent of $4.00?
- Equation: 0.10 = (x/100) X $4.00
- Answer: x = 1000/4 = 250
Now, I recognize that there are a jazillion places to buy seeds. Every gardener I know has a favorite catalog or trusted company and, like parenting, everyone is an expert. Especially in Missouri. Missourah.
I bought from Burpees last year because Jon gave me a coupon for it. But after picking up a copy of the beautiful book, The Heirloom Life Gardener, I’m a sworn loyalist to the Baker Creek Seed Company.
My problem with hybrids, aside from the fact that they look great but taste like crap, or worse, nothing, is that you can’t save the seeds. Do you really want to eat a plant that can’t reproduce without the help of a chemist?
A quick run down on these dudes: It’s actually a husband and wife team based right here out of Missouri. They’re organic, non-GMO and non-patented. If you don’t know why that’s worth a toot, please do some research. The company travels the world in search or rare seeds with the mission of preserving plant heritage before it’s all hybridized away. They do a ton of education outreach for the public. Their catalogs are gorgeous. Prices are low and you get a free packet of seeds with every purchase. Every single seed I bought from them last season germinated. Seriously, need I go on?
Their headquarters and famous seed shop are only 100 miles from my doorstep, so I loaded up Pax and grabbed a fellow gardener and headed on over. The grounds are actually a whole old-time village north of Mansfield, but all the little businesses–like a restaurant and a perfume store and a bakery–were closed for the winter, and quite drab looking with all of Missouri’s winter-bare trees and scrubby yellow grass. Still very, very cute. I definitely plan on going back for their Spring Planting Festival in May.
The store itself = amazing. It took about thirty-minutes to even get myself through the front door because I was so distracted with their fruit tree displays. But inside: So. Many. Seeds. Everyone working there was suited up in bonnets and calico dresses, which was charming. There were stands with jams and brownies for sale, and cool old gourds dangling overhead.
An hour later, I walked out with a full basket of seeds for spring planting. The nice lady in the old-timey dress behind the counter also tossed in a planting guide slider thingie, extra seed packets, and a stack of starting trays for free.
See? I told you this company was amazing. Huzzah!
When I got home, I tried reading the Farmer’s Almanac to plan my planting schedule but… the print is tiny and jammed together. It’s just as bad as reading a school textbook.
Luckily, there’s this amazing thing called the internet, specifically Google, that tells me anything in the world I could possibly want to know. The last predicted frost for our area is scheduled to hit during the third week of April. Which is next month. And with plants that need 4-8 week indoor start time…
Looks like I need to get my hustle on with the indoor seed starting!