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Books! Seed! Orders arrive…

Seeds and books

Better than Christmas! The first half of the first big seed order, and my first book order in months, both arrived today.

Seed every year comes almost entirely from three companies: William Dam, Veseys and Terra Edibles. The first two are both bigger, family run companies, one definitely slicker and more marketing-oriented, with a series of color catalogs through the year in addition to their main one, all kinds of enticing special offers involving free shipping, a call center with almost no waits, y’know, the works. The other is definitely more…”indie”, with a single annual catalog, a written commitment to untreated seed only, and a busy signal more likely than not right through the order season: keep calling till you get through. The third is a tiny company specializing in heirloom seed, grown in-house or directly sourced from small growers.

The cool thing about all three is that you’re actually dealing wtih the owners, right to the top. Even in the case of the slickest one, when a seed potato order was a WEEK late last year, the prez himself called to apologize. And I’ve had great, informative chats with various people from all. It’s another small satisfaction, knowing to a degree from where and whom your seed arrives.

The book situation is a little different: (, in my case). It seems like a sprawling, faceless, digital megacorporation, and I long ago stopped keeping track of who bought out who, but as far as I know, it’s still…OK (like, not like Facebook). And it’s downright depressing/futile to browse a small-town bookstore if you’re looking for specific titles (of course, they can always order in, so I do it myself instead).

Anyhow, the few titles (selected from a long list of must-reads): The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener: A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically (based on a recommendation), The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (finally…eek! :), The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution (hmm, high hopes for this one, based largely on a Charlie Rose PBS (US public TV) interview with author Alice Waters; I WILL cook more, but we’ll see if this helps…), Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth (I have NO IDEA how this came to the long list, I forget, but I did mark it with a bunch of stars…). And then there’s the Linux Pocket Guide, ’cause with blogs and web sites, like tiny farms, it’s usually best to know your way around the territory…

Off to start some rosemary really late, and read!



  1. Good mail day! Thanks for your seed company recommendations. Some time ago I was gonna ask you who you use, but I totally forgot. It’s always good to find new seed sources. Terra’s has so many tomatoes!

  2. Meg: I always think that you guys in the US have it made (well, for seed!), Johnny’s alone is amazing, for varieties, philosophy, and all their gear. Plus I’ve seen a number of small heirloom seed companies online. The problem here is with cross-border. Some of the smaller companies don’t ship to Canada (and vice versa) because of paperwork. There was some new phytosanitary certificate stuff added recently. PLUS, I’m not sure if they irradiate any sort of seed, just in case… And of course, even when there’s no duty, someone—UPS, FedEx—always hits you with extra brokerage charges. So I kinda stick to suppliers here…

  3. Gardening and Linux…. some of my favored reading as well. We loved Micro-Eco farming, it was quite inspiring, and as we only have just over one and a half acre.

  4. Where do you buy your seeds from? You garden looks wonderful! We are on 5 acres I’ll be back to check out what you are doing and continue learning from your blog.

  5. kyle: Cool, 5 acres sounds like a perfect size for big gardening/tiny farming, if that’s what you’re planning to do. Hope you find some useful stuff here. Where I buy my seed (I’m in Canada) is right in the third line of this post! :)

  6. Hey, heidi, thanks for the link. It was good, peppy and got the point across in effective sound bites. :) I like that there is some sort of practical action being promoted… I’m making my through Omnivore’s Dilemma right now, and as interesting as it is, I’m finding it a bit of a struggle…

  7. sandrar

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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  9. The Linux Pocket Guide is an excellent choice.  I have been using it as a classroom reference in training a delivered a little while ago.  Most of the time, you can’t go wrong with O’Reilly.
    I LOL’ed at your comment regarding William Dam.  They’re definitely not the fastest one shipping, but I have always been extremely pleased with the quality of their seeds.  I would recommend them in a hearthbeat.  This years I purchased the bulk of my seeds there, I will see if they hold up to their excellent reputation.
    That being said, I am hoping to be able to source a significant portion of my seeds from indie local suppliers in the mid-term.  We have very many good ones here in Québec (La Société des Plantes, les Jardins du Grand-Portage, la Ferme Tourne-Sol, les Jardins de l’Écoumène, etc), and I know most of these guys personally.  I am relying on commercial varieties and growing  many hybrids this season, but I will trial all open-pollinated varieties from these guys in the mid-term and select those that works for me.  Eventually, I would love to be able to use at least 50% of locally-sourced seeds.  We’ll see!  :)

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