Seeds make me happy. They always have for many reasons. Back in New York, seed catalogs would get delivered in the dreary cold of a long winter filled with pictures of springtime sunshine, and models holding a bumper specimen of some vegetable. The description alone would let me imagine a garden full of food and goodness.
Blue Lake Bean 274 is a lush, high-yielding bush bean with 5″ to 5-1/2 ” long dark green pods. This particular variety matures slowly in 61 days and is fiber-free, making it a tender and flavorful addition to the garden.
Thow in some, just like grandma used to make, or kids will eat them off the vine, and I am ready to spend a paycheck on seeds. They are full of imagery and I’m a sucker for all of it.
This year is different, we will have a very large garden as we hope to can, freeze and store enough for our needs for a year. We also had hoped to sell a few items and send some home to family and friends back home. We needed a bunch of seeds. Since I figured out that individual seed packets would not work as well I set off on an adventure to find a seed supplier.
One morning on the way to work, daydreaming about selling a few jars of corn relish and honey pickled radishes I was thinking about who my customers would be? One thing struck me instantly, they would be at my local farmers market, or stopping at a road side stand, or maybe they would be at the farm buying one of Jamie Lee’s watermelons or pumpkins right off the vine. I knew I had to buy my seed local.
Like most things the thought of something is usually easier than the actual act. I thought since I live in a Agriculture heavy area that it would be pretty simple, find a business that will sell me seeds. We would have a conversation, joke about how I’m not from round here, develop into a friendship where every year I show up and they remember me and what I bought.
Last year I was in an independently owned farm supply store and they had bins of seeds and you told the person what you wanted and they would weigh it out on an old fashioned scale and place it in an envelope. They were off the beaten path on my old commute in the other direction so I thought maybe I could find it closer to my new work location. I went to the same chain of independently owned store and looked around. It was a pretty large box store and while I could buy a hay baler and a tractor trailer load of any pasture grass seeds, there was only one small sad display with little seed packets. I asked about buying seeds in bulk and the girl behind the counter chewed her gum and looked at me blankly. Try the agronomy center about 10 miles down the road. They sell that there.
The next day at 3pm I decide I haven’t taken lunch and I need welding wire from a store on the way. I walk into the agronomy center of this same chain store. Like that scene where Joe Pesci walks into the basement in Goodfellas I know I’ve been had again.
No sir no sir you see we deal primarily with corn and soybeans only. We can sell you all the fertilizer, pesticides and corn and soybeans you need, provided that you sign into an agreement with Monsanto and get a growers lisence. Mostly we deal with 60 to thousands of acres. We can gps plant different seeds in different areas and monitor the crop throughout the season..
So not only do I get another dead end, but I find out that Monsanto really does come in and inspect your crop and pretty much makes your life miserable if you ever decide to grow something other than their products. One of my co workers tells me, later in the day about a store in the other direction that may have what I need.
***** Seed and Feed. It sounds promising. I wander over and find a huge storefront in town. Old building with large windows. I see old China closets and washtubs decorating the place. Really worn old planking on floors and an old time counter with an antique register and scale. “Please be real please be real” I think to myself and I grab an old brass doorknob, The woman inside is having a small meeting inside with a group of people gathered around and old card table. She sends me down an asile filled with beautiful handmade seed envelopes. I pick up a package. The packaging is so perfect, a hand drawn radish in a pale green circle, the rest of the package is fine lines connection the corners together, french breakfast heirloom radish beautifully Dawn out in script on the front. I flip the envelope over 1/4 of an ounce, $9.95.
I drive away frustrated again. A 100 foot row of radishes would have cost me 40 bucks. Since I was planning on planting a new row each week for six weeks, just one type was going to cost me $240.
I Google the original place I stopped last year and call the number, I introduce myself and tell them I want to buy the bulk seed I bought last year.
I’m sorry sir we don’t do that anymore, but talk to Carla. Please hold.
Carla answered the phone and told me the bad news, we don’t do custom selling of seed anymore, occasionally an accident would happen and someone would get the wrong seeds. Crook neck squash instead of straight necks. Now everything come pre- packaged. The same seeds though, in big packages, and we have master gardeners here, and a few AG students. Carla informed me that she was in charge of seeds, but wouldn’t be in Saturday, see Jill ,she’s in charge of plants.
It went wonderfully, Jamie and I got a nice ride through the country, everything we wanted at Carthage Farm Supply got talked into waiting a few weeks for a few seeds. Talked into using a few trays of starter plants for a few things. Excellence all around. We walked out with our February seeds to plant, literature, and stayed well under budget at $27.70 We were treated like family and even got our soil sample boxes and paperwork while we were there.
So what is the moral of this very long story?
Don’t get discouraged, most of the time what you want exists. Don’t settle for less than what you want.
Buy local, because you will make friends and get good local advice and help.
You can turn a ride into the country into a pretty good day date, complete with 1990s country playing on the radio.
Tell everyone when you receive good products and service so they stay in business and you don’t have to search again.