May 14, 2010
It's Northern Nevada - snowed last week, tomato plants next week
If you don’t grow your own transplants then you probably buy them. And likely from a big-box store - but we have better options.
I started learning to grow vegetables about 15 years ago, and really got into it around 2006. It all started like this...
One day, on the way out of my favorite supermarket, a rack of 1-gallon tomato plants caught my eye. Figuring growing tomatoes couldn’t be much more difficult than growing turf, I picked one up. By 2009 our entire back yard was converted to growing space for insect and animal loving plants, vegetables, and this year for the first time, perennial fruit.
Now, almost year round I walk out my kitchen door to pick whatever is growing. I also know so much more about how plants grow and adapt to a region, what challenges to expect, and the benefits of planting locally adapted plants.
Yeah...it’s really convenient to buy vegetable and flower starts while you’re out picking up caulk and a 2 x 4, but buying locally produced seed and plants is so much better IMO, and here’s why.
Many gardeners grow the same varieties year after year, developing their own region friendly versions and family traditions. Many of the heirloom varieties still available have survived because families grew them in their backyards. As companies like Monsanto focus on patenting seed and eliminating competitors, gardeners and small farmers care about diversity and the right to save our free seed without fear of litigation.
(Above is a picture of my favorite tomato grown from seed saved last year, Silvery Fir Tree. I started seed inside in March; it will have about 10-15 blossoms on it by the time in goes into the ground in a few weeks.)
Another reason? Seed and plant sales are another component of the farming business, so buying locally contributes to a healthy local economy.
On the scary side…plants purchased in big-box stores, or from any business that buys plants from industrial producers, are grown and warehoused in huge quantities and then shipped out nationwide. If any of those plants are infected with disease the disease jumps from plant to plant and is then shipped all over the world. Consumers bring it home to their gardens and their neighbor’s gardens. This system is widely viewed as the major contributor to the tomato blight problem many gardeners and growers experienced in 2008. Locally grown plants are less likely to be infected because a faulty product can be traced back to a farmer with a face, a small business to protect, and a sense of commitment to the customers he or she actually interacts with. Big-stores also work with growers who are less concerned with long term benefits to customers and land stewards and so are more likely to use seed developed by biotech companies. And you can forget organic! If an agribusiness is producing organic transplants I’ve never seen them.
So, on to the intent of this blog, which is sharing ways to can get/buy/produce locally grown food. Here are the two ways I know about.
The first option is to head down to the Great Basin Community Food Co-op event this Saturday to enjoy the festivities and buy local-farmer grown transplants and seeds. These plants will not have mingled with industrial plants and are the smartest bet.
A second option is to buy Hungry Mother Organics plants at either Moana Nursery (both the Moana and Pyramid locations) or Whole Foods.
There must be more options out there so ask, and then tell your friends. If you share with LFNN I’ll share too!