You might be asking, what are you going to do with all of those seeds?
The Plan (For Now...)
We help landowners across Tennessee with homestead design, but our personal project is a 5-acre lot in Middle Tennessee. There are between 1 and 2 acres of usable standard gardening land, which we plan to incorporate perennial nut and fruit-producing trees as part of a food forest system.
Matt and I are both millennials with jobs in creative industries. We are both unwilling to give up our creative pursuits, but we still want to pay the bills, improve our surroundings, and provide for a family. So, our permaculture design philosophy is very specific and impacts our gardening approach.
How We Select Our Seeds
We learned from gardening at our 2-acre lot about 1 mile down the road that our soil has a fair amount of rocks and generally, Tennessee soil will have a lot of clay.
Our permaculture design philosophy centers around 3 concepts: frugality, ease, and productivity.
Here is how that plays out in our decision making process as we scour Annie’s Heirloom Seeds and Baker’s Creek catalogs:
Frugality: We don’t plan on adding ancillary amendments to the soil. We have done and will continue to do an initial till of the land we plan to use since this is our first year on this particular plot. However, moving forward, we will build the soil using mulch that we create from our own compost and various resources we can immediately access on our 5 acres.
To save on costs, we save many seeds from last year and engage with a regional homesteading group during biannual seed swaps. Whatever we don’t receive through those two avenues we look for online.
Ease: Because of our careers, we don’t have time to deal with regular maintenance of a garden, which is why we’ve invested heavily in perennials. For annuals, and with our soil challenges in mind, we have theorized that any crop growing below the soil will need to be shorter and more narrow in order for us to get any kind of noteworthy production next garden season. For that reason, we selected seed varieties of carrots, radishes, and turnips that grow shorter and narrowly.
Productivity: With frugality and ease secured, we then look towards productivity. Instead of planning out where each individual variety might go in the garden, we created a chart that indicates which plants pair well with each other, and we will rely on companion planting to achieve productivity despite our rough soil.
There is no one way to go about selecting the seeds you want to plant in your garden. But, it is important to make notes every garden season about how particular plants did in certain conditions.
The guiding principle of permaculture is observation, so if you’re taking time to analyze your growing conditions and how each plant responds to them, you’ll be able to save money and plant varieties that naturally fare better in your specific garden or plot of land.