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Updated: Jan 25


Some of my favorite local seed companies!

It's winter here in the PNW and the garden may be resting but it's time for gardeners to get busy planning for spring & summer gardening! You may already be getting seed catalogs in the mail and, like me, sat down with your sharpie and some tea or maybe even a glass of wine to start marking the must-haves for this season.


I love shopping for seed in the dark days of winter and imagining the lush spring and summer garden in full production. Before you go crazy here are a few things to consider and a few of my favorite seed companies and resources:



The Benefits of Planting from Seed

There are many benefits of purchasing seed versus transplants. Here are just a few:

  1. Cost - Pre-grown garden starts are expensive. A six-pack of starts can cost you as much as an entire seed packet with 30 or more seeds.

  2. Quantity - As above, purchasing seeds gains you a lot more plants. This is especially important for the produce that you enjoy the most or use a lot of, like lettuce and greens.

  3. Success - the success rate of plants started in the garden from seed is improved due to better acclimation and root development. Transplanting always causes some stress to plants. Plus, you know where the seed came from and that it is acclimated to your climate.

  4. Variety - Unique and rare heirlooms, organic, and many unique varieties are available from seed that are not available as starts in your local nursery. Nurseries can only carry so many varieties and often growers choose only popular varieties that buyers will recognize.


Choosing Seeds

When choosing what seeds to purchase, it is important that you purchase seeds that are local to your growing climate. Here in the Pacific Northwest, I choose seed from growers in Washington and Oregon. The seeds from these companies are from plants grown successfully in our region, meaning they are adapted to our climate conditions and will have better success rates.

Before choosing a new-to-you seed company, it's important to do your own research:

  • Do they grow their own seed or purchase from others?

  • Do they have a commitment to sourcing from local growers?

  • What are the growing practices? Do they grow organically or have a commitment to sustainable agriculture?

Buyer beware: There are a few 'seedy' sellers on marketplace sites like Facebook and Etsy that often times purchase from other companies and repackage it as their own. Some of these companies do not provide growing information or date their seed packets so you have no guarantee of the age of the seed.


Learn more about the Open Source Seed Initiative and "Free the Seed"


Plan now for summer crops and indoor seed starting


Plan to purchase your summer seeds now so you are ready to start some seeds indoor in early spring. Some plants require a longer growing season so must be started indoors six to eight weeks ahead of the first frost and transitioned out into the garden after the temperatures increase. Tomatoes and peppers are examples of warm weather crops that need to be started indoors in early spring in order to reach maturity by the end of our short growing season.


Need help deciding what to start indoors versus direct seeding? See the resource lists below for links to my favorite planting guides from Territorial Seeds and Uprising Seeds. And, check out my upcoming classes including Seed Starting and Spring Gardening as well as gardening services such as coaching, design and planting plans!


Take a Class: If you are new to indoor seed starting and feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of it, check out my upcoming Indoor Seed Starting Classes that begin in February!

Here's a list of my favorite local (PNW) seed companies:

Some links are provided below, however, please see the respective websites for up to date info and policies.


Adaptive Seeds

  • Located in Oregon

  • ALL organic, see their seed pledge here

  • Great info on learning to save your own seed

Ed Hume Organics

  • The lowest price for organic seed, however not much selection

  • FREE Shipping on orders over $50

  • Get a FREE seed packet to grow for their PLANT A ROW FOR THE HUNGRY program

Strictly Medicinal Seeds

  • Located in Southern Oregon

  • ALL organic

  • Unique and unusual medicinal herbs, plus lots of veggies too

  • Thorough growing information on their site and seed packets

  • Free shipping with a $20 purchase (seed packets only)


Territorial Seeds

  • Located in Oregon

  • Great selection of organic options

  • Seed packets and catalog have comprehensive growing info. Excellent for beginning gardeners!

  • The most accurate growing guides for the PNW region

Uprising Seeds


If you have any questions or would like help planning your garden, contact Marni at GrowingRootsTogether@gmail.com or click the button below for more information about garden coaching and garden design services.







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Coming soon to the GRT online store: Organic women's t-shirts and stickers featuring artwork designed by my daughter Nina.

Stickers for your favorite water bottle!

If you have worked with me as a client, taken a class, or just purchased plants, you've likely heard me say to always "plant enough to share." I say this with regards to planting enough to be willing to lose a few plants to pests and diseases, but also with regards to sharing the harvest with neighbors and communities. The sharing doesn't stop there but extends into sharing seeds, both literal plant seeds and your seeds of knowledge with others.


Increasing connections between humans and what sustains them, healthy ecosystems that can provide healthy food and create healthy communities, is why I started Growing Roots Together. And it is my hope that through you, as Pollinators, we can help to create a world in which humans respect and protect what nourishes us all - our Mother Earth.


GROW IT FORWARD: For each shirt sold, GRT will donate a pack of veggie starts to the Lynnwood Food Bank to help our neighbors in need grow a garden!

Products will be available in the Growing Roots Together shop soon!

Remember, food banks LOVE to get donations of homegrown produce and herbs, so don't forget to plant enough to share! Check your local food bank for donation days.

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If you have apple trees you are likely well aware that the fruit is prone to pest damage. I can't blame the pests.. who can resist the sweet deliciousness?


Although I have not found any one method to be one-hundred percent preventative, I have found a combination of techniques that ensures that I get some (more than I can personally use!) pest free apples from my urban orchard.


Apple Pests

There are other types of apple tree pests, but the two that do the most damage to fruit here in the PNW are apple maggot and codling moth.


Apple Maggot

Apple Maggots are a type of fruit fly that deposit eggs on apples that feed while tunneling through the fruit.


Dimpling of the fruit is the classic sign of apple maggot fruit infestation. Pictured here, photo courtesy of WSU Extension.


The interior of the fruit will have brown tunneling and may or may not still contain the larvae.



Codling Moth

Codling Moths are small, usually grey or brown with striped banding, and lay eggs on leaves or fruit. The larvae then burrow through the apple to feed on the seeds and then exit to overwinter as adults.


Photo courtesy of WSU Extension. Also, a great place to learn more about Tree Fruit care and pest management.


Prevention: Pruning & Thinning


The best prevention is keeping your trees healthy. Timely and proper pruning and thinning of the fruit are key, as well as healthy soil and adequate water in summer.


Pruning

For knowledgeable pruning instruction, I've found in-person classes to be helpful, especially those where they are pruning the trees to demonstrate various techniques. Sky Nursery offers some classes taught by one of my favorite mentors, Ingela Wanerstrand. A great book that I refer to often for various fruit tree and shrub pruning is Grow Fruit Naturally by Lee Reich. A great resource for learning about various fruit trees and their care is to get involved with your local fruit club. In Snohomish County we are fortunate to have the Snohomish County Fruit Society - offering classes and talks on fruit growing.


If your tree is too big and hard to access you are not going to be successful with the next step: thinning your fruit, so consider that some restoration pruning may be needed in order to go onto the next step. Summer pruning (after the fruit is harvested) of apple trees can be very beneficial and is a good time to start!


Thinning Fruit

Trees make flowers and set fruit abundantly, without regard for how big each apple will be. A trees goal is to make as many seeds as possible! Thinning the fruit allows the tree to focus it's energy into ripening less but bigger, healthier, fruit. Also, crowded fruit is more susceptible to pests and diseases, thinning allows good airflow around each growing fruit.


Here's a short video on thinning your apple fruit in the spring. This video has no sound. Essentially it is showing the thinning of fruit so that only one apple remains per each fruiting spur. Chose the biggest apple and pinch or cut any others connected to the spur, being careful not to accidentally break the fruiting spur... but accidents happen.


You also do not want your tree to have too many apples along any one branch. As the apples get bigger it creates a lot of weight. However, you can continue to thin if you see this happening and if you have missed any sections of the tree that you see are getting crowded as the apples grow in size.


Some thinning is better than none! Do what you can and what you can safely reach with a standard ladder. Orchard ladders are a good investment if you have several fruit trees.



Prevention: Pest Traps

I use two types of traps that both added to the tree in the spring, just as the fruit is setting. Best to do this before the apples start to change color as the pests are attracted to bright colors.


For apple maggot you can use their color attraction against them by putting fake apples in your tree that are coated in sticky coating (such as TangleFoot brand which comes in spray or brush on). You can buy fake plastic apples made for this purpose, or you can make your own. See photos below.




DIY Directions: The red plastic is tomato frost protection/covering that I cut into squares and cover the rocks with, tying at the top with regular twine and leaving enough twine to then hang from a tree branch. I then carefully spray the fake apple with the Tangle Trap. I hang 2-3 of these from my Belgian fence espalier and up to five for a larger apple tree. The Tangle Trap is very sticky... so use caution when spraying and handling.


Apple maggots are also attracted to yellow, but I find that the yellow traps collect more flies and other insects that I do not wish to kill.


For codling moth I use a pheromone trap that is hung in the apple trees after fruiting to attract (and stick) the male insects, therefore causing issues with reproduction.


Here's one that I have used in the past, but there are others on the market. Just make sure they clearly state they are for codling moth.


There are also some DIY instructions for making your own codling moth traps using apple cider vinegar.


There are many different methods available for reducing pest damage to your fruit, including physical coverings or booties that get put over the fruit in spring as well as whole tree coverings! I've found that with these two prevention methods above I have more than enough perfect fruit for my family, friends and neighbors and the rest get used for the community apple cider press!


Hygiene

After the season is finished, be sure to harvest or pick up any and all fruit so that pests are less likely to overwinter in the soil!


Share the Harvest

Even with sharing some with pests and neighbors, you will likely still have more apples than you know what do with. If your apple tree is a variety that grows storage apples they will store well in a cool area or fridge for many months. If your variety is fresh eating consider donating some to your local food bank. Food banks are so thankful to have fresh fruit (and produce) to share with your neighbors in need!









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