So, it starts. The seed catalogue season, where, in the same fashion that some girls might be obsessively checking the Urban Outfitters website for deals on the new spring collection, farmers and gardeners are drooling over what variety of zebra tomatoes and bulls blood beets they want to plant for the coming year.
Seed saving will increasingly become an important activist tool, as things like the EU Trade Agreement threaten to make seed saving illegal in favour of corporations owning the "rights to life" as it were. More than ever, we should be supporting small, local ethical seed companies and learning to save seed ourselves. See this NFU article for more info on this.
If you're wondering where you can order local, organic seeds from trustworthy companies, here's a list of where to shop first:
http://www.seeds.ca/en.php : As an introduction to seeds, seed saving practices, and to gain an appreciation for the abundant diversity of foods available to us, check out the Seeds of Diversity website.
www.urbanharvest.ca: The folks at Urban Harvest started out as one of the first rooftop gardens in Toronto back in 1998 (can you believe that! I was still dressing up like a Spice Girl and probably eating Captain Crunch willy nilly, and that was BEFORE they pumped those cereals full of every vitamin and protein imaginable. Back then it was just pure unadulterated sugar on sugar baby.) Now they run a successful seed company that is about as local as you can get around these parts. I recommend their Chioggia Beets!
http://www.uppercanadaseeds.ca : Based right out of Toronto, this company specializes in Tomatoes, grown here and in P.E.I and is a feel-good mom and pop operation.
www.johnnyseeds.com/ : Jonny's Seeds offers one of the most extensive and helpful websites around (unless you're looking for cat videos...then maybe not so helpful...) Specifically, they have created a helpful online calculator to let you know when you should start your seedlings indoors, and when to transplant them outside. This is an amaaaazing tool, but don't forget to find and enter your spring "frost-free date" first! (50% frost free after April 24th says the Farmers Almanac)
http://www.damseeds.ca/ : Damn Seeds! I mean, uh, Dam Seeds! Yeah! This seed company is based out of Hamilton! They're a one stop shop for anyone looking to do a mix of veggies and flowers and some ornamental grasses too, if that's what you fancy!
www.highmowingseeds.com : High Mowing Seeds is based out of Vermont, and if you've ever been there, well, you're probably still there now or thinking of moving there soon, right? Tom Stearns started this modest seed company out of his backyard in 1996, and did so well with his high-quality seeds that he just kept growing and growing. The website has an "easy to grow" section for those just starting out in the gardening world!
http://cottagegardener.com : The Cottage Gardener is based out of Newtonville Ontario (yep, never heard of it either), and are a great organic company for flower lovers.
http://www.mycosource.com/ : Finally, if you're looking for Fun with Mushrooms, check out Fun Guy Farm's mushroom cultivation kits! You may have already rubbed elbows with these "Fun Guys" at the Dufferin Grove's Market in the summertime, and I can assure you, they know their stuff. Try an innoculated log in a shady cool spot in your backyard this summer! You can even get kits that can hangout on your coffee table!
Happy Planning Garden Lovers!