Friday, January 4, 2013

Northern Heirloom Seed Collection: Review

It seems I have a recurring illness that always strikes in the winter time.

It's an acute pain, that strikes at odd moments, and can sometimes be so overwhelming that I fairly buckle. Did I mention that it's also highly contagious?

This illness is known as "Spring Fever". Certain people are affected by this problem, and I happen to be one of the numbered. Life will be going by just fine when we're suddenly overtaken by an urge to work in the dirt, and roll seeds around in the palm of our hand. We need to grow something. Plant something. Do something! I sometimes get a little claustrophobic during this time. The house starts feeling smaller and smaller... I need to be outside! Quick! Somebody call 911! I'm having a massive attack of Spring Fever! It doesn't help either, that this always happens in December/January; right when the ground is frozen solid, and everything is cold, cold, cold. 

All that we can do is order seeds... And that right there is a dangerous task. It's when I'm stuck inside with catalogs that my plans go out the window and my garden suddenly becomes the size of New Jersey. Do I really need five different kinds of onions?? Of course I do! And let's not forget the fourteen varieties of tomatoes, the eight varieties of pumpkins, and all those cabbages! I'm hopeless. Thank heavens I have an online bank account, so I can repeatedly show myself that I DO have a strict budget to contend with. And then once faced with a budget, I deflate and suddenly have no idea what to buy. Am I the only one with this problem? (please say 'no'!)

But I had a eureka moment this month. Or you could call it a "duh" moment. The former makes me feel smarter though, so let's go with that one. To continue though, I had the opportunity to check out someone's seed collection, and everything fell into place: Seed collections may not be for everyone, but I'm convinced that they're the most logical purchase for this impulsive dreamer. You already know my problem of wanting to buy everything in the seed catalogs; I need a bit of curbing...

Now, I'm not so dim that I've never heard of a seed collection before (Really. Cross my heart). I've seen these time and time again, but I have to confess something... They scared me. Buying a seed collection seemed like letting go of all choice. I didn't know what I wanted while flipping through a catalog, but the thought of not getting what I didn't know I wanted was terrifying. If you understand that sentence then you get brownie points. 

With this silly fear floating around in my head, I never bought a seed collection. So for quite a few years I've been buying just some random seed packets; never a lot. Maybe ten or fifteen packets in a year; in my feelings of "not knowing what I want", I never bought much.

And then I saw this seed collection from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds... It was staggering.

This particular collection is known as the Large Northern Heirloom Package, and has 50 different packets of seeds nestled inside the smooth surfaced, metal can that makes the package. The size of a 1-gallon paint can (or very close to that size, anyway), my mind can't wrap around the fact that this lightweight container held enough seeds to grow who-knows-how-many pounds of food... I'd wager it'll grow over a ton. 

 Fifty packets of seeds sounds like a lot. But fifty packets of seeds LOOKS like even more. This is where the "staggering" part came in. I started pulling the vibrant packs out, but the just kept on coming... And coming... And coming... And coming... The number fifty suddenly seemed very large. 

When I had all the seed packets laid out, I couldn't help but grin. This is what I've needed all these years!! I was always afraid of missing out on something by buying a seed collection, but in that little can was everything I've ever grown, and then varieties I hadn't grown because of my own overwhelmed feelings while faced with a catalog. Take a close looks at those pictures; you'll see all the usual stuff. Corn, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, peas, radishes, cabbage, pumpkins, and carrots. Everything a traditional garden would have. And then things get even better when you find the fun packets of watermelon, rainbow chard, cantaloupe, leeks, basil, asparagus, and lettuce mixes. Suddenly, "choice" doesn't seem as much fun as "Surprise me!". 

It also makes a lot of economical sense for me to stick with a seed collection. Remember the budget I mentioned? The seed packets are much cheaper when bought in a collection (it's like buying in bulk!). There's also the added plus that these seeds will be viable for 4-10 years (length of time depends on the veggie). I might decide to have a small garden one year and only use maybe ten things from the can; if I do that, then I won't feel guilty about all the other seeds since I know that they'll be just as good next year! And things get even better when you realize that you can save seeds from the varieties each year, so you'll never run out! Three cheers for heirlooms!!

If nothing else, I think these collections are a great idea for emergency preparedness. Last summer was hard for a lot of folks as we faced drought. What if we see that drought again this summer of 2013? How long do we wait before we kick into action and start REALLY trying to grow our own food? A seed collection makes me think of having a whole grocery store sitting on my closet shelf. It's there when I need it. Sitting quietly, safely. 

Looking through the seed packets, I was really pleased and excited by what I saw. As I was preparing to write this review, I tried to think of any cons I found with it, but couldn't think of any... There are fun, unusual stuff in the collection, yes, but there's nothing so far out that an average person wouldn't feel intimidated with growing it. 

Large Northern Heirloom Package.
From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Rating: 10+
Impact: 10+
Recommend it? Yes, yes, yes!!
Buy it? Yes! I am SO buying one soon!

I have rated the seed collection as a 10+, and I feel that it is well deserved. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds does an amazing job with their seed quality, packaging, customer service, and the final result which you find in the container is simply stunning. I haven't bought seeds from anywhere else, save Baker Creek, in 4 years now. I've never needed to. The "impact" of the seed collection is also being put at a 10+. WHY did I never get one sooner??? Seeing it in person definitely made me a fan of seed collections from here on out. Baker Creek also has a smaller seed collection if you want something a bit different, and there is also the option of the Southern Heirloom package which has seeds more suited to hotter weather. What with me living in the Pacific Northwest, the Northern package is more up my alley.

So there you have it! This gardener has finally seen the light, and is now numbering herself as a fan of seed collection. Who needs choice... Surprise me!


Anonymous said...

Haha!! I love it when you're happy, you make the sun come out. When I can have a garden I'll get the Collection. At the moment I'd just be feeding the deer.
Spring Fever? You're not alone, I cure mine by running till I taste blood. Come to think of it, that sounds kinda weird, I guess.

I understood!!!
How many brownie points do I get? =D

Keep up the writhing and take lots of pics of your garden and tell me about the broilers before I hire a private detective.


gz said...

A collection is a good place to start, you can evaluate the results and try a few different varieties next year- as most will last longer than one year if kept cool and dry.

nancy said...

I wish I had room to plant all that! Sigh, I'll be buying smaller amounts...

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