Monday, January 5, 2009

January 5, 2008

Lots to talk about today, so I'll jump right in.  Today was my first day back at work and unfortunately, nothing changed.  I don't know why I expected it to do so, but it didn't.  I'm so far behind that I can't catch up.  That and while I was getting some much needed R&R, nobody else did, so they're nerves are frayed to the point that they were snapping at folks.  I could just feel myself slipping back into my stressful condition.  Boy do I need my garden right about now. /sigh

The day wasn't all bad though.  I was pleasantly surprised by an email I received this morning.  I figured that I hadn't received any communication from Territorial Seed, not because they were tired of my questions, but rather it was the holidays so folks weren't working.  Today, I got a response, but not from the person who was so kind as to wrangle up the information for me from all the various sources.  Instead, I got a message from the Product Development Director.  Well, the title sounded important to me.

Anyway, he IS a source, which is great.  The scary part was that he had actually found my blog.  Quick, think of everything I've said about them.  Whew, he was cool with my "objective approach to the Seminis/Monsanto issue."  That's exactly how I characterized it.  I can't expect them to cut off decades old gardener favorites just because the big M owns them now, at least not until suitible replacement varieties are found, AND grown extensively in their Oregon test farms to make sure they produce well west of the Cascades. 

He went on to answer my questions.  For instance, Yellow Pear, since it is open pollinated, they produce their seed on their own farms.  It was listed on their Monsanto list because they MAY buy from Seminis, if demand exceeds their supply.  In fact, they may buy from multiple suppliers, depending on who has available seed if needed.  Makes good business sense to me.  Of course, if they could avoid the big M, that would be just fine by me as well.

Regarding Red Sails and Early Girl, he explained that patents expire on seeds also (duh, why didn't I think of that), and after that, OP varieties like Red Sails, can be produced by anyone (much like ibuprofin after Advil's patent ran out, etc.).  So, Territorial actually grows their own Red Sails organically.  Very cool. I'm hoping they did that last year when I got them, so I can feel comfortable growing it.  Early Girl, being a hybrid is slightly different.  After the patent runs out, Monsanto can allow other companies to grow it.  So technically Territorial buys it from another supplier.  That's why neither is on their list.  Good to know!

He also explained that this year they replaced 14 Monsanto varieties this year and they clearly recognize that Monsanto's business objectives have diverged from Territorials.  Yay, they get it!  It also means a lot to me that they don't want to cut off gardeners from long-time favorites, especially since they have been buying that variety from the company back when it was Peto Seeds (apparently a predecessor company to Seminis).  That doesn't keep them from trying to find alternatives that are bread for the home gardener and solid performers.

Lastly, he informed me that there are unfortunately several sites out there that claim that Territorial Seed is OWNED by Monsanto.  That is completely false.  Even I knew that.  Territorial was founded 30 years ago by Steve Solomon.  After about 5 years, he decided he was a gardener, not a businessman, and sold the company to Tom and Julie Johns.  The Johns have owned and operated Territorial ever since.  Besides, I am fairly certain Monsanto does not own any seed retailers at all. Wholesalers yes, but not retailers.  They would much rather be producers and developers of new products that nobody else can compete with them on than selling to gardeners.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the knowledge and personal attention given me by my contact, and i learned a ton.  Territorial's a good company that works very hard to provide the best seeds for gardeners in my area.  Oh, and apparently Stupice may not be the best fit for my slicing variety.  I've got a question in to him for an indeterminate early alternative so I can be assured tomatoes come BBQ season.  I'm not seeing one in the catalog, but I'm no seed expert.

Continuing the seed theme, Tina read my last post about a seed propogation system and suggested a PVC set-up I could easily build at home.  I know PVC is cheap, but would it be strong enough.  Apparently it is.  The picture I saw on the site shows a three tier system.  I wouldn't need that much, nor would I want 6 lights.  Instead, if I go with it (I'm still thinking about it), I would go less height and possbily place it on top of my existing cabinet.  Sure it wouldn't roll out, but maybe I could set it up for the seed trays to slide out from under the lights.  Who knows.  Definitely worth checking into.  Thanks Tina!

Ok, I think I've got your attention for a couple of quick pics.  My hoop covers aren't holding up very well to the massive wind storms we get in the fall and winter. 

As you can see in the picture above, the cross pole keeps falling down.  I think drilling a hole and threading a bolt through both pipes at each hoop will solve that, though I didn't get that done on my snowed-in vacation. 

As you can see, the wind also opens up the ends to let out any warm air that may have accumulated during the day.  Other than bricks I don't really have a good solution for that.  Of course after I took these pictures, I fixed all three beds and even took pictures of the insides.  But I'll save that for tomorrow's post.

So check back tomorrow for a garden tour with a shocking surprise.


  1. That light stand made out of PVC is a great idea. I can't wait to see yours setup.

  2. Something you might find interesting regarding your seed starting:

    Super cheap(and smaller) version of EG's propogating box

  3. Hi Rich... sorry about work.... maybe those other people need to take some time off and spend some stress-free time on vacation.

    So glad you heard from Territorial! That is awesome that they would take the time to send you so much information. I had heard that Seminis (and other seed companies) were just patenting away thousands of varieties of seeds, JUST BECAUSE they could. It would be nice to be able to look up who owns the patent to each variety of seed and when it expires.... I'm going to have to look into this when I have a little time.

    I hadn't heard the rumor mill about Monsanto owning Territorial.... yeah, that doesn't make sense anyway. Monsanto isn't interested in direct sales to consumers... Also, from their website: "Seminis does not sell directly to home gardeners; however, many of our products are available to consumers from U.S. and Canadian mail order and packet seed companies. The vendors below carry our newest products: "

    And the retail seed companies they have listed includes the following: Burpee, W Atlee; E & R Seed Co.; Earl May Seed; Gardens Alive; Johnnys Selected Seeds; J.W. Jung Seed Co.; Lindenberg Seeds; Mountain Valley Seed; Park Seed; Rocky Mountain Seed Co.; T & T Seeds, Ltd.; Tomato Growers Supply; Willhite Seed Co.

    Awesome idea with the PVC... I agree, I think it would work well. Those shop light fixtures don't really weigh that much so it should work. I can't wait to see what you end up creating!

    Sorry about your hoop covers. I know that in one of Patti's videos, she shows how she drilled a hole and inserted a bolt and nut through the cross pole and each of the hoops. That would probably strengthen it up a good bit.

    Hope your week at work starts getting better!!

  4. Thanks for the informative post. I'll have to look into them for seed buying.

  5. I grew Stupice last year. They were decently early, but small fruit (all about golf-ball size or a little bigger). I'll probably grow them again b/c I have the seeds still, but I wouldn't buy them again. They were fine, but not exceptional. The taste didn't outweigh the small size.

  6. Sin

    I think you need to talk to that engineeredgarden or better yet M0J0D, about engineering
    a properly reinforced PVC hoop cover system. I believe his is under 2 feet of snow
    right now and nary a bend. Wind …. No problem man. 

    “I did take a look at the LED matrix with my homemade spectrograph and it did show a high intensity of blue wavelength with minimal on red and orange/yellow/green so for this small”
    DON’T ANYONE THINK I’AM SOME KIND OF NUTJOB WITH MY BED COVERS AFER THIS ONE. Gotta love it! Bookmarked his page. Have to see if this works!
    How can we be in a recession with this kind of thinking!

    “Also, from their website: “Seminis does not sell directly to home gardeners; however, many of our products are available to consumers from U.S. and Canadian mail order and packet seed companies. The vendors below carry our newest products: ”

    Good list to email objecting to their purchasing from Monsanto.
    Wrote to Johnny’s, have not heard a thing yet.


  7. Rich, have you tried the bloody butcher variety? I'd be happy to send you some.
    I copied you on the note to Baker Creek. Thought you'd like it.

  8. Rich, can you tell me why he said Stupice was not a good slicing tomato? I do have those seeds and was thinking about growing some but wanted to hear what Territorial had to say about it. Thanks, Kelly