Garden Seed Shopping Made Easy

It’s easy these days to obtain organic and non-GMO garden seeds, as more farmers around the country are committed to propagating sustainable growing practices.

Organic seed crops are raised in keeping with the same national organic standards used for produce, and certified biodynamic seeds are grown using organic methods as well, according Barbara Pleasant, author of Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens (Storey Publishing, 2010).

Fortunately, most consumer garden seeds are non-genetically modified. “Any seed company that has signed the Safe Seed Pledge is doing their part to make sure gardeners can maintain strong confidence in their seed supply,” Pleasant says. The Council for Responsible Genetics has a great list of companies that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.

Don’t feel like you need to go with large seed companies for dependable products. Many smaller seed companies are doing a great job supplying organic, non-GMO seeds for staple plant varieties as well as for unusual species and heirlooms. Here are three standouts:

High Mowing Organic Seeds: Committed to selling only organic, High Mowing grows its 600+ seed varieties on its 40-acre farm in Vermont and other farms it partners with.

Territorial Seed Company: This Oregon-based seed company offers a large variety of organic seeds, many of them unusual, such as Polish Softneck Garlic or Hopi Blue Corn.

AGTO Seeds: A smaller seed company in California, All Good Things Organic Seeds is dedicated to organic and offers a well-culled variety of seeds.

Expert Tips for Working with Seeds

Pleasant offers this advice for planting seeds:

  • Begin small seeds in containers. Vegetables and herbs with very small seeds take a long time to grow, so they would get overrun with weeds in the open garden.
  • Veggies with big seeds—peas, beans, squash and cucumbers, for example—are easy to grow by planting the seeds where you want them to grow.
  • New gardeners will do best starting with purchased seedlings of tomatoes, peppers and most kitchen herbs, which begin growing as soon as you plant them.
  • You can plant lettuce, peas, beans, and members of the squash-cucumber family from packets of seed and witness the wonder of germination.
  • Growing stocky seedlings indoors requires supplemental light and an early start. Most seed starters are in full swing in February, and the party is winding down in May.

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