As people begin shift through seed catalogs and displays that are starting to pop up at stores across the country, I wanted to take some time to recommend some of my favorite sources for seeds. Right at the top of that list is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They are one of the most fascinating seed companies I have come across. Their catalog is amazing, full of 1500 rare, non-GMO seeds and stories to read. The catalog has a very homey feeling to it, down to the clothes the people in it are wearing and the pictures of cute kids holding different vegetables. It's a popular free catalog that has already run out of copies to order in 2014! They also have their "The Whole Seed Catalog" that you can purchase for $7.95.
So what is so special about this company.
1. They offer heirloom seeds.
2. Their seeds are non-GMO
3. The unique seeds that I have found nowhere else
I want to start with the last one first - passion. This company is passionate about their seeds. It shows in the catalog. It shows on their facebook page, which they regularly update with their journeys around the world, collecting seeds. In the last two months I have seen them show pictures of harvesting bananas with orange fruit, tubers of all sorts of colors and sizes, Banana passion fruit, and much more. They recently talked about this man who grows Okra in Panama and he uses the seeds as coffee beans! He roasts them and grinds them up as a substitute for coffee. They will have those seeds available to purchase in the future.
Everyone hear the words "heirloom" tossed around nowadays. Why should I care? Heirloom seeds are special because they have been passed down, they have stood the test of time. They are grown not just because they will bring the most profit but because they are the tasty, or good for you, or just add beauty to your garden. Many have stories behind them. Many are almost lost forever. What Baker Creek is offering is a way to preserve agricultural diversity. Big agriculture just wants to grow what will bring the most money into their bank accounts, which is not a very diverse selection of crops.
Genetically modified seeds are taking over the country. Many are concerned about the health risks they pose, me being one of them. The big companies are growing more and more GMO plants all the time. Without people trying to preserve non-GMO seeds, we could see non-GMO varieties quickly wiped out. Each year Baker Creek is finding it harder and harder to offer GMO free corn seeds as Monsanto's GMO corn is cross pollinating with heirloom, non-GMO varieties. Since corn is wind pollinated, it's easy for this to happen and with over 90% of the corn grown in the United States being GMO, you can see where that would be a problem. That is why Baker Creek tests their corn samples to and they only offer varieties that do not test positive for GMOs.
Unique, Rare Seeds
Through their travel around the world, you can find seeds in their catalog that you cannot find anywhere else. One of the funniest parts of the catalog was going through the melon section. So many varieties, shapes, colors, and flavors I have never seen anywhere else. They had some unique tomato varieties from Russia and the Ukraine that would be fun to grow. They offer the hottest pepper on record "Trinidad Scorpion" coming in at a whopping 1.2 million Scovilles (units that measure heat of peppers). To compare, a Habanero is 350,000. They also offer pink bananas, the peel is a bright pink color and the fruit contains a ton of seeds.
These are great reasons I will plant seeds from Baker Creek this year. Here are a few specific varieties I am looking into:
Golden Sweet Snow Peas | Click here for ordering info
A snow pea that is a brilliant yellow color. It said to be more than just a novelty.
Black Icicle Tomatoes | Click here for ordering info
A dark colored tomato in the shape of a icicle that ranked high in brix (sugar), lycopene, and potaasium. It was 2nd overall in a nutritional study done on tomatoes mentioned in the catalog.
Yellow Wonder Wild Strawberry | Click here for ordering
A light yellow colored wild strawberry that may be small but packs more flavor than you would ever find in the grocery store.