I didn’t get to post yesterday my internet was out. We had a lovely quick moving storm (yes I said lovely, I do enjoy watching storms) that brought high winds and hail knocking out the lines along the lake and fried my modem. By the time it was discovered it was 7 pm and the repairman needed to call in a crew to protect him along the road. I laughed and told him to go home, spend time with his family and have dinner I would be just fine without internet connection overnight. What surprised me was how relieved and a bit confused he was that I wasn’t going to demand the repair be done right then but I did feel for him as his shift should have ended three hours earlier.
Now back to the subject of today. There are many considerations which go into what I will grow each year, Tuesday I talked about one reason to grow my own food and that was to avoid the possibility of buying GM produce. Without labeling I have no idea if the potatoes, peas or any of the other foods in my supermarket have been manipulated, and the last thing I want to do is have to carry around a list of foods I am wary of or have to memorize them.
As I promised today I wanted to share with you the reasons I decided to only plant organic heirloom seeds and this subject ties in nicely with the challenge this week at Reduce Footprints to plant a garden.
This is what Small Footprints asked of us this week:
If growing food just isn’t going to work for you, please offer other ideas for enjoying local, organic produce.
I have the peas, carrots, red leaf romaine lettuce and the first batch of tomatoes in the garden beds. My strawberry bed is bursting with strawberries that should be ripe within the week! I don’t know who’s more excited the little ones or me. ;-) I have ground cherries (something I was introduced to through the book Paradise Lot I discussed in this post) started indoors along with bell peppers and more tomatoes in my window. With all the rain we’ve had my order of top soil has been delayed until it dries enough to be properly screened which is why the rest of my garden isn’t in yet.
So why did I choose heirloom varieties for all my seeds?
There are two main reasons I chose organic heirloom seeds. The first has to do with the nutritional values. Take a walk around your local grocer and count the varieties of each vegetable or fruit. How many varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, apples, etc do they carry? In our store I can find 2 types of mushroom, 3 types of potatoes, currently one variety of tomatoes and apples…4 (which includes an organic variety of a non-organic type). How many different apples are there? Worldwide there are 7,500 and in the US 2,500 different apple varieties are grown. Yet I am unable to find more than four at my local store.
Each apple will provide us with a slightly different taste and varying levels of nutrients. I believe variety is best for my health and strive to mix up what I eat. Another example would be tomatoes. I am growing three different types of tomatoes this year. When it came to watermelons I choose three different types that are not normally sold in my area, and never sold at in the stores. I found this article which discusses which nutrients are the highest in each color of corn that supports my belief that the more variety I include in my diet the better off I am.
Besides nutrients and flavors I am also concerned that we may lose our heirloom seeds in the not too distant future. The company I chose to purchase my seeds from is finding it harder each year to acquire heirloom seeds. When saving seeds from one year’s harvest the seeds are tested to be sure they have not been contaminated by GM seeds. Each year more and more seeds, especially corn, tests positive for contamination.
By buying heirloom and having small plots of these plants growing all over the country (and world) we have a better chance to save these seeds from extinction. When I purchased my corn seeds I also purchased a lovely red popcorn seed, if even a handful of individuals in each state or providence planted heirloom seeds we would ensure finding at least a few in each area without GM contamination which would allow us to keep these seeds in supply.
The final reason has to do with crop failure. Last year I lost some of my spaghetti squash to powdery mildew. I am new enough to growing squash that I had never heard of powdery mildew. This year I am prepared to be proactive to protect my plants, but that experience brought to mind the Potato Famine from Ireland. As I understand it from my history lessons the people were so dependent on their potato crops that when they failed that year due to weather conditions people starved. What happens today if the few varieties that are grown commercially should start to fail, whether it’s due to super bugs or weather conditions such as drought, do we starve? By planting heirlooms which are different from the commercial varieties I hope this will protect m garden from failing. It may be a stretch but it’s one thought lurking in the back of my mind.
do you consider heirlooms important in your garden? Would you ever consider cheaper seeds from discount stores that may be contaminated by either Gm seeds or pesticides?