Newly sprouting seedsWe have a little garden patch along the side of the house. While it’s doesn’t produce enough to feed us all winter, it does give us to opportunity to grow some of our favorite vegetables for that ‘peak of summertime’ consumption. We also have a special fondness for growing heirloom varieties of tomatoes. After months and months of eating the genetically modified hybrids they pass off in the stores, it’s nice to bite into a gnarly looking, fat juicy tomato.

red-clover-market-signWith the popularity of organic and heirloom seeds, it’s no surprise that organic grocery and natural food products store Red Clover Market in Weston carries organic seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.

Are organic seeds better than the crop of mass market seeds available? Possibly. But what I think is more important is preserving the genetic heritage of older varieties of plants. Hybrids both naturally produced and genetically modified have been able to do some tremendous things to increase yield, disease resistance, and transportability. But while favoring certain traits, we have also eliminated the vibrancy and ‘life’ out of the plants. Perpetuating these heirloom lines preserves their unique qualities for future generations to enjoy or that some day may be needed for research.

seed-savers-2I know my little garden plot will never become a research station, but I love that I can still enjoy these plant varieties that have been passed down for generations. Plus, with heirloom varieties, the plants will keep coming back. We never know how many ‘volunteer’ tomatoes will pop up in addition to the others we planted.

seed-savers-1Red Clover Market in Weston carries a popular variety of seeds in their display, but will make special orders. If you don’t see what you are looking for in the display, peruse their catalog or view the Seed Savers exchange website for their full line. Then special order your seeds through the store and save on the shipping.

On a side note, we’ve found that Hsu’s Leaf Compost is an ideal seed starting medium. It’s lightweight and holds moisture very well. Don’t bother with potting soil or more expensive mediums, get a bag of Hsu’s.