Tag Archives: heritage

CRG and The Safe Seed Pledge

The CRG Safe Seed Pledge is an expression of the scientific belief that gene manipulation of food supplies is essentially immoral.

CRG stands for the “Council for Responsible Genetics.”

For several years, when you go to the CRG Safe Seed Pledge website, what’s there now is a sales page for Microsoft Internet Information Services software.

Incidentally,  Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the largest farmland owner in the United States.

Make of that what you will.

Nevertheless, the CRG statement itself remains an effective declaration within the context of heirloom and open-pollinated seed production.

CRG Safe Seed Pledge

The Safe Seed Pledge:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations.

For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

“The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release.

“More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, to genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems, and ultimately to healthy people and communities.”


While we, of course don’t think the Pledge is insignificant, we feel the bigger threat here is armies of lobbyists and lawyers owned by very few huge conglomerates like Monsanto.

Truthfully, the average home gardener, and even most market growers, aren’t likely to buy consumer-market GMO seeds. They’re specifically developed to address large industrial farms.

However, the big agricultural concerns, food industries and even pharma have taken some beatings in the pocketbooks, as lost revenue to the heirloom seed trade.

WARNING: Their response to these losses is to buy heirloom seed companies. Some of them are closed to thin out the competition.

However, most are simply left as they are, to function normally, except now as a new revenue stream for the conglomerate.

You might think you’re boycotting GMO, but buying from an heirloom company whose profits go to fund GMO and lobbyists for big industrial combines.

Lovely how these things go. Pretty smart, in fact. And smart is what you’re up against. So be smart, yourself. This business ain’t always as simple as it looks.

Planting open-pollinated seeds is a modern act of resistance. Plant those seeds and change your life.


Hardy Perennials Add Color to Your Winter

If winter finds you longing for those riotous colors of spring and summer, cheer up. You can enjoy a colorful winter that rivals spring blooms and fall foliage for sheer variety and color. There are lots of colorful plants that love the cold, and some even bloom in the snow! Here are just a few to consider.

There are also quite a few hardy vegetables that produce in winter.

Hybrid Witch Hazel

(Hamamelis × intermedia)

Hybrid Witch Hazel
Hybrid Witch Hazel


USDA Zone 5

Blooms January to March.

Hybrid Witch Hazel reaches 10 to 20 feet, with some reaching nearly the same width. They offer a riot of color in the fall when their foliage turns brightly colored hues that depend on the variety grown. Long, glorious blossoms abound along the branches from deep winter until early spring. The Chicago Botanic Garden has over 20 different cultivars of Witch Hazel hybrids growing side by side in Zone 5. If you’re in the Chicago area, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to see so many different types bloom at once in February.

American Witch Hazel
American Witch Hazel

American Witch Hazel, (Hamamelis virginiana) would make a great complementary planting. Native to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri, it’s hardy down to Zone 3. The roots and bark are the sources of witch hazel extract found in drug stores. Its foliage turns rich yellow in the late fall and it blooms deep purple at that time, instead of in the deep winter.

Oriental Hybrid Hellebore

(Helleborus orientalis)

USDA Zone 5a to 8b

Flowers January to early March.

Double White Spotted Hellebore
Hybrid Double White Spotted Hellebore

The perennial hellebore is remarkable for its characteristic ability to bloom in the snow. Even in the depths of winter, the hellebore adds colorful life to a monotonous winter landscape. This might just be the star of your winter show once you see how many colors, details and shapes are available. The hellebore comes in about as many colors as you can dream up. Pink, purple, peach, green and even black, actually a very dark purple. They come with picotee edging, some have contrasting veins and a few have dark or spotted flower centers.

Blooms are profuse, coming in star shapes with singles, doubles and anemones to choose from. There are few garden sights as stunning as a black hellebore blooming against a backdrop of snow.

Black Hellebore in Snow
Helleborus Orientalis

English Primrose

(Primula vulgaris)

USDA Zone 5-9

Blossoms February until April.

This historic favorite is available in a dazzling array of colors, blooms profusely and can take a variety of sunlight conditions. English Primrose averages about a foot tall with clusters of flowers averaging 8-10 inches across.

English Primrose
English Primrose

Winter Honeysuckle

(Lonicera fragrantissima)

USDA Zone: 3-8

Bloom time is February-March.

Winter Honeysuckle
Winter Honeysuckle

The Winter Honeysuckle shrub offers a profusion of 3/4″ long yellow and white cascading flowers, closely followed by bright red berries in early springtime.

No More Drab Winters

Planting these choices strategically throughout your landscape and garden will keep the sunshine bright colors around all through those long winter months. Garden strolls will be a great attraction for children and holiday visitors. Back inside, you can impress them just a little more with fresh veggies from your indoor winter garden. Gardening doesn’t have to be limited to one particular stretch of the year. You can have bright, cheery color no matter what the season!