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My Trip to Comstock, Ferre & Co. + Free Seeds

November 3rd, 2010

The first place we visited on our trip through New England was Comstock, Ferre & Co. They are the oldest continuously operated seed company in the United States, they started back in 1820. Comstock, Ferre was recently purchased by Baker Creek, one of my favorite sources for heirloom seeds. They had just reopened before we visited (in early October) so I was happy to be able to stop by.



The store was beautifully decorated for the season both inside and out; Indian corn, pumpkins, gourds and all other sorts of things. There was quite a wonderful display out front of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.



The inside was filled with Baker Creek Heirloom seeds along with a lot of beautiful antique things from the original store. There were large wooden cabinets with seed packs glued to the fronts of them and big wooden filing cabinets labeled with seeds varieties. There was also a sort of museum in one room featuring old seed saving, sorting and packaging equipment. I was told they are hoping to use this equipment when they start selling Comstock, Ferre Seeds again.




While I was visiting, Jere Gettle, the owner of Baker Creek, happened to be there as well (what are the chances?). We chatted for a while and he told me all about their plans for the future for Comstock, Ferre & Co. They’re hoping to turn the grounds into a show garden and the store will focus on heirloom varieties from New England. They plan on using the grounds for community and educational events.

In a world dominated by GMO’s and genetic contamination, I’m a big proponent of growing heirlooms. I’m very thankful for the things Baker Creek does to help preserve heirloom plants. We would be in quite a quandary without companies like them preserving these wonderful fruits, vegetables and plants for us to grow in our gardens. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m especially fond of Baker Creek seeds, I have found them to have a wonderful selection of quality heirloom varieties.



Jere very generously offered to give me as many seeds as I wanted to give away here at Chiot’s Run. I picked a variety of lettuce and tomato seeds, since these do well in almost any garden and are a fabulous place to start for any new gardeners. I have 10 prizes to give away, each winner will receive a pack of tomato and a pack of lettuce seeds (all heirlooms of course). All you have to do is comment below for a chance to win some heirloom seeds for your garden.

Are heirloom varieties an important part of your garden? What’s your favorite heirloom vegetable to grow?

WE HAVE WINNERS for the free seeds:
Annie
Dave
Grant
Ashley W
Veronica V.
Michelle M.
Canned Quilter
Seren Dipity
Lee
Amanda Daja

If you didn’t get my e-mail use the contact me button on the sidebar to send me your address so I can mail out your seeds!

Saving Tomato Seeds

October 4th, 2010

I’ve been saving tomato seeds for a few of my favorite varieties including: ‘Principe Borghese’, ‘White Beauty’, ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Goldman’s Italian American’ tomatoes. Saving tomato seeds is an easy process, if you have a favorite heirloom variety you should give it a try to preserve it.

The most important part is choosing a few of your best tomatoes. Obviously these tomatoes have had great germination and have good genes to pass on. Ideally you’d want to choose a few nice ones from different plants (of the same variety of course), but don’t worry if you only planted one plant, the seeds will still be OK. I only have on ‘Brandywine’ plant and I save seed from it every year.

All you need to do to save tomato seeds is to scoop out the seeds and gel and put them into a jar. Add some water and let them sit until a scum/mold forms on the top of the jar. This process ferments the seeds and helps remove them from the gel, I’m guessing it also helps kill bacteria and disease. All the seeds will sink to the bottom when they’re ready to rinse. Generally I let mine sit for a week or two.

You’ll want to skim off the scum/mold, then pour the contents of the jar into a colander and rinse them to get rid of all the gel and any scum. Next you’ll want to spread the seeds on a towel to dry (I prefer a cloth towel as I find the seeds don’t stick as much as they do on a paper towel). When they’re good and dry, put them in a small envelope and label, they’ll be ready to sprout next spring. Make sure you keep them labeled throughout the process as you don’t want to mix them up! Label the jar, label the towel you’re drying them on, and label the envelope, believe me you won’t remember – I know from experience!

Not only is saving your own seeds a great way to keep you favorite tomatoes around, but it’s also a great way to save some money on seeds and have some from trading with friends. You can also give them away to encourage others to garden and grow some of their own food. I’ll be giving away some of mine in a few weeks when I have them all saved.


Do you save your own tomato seeds?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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