Last Friday I received in the mail 10 packets of garden vegetable seed that cost me one thin dime shy of $30. Twenty-five bucks for the seed and $4.90 shipping and handling.
When I was growing up, less money than that would have bought enough seed and nursery stock to plant the entire five or so acres we kept in production year in and year out as well as several bags of fertilizer to boost the crops along and make the taters grow much larger than they would have without it.
I think I’ve mentioned here, several times before, that I sold garden seeds door to door every spring for several years for 10 cents a pack and many people thought that was way too high even though the going rate for lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes and the like were at least 15 cents at the farm supply and hardware stores in town.
In any event I can promise you faithfully that the seed packets I sold back then had more than triple or quadruple the amount of seeds in the ones I just purchased and 30 bucks would have bought 300 packs.
On the other hand I didn’t sell, nor did the stores, Giant Syrian, Mortgage Lifter, Caspian or any of the several hundred other varieties of tomatoes alone that are out there today. And nobody had ever heard of Big Bertha, Bull’s Horn, and China Giant bell peppers, Canadian Goliath snow peas, and Texas Candy onions all of which I now have in my possession thanks to the nice folks at Reimer’s Seed Company in Maryland.
Reimer’s, incidentally, is the only place I know that sells Giant Syrian tomato seed. Even though I saved 100 or so last year, I don’t want to take a chance that fruit from my saved seed might not come back true because I promise you faithfully , yet again, that Giant Syrian is easily the best tasting tomato I’ve ever experienced, thanks to my pal, Fred Beste who lives there on the tundra in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania. And do beware of the fake Giant Syrians on ebay. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. If you want the real thing, you’d better go to Reimer’s.
Unfortunately Reimer’s does not publish a paper catalogue and the only way to shop their vast selection of flowers and vegetables is by going online to reimersseeds.com. The service is fast. I ordered on Tuesday night and had my seeds on Friday morning. They have also spent a vast amount of time on the website. Click on a photo of, name a veggie, and they tell you all about it. I actually spent several hours on the site because it was so interesting.
But the big reason I wound up ordering all the other stuff was because shipping was $4.90 for any amount I ordered. Last year the Giant Syrians were pricier as was S&H because I recall shelling out nine bucks for 15 seeds and still believe the money well spent.
I was not a happy gardener in my youth. We raised a huge garden, actually more like a truck farm, because we had to if we intended to eat during cold weather, We also sold many bushels of green beans and sweet corn as well as surplus cabbage, potatoes, onions etc. And, of course, strawberries, for which I have, only recently, begun to develop a taste because, through most of my adulthood, I associated them with torture suffered in my youth.
For a few years in the 1990s I actually grew a small plot because the kids enjoyed them. The original intent was to give them a taste of the hard labor I endured as a child but the project backfired on me. They actually thought it was great fun. Of course they could pick the patch clean in 15 minutes and get a quart of berries
It was not unusual, when I was their age, to spend 10 hours picking 100 quarts and then get up the next day and do it all again , including weekends throughout the month of June.
Once the berries were finished it was time to pick and can beans, then cabbage for kraut, tomatoes to can and juice, cucumbers to pickle, blackberries to pick, can or turn into jam. Gardening. In those days, was full time work with way too much overtime.
It only became fun after I didn’t have to do it. There’s something immensely satisfying to me about putting seeds in soil and nurturing them to the point that they produce food of a quality that can’t be found in a grocery store.
As the old song says, “There’s only two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and homegrown “tamaters.”
Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at [email protected] or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.