There is a lot of engaging discussion about different organic farming and gardening practices, and the field is getting a lot of well-deserved attention. But one area that has been a slower to catch the limelight is organic seeds.
Many home gardeners and hobby farmers grow with organic practices. However, they will still start the garden off using conventional seed. There is a shift taking place, though. As more of us dig deeper into gardening in a more ecologically friendly way, we’re also taking more time to better understand the seeds we plant.
As always, consumers do drive our economy, which has led to more seed companies growing and supplying increased varieties of organic seed. But the road to being an organic seed farmer is not an easy one.
Benefits of Organic Seeds
So what’s the big deal with organic seeds? In a nutshell: resilience. And how do seeds gain resilience? By having to fend for themselves!
Seeds as a crop category are under much less regulation compared to food crops. Couple this with the fact that seed crops need to stay growing, maturing and ripening for many months longer than their food crop counterparts and you can see why it is a lot harder to produce a truly organic seed.
As gardeners we all know that growing food organically has its challenges. And setting up a garden for success starts with healthy soil and diverse plantings matched to the location. How organic gardeners look at pests, soil disease or drought takes in more of the ecosystem around us than if we could spray a plant and “make it better.”
But each time we give a plant the chance to fend for itself, it learns lessons to carry forward to the next generation.
The idea is similar to seeds becoming regionally adapted to a specific location. I have seen my own home-saved “Blue Lake 7” pole beans become more adapted to my shorter growing season with hot and humid summers (hello Minnesota) over the decade I’ve saved them.
The same is true for seeds grown in an organic setting. They will likely keep gaining resilience each season they continue to be grown organically.
Compare this to seeds grown with all the typical conventional chemicals. Those seeds start to rely on the chemicals and lose their innate ability to fend off some of those pests and diseases they have been sprayed for.
I know which seeds I’d rather plant in my garden!
Seeds grown organically have the resilience to grow without the help of pesticides or herbicides “covering their backs.” Many scientists see this as one way plants naturally enhance their own defenses.
You will generally pay $0.50 to $2.50 more for a packet of organic seeds compared to conventionally raised seeds. That is a small price to pay to grow organic. And it’s an even smaller price to pay to support organic growing practices in an industry that has such a large impact on the overall usage of harmful chemicals.
We have the power as gardeners and farmers to choose where we buy from. My money is on the companies that put in the effort to grow organically!
Forks in the Dirt