It may be a surprise to know that not all organic heirloom seeds are actually certified. Just as “natural” doesn’t mean organic, terms can be used to mislead gardeners who want to plant and grow healthy produce. Learning to differentiate between the terms, and what type of verification to look for can help when shopping for certified organic seeds.
Who Determines Certification for Organic Heirloom Seeds?
The USDA has specific rules regarding certification of organic heirloom seeds that outlines growing conditions and includes inspections to ensure compliance. Regulations extend to the requiring applicants to incorporate a plan through to the types of fertilizers that may be applied. Synthetic pesticides may not be used, and the land must have had nothing on the list of prohibited substances within a three-year time-frame. The term “natural” when used in describing organic heirloom seeds, in essence means nothing. When purchasing seeds from a company claiming that they are organic, request a copy of their certification, as this is the only way to prove the claims.
Heirloom seeds have been passed down for generations using open pollination methods. Saving and propagating varieties from around the world ensures future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy nutritious fruits and vegetables. Many gardeners enjoy the opportunity to create a sustainable lifestyle, saving seeds from heirloom plants to plant the following year. These varieties are generally brighter and more flavorful than food found in the supermarket. In addition, by growing their own produce, gardeners know exactly what was used in the process. Concerns over the long-term effects of pesticides and herbicides virtually disappear.
Many gardeners who enjoy working with organic heirloom seeds also appreciate the benefits of using permaculture design to extend their season. Creating zones within the garden using rocks, water and other features to provide plants that may be better suited to a different climate with the warmth and moisture they need to thrive is just one of the benefits when gardening this way. Alternatively dry, shady or cooler areas can also be created to extend the life of cool weather crops. Permaculture can take gardens to a whole new level, and create an exciting challenge. Organic gardening lends itself perfectly to this concept, which may include creating a cycle of fish tanks, green houses and natural fertilizers that continues to regenerate.
Personal goals for living a healthier and eco-friendly life often lead people to try gardening. This progresses to planting certified organic seeds that will develop into thriving plants. They provide natural resistance to a variety of diseases and blight, with varieties suitable for use in nearly every climate zone. Gardeners in the Arctic Circle may be excluded, but then again, with their spectacular summer sun, their gardens may bear fruit.
Soil, sun, water and organic heirloom seeds should provide the perfect start to a bountiful garden. Depending upon soil condition, organic fertilizers and soil amendments may be required to give the plants the nutrients required to thrive. Natural pesticides and methods such as picking off potato bugs should be used to reduce the dangers associated with chemicals. Treat organic heirloom seeds with care and learn how to preserve them to replant next year.