17 October 2013


As I said in my first post I am happy to be led down the garden path by you guys on topics, and Kelli got me thinking about one of my favourites. SEEDS.

I am always in awe and amazement at what a seed contains. It is mind blowing that tiny seeds can hold all the information needed to grow into their full potential whether it be a humble radish (maybe not so humble when you consider this beauty), or a majestic tree.
The diversity and complexity of each seed is nothing short of magical, and as I think about how high my favorite scarlet runner beans will get by late summer, I can easily understand the origins of the story of jack and the beanstalk .

Sow how do we grow our veg here (not a spelling mistake just my sense of humour)?

We grow all our veg from seed and almost always have. The few times we have bought in seedlings we haven't really had any success with them.

I'm not saying you should do this as each gardener or farmer has to find the way of growing that feels comfortable with them. If you want to buy seedlings from the nursery then awesome and if you want to buy seed and then save you're own seed to plant again then awesome to you too. But don't get caught up in which is the best way, or the way you should do it, just do it.

We have tried many different seed companies and I would say that my obsession with diversity follows through to them too. I usually end up ordering seed from at least a few of them, mostly because not one of them has all the seeds I'm after. I also try and buy only Certified Organic seed as it is a requirement of our certification but it also means I am supporting other Organic growers.

One of my favorite seed catalogues would have to be Diggers because of their diversity and their commitment to sourcing heirloom varieties. We have had a lot of success and enjoyment from heirloom varieties. The flavours, vigour, colours and diversity are astounding and something to be cherished.

We have almost always sourced open pollinated seed so that we can save our own seed if we want to.

I just love planting seeds and patting them down and eagerly checking on their progress. Sometimes I just can't wait and I will carefully dig around looking for the seeds and checking for any movement. I shouldn't really disturb them, but I do love seeing the tiny shoots sneaking out of their cases.

Kelli also wanted to know about our "planning and preparation process - such as raising seedlings for transplanting and succession planting.", but I don't think we are as organized as we could be and rather than me give you a how to I would like to suggest to you some wonderful resources that we have used through the years.

Joyce Wilkie & Michael Plane from Allsun Farm are farmers that I have long respected and followed. I have been long a long time customer of their great garden-farm supply company and purchased their CD-ROM very early on in our farm adventure. It is an invaluable resource and I am always amazed when I suggest it to people and they haven't heard of it. I remember sitting on our porch surrounded by our first garlic harvest with the printed out pages from the CD-ROM learning how to make beautiful plaits.

Steve Solomon is a man who knows a lot about seeds. His book Growing Vegetables South Of  Australia has been one of those books I refer to all the time. It is about growing in Tasmania and our climate here is pretty similar, but there is so much other useful info in there it would be worthwhile wherever you are. He also started an online Soil and Health Library that has hundreds of great free ebooks, most of which are out of print and public domain.

Well I think that's enough from me now.
Please keep commenting and asking as you see I do take your suggestions on board and a quick reminder that I have been replying to a lot of your comments, so flick back and check.

Farmer Bren.


Lola Nova said...

I have a soft spot for a little talk about seeds. We are on the other side of the seasons here, but with the coming of some gorgeous crisp Fall days, I really start thinking about what we might plant come Spring. We have a new home and garden this year, so full of possibility. Anyway, I am fortunate to have a group of friends and family locally that grow their own organic gardens... we have a harvest dinner together every year and swap canned goods. Then come late winter, we trade seeds from our favorite plants, many of them heirloom varieties that were passed on from someone else. We still have our favorite seed companies that we buy from, but I hope to always grow and pass on seeds for Crystal's Great Aunt's Luscious Lemon Cucumbers!

Thanks for a great post!

Line Mingar said...

Thank you for a great post! We're well into autumn in our neck of the woods but looking forward to spring sowing :)

Reannon said...

This was my first year trying to grow from seeds ( normally I buy seedlings) I bought from the diggers club. It has not been a success. I planted zucchini 4 varieties of tomatoes watermelon carrots & 2 types if corn. The corn is the only one that is growing. Not everything germinated & those that did were eaten by something . I feel very disheartened but I will try again. Maybe not this season but next one for sure !

daylesford organics said...

Hi Reannon,
Im sad that didn't work for you. You have the right attitude though. Just try again. one thing i didn't mention is that we always seed very thickly as germination can often be patchy.

Reannon said...

Thanks Bren. I'll take that advice on board next season :)

Amber said...

Thanks for all the useful links! Although like Kelli, I'd love to hear more about how you transplant your seedlings from their cosy little pots out into the big wide world... this is always the part where I struggle to keep things thriving.

Templeton said...

Hi Bren,
just caught up with your blog.
Interesting that you like Diggers - like Reannon, I've had poor performance from Diggers seeds, and I won't buy from them any more - in my experience, over priced, poor quality, and their labelling, to be generous, is indifferent. They rename varietes, make claims that are just not substantiated, and generally don't play fair, I reckon. Enough of the rant.
I'm just up the road in Bendigo, so look forward to comparing your experiences with mine.
Your attachment to heirlooms is interesting - more power to your arm, But as an amateur vegetable breeder, I reckon there are all sorts of characteristics in modern varieties that we should be taking advantage of. Just because sometihng is old doesn't make it good, and new things aren't necessarily bad. I've grown some shocking heirloom varieties over the years - Brandywine tomatoes are a case in point - diseasey, poor growers, appalling yield, and the taste not outstanding - at least in my vege patch. The fantastic tomato Jaune Flammee (marketed as heirloom by Diggers) is spectacular - bred by an amateur breeder in France, but not 'heirloom' by any stretch - first offered in 1997. Blue Lake bean, often held up as an heirloom was actually a commercially bred variety released to the industry in the US in 1920 something.
There are great genetics in lots of the old varieties, but to ignore modern breeding work is short sighted in my opinion. Check out the great work done by Peace Seeds, Wild Garden Seeds, and Adaptive Seeds for example - but all in the US.
And on a less serious note - a 'farmlog' would be a FLOG, wouldn't it :)

Andrea said...

I have just sown my first seeds in a very long time, and am curious to see how they go. They are up against a two year old who likes to up end the pots/trays into his paddle pool to make a duck pond, and a dog who likes to pee on them :( So far success zero.

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The Pottering Artist said...

Oh what a fab shot Farmer Bren - the one with the raised beds and polytunnel as seen through branches - this moves me as I have just acquired a very old and big and overgrown allotment here in Wales and broke first ground this week. It is s joy to work with the earth.

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