borageWe are very happy with our plant selection for the 2015 season. Our vegetables, flowers, herbs, native plants and garden containers include the best from last year’s varieties as well as several new varieties we are very excited about. We spend a lot of time each winter sourcing seeds from the best seed growers we can find. We pay particular attention to finding varieties that are well suited to growing in Maine’s variable, difficult coastal climate.

Here is a brief description of the types of seed we use and the methods we use to grow them:

Potting blocks Potting blocks are blocks made from our custom organic potting mix using a hand operated press. As the seedling grows in a block, the roots move throughout the block until they reach the edges, at which point they are air-pruned. The roots wait. As soon as the block is put into the garden, the roots burst out into their new home. We are able to grow varieties of seedlings that traditionally do not transplant well because, with soil blocks, there is no transplant shock.Whilst all our seedlings are started in some form of soil blocks, some plants will be potted up into Cowpots.

L: Potting blocks. R: Cowpots. Our healthy plants eat their cowpots for breakfast!

L: Potting blocks. R: Cowpots. Our healthy plants eat their cowpots for breakfast!

Cowpots Cowpots are made from cow manure and hold plants in the greenhouse, but allow roots to begin to grow through them. When planted, these organically approved pots quickly break down and provide an extra boost of fertility. (Other pots, like Kord pots, peat pots or other ‘biodegradable pots’ do not break down quickly in the soil. Most are not approved for organic use.) This is our alternative to conventionally grown root-bound seedlings in plastic pots. Plants grown in plastic pots risk choking themselves with their tightly wrapped roots, take more time to break away from their pot-bound form and may suffer significant transplant shock.

 

ground-cherryblossom1The importance of organic seed Currently, in order to qualify for organic certification, plants do not have to be grown from organic seed. This is because there is a distinct lack of organic seed available. However, we believe the only way to increase the overall availability of organic seed for farmers and gardeners is to always buy organic seed when it is available. We’re doing our part by making sure 100% of our vegetable seedlings and a large proportion of our herb and flower seedlings are grown from certified organic seed. We buy seed from organic seed growers and breeders such as Wild Garden Seed, Uprising Organics, Adaptive Seeds, Fruition Seeds and High Mowing as well as organic options at Fedco, Johnny’s and Seed Saver’s Exchange.

Additionally, organic seed is better for the environment. Conventional seed-crop plants are heavy users of synthetic agricultural chemicals. Seed-crop plants are in the ground longer and have fewer chemical restrictions than food crops. Whilst technically the seed itself may have not been dosed with toxic chemicals, the plant that produced the seed is highly likely to have been treated. The cheap-and-easy methods of seed production need not be disclosed by seed companies selling cheap-and-easy seed…