Finding Awesome, Adapted Seed
By Penn Parmenter
It’s 2021 and everybody still wants to garden. Last year wasn’t just a fluke, there are more home gardeners now than ever and they are sticking with it. This is such a good thing for the planet; gardening brings us all together, every kind of person plants and grows, and we are all friends in the garden. Many new gardeners started a garden as the lockdowns hit last early spring. They had more time on their hands and wanted to be more self-sufficient. Others who saw friends and family growing in 2020 are following their example this year. Those who started a garden last year and got bit hard by the gardening bug are ready to rock and roll.
From my experience as a small seed company, orders are coming in earlier and are also much larger this year. Folks are emboldened by last year’s garden success and feeling pretty good. This brings joy to my heart; think of all the joy, calm, laughter, sweat equity, therapy, meditation, satisfaction, and pure love being experienced by young and old.
Last year seed companies large and small were caught off guard by the increase in seed orders. Many had to stop taking orders altogether or had very long turn-around times on shipping. This year they are more prepared but there are still some issues with many of the larger companies that you may have ordered from in the past.
During a quick search, I looked into some of the very large, popular seed catalogs. Though the situation is much better this year, I saw a 30-day turnover, restrictions for selling to farmers first, waiting lists, and red letters asking for patience and understanding. They’ve got it – and we do understand. We are willing to wait.
Speaking of waiting, a common mistake I see a lot in home gardening is starting seeds indoors too soon in winter. This happens all the time. While young vibrant seedlings transplant better and grow on without interrupting their momentum, large, root-bound, already-flowering seedlings have a much harder time adjusting to the elements. I know it’s hard to wait, but if you do, you will have much stronger plants to set out in spring.
Discussions with other small seed company friends led to the conviction that, come hell or high water, we are not going to shut down. We continue to find ways to get you your seeds. Small bio-regional seed companies are doing the good work to provide adapted seeds to gardeners and we are committed to seeing it through.
For all of you Rocky Mountain gardeners, whether up high on a mountain, in the high desert or plains I list some wonderful, local, small seed companies that grow their own seed, or are seed cooperatives with local, regional farmers. I am smitten with these companies and place my own orders with them. Whaaat? I know, I have a seed company – but I don’t grow everything they do. Collectively, all of this work makes us a powerhouse of abundance for Colorado and the Intermountain West. We need each other and we support each other.
Locally grown seed is adapting to our climate, our soils, water, wind, and temperature fluctuations. It has lived through and adapted to different challenges year to year. This is why resilient bio-regional seed is so important to growers in already extreme climates - and those to come.
I’ve got your back gardeners, you know I do! The lists below should keep you busy looking, dreaming, and hoping for beautiful gardens and abundance in 2021 and beyond. Enjoy!
Penn & Cord Parmenter garden and grow food and seed near Westcliffe. Both are regional high-altitude gardening instructors and the founders of Smart Greenhouses LLC and Miss Penn’s Mountain Seeds. Visit www.pennandcordsgarden.com
Colorado Farmer Seed Companies that grow or collect their own seed
Heirloom Mountain Seedswoman South Fork, CO heirloommountain.com
High Desert Garden Seed Montrose, CO highdesertseed.com
High Grounds Gardens Crestone, CO highgroundgardens.com
Masa Seed Foundation Boulder, CO masaseedfoundation.org
Miss Penn’s Mountain Seeds Westcliffe, CO pennandcordsgarden.com/store.html
Pueblo Seed and Food Company Pueblo, CO farmdirectseed.com
Western Native Seed Coaldale, CO westernnativeseed.com
Wild Mountain Seed Carbondale, CO wildmountainseeds.com
Intermountain West Seed Growers/Sellers/Co-ops
Grand Prismatic Seed Utah lots of dye plants grandprismaticseed.com
J and L Gardens New Mexico breeders jandlgardens.com
Joseph Lofthouse Landrace Seed This website shares seed sellers that carry his seeds. Paradise, Utah – seeds for short seasons
Native Seed Search – Arizona high desert seed nativeseeds.org
Snake River Seed Cooperative – Idaho
Other Really Cool, Exceptional Seed Companies
Adaptive Seeds – Oregon adaptiveseeds.com
Fruition Seed – NY All short season varieties fruitionseeds.com
Peace Seedlings Seeds – Oregon breeders Andean Tubers like Yacon and Oca peaceseedlingsseeds.blogspot.com
Wild Garden Seeds – Oregon – breeders wildgardenseed.com