I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Inexpensive seeds versus expensive seeds  RSS feed

 
Seth Wetmore
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Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
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Seeds and getting them.

Seeds can be very exspensive. I have spent huge sums of money with out even realizing I was doing so.
Seeds can be very inexspensive. When I figured out how to get seeds at very low cost I became overwhelmed with the abundance of seeds.
This is all about timing.
First lets look at the exspensive side. A person goes to a grocery store, home improvement store, or garden center. There the person finds that the store is selling seeds. These little packages of seeds can be in amounts as low as milligrams - grams. To get beyond grams is rare. Very few companies sell above gram sizes.
These little packages seem very inexspensive since they only cost .99 cents - $2.00. Up front i became aware that I could purchase a lot of varieties at seemingly low cost. Since I was working from a very limited budget I decided this was acceptable and began purchasing seed. The next thing I did was to limit how much I would spend. I determined that I would use 10% of my weekly income. This was a very fortunate thing ( I can become over enthusiastic.) I went forward and spent and spent and spent. And I planted and planted and planted. Cost $40- $60 U.S. dollars a week. 52 weeks a year. Cost for seed: $3,120. a year. I did this for 2 years Total cost of packaged seed: $6,240. roughly. This garden was turned into barren dessert when I left. I had a very successfull growing plot at real high cost. I was devestated to know that all my work, all the plants, and the productivity was destroyed with no thought to what the value was. PANIC! How was I to get new seeds, since my seed bank had just been destroyed. The idea was to gather seeds from the plants I was growing to never have to buy seeds again.
Inexspensive seeds:
As I wandered through the land looking for sollutions I found a wild fennel plant. It was going to seed. LOTS OF SEED. AND I MEEN LOTS.
I occured to me that I could harvest this seed for free. NO COST. So I did. Over the next two weeks I returned again and again to this plant and collected free seeds. Then I went on a hunt. Where do the wild things grow? Apparently everywhere. The moral is seeds can be found where you plant them.
I have opened my eyes to the wild. Many of my favorite plants are already out there.
Another inexspensive source. The grocery market. I purchase food, mostly fruit and veggies. I then take the seeds from the fruit that I already own and replant the seed. Bulbs/tubers/root, garlic, onion, ginger,potato, yams,sweat potato, etc. are all alive and can be replanted. the dried bean and rice section has live lentels, beans, etc all at low cost like a dollar a pound. Many can be purchased that are organic. So Seeds can be inexspensive.
I have more......but it will have to wait untill tommorow.
 
josh brill
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When you plant the seed the next year you are going to get some interesting results depending on the plant your collecting from. The expensive seeds have the upside of dependablility. The wild seeds are going to have a lot of variation. It all depends on what your goals are. You could find a really excellent strain of genetics from the wild plant that you can then save for, but you might not get much food if its an edible or growth that you want if its a non edible. The expensive seed will yield you more food or dependable growth because someone has already done the hardwork for you. I think trying to mix the two sources is the best way to go. That way we can keep mixing up genetics and producing quality plants.
 
Jeff McLeod
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Location: New Hampshire
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One of the stores we all love to hate (and who doesn't deserve any free advertising) has heirloom seeds at 20c a packet. So immediately your costs are cut ... not as cheap as free in year one. But beyond that if you leave some of each variety to seed you have the basis for succeeding years harvests.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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I read books about seed saving. And it seemed to be very hard work and you never can eat your best plants and so one. One day I simply started saving some of my own seeds. Not the difficult ones like brassicas but the easy ones like tomatoes, rocket or lettuce. That means I have always a lot of seeds. Still I want to get a bit more elaborate of that.
The second way is your local health food store, greengrocer or even supermarket. I use coriander, chia you could use amaranth and all types of beans too.
Seeds in Australia cost around $3.50 a packet, I often buy in the US because it is far cheaper. And what helps too, is once you have found out which variety suits you to buy in bulk. A bulk packet of carrot seeds may cost $7 but there are ten times or so more seeds in that packet than you will find in a normal packet, the amount they sell is often pretty ridiculous.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Lets assume that you have about 30 different plants/seed, if you bought them by the pound they would only cost on avg of $10/lbs or $300 total vs the $3,000 that you spent.

So next time buy in bulk. spend $10 for 16oz vs $3/1oz because you are going to need more than 1oz anyway and you can give away the rest, buy it with a friend or start a "garden" on some public/neglected land.
 
Seth Wetmore
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Keep it mixed up. I like it. I am not to overly concerned with plant variation from parent to seed to new plant. If a apple produces a apple of a past variety Then we are increasing the genetic pool by bringing it to the front. Most hybrids seed will revert to one of the parent characteristics. I would rather have the variety than the food. The amount of food that can be produced is staggering. So I hope to stun others with the abundance that I can help to facilitate, and then overwhelm them with the low cost to do so. A distinctive 1-2 punch K.O. " AND THE WINNIER IS..........NATURE BY KNOCK OUT!" Wild screaming YEAaaaaa.
 
Seth Wetmore
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When I did this little experiment I was and currently am fully interested in getting a higher yield than my core investment. The beauty of what I was doing had a lot to do with the limited space I had to work with, as well as the limited budget. I had no local sources of bulk seed to purchase, nor anywhere to store bulk seed. I did not wish to have bulk supplies shipped to me. Yet the plan still came together very nicely. My aim was to start collecting seeds from the plants I was growing so I could minimize seed purchase in the future. Then reality back hand slapped me. I learned of the cruelty of humanity again. My circumstances changed, I lost the place I was renting, the land lord ripped everything I had done out and went to the scorched earth policy. From that point I redoubled my planting efforts. I have planted over 2,000 avacado seeds in the ground, found that nasturtium is awesome, Installed 8 gardens for others while holding 2 Jobs working 7 days a week, paying off ALL my bills and being homeless for 2 years. This does not include the thousands of other plant seeds I have planted. I have taught 4 other people to plant more food. All because I know that the future is in food. Survival at very low costs.
The mighty oak was only an acorn that held its ground.
Hold your ground.
Become more prosperous.
No excuses.
Have a great day.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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i've managed to build up a pretty good sized seed bank mostly through trading seeds on different sites, and saving my own seed.

if you dont know about this site you might give it a try:
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/exseed/

it is a lot of tedious work to save your own seeds, but i enjoy it even with the monotony. it also can take some time and effort to trade seeds...but it feels worth it to me.
every once in a while i buy some seeds, usually shipped through the mail, and often in bulk. i also harvest seeds of stuff that i find in the wild, though its a smaller amount of people who are interested in this, but when you find them they will be happy to trade for stuff that may be very common in your area.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: northern northern california
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and totally about starting stuff from the grocery store, i also do that quite frequently. you have to be careful in buying the right stuff, like obviously you dont want to grow the cheap produce at some stores with the weird hybrids or worse. but i have gotten some store bought stuff and started it. these days any fruit i can get i save and plant the seeds.

back when i had food stamps i discovered that one can use food stamps to purchase both seeds and plants. the farmers market in the town i lived in then also had a good thing where they would give you extra dollars...you bought ten dollars in these coins with your food stamps, and they would give you fifteen dollar coins you could spend at the farmers market. i bought a lot of starts and seeds that way back then....
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Seed saving seems to be a science. For this reason I only safe some seeds those which are easy. Lettuce i.e I sow in rows, thin and eat and then eat and cull the entire plants out which want to run to seed and save the seeds from those who run to seed late. That is easy enough and even I can do that.
I found that very cheap seeds are often mislabeled and there are tiny numbers of seed per packet. Expensive ones often are not good enough for the price. I found that Baker Creek is good for me and they send overseas.
Grocery store seeds are as well goji berries.
 
Seth Wetmore
Posts: 158
Location: Some where in the universe in space and time.
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Some of the things I found odd about the experience of purchasing the exspensive seeds. I did not in any way mind spending the money. I looked at it as a investment into the future. Even if everything I planted died. There was no down side that I could find. Sure I could have used that money to make my living condition stronger, or invested in a new this or that. What I found was the investment was not just the money. I spent large blocks of time out side. It put me in a place to observe closely the things i was working with. I know more about potatos, radish, lettuce,etc than most of my friends. This is not bragging, in fact it saddens me greatly that my friends and family have choosen to be ignorant.
I then took to going through the forests. I wore my shoes out observing nature. That is a lot of walking. I was not constanly in a car, or house, or building. Much of my free time became interacting with nature. These costs I have gladdly paid.

RANT WARNING!!!
I found a stick!
This initially does not seem impressive, but it became a very valuable tool. I could defend myself against predators (cougars)vs.(eucalyptus). It helped me walk when my syatic nerve flared up. It became my primary planting tool. Dig a hole drop a seed cover seed move on. No bending or stooping. Very little effort involved. I could move quickly and quietly through a forest or public zone. Causing very little disturbance.
The stick became a source of revenue. Sanded and oiled they became valuable to others. I would go clean up the forest detritus (fire hazard). Trim the sticks with a simple hand saw, drill a hole in the top for a simple leather thong. Sand with 40 grit, 80 grit, 120 grit. Oil with olive oil. Let it dry. People would see this beautiful stick and approach me to purchase it. Cost: a walk through the woods, being a good steward of the forest.
The stick also helped me recover trash from the forest, where poison oak is really nasty. Trash clean up became part of the routine. I never realized how many smokers just throw away there trash everywhere. If you are a smoker I am referring to you. Discarding tabacco waste spreads specific fungal blights etc. the fiberglass filter can take estimated times of up to 100 years to be broken down. IT IS DAMB NASTY! SOMEONE ELSE HAS TO CLEAN THAT @$#% UP!
So PLEASE DO NOT TOSS AWY CIGARRETTE BUTTS. PLENTY OF EMPTY TRASH CANS AVAILABLE! PROVIDED BY YOU TAX DOLLARS SO USE THEM!
RANT ENDED!!!

Seed are the future. The seed can be physical, mental, spiritual, metaphysical, imaginary, etc. Just keep planting what you want to see grow. HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY! HAPPY HAPPY JOOOY! PLant where you want to be happy, Plant where you want your family to succeed. Plant In the schools, churches, businesses, public spaces. PLANT PLANt PLAnt PLant Plant plant .........
LEAVE NO TRACE.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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There are seeds which, according to the books are better purchased, because they suffer inbreeding depression and cross a lot. Every brassica will cross with every brassica for example and I don't want to eat so many cabbages either. But as I haven't tried saving brassicas that is just theory. With corn it is different. As corn is a staple I don't mind growing a lot of it (This year I managed to buy flour corn in Australia it was bloody expensive and I take great care of it)
 
Seth Wetmore
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What seeds would you like to see grow? Can you harvest seeds cheeply? Can you gain a better harvest every year? Things to think about.
 
fiona smith
Posts: 141
Location: UK
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This is my next project, collecting seeds. Eventually i want to be able to grow from seed. and store my own and seed swap.

Thing is, I have come across the term heirloom seeds lately, and my ears pricked up.
Can anyone tell me if it would be wizer to collect just heirloom seeds rather than ordinary hybrids. What is the long term benefits of heirlooms/? I have found them to be more expensive in the uk, but I don't mind paying if it turns out better

Thanks everyone.

fiona. ex-seeding the perimeters.
 
John Polk
steward
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Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, whereas hybrids have been bred (usually for marketing reasons).

If you plant a hybrid seed, there is no telling what will grow from it, but it will not be the same as the plant that you saved it from. Saving hybrid seed is kind of like buying a lottery ticket. You might get an edible plant, or you could end up with something that only the hogs would eat.

Heirlooms are old traditional plants that have been handed down for generations. Often, brought from the 'old country' by immigrants back when your grandmother was a child. There is much interest in saving seeds from these heirlooms partly because they are 'old family favorites', and also since many of the larger seed corporations are beginning to patent their seeds. If collections of these seeds are not preserved, the human's future food supply could be jeopardized due to the loss of diversity, and monopolies by the seed giants who want to own even the seeds that provide our food.

 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
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food preservation greening the desert solar trees
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Fiona, if you are interested in saving a propagating seeds, there certainly is a lot of available information, on this site and elsewhere in books or on the internet. You'll find out which types of seeds are easy to save successfully, and you should start with those. Get seeds from your friends and neighbors that they have had success keeping going from generation to generation.

Not all plants are best propagated by seed, but most annuals and vegetables are.

Heirloom seeds are varieties that have been propagated by people for generations, and as long as you don't plant them near (and thus let them crossbreed with) other varieties of the same species, you can keep their seeds again and again.

Hybrids are seeds made by carefully crossbreeding two varieties of the same species to make a selected type of offspring. The seeds planted from a hybrid plant or usually not going to be any good, but occasionally can be. Breeding hybrids is also an ancient traditional practice, not necessarily high tech, but nowadays seed companies have developed more specific hybrids. If the name of the seed in a catalog says F1 or F2 it's definitely a hybrid. Do not confuse hybrids with genetically engineered varieties. Hybrids can be organic, no problem, but some of them are selected to be high producing or long-storing, at the expense of flavor and nutrition.

Some plants are better propagated vegetatively, basically low tech cloning. One traditional old fashioned example is to graft desired fruit twigs onto a trunk (of the same species, either a chosen root stock or a sturdy random seedling). Another is cuttings, just as you have done with houseplants, but it can be done as well with many species of trees and plants.
 
Leila Rich
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fiona smith wrote:Can anyone tell me if it would be wizer to collect just heirloom seeds rather than ordinary hybrids. What is the long term benefits of heirlooms/? I have found them to be more expensive in the uk, but I don't mind paying if it turns out better

Others have covered the hybrid thing (don't even bother trying to save them unless you're doing complicated breeding stuff)
Over here, 'heirloom' and ''heritage' are pretty meaningless terms.
For example, green zebra tomatoes are nearly always called heirlooms in catalogues, but were bred in the '80s, not saved by someone's Italian great-grandma
(That's not knocking green zebra, they're a great tomato!)
I look for 'open pollinated' (OP) varieties.
Not all OPs are heirlooms, but all heirlooms are OP...
Does that make sense?!
*edited to add 'heritage' *
 
wayne stephen
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Caveat Emptor ! I've discovered two sources locally of inexpensive seeds . One was a large chain farm store . I found cheap packs of Lemon Balm - Sweet Meliisa - had good germination rate - and ended up growing lemon basil instead . Clearly mislabeled but was not a bad surprise 'cept I was aiming for some perennials . That and other mishaps and I no longer buy those cheap seeds . The other purveyor is an Amish family that has a serious supply store - greenhouse supplies , Azomite in bulk , good tools , toxic gick , and neem oil too . Perfect for the serious gardener or market farmer . They have rows of seeds - OP , heirlooms , the latest commercial varieties - available in ounce to pound sized packages . If they don't have it in stock and is available in one of the many supply catalogs they use you can order it . They have 50+ varieties of tomatos , ground cherries , herbs , greens . Going there in early spring is like going to the grocery store hungry .
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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buying seeds in bulk is also a much better idea. lets take carrots for example. one packet of carrots is 2$, lets say it has 1 gram of seed. something like 500 carrot seeds. well for 5-7$ you can buy a 1/4 oz. which has 40,000 seeds in it. or i can buy a lb of seed for 20-25 dollars. which has well over a million seeds.

pitching in with others on these bulk seeds, then splitting them up when they arrive is cheap and rewarding.

like the original poster said, the best way to get seed for cheap is to collect it yourself. or propagate it yourself.
 
William Whitson
Posts: 50
Location: Washington coast
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There is a lot to learn about saving seeds - much more than even most books on the subject cover, because most are dedicated to one ideology or another.

An heirloom could be a variety that has had its genome passed through the eye of a needle so many times that almost no variation remains and it is a dead-end without crossing in some fresh genetics. An heirloom can also be an OP variety that was an F4 generation just last year and got picked up by an heirloom seed catalog. An heirloom variety may be different from every outlet that sells it, due to poor control of cross pollination or simply due to adaptation to local growing conditions over multiple generations. Many heirloom seeds are grown by big outfits in specific regions (one is the Willamette Valley in Oregon) and have become acclimated to the regional climate. Seed saved from an heirloom will be much like the parents if you are careful, but will quickly become something else if you aren't.

A hybrid is generally a cross between two open pollinated varieties. You can save seeds, but will get a mix of varieties. In most cases, many will still be similar to the hybrid and very good; some won't. But, if you save seed from the best for a few generations, you can generally stabilize the hybrid into a new OP variety. There are details that can make hybrids tricky, so many people just avoid them. One trick is that one of the parent lines is often male sterile and confers this sterility to the succeeding generation. Those types are bad for seed saving. They are very common in plants that are outcrossers like umbellifers and brassicas. Another hybrid trick is that many varieties sold as hybrids really aren't. Many are OP varieties or later stage F3 crosses that are basically stable. They are sold as hybrids so that the company can charge more and so that you don't bother saving seed.

Both heirloom and hybrid marketing tactics have been very effective at getting people to behave in certain ways. Many heirlooms sellers would have you run from hybrids and save seeds as if you were a curator in a seed museum. Many hybrid sellers would have you buy their expensive seeds every year because you can't possibly match their expertise. The truth is, you can save seeds from most OP and hybrid varieties and that some crossing introduces variation that will usually benefit you if you make trait selection part of your seed saving procedure. If you do that, you will develop your own mixes and varieties that will often do better in your climate than anything you can buy from a seed catalog.
 
fiona smith
Posts: 141
Location: UK
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Thanks guys. Fully appreciated.


I have been checking out some seeds sites, and stumbled onto a page where the EU are trying to impose a ban on unregistered seeds, even as far as trying to ban seed swapping!!!
I don't know whether to laugh or cry. All I could imagine was black suits knocking on my door with a rather timid looking police officer pulling up my plants because they couldn't measure the hairs on their stems!!

Life gets stranger by the moment. And so do I




 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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the EU are trying to impose a ban on unregistered seeds


Yeah. I've read about that as well.
If it ever becomes a reality, perhaps you could call the 'Seed Cops' to come to your house and do your weeding for you.

 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I guess this is an old thread I just found doing a search. I wanted to add that many places have seed libraries and it is worth looking into. I love seed libraries. you take your seeds there and get seeds from other people.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Whole Foods and Reading Seed and Feed, Tri-County Farmers Co-Op.
The last two are local to me.
Whole Foods offers grains and leguems by weight, great for cover crops.
 
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