At Urban Vine, we have thousands and thousands of subscribers who hail from all over the world (picking my 5 most recent conversations, I get:
1. Dubai, UAE
2. Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
3. Hamburg, Germany
4. Genoa, Italy
5. Hermosa Beach, California, USA
In these locations there are many different cultures, climates, and cuisines.
But, for urban farmers in any of these places, there is one thing needed without question to grow any fruit, vegetable, flower, or herb.
What is that you ask?
So what are the basics of seeds?
Inactive seeds, also known as "dormant" seeds, start without any roots or resemblance of a plant.
Just because they are dormant, does not mean the seeds are dead. They are very much alive. How? Embryonic cells in the seeds are very much alive and awaiting for activation.
When exposed to moisture and warmth, the embryonic cells within seeds are stimulated and eventually start to grow small roots, a process referred to as germination.
The emergence of roots from the seed is the first major event in seed germination. Not all seeds will germinate however, several factors can disable seeds from germinating including:
- damage from pests
- genetic defect
- pathogen (disease) damage
- age of seed (at some point, embryo cells will die off)
Will some of the issues above may be out of your control, how you care for your seedlings will help increase your germination rate. the likelihood that any given seed in your batch will germinate.
See the chart below for helpful information on caring for seeds and seedling growing times for different plants you may be interested in starting.
Interesting Fact: The germination process does not necessarily need to occur in soil. Seeds can germinate in set ups as simple as a wet paper towel.
Seeds are readily available online, specifics on how best to germinate will be provided by all reputable seed vendor.
Here are some common seed sources to consider:
An extremely popular online seed vendor that has had nearly one million web visitors over the past 6 months, UFseeds has a lot to offer besides seeds. In addition, you can find:
- windowsill herb kits
- soil test kits (why you need soil test kits for urban farming)
- flowers / ornamental
A 501(3c) organization promotes "seeds with a story". Seedsavers.org specializes in heirloom seeds, or seed cultivars that were present hundreds of years ago and growing only in indigenous areas, but are not longer grown commerciallty by large farming companies.
Seedsavers.org also offers non-heirloom seeds for fruits, vegetables, herbs and other plants.
An alternative to UFseeds above, MV Seeds ships orders of all sizes from US to Canada and most international customers.
For those in the audience who may be more experienced or a little more ambitious than just a window sill mini farm, MV also offers large order wholesale pricing and drop shipping services for 3rd party affiliates.
As touched on earlier, seeds have different classifications. Although we won't expand on it in this article, the 3 main types to keep in mind are:
1. hybrid: cross bred by professionals for positive qualities, not the same as GMO's
2. heirloom: old, "preserved" varieties of cultivars, not bred and usually several decades old (or more), almost exclusively grown non-commercially but often offering superior taste
3. GMO: genetically modified seeds, the chromosomes of the seed are modified in scientific labs, evidence of health risks but allows for robust plants at the mega scale for some commercial growers
The journey of 10,000 miles begins with one step, and ordering seeds may be the first step in your urban farming journey. Takeaways from this article:
- Large seed vendors will ship to most countries and ship most sizes, two such examples are UFSeeds (urban farming focused brand) and Mountain Valley Seeds.
- Some seed companies specialize in niche seed types, one example being heirloom seeds
- 3 main seed types include hybrid, heirloom, and GMO, each have advantages and disadvantages
Did you find this article helpful in your quest to become an urban farmer?
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