Saturday, February 18, 2012

Starting Seeds: Free Heirloom Seeds from the US Government?

Well this is provocative. Bill Brikiatis writes at his blog Suburban Hobby Farmer...
Get rare heirloom seeds free. Many people start seeds indoors to save money, yet empty their pockets buying seeds. That’s okay if searching through seed catalogs is what you enjoy, but with a little more work, you can get rare varieties for free.  See how I got three unusual heirloom tomatoes from the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Rare Vegetable Seeds from the U.S Government. I didn’t even pay postage and the USDA would have sent me more seeds if I had asked.
Like many things governmental, the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Plant Germplasm System site is a tough search (and a mouthful to say).

of Chicago

I used the search tool to find lists of available seeds for "tomato" and "pepper." I looked for seeds with a weather profile broadly parallel to that of Chicago's (whatever that means these days).

A costoluto
from Bruce's roof

In other words, I bypassed the Mexican, Brazilian, and California varieties in favor of those originally from the Northeast and, just for fun, ordered the IXL Bolgiano’s Extremely Early Tomato Bill mentions because, buddha knows, if we get scorched this summer like we did last year we'll want all the early fruiting varieties we can get.

Grab the salt!
I didn't spend much time on all this because, as Bill notes at the link, the feds ask you what kind of research you'll be doing. We submitted the following:
Research entails growing these seeds in sub-irrigated planters on my roof in Chicago. Results will be published at Green Roof Growers blog.
Wouldn't it be nice if (a miniscule portion of) my tax dollars could cover our seed order next year?

And I would display my research


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Thanks so much for this info! I'm in your same zone, but in Ann Arbor, MI. I grow a lot of heirlooms and Russian heirlooms do great here, too! :) I will see what the USDA will send me.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

P.S. But salt? No way! Freshly ground pepper! :)

Susi's Quarter said...

I ate these at my son's in Michigan some of them and they are the best tasting I have had in years.

H2 said...

Good luck, Monica. Let us know what USDA delivers. And pepper? Sounds like a plan.

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