The seeds are here! The seeds are here!

seed packages

Seed packages on display

My kids love the time of year when our seed orders arrive–the surprise of the doorbell being rung by the UPS person, the challenge of opening packages with children’s safety scissors (their tool of choice, honest!), the thrill of unpacking each box and imagining what will grow from these paper envelopes.  Some seeds are familiar–beans, peas, corn look like the things we’re used to eating.  Pepper, tomato, cucumber, and watermelon seeds are commonly found in the fruits we eat. But who knows what carrot or lettuce seeds look like?  And then there are flower seeds–calendula being my current favorite oddity.

Seeds are amazing.  It’s easy to forget that these shriveled little bundles are actually alive, just waiting for the right time to sprout.  I tell students that seeds are like eggs, and while biologists might disagree, I think it’s a good comparison.  In case you’re curious, we have plans for 195 separate plantings of seeds (and that doesn’t include lettuce, flowers, or herbs, since I haven’t had time to develop the schedule for those!).  Some varieties get planted more than once, such as succession plantings of green onions, spinach, broccoli, and radishes; other crops are planted only once but include multiple varieties, such as winter squash (7 kinds) and peppers (19 kinds).  It’s a lot to keep track of, which is why I spend the winter developing spreadsheets and schedules to follow.

When people ask if Joshua Farm is certified organic, my standard answer is, “No, but we follow all the rules (with some exceptions).”  One of those exceptions is in the area of seeds.  Technically, certified organic growers must use (or at least document that they’ve tried to find) organically grown seed.  I’m not opposed to this regulation, but the reality is that organic seed is still more expensive and not available in all the varieties I’d like to grow.  I am careful, however, to purchase the majority of my seed from suppliers who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, which is a voluntary agreement by seed companies to not sell genetically engineered seeds.

Well, off to the greenhouse to see if our new germination station is working yet!

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One Response to The seeds are here! The seeds are here!

  1. Nancy Baker Pelton says:


    Nancy Baker Pelton // February 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Reply

    Wow! I can hardly put into words how happy I am to learn about Joshua Farm. I grew up on Mulberry Street right by the field. Long before it was an athletic field for Edison J. High it was the most beautiful natural field where all the neighborhood children climbed trees, had forts, rode sleds, and enjoyed a bit of wild nature just outside our tiny backyards. It was the place where my grandfather dug a path up the big hill so the youngest children could get to the top. The day the bulldozers came in and started taking down the trees, digging up the plants, and killing off the wildlife was one of the saddest days of my youth. I remember my mother and next door neighbor crying as the trees came down. And now all these years later I am so heartened to read that the field has a new life – a life with real purpose and meaning. I have always felt so sad when taking a ride through the old neighborhood that the field lay abandoned when it had brought so much pleasure to my childhood. I have lived in Baltimore for many years now but one of my daughters now lives in Harrisburg and she will be joining your CSA this year. Congratulations on your creative spirit – Harrisburg has another real treasure.

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