From the Ground Up

Exciting & New Organic Offerings for 2018

It's official! The 2018 Harris Seeds Organic Catalog has been printed and mailed! While it's only our second year producing a separate organic catalog, the organic program is thriving and has many new varieties and exciting offerings for 2018! These varieties have been trialed and have stood out as the most successful producers, with the best flavor and disease resistance. We are making organic more affordable as well. With the some of the best prices in the country, it will make growing sustainable for your wallet too!

2018 Organic Seed Catalog

With over 90 new organic vegetable and cut flower varieties for 2018, you have some difficult decisions to make! Try growing the new AAS Winner Red Racer Tomato or Teddy Bear Sunflower this season. Or perhaps grow some delicious Double Red Sweet Corn!

Veronica Cauliflower Teddy Bear Sunflower Seeds

New OMRI listed and certified organic gardening supplies are available, like the new Sustane 4-6-4 All Natural Flower & Vegetable Plant Food & Fertilizer.

 

Trying to get into the micro green market? Why not grow on the OMRI approved substrate Puregrown Hemp. It allows for breathability and fast root growth. You can cut the sheets to fit your clam shells and sell while they are still growing to ensure longer shelf life.

 

Puregrown 750 Hemp Sheets

The introduction of organic cover crops is brand new to our product line for 2018. Cover crops can be planted in your fields in between plantings to replenish the soil for next season and to increase the overall yields of your crops. Our 25 pound packages and quantity discounts make it affordable and simplistic on planting what you need, and avoid waste.

Cover Crops

Request your catalog here to see the full organic product listing as well as learn more about organic growing. Stay tuned for more announcements as we will continue to add new and exciting collections throughout the year!

Shop All Organic

 


Daniel Eggert is the Organic Brand Manager at Harris Seeds/GardenTrends. He oversees the organic division which includes expanding the product line, contacting growers to ensure their success, helping with trial varieties, and expanding the brand presence within the organic community. Daniel is passionate about sustainability, becoming self-sufficient, and studying permaculture/biodynamic practices. He loves working at Harris Seeds and helping growers achieve success.

Busy Like a Bee

As the summer is approaching an imminent end at Harris Seeds, it is time to reflect on the trials conducted on our grounds as well as all the travel spent around the country to view collaborative trials with universities and professional growers. Despite our outdoor trials slowing down, the midnight oil has begun to burn as we spend the beginning of fall inside writing our catalogs for next year. In honor of our successful trials this year, it is important to recognize some of our hardest, most exceptional workers, the honey bees.

It is said that the honey bee is responsible for every one in three bites of food. They not only pollinate plant flowers, creating higher yields of fruits and vegetables, they also create a forever food, honey, from the nectar they harvest. Honey is considered a forever food because it is a hypertonic solution, which means it’s almost all sugar and lacks water. This doesn’t allow microorganisms to live in honey and contaminate it. Honey bees evolved from a species that originated in Asia. There are about 7 to 11 commonly known honey bees, but there are 20,000 different types of bees worldwide. Humans have been domesticating bees for around 4,500 years, which is known based on Egyptian art depicting bee keeping.

Bees at Harris Seeds
At Harris Seeds, we instituted bee keeping practices last year. We have a team of volunteers, including myself, who work with the hives to ensure their future. Our first year was a tough learning year. With a history of previously harsh winters, many local bee keepers struggled as well. Nearly 44% of hives were lost in 2015-2016 and 33% were lost in the 2016-2017 season. The decline in populations could be due to numerous factors such as fluctuating temperatures and the long cold snaps that took place. Unfortunately, we lost both of our hives the first year. However, we did not let that stop us from trying again! With help from our partners at Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, we acquired new queens and colonies.

Bees at Harris Seeds

This year we focused on making sure the honey bees were able to thrive. We relocated our hives to a new spot closer to our trial grounds and near a wind block. Close by is our compost pile, where numerous volunteer plants sprouted, and we deliberately planted the Wildflower Eastern Pollinator Mix next to the hives. Along with our trial gardens of flowers and vegetables, the bees had a bountiful buffet to feast on.

We made sure to check for pests diligently as well. Hive beetles and Varroa mites are two common problems for apiarists. We are currently practicing chemical free treatments to combat these problems. Installing vegetable oil traps for the hive beetles helps the bees push them up and into the trap, which drowns the nuisances. Tapping powdered sugar over the hives and onto the bees is like making it rain candy. Not only do they love the taste, but it makes the bees clean themselves. We are then able to catch the mites on a mite board and perform a 24 hour check to evaluate the severity of the infestation. Luckily, we have had minimal pest issues and have stayed well ahead of the problems to remain chemical free!

Bees at Harris Seeds

The populations of the bees have been in decline since middle of the 20th century with many possible contributing factors, including: the presence of Varroa mites, the diseases spread by Varroa mites, forage and habitat degradation, and pesticide exposure.  We all need to “bee” conscious when it comes to sustaining honey bee populations. Everyone can do their part, whether purchasing from local farms who implement sustainable practices, purchasing organic produce, or perhaps becoming an amateur beekeeper yourself.  As a consumer, you have the purchasing power to promote and grow bee-safe practices. The more efforts made toward supporting sustainable growers and practices, the more we will be able to help ensure the survival of our most valued, natural worker. The work of the honey bee is never finished and neither should our commitment to ensuring their future existence. 

Daniel Eggert is the Organic Brand Manager at Harris Seeds. He oversees the organic division which includes expanding the product line, contacting growers to ensure their success, helping with trial varieties, and expanding the brand presence within the organic community. Daniel is passionate about sustainability, becoming self-sufficient, and studying permaculture/biodynamic practices. He loves working at Harris Seeds and helping growers achieve success.

Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) - A Once in a Lifetime Experience

by Daniel Eggert

In the fall of 2016, I decided to take a trip to South Australia. This trip was not only about traveling the world and experiencing a new culture, but also gaining firsthand experience working on farms. I achieved both of these goals by signing up as a volunteer for the WWOOF program. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms.

I first learned about the program from a friend who was in the Peace Corps , who described WWOOF as a cheap way to travel and experience farm life. The program involves about 1600 hosts all over South Australia. It is a worldwide volunteer program, operating in over 100 countries. For a minimal membership fee, members are provided with the host list, contact information, and emergency traveler’s insurance. In exchange for 5-6 hours of your day working for the host, you receive basic necessities, like food, water, and shelter. Not all hosts are organic or even operated farms.

Building Rock Wall
WWOOF Living Quarters Revamped with Newly Built Rock Wall

I was in Australia for over two months and had contacted five different hosts for work. I run a side business as a carpenter, which allowed me to be more marketable to hosts, but also made their to-do lists much longer. A lot of the work included property maintenance, tending to gardens or livestock, and creative building projects. My favorite project and greatest achievement was building a winery for a host that ran an organic vineyard.

Built Winery
Winery Built with Recycled Materials 

The epicenter of my stay was Adelaide, South Australia. The hosts that I stayed with were all very gracious, open-minded people who had a wealth of knowledge to share. They ranged from young farmers in the agriculture industry, to retired entrepreneurs and teachers. Through these hosts and my experiences, I learned a lot about permaculture and biodynamics. Some topics of interest included composting, organic gardening, raising livestock, and wine/beer making.

South Australia, specifically the Adelaide region, is very well known for its wine production. There is such a wide range of microclimates that help diversify the wine and help winemakers create their own authentic blend after each vintage. Lots of homemade wine and beer, plus farm-to-table food have my taste buds missing Adelaide!

You are never too young or old to volunteer for a program like WWOOF. I met WWOOFer’s who ranged from 18 to 80, and each one had a burning passion to learn. The entire trip was an amazing experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Some of my achievements include seeing a goat birth twins, building a winery, and being featured in the South Australian Migration Museum exhibit. None of that mattered as much as the lifelong friendships and experiences I made with the hosts and amazing people along my journey.

Daniel Eggert WWOOF

Daniel Eggert is the Organic Brand Manager at Harris Seeds. He oversees the organic division which includes expanding the product line, contacting growers to ensure their success, helping with trial varieties, and expanding the brand presence within the organic community. Daniel is passionate about sustainability, becoming self-sufficient, and studying permaculture/biodynamic practices. He loves working at Harris Seeds and helping growers achieve success.