Smart seed porn—with a message

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Despite the fact that I have no intention of growing any plants from seeds—not in this garden, anyway—I love a good seed catalog. Baker Creek is one of the classics.  Over 200 pages long, the bulk of the book is devoted to vegetables, with much smaller sections on flowers and herbs, some gifty booky stuff, a few announcements of events I might attend if I lived in California, and essays. My one quibble is the cover. I have actually tried to give this fabulous catalog to food-growing friends who had never heard of it, but they look at the zinnias on the cover and get confused. The zinnias are pretty, but if I were these guys, I would have gone with some heirloom habeneros or maybe the Red Roselle, an amazing looking variety of exotic hibiscus, used for sauces, drinks, desserts, and other brightly flavored concoctions. The Atomic Red carrots are totally cover-worthy, as well.

The descriptions have a few too many exclamation points, but they are excellent, overall. And I liked this year’s essay (reprinted from Heirloom Gardener, the company’s magazine), hopefully named “GMOs—is the end near?”  There are five reasons author Jeffrey M. Smith thinks a big backlash against GMOs is imminent:

  1. Weeds are evolving to resist Round-Up on their own, so being able to carpet-bomb fields with Round-Up won’t mean much.
  2. Insects are developing resistence to the GMOs that produce their own internal pesticides.
  3. Problems with GMO-fed animals are reaching critical status, to the extent producers will need to stop using them or suffer big losses.
  4. The havoc wreaked by GMOs in microorganisms is becoming more widely understood.
  5. Activism and awareness raising has reached the point where consumers are figuring out why they might want to avoid GMO brands.

Of course, the photos of unbelievably beautiful vegetables that can be grown from the company’s unadulterated seeds are what really make the case.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. I love Baker Creek – I order a significant portion of my seeds from them. I especially like that they cover what they refer to as “Frankenfood News”. You pick up a lot in their catalog that the MSM misses or chooses to ignore. (I do so hope that Jeffrey Smith is right!) The cut flower seed packets are gorgeously illustrated, and I’ve always been very satisfied with my purchases. They also bought Ferry-Morse seeds in Connecticut a few years ago – that would be a doable road trip for us western New Yorkers…….

  2. Thanks you for the thoughtful review of Baker Creek… I handn’t heard to them, as I’m not a Seed Freak, but all the reminders on GMO’s excellent.

  3. Baker Creek gets me every year. “Surely I can grow this vegetable despite my terrible soil and the lack of will of anyone in the house to actually eat it!”

    But they are so, so pretty…

  4. All I know is that Baker Creek heirloom seeds has my money every single year. I’ve grown about 12 different varieties of seeds from them and they all turned out absolutely wonderful. Talk about an awesome company 🙂

  5. I don’t plant many seeds either, but I do love the BAker Creek catalog and continue to be alarmed at all the GMOing that is going on and the fix I think we will all be landed in.

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