It’s been a long winter this year in Nova Scotia, and although we had a few warm spells that chased away some of the snow, the ground has been white since November. March has been unseasonably cold and with only two days left until the first days of Spring we still have a thick white blanket covering the garden, sometimes referred to as ‘Poorman’s Fertilizer’ The upside of all this is that there has been plenty of time to snowshoe and ski, or simply sit by the fire and recharge our batteries, there’s been opportunity to catch up on some reading, as well as enjoying lots of good food, often in the company of friends.
But all the signs are telling me that spring is just around the corner; the days are growing longer, and each day the sun sits a little higher in the sky. Our maple trees are tapped and the woodpeckers are flitting amongst the branches. So, it’s time to dust off the tools and make a start on this year’s growing season.
Peppers and eggplants both need warm temperatures to germinate, about 25C, so they were started using heat mats. Onions are a cool season crop, so a warm kitchen was all that was needed to kickstart the tiny seeds into life. Once the new plants emerge through the soil they are placed under grow lights to prevent them from stretching towards the window and becoming long and spindly.
One of the pleasures of winter is leafing through all the seed catalogues that drop in the mailbox. This year, while thumbing through the pages, and clicking through the websites, I came across several articles regarding Monsanto; that huge corporation closely linked with Genetically Modified practices, pesticides and all the other horrors that the home gardener tries to avoid.
It seems that Monsanto has been swallowing up the seed market at such a rate that even the discerning home gardener could unknowingly be supporting the development and growing market of genetically modified crops. Even by buying organic or heirloom seeds, I could still be supporting these practices.
In 2005 Monsanto acquired Seminis, a corporation that represents 40% of the US vegetable seed market. As a result of this acquisition, Monsanto now owns the trademarks of many of our favourite, heirloom seed varieties and so by purchasing these varieties I could be opening my garden gate to Monsanto. It’s hard to believe that a company is so powerful that it can take ownership of plant varieties that gardeners have been growing for decades, such as Big Beef tomato, Royal Chantenay carrot, Salad Bush cucumber and Golden Acre cabbage, to name just a few. To see a full list of Seminis/Monsanto varieties click here.
Whilst these heirloom varieties have not been Genetically Modified, they are owned by Monsanto and purchasing from companies affiliated with Monsanto/Seminis is effectively supporting the work being carried out by this corporation. If like me, you want to keep Monsanto out of your garden it’s important to know the seed company that you are buying from; check that they are not affiliated with Monsanto/Seminis and that they have taken the Safe Seed Pledge. To see a list of seed companies that have taken the Pledge, click here.
So with the first day of Spring approaching, here’s to a safe and healthy gardening year ahead, with my garden gate securely locked against Monsanto!