I’ve always been an organic gardener. Partly, it’s out of laziness—I’ll do just about anything—including pulling bindweed—before I’ll mix chemicals. Partly, it’s because over the years I’ve become more and more convinced that organic practices are better for me, my family, and everything living on this small patch of earth I’ve called home.
However, organic didn’t extend to buying seed. Hey, I raise the plants organically, so who cares where they came from? And organic seed is more expensive. I harbored this vague weird idea that the expensive seed was coddled, or temperamental. But I was wrong, and as a life-long learner, I’m willing to admit it. So, if you’ve ever avoided organic seeds because of expense—or whatever—here’s what I found out.
Whether I’m planting in a greenhouse or out in the ground, I often buy from Territorial Seed Company, a mail-order business right down the road from me in Oregon. They sell both conventional and organic seed to customers all over the country. I asked Tim Russell, their Marketing Director—why should I choose organic seed? He gave me two reasons.
The first has to do successful results. Contrary to what I thought, the more expensive organic seed is also the tougher one. It has to be. Tim says, “Plants grown for their seed in organic settings are selected for their performance in low input or less-than-ideal conditions. Organically produced and bred vegetable varieties can be more adapted to the kind of environment found in many of our customers’ gardens”. Those seed plants spend many months in soil nourished only with organic practices like mulching or no-till. It’s survival of the fittest, whether battling pests or diseases.
It turns out the cheaper seed is more of the prima donna here. Tim tells me, “Many conventional vegetable varieties have been bred to rely on cultivation methods which can include regular applications of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides”.
And that leads to the second reason. “When you’re purchasing seed that is grown organically,” Tim says, “you’re supporting a grower or business that is practicing sustainable agriculture. Organic and sustainable farming greatly reduces the use of artificial fertilizers, chemical pest controls and other environmentally impactful practices”.
And that way of farming, in turn, eliminates damage to our water supplies, pollinator insect populations, the birds who feed on insects, and on out to the greater environment. That’s a much bigger sweep than my garden alone.
So, buying organic seeds can help me grow successfully and help more businesses do good in the world. Who doesn’t want that? The trick now is obtaining them—a lot of folks are on the hunt. Go for it.