Starting with Seed

Last spring's seedlings, growing in the greenhouse.

As the winter winds down, the growers at the Accokeek Foundation have started to think about the upcoming season at the Ecosystem Farm. The time is ripe to make our planting plans and order our supplies and seeds. From the Rose de Berne tomato, with its rose-pink hue and heirloom flavor, to the colorful fish pepper, an African American heirloom with variegated foliage and an excellent taste, we’ve made note of our favorites from last season and our plans to plant them again.

While we do save our seeds whenever possible, we also order seeds from various catalogs. Some of our favorite sources? Fedco, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

In some of these catalogs, you might even spot seeds from the Foundation. We’ve supplied various companies with seeds over the years, from our Orinoco and Rustica tobaccos to our Virginia Gourdseed corn. This latter crop is an eighteenth century variety that was back-bred, recovered, and reintroduced by corn geneticist and former National Colonial Farm Director Ralph Singleton.

Virginia Gourdseed corn.

But seed saving can occur even on a small scale, and we encourage all gardeners to practice this small exercise in sustainability. A saved seed is a treasure that preserves the previous season’s perfect plant. For seed saving tips, we recommend Seed to Seed or SavingOurSeeds.org.

And for those gardeners who have the seeds but don’t know where to start, check out our upcoming Organic Gardening Workshop: Starting from Seed. This class—part of our season-long Organic Gardening Workshop Series geared toward backyard gardeners—will provide participants with the information needed to start their seeds and get a jump on the growing season. Click here to read more and sign up!

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