· Underground Seeds ·
Certified Organic · Locally Adapted
Coming soon to Mulligan Books & Seeds
From DAVE SMITH
We need a zillion new family farms and gardens in this country, and we need to fill the Ukiah Valley with them to come through the challenging times ahead. It all starts with seeds…
Sadly, one of the dirty little secrets of the organic seed trade, and the seed trade in general, is that many of the “organic seeds” now being offered to gardeners are grown by giant transnational corporations in China and India.
Mulligan Books & Seeds is partnering with Sustainable Seed Company in Covelo to localize seed breeding, growing, saving, and trading in Mendocino County with seeds adapted to our particular soils and climate… providing a more secure local food system.
Certified Organic, Locally Adapted, heirloom, untreated, open-pollinated, garden seeds, grown by local and regional organic and biodynamic family farmers, will be offered beginning this month, at Mulligan Books & Seeds in Ukiah. The seeds offered this year will be California-grown, including our local region. We are recruiting local organic and biodynamic farmers to begin growing a portion of their plants for seed so we can gradually localize the seed trade closer to home. Seeds adapted to our local soils and climate produce more abundantly and cost far less than those being shipped around the world and across the country by who knows who, who knows where.
See our Seed Pledge here and below…
We encourage local family farmers to contact Farmer John at Sustainable Seeds to help us make this dream a reality: Farmer John at Sustainable Seed Co.
Meanwhile, we will be offering seeds by packet, from Sustainable Seed Co., and the same seeds in bulk for home gardeners under our own brand, Underground Seeds… sold over the counter by the ounce, and fraction of an ounce. Packeting and shipping seeds across the country is enormously expensive and wasteful. Offering locally-grown bulk seeds by hand can save you up to 90% in your annual seed cost. Our seeds should be in the store and available in the next few days…
Seed Pledge from Mendocino’s Own: Sustainable Seed Company and Underground Seeds…
FEAR NOT FINE FOLKS! OUR SEEDS ARE SAFE!
Sustainably Grown Means…
- We do not knowingly grow OR buy seed that is surrounded by GM crops.
- We do not buy seed from foreign seed companies. We support local seed houses, farmers and their families. When you buy seed from us you are supporting American farm families and companies.
- We don’t chemically treat our seeds and since we don’t buy from out of country the USDA does not treat our seed like many seed companies. Don’t assume that if a company uses the word “heirloom” that it is grown here in the US. In fact we get hundreds of emails from companies in China and India trying to sell us cheap “heirloom” seed. Where does you seed company get it’s seed from?
- All of our organic seed is grown strictly without the use of ANY chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We use only organic fertilizers and methods of pest control.
- We farm in a sustainable, water conscious and environmentally responsible manner.
One of the major purposes of this heirloom organic seed company is genetic preservation of heritage open pollinated seeds. We believe it is every person’s right to control and grow their own food. We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. Unlike other seed companies (click & discover who…it might surprise you), we will not buy ANY seed from Seminis, a Monsanto owned subsidiary (Click here to learn more about Monsanto).
Heirloom seeds belong in the hands of people, not nameless, faceless corporations that we feel don’t have our best interests at heart. Corporations that lobby our government so that GM food goes unlabeled in stores for example. We may not know what is in a box of cereal, but you can trust we will not be buying their seed. With this you have the ability to grow your own clean food for your family.
Do we test our corn seed for GMO?
In light of the recent approval of the USDA to allow genetically engineered beets to enter the market place we have begun a GE testing program. These tests are very expensive, but we will begin randomly testing beets, chard, corn and alfalfa for the presence of transgenic contamination. We have a zero tolerance. Meaning if GE material is found even in trace amounts, we will reject the seed entirely.
We will not tolerate transgenic contamination in our seed supply and will go to whatever means necessary to make sure our seed is pure the way nature intended.
Where do our heirloom seeds come from?
Since this company was founded fall 2008, we have purchased the bulk of our seeds from a cooperative of trusted family seed growers. These seed farmers are in alignment with our goals and beliefs in seed quality. We also grow ourselves on organic plots throughout Northern California, and have recently move our own farm operations to Covelo, located in a remote valley of Mendocino County in Northern California. For example; we have a partnership with an organic winery. Russian River Vineyards was one of the very first in Sonoma County California to be certified organic! Here one of Sonoma countie’s largest colonies of bats rid the fields of unwanted pest the good old fashioned organic way.Why is it important to buy locally grown seed?
We are diligent in not buying seed from growers who are surrounded by known GMO crops. Several well know heirloom seed companies are located in Oregon. This area of Oregon has had a burgeoning seed business for many years. The challenge is GM crops moved in years ago. There is an estimated 5,000,000 acres of GM crops now planted in this fertile area of Oregon.
Many of the new crops being planted like the GM sugar beets have pollen grains that can float on the breeze for miles. Recently in this area of Oregon for example, bagged bark mulch was found to have GM beet seeds. Imagine laying down bark mulch in your garden only to discover you were growing GM crops! Would a corporate giant come after you for “stealing” there seed? Or more horrifying what if this seed contaminated any seed you were trying to save? You see this is just one of the issues facing heirloom seed growers these days.
Where does your heirloom seed company get its seed? Seed companies say they travel the world to collect exotic seeds.
Many heirloom seed companies out there tout having hundreds of varieties, but did you ever stop and think where they are coming from? It may sound great at first that you are getting a rare seed variety from China, but did you know that there is an estimated 9.3 million acres of GM crops in China?
It is well know that the prices are much cheaper for seed abroad, but then again so might be the quality of the seed. In many of these countries there is little regulation to ensure seed quality. In fact to import many of these seeds into the U.S. our government requires them to be chemically treated (fumigated) to kill any harmful pest or pathogens. Are you buying treated seeds?
Then there is the whole issue of sending our money abroad. That is the whole reason we have such a foreign trade deficit now. Do you really want to support farmers in another country when our family farmers are literally “losing the farm”? It is important to support local farmers to grow our food and seed crops. We don’t need to transport our food or seed crops for thousands of miles using petroleum when it is grown right here.
More important than all the above listed issues is just the plain fact that farmers have know for hundreds of years…plants grown and acclimated to your area just plain perform better. Any good gardener knows this. I used to spend hours as a kid seeking out heirloom varieties from old gardeners not because I knew what an heirloom seed was, but because it produced better. These plants have acclimated to the area and the strongest survived to pass on their genes. These seeds were coveted and passed down even through family lines.
So you see there are many things to consider the next time you buy seeds. I can’t claim that we don’t have some level of GM contamination. Although we strive hard to prevent that, we were recently told by a climatologist that the #1 form of pollution they now find in air-born samples is GMO pollen. How do I as a seed grower prevent what is raining down from the sky? There is no easy answer. However I can tell you this.
- We do not knowingly grow/buy seed that is surrounded by GM crops.
- We do not buy seed from abroad. We support local farmers and their families. Our local California economy. When you buy seed from us you are supporting these California Families.
- We grow local seed that California gardens will succeed with.
- We don’t chemically treat our seeds.
- We grow seed without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- We farm in a sustainable, water conscious and environmentally responsible manner.
Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
Currently we are choosing not to carry any mass grown F-1 hybrid seed. In fact you will not find them at all in our seed catalog, we only carry open pollinated heirlooms that you can save seed from. Learn to save seed so you can ensure a safe food supply for yourself and family.
Orach Mountain Spinach
Mountain Blue Lupine
Apache Red Flour Corn
Organic Open-Pollinated Seeds
Photos – Dave Smith
Seeds are a source of wonder…
Many seeds are so small that their beautiful features escape us. Many others, although large enough to see easily, are such common, everyday objects that we do not really see them. They are, however, worth our careful observation.
The first and most obvious beauty in most true seeds is in the perfection of their simple forms. Their outlines or silhouettes exhibit endless variations in the curve of beauty. In their entirety, too, we find wide ranges of proportion and different graceful and simple masses that are pleasing to look upon.
The sphere is a thing of beauty in itself, although quite unadorned. Artists have tried to produce nonspherical “abstract” forms that possess such grace and proportion as to call forth a satisfying emotional or intellectual response in the beholder. Some of the nicest of such forms lie all about us, unnoticed, in seeds. The commonest are such basic forms as the sphere, the teardrop, and the ovoid and other variations of the spheroid.
Some of these curving shapes are flattened, elongated, or tapered in pleasing ways. Sometimes they are truncated or sculptured into somewhat rough and irregular form. They may bear prominent appendages, such as wings, hooks, bristles, or silky hairs. Most seeds show a smooth flow of line and surface that is perfection itself.
The details of the surface relief of many seeds are even more beautiful in design and precision than the mass of the seed as a whole. Often you can find minute surface characters of surprising kinds. Surfaces that appear plain and smooth to the unaided eye may be revealed under a good hand lens to have beautiful textures.
Surfaces may be grained or pebbled. They may have ridges like those of Doric columns. They may bear geometric patterns in tiny relief, forming hexagons, as in a comb of honey, or minute dimples may cover the surface. Some irregular surface patterns of surprising beauty sometimes appear under the lens. Surfaces may be a dull matte, or highly glossy, or anywhere in between.
Last but not least in the beauty of seeds are their surface colors. They may be snow white or jet black. The color may be a single solid one, or two or more may be scattered about at random. Colors may form definite patterns that are distinctive and characteristic of the species and variety. The colors may be almost any hue of the rainbow reds, pinks, yellows, greens, purples and shades of ivory, tan, brown, steely blue, and purplish black.
Look for all you can see with the unaided eye. Then look at smaller seeds and the surfaces of large seeds with a good hand lens. You will be delighted with what you find.
There is still another beauty, a potential beauty in seeds, that can be seen only as the seed fulfills its ultimate purpose the production of a new plant possessing its own beauty. This is perhaps the greatest of all: Beauty of general form; grace of stem; the shape, sheen, and color of the leaf; and finally the loveliness of the flower or the lusciousness of a fruit. The cycle is complete, and so we are back to the beauty of a seed.
SEEDS are a symbol. They color our language and habits of thought.
From prehistoric times man has understood the role of seeds. Ancient languages, ancient cultures, and our own contain many words and concepts based on this understanding. The Bible contains several such examples, including the parable of the sower, the use of the word “seed” to mean offspring or progeny, and references to good and bad seed.
Our language contains both common and technical terms involving “seed,” although the meanings are quite unrelated to the subject of plants.
The meanings recognize, however, some metaphoric connection in one way or another. “Seed” is a noun, an adjective, and a verb.
Watermen speak of seed oysters, seed pearls, and seed fish. The optician speaks of seeds in glass. The chemist seeds a solution with a crystal to induce crystallization. We speak of the seed of an idea or a plan.
WE KNOW a great deal about how seeds are formed and what they do, but we know only a little about why that is so. Many purely practical questions still cannot be answered. We wonder about many features of seeds and their behavior.
Scientists study seeds for two kinds of reasons. It is desirable to learn everything possible about seeds in order that man can produce and use them more efficiently and effectively. Seeds or parts of seeds are especially convenient forms of living material for the study of the fundamentals of life processes in plants.
RESEARCHERS are conducting more inquiries into seeds today than ever before, and still our wonder grows.
Why does a very dry seed become so well protected and so insensitive that it can tolerate sharp, deep-freeze temperatures for years, with no harm and no loss of vigor?
A light-sensitive seed, while dry, may be so well protected and so insensitive that it is quite unaffected by daylong exposure to sunlight, yet, after it becomes moist, it may respond to a light exposure from a flash lamp as short as one one-thousandth of a second. Exactly what chain of events is set in motion by that flash, and how?
Why do some seeds require alternating temperatures in order to grow, while others do not?
Why do some seeds live for decades and scores of years, while others, apparently as well protected, die in 2 or 3 years?
Why do some small plants produce seeds that are much larger than the seeds of some much larger plants?
Why does one kind of seed develop completely in a few days while another takes years?
How is it that seeds are so wondrously different among species, and yet all are quite evidently evolved to accomplish exactly the same thing?
Seeds are a source of wonder.
Seeds are many things.
From VICTOR R. BOSWELL
Victor R. Boswell is a horticulturist with special interest and experience in vegetable plants. He is Chief of the Vegetables and Ornamentals Research Branch in the Crops Research Division of the Agricultural Research Service. He received his undergraduate training at the University of Missouri and his graduate training at the University of Maryland.