Thursday, January 5, 2012
It is that time of year as the winter wind is blowing and the dreary days seem endless; the time to dream of warm weather, spring breezes, and green things sprouting once again. Every gardener looks forward to the new year’s bounty of seed catalogs. You can spend long hours browsing the possibilities for the coming season, imagining what you want to plant where. What looks interesting to try this year, to reminisce on what worked well last year.
The biggest challenge is controlling the urge to go a little wild on the seed and plant ordering!
Last fall, I did as I always do, make myself a list of what I want to grow the following spring and summer. If I could only just stick to it.............
A couple of tips on seeds and seed catalogues and terms used. They can be a little on the confusing side.
For seed catalogues, the best to order from are those that do their trials in your region of the country. The seeds and plants they carry are the ones that have performed the best for them in their trial gardens. Here is a link that lets you sort by state to find those in your area.
So, what do all those terms mean that you hear-GMO, Heirloom, Hybrid, Organic?
-GMO: Genetically Modified Organism. Typically the Big Ag Chemical/ Seed companies inject genetic materials into seeds that kill living things like pesticides. They have also genetically modified them to withstand massive doses of herbicides. I don’t think anything that has been genetically altered to be able to kill other living organisms is the healthiest to be eating, if you know what I mean. The first field trials of GMO’s began in the 1980’s. Monsanto is the big GMO (and herbicide chemical company).
-Heirloom: Heirlooms are not genetically modified, they are open-pollinated, not a modern hybrid, been developed using classic breeding procedures, are at least older than 1951. Some believe only those that are 100 years old qualify. Heirlooms have been handed down from generation to generation.
-Hybrid: They are a modern cross between 2 different plants. Many are infertile; they will not produce viable seed. Hybrids seeds will not yield the same plant as the parent. Hybrids are typically bred to provide plants that have better yields, better disease protection. Many feel that hybrids sacrifice flavor for their other attributes.
-Organic: Seeds can only be labeled as organic if they were grown by certified organic farmers. The criteria for being certified organic is very stringent. Organics cannot be genetically modified. Organics cannot have been grown with any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers being used. A farmer has to be chemical free for 3 years before they can be certified organic (and keep very detailed records to prove how they grew their seeds and be inspected yearly).
So, if you want to buy organic heirlooms, you need to make sure that it is labeled as such. Just being a heirloom does not mean it was raised organically. You can also have organic hybrids.
You cannot have organic GMO’s as no GMO can be labeled organic!
On a similar note, many are not sure what the difference is between natural and organic labels we see in the grocery store:
-It is pretty simple, nothing can be labeled organic that contains GMO’s.
-Natural only means that artificial or synthetic ingredients have been added to it after it was butchered (for meat/fish) or harvested. It gives you no information on how it was raised. It can be GMO (70-90% of what is labeled as “natural” contains GMO’s). It can be raised using synthetic fungicides, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. It can be from factory farm animals. Natural refers only to what is added to after it was raised and harvested.