In February our order of seeds from Diggers arrived. It was very exciting to look through our future vegetables! I also bought some flower seeds that are particularly known for attracting bees.
Insert rant about the evils of seed conglomerates here:
Commercial seed companies create hybrid and genetically modified forms of vegetable seeds because they are vastly more profitable. These totally altered seeds need huge amounts of chemical fertilizer and pesticides (made by Monsanto, the same company that owns the bulk of the seed companies) and cause massive CO2 pollution. They are not regional, fresh or organic.
Heirloom vegetables are open pollinated and true to type. You can save heirloom seeds and grow them again year after year. If you save Monsanto’s GE seeds they’ll sue you!
Most heirloom seeds have an 80% success rate and they are more prone to disease and insects, but we believe they are worth it. We are worried that Monsanto’s monopoly will wipe out food diversity and potentially lower food yields. Their genetic manipulation has meant that new weeds and diseases are developing to overcome the inbuilt ‘weed and disease resistance.’ Also many Monsanto seed crops are actually susceptible to insects that, not surprisingly, can only be killed with Round-up; another Monsanto product.
Seed-saving is now becoming illegal in many poorer countries where Monsanto has taken over. Mexico in particular has lost many of its Heirloom species due to Monsanto GM crops in two ways: they tend to pollinate heirlooms and sterilise them and Mexicans now need to buy a Patent to grow corn. The patented corn seeds sold to farmers by Monsanto have the promise of much higher yield than their traditional crops, those are referred to as “suicide seeds”. Their seeds do not reproduce new plants. To be able to successfully grow these seeds the farmers need to buy the Monsanto brands of pesticide and fertilizer. If winds or birds spread Monsanto seeds into fields of farmers who did not purchase the seeds from them, they can and have been sued by Monsanto since their seeds are patented. After about three years of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the soil is exhausted and cannot support any more growth. It takes about five years for the soil to recuperate from this damage.
Some 98 per cent of vegetable varieties have disappeared over the past century for example in 1903, there were close to 500 varieties of lettuce. By 1983, there were 36.
95 per cent of the vegetables eaten today come from just 20 species of plants.
If you save seeds from hybrid plants most will not reproduce due to the “suicide” or “terminator” gene. Heirloom seeds are the best to use. If more people grew or bought organic then maybe this Monsanto problem could be overcome. Organic pest and disease treatments work well and mean you are not poisoning your own food.
Monsanto is also largely responsible for the decline in bee numbers and if we don’t have bees we don’t have food!
This is really scary stuff!
All of that said, we do sometimes buy seedlings from companies we know are not using heirloom seeds if we are pressed for time ie: we didn’t get seeds in early enough. But we do try really hard not to. In Australia we have a marvellous seed saving club called Diggers (diggers.com.au). The Diggers Club began pioneering the rescue of heirloom vegetables to ensure that these seeds, which have been passed down through generations of farmers and backyard growers, were preserved for future generations. The Diggers Club actively fights against the introduction of GE seeds to protect Australian’s food security. Luckily, some nurseries are now starting to stock Diggers seedlings so if we haven’t got my seeds happening we always seek them out.
Please note, I have paraphrased my information from a number of sources.
So on 9/3 we finally got around to putting some of our precious seeds in.
And here they are just 12 days later.
Today we planted some of the direct sow seeds into one of our beds. We prepared this bed about eight weeks ago with lashings of chicken manure and compost. It was worm city! We divided the bed into five spaces.
We planted fennel in the centre, parsley parsnip* in the two corners closest to the house, and arugula in the back two corners.
*Petroselinum crispum ‘Arat’ is a two-in-one vegetable. The tops can be picked and used just like continental parsley and the long tapered root is very similar to parsnip. We are looking forward to using this interesting sounding heirloom!
I made some quick and easy plant markers with wooden pegs, paint, texta and a sealer.
Then we covered the bed with a thick layer of pea straw.
Meanwhile, the seedlings at the patch are growing well.
We found some white fly and aphids so rubbed as much off as possible. We will spray them with a garlic/chilli concoction later in the week.
Found this growing in the watermelon patch. Does anyone know what it is? The flower is a darker purple than it appears in the photo, more a lavender colour.
We pulled out the watermelon vines only to find there was an unripe one lurking underneath.
Still, we can’t complain. Altogether, we have had over 40 kilos of watermelon this month!