It’s that time of year when we receive dozens of seed catalogs and daydream of warmer days while planning the garden and choosing crops and ordering seeds.
But the real inspiration comes from a visit to the nursery. Every spring we make a trip to Caras Nursery in Missoula to get a heaping dose of gardening motivation. I love gardening centers, greenhouses, the paths of different mediums that meander through the trees and shrubs, the figurines and fountains, all the different gardening tools, the plants, the seeds, the pesticides, the mulch, even the bagged manure.
A person could spend all day and thousands of dollars!
There is another aspect of personal food production that deserves serious consideration. There is a big difference between organic plants, hybrid plants and genetically modified plants.
Organic plants are often heirloom or original strains that have not been ‘improved’ by scientists, they have been grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Hybridization is the process where one variety of a plant, say tomato, is cross pollinated with another variety of tomato to create a third variety that hopefully has the best qualities of the two ‘parent’ varieties. This process develops plants that provide higher yields, stronger vines, thicker skin, whatever particular attributes are desired. Normally, when seeds are saved and planted year after year from hybrid plants the plant will devolve or go back to one or the other of the original parent plants. Some seeds from hybrid plants won’t grow at all.
Genetically modified plants have DNA from other varieties of plants, animals, bacteria and viruses injected into the cells of the original plant making it sort of a Frankenstein plant. Some of the DNA that is being injected are substances that can not, in any way, be considered food and are actually causing people to get serious illnesses. The more we are aware of what GMO’s are and what they do to us, the more control we have over our own health.
Self-reliance means doing for yourself and taking control over as many things in your life as possible and the best place to start is with what you eat. Don’t let living in an apartment stop you from doing what you can. This year as you browse for garden supplies and seeds, give heirloom and organic varieties serious consideration. You will find doing things in a natural way, including seed sources, growing tips and food preservation, is easier and less expensive in the long run. With proper planning, using non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds, a person can produce a fairly adequate ‘seed bank’ of their own each year.
Of course, you will still want to try different varieties, to find new ideas, to be inspired and to get your motivational ‘fix’… you must return to the nursery/garden center.