As our nation has struggled to deal with the Coronavirus, the lockdown orders which have spread across the country have varied.
Some states seem to be pushing for totalitarian control, arresting people who are engaged in outdoor recreational activities alone and threatening fines of thousands of dollars for not wearing masks, while other states still haven’t instituted stay at home orders. This mismatch of different may seem to be confusing, but it is the natural result of being a nation of independent states.
One of the biggest confusions may very well be what is allowed and what is not. Put another way, it’s what is considered essential and what is not.
I find it surprising that Lowe’s and Home Depot are open for business, while Hobby Lobby, which sells materials that masks can be made of has been closed, due to pressure they were under.
Perhaps one of the most confusing parts of this is in the states where stores are only allowed to sell “essential” items.
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Government bureaucrats have apparently taken the time to make actual lists of things that they consider “essential” and pass them out to stores, requiring them to block access to items that are not on those lists and prohibiting the stores from selling those items.
There is no way to see this as anything but totalitarian. What gives anyone or any group the right to think that they are the only ones who can decide what is essential and what is not? What benefit is there to society in this “emergency action” being taken?
One of the things which apparently falls under the category of “non-essential” according to these government bureaucrats is seeds.
You’ve probably seen pictures online of seed aisles being closed off so that people can’t get seeds. I’m not talking about flower seeds here, although that’s happening too; I’m talking about vegetable seeds. Don’t those bureaucrats realize that vegetable seeds give you food to eat?
Here we are, on the verge of a potential food shortage, and someone who probably thinks that meat and vegetables are produced by the grocery store, rather than coming from farms, has decided that growing food is not essential. But with about a third of the country’s meatpacking plants currently shut down, that decision could come back to bite us all. We should be planting now, not denying people the ability to plant.
Ok, so what can we do about this?
The simple answer is to plant our gardens anyway, like always. If you’re like me, you’ve got seed leftover from last year, which you can use. You’ll see about a five to ten percent reduction in germination rate, but it’s still worth using, especially if that’s all you’ve got.
Then there are people who are much better gardeners than I am; people who are master gardeners.
Most of them probably harvest seed from the vegetables they grow in their gardens, rather than buying it. I’m not at that level, but I wish I was.
But what about the rest of us? Never fear, there are still ways of coming up with seed, even if you haven’t harvested seed from last year’s harvest or don’t have any leftover.
In fact, some of the best ways you can get seed are to avoid your local Wal-Mart or Home Depot as a source for your seed.
Master Gardeners You Might Know
At the most basic level, you should ask yourself who you know, who might have some seed you can talk them out of. It seems that we all know at least one person who is an avid gardener. There’s a good chance that those people have seed; probably more than they need. If they do, they’ll probably be willing to share some with you, perhaps even without charging you for it.
Of course, you don’t want to abuse their generosity, so if they do offer you some seed, don’t take more than you need. If you don’t use all that they give you, offer to give it back. They may very well have others asking them for seed and it would be a shame if they couldn’t provide it to them because you were sitting on seed that didn’t get used.
Going a step farther, you should look to see if there are any gardening clubs in your area. Most communities have one. Like most such organizations, they’re always looking to increase their numbers, thrilled when the “uninitiated” ask for their expertise.
One thing that many of these organizations do, which could be useful to you, is having “seed trading nights.” These are usually connected to their regular meetings, giving the members an opportunity to pick up seed from one another. While intended to be an event for the membership, they are likely to allow outsiders in, especially if they think you might want to join their organization.
While government officials might be closing down access to seeds in stores, that doesn’t generally affect those company’s websites.
Many of your favorite retailers, where you would normally shop for those seeds, can still get them to you, via online ordering, delivered to your home, even if you can’t go into the store to buy them.
Better yet, most of those companies actually have a better assortment online, than what you’ll find in the stores.
Where you might only find two or three varieties of carrots offered in the store, you can encounter dozens from those same store’s websites, giving you the opportunity to try new varieties and see if they grow better in your garden.
Online Seed Sellers
All of these retailers, whether online or brick and mortar stores get their seeds from a limited number of seed producers, most of whom also have online stores, allowing you to buy directly from them. This will generally (but not always) guarantee fresher seeds, as there won’t be anything that they’re selling, which has been sitting around since the previous year’s planting season.
Not only that, but you can buy bulk packages from them online, allowing you to get your seeds at a considerable discount if you’re planning on any serious high-volume gardening.
Heirloom Seed Sources
If you’re going to order online anyway, why not order heirloom seeds? if you haven’t heard about heirloom seeds, these are the naturally occurring varieties of the plants, rather than the hybrids or GMOs that are sold in most stores.
There are literally thousands of varieties of these plants, much more than the two or three that you’ll typically find in the store. Chances are, if you try various varieties, you’ll find some unusual one that you like even better than the common ones.
One important distinction about heirloom seeds, which is important. That is, they are the only ones where the plants will produce seeds that can be used for the next year’s crops.
The seeds from hybrid plants will produce one of the two parent plants used to produce the hybrid, not the hybrid itself. GMOs are even worse, as the seeds they produce are sterile and will not grow.
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