Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Every Seed Counts

By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

June 1, 2020

Little did I know what was to come when my spring MOF&G editorial about resilience quoted UMaine’s John Jemison about the importance of locally produced food for driving the local economy and for feeding ourselves “if the wheels come off the energy truck.”

Well, surprise: Instead of the energy truck, the worldwide health truck popped its wheels.

Maine farmers responded impressively quickly, setting up online ordering, establishing new CSAs, creating safe pickup and delivery methods. Weekly encounters with our wonderful farmers are brief but so welcome. The smiles under those masks show in their eyes. We are so fortunate to have so many local farms; so fortunate that Maine has supported them over the years. Every farm, every farmer, every farmworker counts.

Gardeners ramped up their game, too. In early March seed companies seemed to have few shortages. That changed over a couple of weeks as most vegetable seed types listed in catalogs sold out. I was glad I had ordered early, and glad I had saved seed of a few favorite varieties. I sowed the small amount of ‘Chateau Rose’ tomato seed – small because the weather last year wasn’t great for its production and seed saving. I watched with hope as each seed germinated, counting every little tomato plant each day. If the weather cooperates this summer, my stash – my gardening stimulus package – will be refreshed and even amplified.

I always start sweet corn indoors and transplant it out two to three weeks after germination, thus using the fewest seeds possible, having no skips in the plot and gaining a few weeks on the harvest. Even some commercial growers do this now, and the practice seems important as we learn anew that every seed counts.

Given the long, cool, wet, even snowy spring, I also started pea seedlings in plug flats. At a MOFGA Farmer to Farmer Conference years ago, New York farmer Paul Arnold said he started pea seedlings in flats in the greenhouse after finding that earthworms were eating direct-seeded pea seeds. Every bit of wisdom gained from MOFGA’s workshops counts, especially now.

Knowledge and connections gained over the years are like those regular, valuable additions to soil health. Every seed, every garden, every farm, every cover crop and every compost pile counts.

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