Who Owns Who? Where and How Monsanto Has Their Sticky Little Fingers In the Home Garden Seed Industry

(Originally Published 9/24/11, Updated 12/1/15)

“Hi Horticulture Talk People,

I am starting to plan my garden for 2012 and I’ve been trying to not plant any varieties that are GMOs or related to Monsanto.  The problem is that I recently found out that the seed I get from seed catalogs and at the store are not grown by the company I bought them from.  They buy the seed in and repackage it.  How can I know I’m not supporting Monsanto if I am buying from a seed catalog?  If I avoid hybrids, will I be okay?

Thank you,



Hi Stewart,

Thank you for emailing HorticultureTalk on Gmail with your question on Monsanto.  I completely understand your hesitancy in growing you garden without knowing where your seed comes from.

What you have been told is true: most mail order seed companies are a repackaging plant.  They purchase seed in bulk form.  In terms of seeds that are like dust (like Begonias), a ‘bulk’ packet may be a gram or ounce of seed that has 50000 seeds in it.  For larger seeded varieties (cucumbers, peas, beans, corn, etc.), bulk is a collection of 50 or 100 pound bags of seed.

Like any repacking company whether it be food, paper, or seeds, the markup on seed is… extraordinary!  When you buy a packet of seed, keep in mind that an open pollinated variety costs the seed company about 1% or less of what you are paying for it.  For hybrids, the cost is about 5% of what you are paying.

Now, you might be thinking that a seed company would want to be selling more open pollinated varieties because they can make an extra 4% for their profits.  And unfortunately, you would be wrong.  Large corporate seed producers, like Monsanto and their home garden seed market subsidiary, Seminis, pay for their place on a catalog page or website.  As a person that used to be involved in brokering deals like this, I can tell you that Monsanto wants to be front and center.  If you have a page that features your ‘best’ or ‘customer favorite’ varieties, they must have at least 50% of the varieties represented there.  You cannot put their product on the bottom of the page or in the ‘thumblap’ area, where a customer’s thumbs may cover information on the page if they are holding the catalog on the side edges.

Unfortunately, many people think that Monsanto owns mail order seed companies because they don’t understand the inner workings of how this industry runs.  If you look around on the internet, you are going to find a TON of websites and Facebook groups that say that there are a bunch of companies that are owned by Monsanto.  It’s not true, and likely someone that is a know-it-all (that doesn’t really know it all) started that rumor.  In truth, the companies are ‘owned’ by Monsanto by having the premium given for page space advertising.

In addition to this, if you work with a mail order seed company, you are not supposed to refer to the company as Monsanto to any customer (and probably even to your coworkers) because it puts the seed ‘in a bad light’.  When Seminis was still its own company, it was bring out new varieties left and right.  Monsanto bought them and then new varieites kind of dribbled out until about 2006 or 2007.  After that, instead of new things, it was ‘we have dropped these major-selling varieties’.  Great examples of this are Giant Valentine Tomato, Ichiban Eggplant, and Table Queen Acorn Squash.

Saying that you are going to avoid any and all hybrids will, unfortunately, not address the problem because some of the varieties offered in the Seminis line are open pollinated varieties.

When Monsanto purchased Seminis in 2005, they acquired the rights to a number of open pollinated — many of which were considered ‘nearly’ heirlooms.  In the time since, Monsanto has cut out a number of the open pollinated varieties — which is a blessing because at least we can knock those off our list for our gardens and have less to do with them.

Additionally, you should check out my other articles on what seed companies have a loving relationship with Monsanto/Seminis and what companies are owned by other companies (many you may have guessed and others will surprise you).

So, what varieties to avoid?  If you want to be completely Monsanto- and Seminis-free in your garden, the following is a list of varieties that you need to avoid.  Please note that those that are hybrids are not noted as the information is not provided on Monsanto’s website.


  • Alicante
  • Banga
  • Brio
  • Bronco
  • Cadillac
  • Carlo
  • Ebro
  • Eureka
  • EX 08120703
  • Excalibur
  • Fandango
  • Festina
  • Firstmate
  • Gina
  • Gold Dust
  • Gold Mine
  • Golden Child
  • Goldrush
  • Grenoble
  • Hercules
  • Labrador
  • Lynx
  • Magnum
  • Matador
  • Opus
  • Pony Express
  • Romano Gold
  • Sea Biscuit
  • Secretariat
  • Serin
  • Slenderpack
  • Spartacus
  • Storm
  • Strike
  • Stringless Blue Lake 7
  • Sunburst
  • Tapia
  • Teggia
  • Tema
  • Thoroughbred
  • Titan
  • Ulysses
  • Unidor
  • Valentino


  • Castle
  • Captain
  • Contributor
  • Coronado Crown
  • General
  • Heritage
  • Iron
  • Ironman
  • Legacy
  • Major
  • Packman
  • Revolution
  • Tlaloc
  • Tradition


  • Atlantis
  • Blue Dynasty
  • Constelation
  • Golden Acre (RS)
  • Headstart
  • Platinum Dynasty
  • Red Dynasty
  • Tropicana


  • Abledo
  • Achieve
  • Cellobunch
  • Dominion
  • Enterprise
  • Envy
  • Legend
  • Propeel
  • PS 07101441
  • PS 07101603
  • Tastypeel


  • Cheddar
  • Cielo Blanco
  • Cornell
  • Freedom
  • Fremont
  • Juneau
  • Minuteman
  • Whistler

Cucumbers (Pickling)

  • Arabian
  • Colt
  • Eureka
  • Expedition
  • PowerPak
  • Vlaspik
  • Vlasset
  • Vlasstar

Cucumbers (Slicing)

  • Babylon
  • Cool Breeze or Cool Breeze Improved
  • Conquistador
  • Dasher II
  • Emparator
  • Eureka
  • Fanfare or Fanfare HG
  • Indy
  • Intimidator
  • Marketmore 76
  • Mathilde
  • Moctezuma
  • Orient Express II
  • Pearl
  • Poinsett 76
  • Rockingham
  • Salad Bush
  • Speedway
  • Sweet Slice
  • Sweet Success PS
  • Talladega
  • Thunder
  • Thunderbird
  • Turbo

Dry Beans

  • Black Velvet
  • Cabernet
  • Chianti
  • Etna
  • Hooter
  • Mariah
  • Medicine Hat
  • Pink Panther
  • Red Rover
  • Windbreaker


  • Black Beauty
  • Fairy Tale
  • Gretel
  • Hansel
  • Ichiban (discontinued in 2010 and not supposed to be found for sale anywhere, yet many Mom and Pop greenhouses in my area still supposedly sell them.  Find out more in this article and the comments that follow it.)
  • Lavender Touch
  • Twinkle
  • White Lightning


  • Annie
  • Braveheart
  • Bubba
  • Conquistador
  • Coyote
  • Del Oro
  • Desert Spring
  • Grizzly
  • Honcho II
  • Javelina
  • Mohawk
  • Raider
  • Sahara
  • Sharpshooter
  • Sniper
  • Sure Shot
  • Top Billings
  • Valley Heart


  • Cabrillo
  • Caravelle
  • Colima
  • Cristobal
  • Destacado
  • Durango
  • Earli-Dew
  • Earlisweet
  • Fastbreak
  • Honey Dew Green Flesh
  • Hy-Mark
  • Laredo
  • Magellan
  • Mission
  • Moonshine
  • Roadside
  • Santa Fe
  • Saturno
  • Zeus


  • Abilene
  • Affirmed
  • Aspen
  • Barbaro
  • Belmar
  • Bunker
  • Caballero
  • Candy
  • Cannonball
  • Century
  • Ceylon
  • Champlain
  • Charismatic
  • Cirrus
  • Cougar
  • Exacta
  • Fortress
  • Gelma
  • Golden Spike
  • Goldeneye
  • Grateful Red
  • Hamlet
  • Joliet
  • Leona
  • Mackenzie
  • Marquette
  • Mercedes
  • Mercury
  • Montblanc
  • Nicolet
  • Orizaba
  • Pecos
  • Rainier
  • Red Zeppelin
  • Savannah Sweet
  • Sierra Blanca
  • Sterling
  • Swale
  • Tioga
  • Verrazano
  • Vision

Peppers (Hot)

  • Anaheim TMR 23
  • Ancho San Martin
  • Aquiles
  • Ballpark
  • Big Bomb
  • Biggie Chile brand of Sahuaro
  • Cardon
  • Caribbean Red
  • Cayenne Large Red Thick
  • Cherry Bomb
  • Chichen Itza
  • Chichimeca
  • Cocula
  • Corcel
  • Coyame
  • Fresnillo
  • Garden Salsa SG
  • Grande
  • Habanero
  • Holy Mole brand of Salvatierra
  • Hot Spot (with X3R)
  • Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot
  • Inferno
  • Ixtapa X3R
  • Kukulkan
  • Lapid
  • Major League
  • Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro
  • Mesilla
  • Milta
  • Mucho Nacho brand of Grande
  • Nainari
  • Nazas
  • Papaloapan
  • Perfecto
  • PS 11435807
  • PS 11435810
  • PS 11446271
  • Rebelde
  • Rio de Oro
  • Sahuaro
  • Salvatierra
  • Santa Fe Grande
  • Sayula (with X3R)
  • Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas
  • Super Chili
  • Tajin
  • Tam Vera Cruz
  • Time Bomb
  • Tula
  • Tuxtlas
  • Vencedor
  • Victorioso

Peppers (Sweet)

  • Baron
  • Bell Boy
  • Big Bertha PS
  • Biscayne
  • Blushing Beauty
  • Bounty
  • California Wonder 300
  • Camelot
  • Capistrano
  • Cherry Pick
  • Chocolate Beauty
  • Corno Verde
  • Cubanelle W
  • Dumpling brand of Pritavit
  • Early Sunsation
  • Flexum
  • Fooled You brand of Dulce
  • Giant Marconi
  • Gypsy
  • Jumper
  • Key West (with X3R)
  • King Arthur (formerly Fat n Sassy)
  • North Star
  • Orange Blaze
  • Pimiento Elite
  • Red Knight (with X3R)
  • Satsuma
  • Socrates (with X3R)
  • Super Heavyweight
  • Sweet Spot (with X3R)


  • Applachian
  • Buckskin
  • Harvest Moon
  • Jamboree HG
  • Longface
  • Orange Smoothie
  • Phantom
  • Prizewinner
  • Rumbo
  • Snackface
  • Spirit
  • Spooktacular
  • Trickster
  • Wyatt’s Wonder


  • Avenger
  • Barbados
  • Hellcat
  • Interceptor
  • Tigercat

Squash (Summer)

  • Ambassador
  • Clarita
  • Commander
  • Conqueror III
  • Consul R
  • Daisey
  • Depredador
  • Dixie
  • Embassy
  • Gemma
  • Gold Rush
  • Goldbar
  • Goldfinger
  • Grey Zucchini
  • Greyzini
  • Independence II
  • Judgement III
  • Justice III
  • Lemondrop
  • Liberator III
  • Lolita
  • Papaya Pear
  • Patriot II
  • Patty Green Tinit
  • Patty Pan
  • Portofino
  • Prelude II
  • President
  • ProGreen
  • Quirinal
  • Radiant
  • Richgreen Hybrid
  • Senator
  • Storr’s Green
  • Sungreen
  • Sunny Delight
  • Sunray
  • Terminator
  • XPT 1832 III

Squash (Winter)

  • Autumn Delight
  • Butternut Supreme
  • Canesi
  • Early Butternut
  • Pasta
  • Taybelle PM

Sweet Corn

  • Absolute
  • Devotion
  • EX 08745857R
  • EX 08767143
  • Fantasia
  • Merit
  • Obsession
  • Obsession II
  • Passion
  • Passion II
  • Seneca Arrowhead
  • Sensor
  • Synergy
  • Temptation
  • Temptation II
  • Vitality


  • Amsterdam
  • Apt 410
  • Beefmaster
  • Better Boy
  • Big Beef
  • Biltmore
  • Burpee’s Big Boy
  • Caramba
  • Celebrity
  • Crown Jewel
  • Cupid
  • Debut
  • Empire
  • Flora-Dade
  • Flirida 47 R
  • Florida 91
  • Granny Smith
  • Healthy Kick
  • Heatmaster
  • Huichol
  • Husky Cherry Red
  • Hybrid 46
  • Hybrid 882
  • Hypeel 108
  • Hypeel 303
  • Hypeel 849
  • Jetsetter brand of Jack
  • Lemon Boy
  • Margherita
  • Margo
  • Marmande VF PS
  • Marmara
  • Maya
  • Patio
  • Phoenix
  • Picus
  • Pik Ripe 748
  • Pink Girl
  • Poseidon 43
  • PS 01522935
  • PS 01522942
  • PS 345
  • PS 438
  • Puebla
  • Quincy
  • Roma VF
  • Royesta
  • Sanibel
  • Seri
  • Sunbrite
  • SunChief
  • SunGuard
  • Sunoma
  • SunShine
  • Sunstart
  • Sunsugar
  • Super Marzano
  • Sweet Baby Girl
  • Tiffany
  • Tye Dye
  • Tygress
  • Viva Italia
  • Yaqui


  • Apollo
  • Charleston Grey
  • Companion
  • Cooperstown
  • Crimson Glory
  • Crimson Sweet
  • Cronos
  • Delta
  • Eureka
  • Fenway
  • Jade Star
  • Majestic
  • Mickylee
  • Olympia
  • Omega
  • Regency
  • Royal Jubilee
  • Royal Sweet
  • Sentinel
  • Starbrite
  • Star Gazer
  • Stars ‘n’ Stripes
  • Tiger Baby
  • Wrigley



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Time to Plant Your Garlic!

“Dear Mertie Mae,

What do I need to know about growing garlic?   Just the basics.

Thank you,



Hi George,

Thank you for your question regarding growing garlic.  Here are a few basic points to keep in mind:

1.  Where to buy
The first thing you need to figure out is if you want to buy organic or conventional grown and heirloom or non-heirloom types.  Some places sell great garlic and others not so much.  I personally recommend Seed Saver Exchange (get your order in when you buy your garden seeds!!! They sell out insanely fast!), and Territorial. Additionally, Botanical Interests (they have garlic assortments that give you a bulb of a few different varieties), Burpees, Dominion Seed House, Harris Seed, Jung Seed (order early or you will have a slightly mushy bulb based on my experiences), and Cook’s Gardens all receive high ratings on websites like the National Garden Bureau and such, but I’ve found that their quality and selection aren’t as good as SSE and Territorial.  There are many other places that offer garlic too, but as I haven’t tried them, I can’t say for sure if they are worth spending your time with.  If you are in the north, plant hard neck varieties (require winter chilling). If you are in the south, grow soft neck varieties.

2.  When to plant
Most experts say that in areas that get a hard frost before winter, it is recommended that you plant your garlic 6-8 weeks before that frost. While this may work in places other than Wisconsin, I have found that planting my garlic that early makes it not so hardy come winter.  I usually plant mine here in West Central Wisconsin (and in Central or Southern WI when I lived there back when) between October 1-14.  This allows the cloves to get established, but not spend a ton of energy growing.  They need that energy to get through winter!  And it works — even the old timers around use the rule of thumb to plant on Columbus Day (October 12).  If you are in a southern area with no winter, February or March is a better time to plant.

Garlic prefers well-drained soil in a sunny spot with lots of organic matter. It’s a rather narrow plant, so I like to plant it in double rows that are about 6-8 inches apart and then alternate (zig-zag) the plants down the rows to give them a little more space.  Plant the cloves 6-8 inches apart (12 inches if growing Elephant Garlic).  Garlic should be planted 3 inches deep.  Fertilize as you would onions.

3.  To scape or not?

Garlic Scapes
Trimming the tops of hardneck garlic (garlic scapes) is often recommended… but I don’t do it.  I’ve found that it never fails that if you trim them, there will be a rainstorm or heavy dew and the tops will get weird or you will get disease.  Also, letting them mature gives you small bulb-like cloves that you can put into the ground at harvest time and grow for next year’s crop (which I suspect is why the seed companies say cut them off — less profit for them if you let them grow!)

As long as you are properly tending your garlic with water and fertilizer, the bulbs will grow just as big.  If you decide to cut them off, they are edible.

4.  When to harvest
Harvest time depends on when you plant, but the key is to look for the garlic leaves to turn brown. Unlike onions or shallots, they don’t just fall over.  In Northern climates, harvesting will probably be in July or August, depending on the variety. In Southern climates, it will depend on your planting date. Either way, stop watering so the outside skin can dry out a bit and harvest within one week of matuity.  Waiting too long will allow the outer skins to disintegrate.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Open Pollinated Disease Resistant Tomatoes

I am a backyard gardener in eastern nj. I am looking for the most disease
resistant tomato that is open pollinated. Any type but cherry. Thanks for
your help,

Ray Carter”


Hi Ray,

Thank you for your email regarding open pollinated tomatoes varieties with
disease resistance.  Unfortunately, there are not a ton of varieties because
there is not the hybridization involved to introduce resistance.  What
resistance there is comes from the selections made for domestication by
those that started saving seeds many years ago.

However, there are a few that do stand out:
–Manalucie FSt:  This one is more for down south or hot summers, but I’ve
had good success with it here in Wisconsin (with the exception of 2009, when
we had a very cool summer!).  The fruits get big (about 12-16 ounces), but
are nice and smooth.  It has decent resistance to Blossom End Rot, Gray Leaf
Mold, Early Blight and Fusarium Wilt.  It is an indeterminate variety.

–Campbell’s 33VFA:  This is a tomato that is about half the size of the
Manalucie, but makes up for it with the amount of fruit set.  It has okay
resistance to Verticilium, Fusarium Wilt, and Alternaria.  It is a
determinate variety.

Campbell's 33
–Heinz 1370 FASt: This one makes a nice sauce or soup and is about in the
4-7 ounce range.  It has decent resistance to cracking, Fusarium Wilt,
Alternaria, and Gray Leaf Mold.  It is a determinate variety.

Heinz 1370
–Marglobe Select VFA:  This one is a popular seller for us.  It has
resistance to Verticilium and Fusarium Wit and Alternaria.  It is a
determinate variety.

Marglobe Select
–Rutgers Select VFASt and Rutgers PS VFASt:  These two varieties are very
similar but have great resistance to Verticilium and Fusarium Wilt, Grey
Leaf Mold, and ALternaria.  They have really good flavor and are meaty.
Rutgers Select is an indeterminate and Rutgers PS is determinate.

Rutgers PS Rutgers Select

There are other varieties like Marion FASt, Marmande VFA, New
Yorker VA, Sunray VFF, Hard Rock VFN, and Roma VFA that do have some
moderate disease resistance.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions,
please feel free to ask.

Cucumber Varieties for Greenhouse Production

“I want to know what is the best cucumber for greenhouse production and give more of a crop. I called some of the seed companies and the most commonly recommended was Tasty King, but it doesn’t have to be this variety.



Hi Andron,

Thank you for your question. Tasty King is a great variety for greenhouse production and was a good suggestion for the various companies to make. In addition to Tasty King, there are a couple others I would add to the list:

Diva Cucumber

Diva  — Produces distinctly tender, crisp, sweet, bitter-free, and seedless cukes. Foliage is nonbitter, hence not as attractive to cucumber beetles as some varieties. Adapted to open-field production and protected cropping. Harvest at 5-7″. Gynoecious and parthenocarpic. Intermediate resistance to cucumber vein yellowing virus, downy mildew, and powdery mildew. 58 days to maturity.

Sweet Success Cucumber

Sweet Success — These cucumbers are crisp, mild and easy on the digestion. Its all-female vines tolerate scab and mosaic virus. Produces firm, seedless 14″ fruits early in the season. Easy to protect from cucumber beetles by using row cover, which doesn’t need to be removed for pollination. 54 days to maturity.

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Unsized Seed, Checking Hot Peppers, Grafted Tomatoes, and Pellet Ingredients: Obscure Gardening Info

“Hello Mertie,

I like your writing style and your dry humor. You seem to know a lot about seeds and plants, so I have a few questions for you.

1. What is unsized seeds? I’ve seen this in carrots, cole crops, and lettuce.

2. What is checking on a pepper?

3. Are grafted tomato plants worth the extra money and fuss?

4. What is the pellet on a seed made from? Is it safe for my organic garden?

Thank you for all your great articles,



Hi Joe,

Thanks for your questions and kind comments.  As for your questions:

1.  Unsized seed means that the seed has not been graded to a certain size. You often will see this with corn and other crops that are planted with equipment. When machinery was first brought about, your planter had a plate on it that required a certain size of seed. If your seed was to large, it would not go through the plate and would jam things up. If it was too small, the seed went through the plate too quickly and the seed spacing would be off.  For the smaller seeds like carrots, cole crops, and lettuce, it just means that some of the seed will be larger than others.  It doesn’t meant that some of the seeds (larger) will be better than others (smaller), so there are no worries with buying unsized seed.

Planting Plates

2. Checking on a pepper is often seen on the –good– varieties of hot jalapeno peppers.  Checking can also be refered to as corking or cracking on peppers by gardeners, but the seed industry calls it checking and will often put the term in seed/plant descriptions.

Jalapenos naturally produce checks/corks/cracks in their skin. The characteristic checking which may appear undesirable (to gardening novices) when harvesting is nothing more than the fruit working towards maturity. When choosing jalapenos to harvest, note that the more mature fruits will have some checks around the stems. These checks should not be a cause for alarm as they are part of the fruit’s natural maturing process and any jalapenos with checking remain safe to eat, as the browned tissue of the fruit are not perforations but discolored, dried cells on the skin of the fruit.Jalapeno

Checking in the jalapeno skin can also be used to judge the heat of the fruit. Each jalapeno becomes hotter the longer it is allowed to mature. When the fruit is fully ripe, it is the hottest that the variety can produce. So, the more mature the jalapeno is, the more checks it has and the hotter the pepper will be. Chefs sometimes use the checking to determine which peppers have the greatest chance to be hot.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that all jalapenos have checks. New hybrids that are being out on the market are being created to “look pretty” for the uninformed gardener.  Gardeners that don’t know much want a perfect green fruit, but then don’t understand why it is not hot. Well… they kind of go hand in hand…  =)


3.  Grafted tomatoes. Ha! To be honest, for most home gardeners, I don’t recommend them unless you have done your research and know that you really need them in your garden.Grafted Tomatoes

Grafted tomatoes (along with peppers, eggplants, and melons) started in the hydroponic industry to a.) reduce the amount of soil borne diseases, b.) reduce the need for crop rotation, and c.) increase the health and production of heirloom varieties. Soil borne diseases run rampant in hydroponic setups. And I am sure you are wondering why, as there is no soil. Well, 99.9% of soil borne diseases are caused by the presence of water at the wrong times.  Think of things like tomato blights: having wet leaves at night causes the blight, not the soil that it comes from.  Having a super-soil-borne-disease-resistant root stock allows for lower incidence of disease and less spraying.  This ties directly into crop rotation, as having issues with a disease in a particular hydroponic greenhouse results in the crop causing the issues to be moved to successive greenhouses (or other sections of the same greenhouse) over the next few years. If you are a smaller operation, you have to have numerous other crops (at least 3) to cycle with the disease causing crop so the same crop won’t be in the same place for at least 3 years.  Most often commercial growers graft the heirloom varieties to make them more tolerant of ‘unusual’ conditions. Most heirlooms were developed in someone’s backyard, where they were used to a nice breeze, good sun, and the occasional rain shower. Putting an heirloom into a hydroponic greenhouse is a shell shock to the plant. There are numerous ways for it to become diseased and the environment is starkly different than what it was originally adapted to.  Grafting an heirloom scion onto a disease resistant rootstock allows the plant to be less susceptable to disease and have a growth habit similar to a hybrid tomato. Also, heirlooms are said (by the industry) to produce less fruits per plant compared to hybrids (guess they never looked at the ones in my garden). Grafting increases the amount of fruits produced.  The extra cost of the graft is covered by the premium price that heirloom produce brings in.

So how does that translate to a home gardener?  If you have had problems with soil borne diseases in the past in your garden and it is not large enough to have a 4 year crop rotation or you grow only a couple plants, you may want to consider grafted vegetables. They are more expensive ($8-9 or more per plant), so you need to balance the cost with your gain. However, if you are someone that can rotate your crops, do not have severe disease issues, or you grow more than 2-3 tomato/pepper/etc. plants, I don’t recommend it. It’s just not worth it.  I don’t grow them in my garden and would never.

Also, from my experience, many home gardeners have had issues initially with the graft drying out if the plant is not kept well watered. With non-tomato grafted plants, the plant is completely dead.  With tomatoes, the scion of the plant dies and the rootstock may begin to grow.  If you are not keeping a close eye on your plants, you likely won’t notice it until your plant produces fruits and the fruit is not the variety you bought.

4.  Seed pellets are made of clay with a colorant painted on the outside. They are generally considered safe for home organic gardens. If you are an organic farmer, they are allowed only if the company you are purchasing the seed from does not offer the seed raw (unpelleted).Seed Pellets

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

Scientists May Finally Know What is Killing All the Honeybees (and People with Brains have been Saying this for a LONG Time!!!)

I was still in graduate school when the topic of honeybee decline came up in conversation with my advisor, our post-doc, and the other grad student in my lab. “What could be causing it?”  “Cold temps” “Genetic deformations” Etc.

The girl sitting in the back seat on the car ride back from the field (i.e. your’s truly, Mertie Mae) said, “What about all the pesticides we put on the field. If we put an insectide on for Colorado Potato Beetles, we know that it kills all soft and hard bodied insects on the plant. If we spray insecticides, we know it kills all the worms in the ground. We have bee boxes around the cucumber fields and we know that half of the bees in the boxes disappear by the end of summer, even when they are inside of the cages. It has to be the chemicals we spray on the plants. It is the only logical explaination!”

Of course, at this point, the three men in the car gave me withering looks that pretty much said, “You are an idiot. You are a woman. You know nothing.”  Trust me, this is a look given to anyone in a land grant institution that doesn’t put the great ‘god’ Monsanto up on a pedestal and worship vigorously.

In case my past posts haven’t indicated it, I loath Monsanto and the chemical companies. I believe that we do not know the full extent of the damage they are doing to our environment and to us.

And, someday, if my body is ever found dead in a ditch or floating in a river or under concrete, my family knows to point the police in the direction of the nearest Monsanto representative. Seriously. I am that vocal about it.


So, today, a friend of mine on Facebook posted this article, and after I recovered from my bout of back slapping and hooting, I had to pass it on to you. Courtesy of Yahoo! Finance, I bring you this article that reflects that common sense has once again prevailed. (And that those who are brainwashed in order to get grant money DON’T always know everything… as I might have said to my advisor on my last trip out of his office door when I had my diploma in my hand…)

dead honeybee

Scientists May Have Finally Pinpointed What’s Killing All The Honeybees

Business Insider

Where have all the honeybees gone?

A new study seems to strengthen the evidence linking pesticides used on crops to colony collapse disorder in honeybees.

Colony collapse disorder, or CCD, is a phenomenon in which honeybees inexplicably disappear from their hives. The bodies of the dead bees are typically never found.

Researchers led by Chensheng Lu of Harvard University have pinpointed the collapse of honeybee colonies on a class of pesticides known as neoniotinoids — insecticides that also act as nerve poisons and mimic the effects of nicotine. Scientists specifically looked at how low doses of two neonicotinoids — imidacloprid and clothianidin — affected healthy bee hives over the course of a winter.

The results of the study “reinforce the conclusion that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD,” the authors wrote in their paper, published May 9 in the Bulletin of Insectology.

Disappearing Bees

Colony collapse disorder was first widely reported in America in 2006. Since then, a complex web of factors has been attributed to the mass honeybee die-offs, including everything from disease, parasites, and poor nutrition to the stress of being trucked around the country each year to pollinate different orchards.

Many scientists have theorized that a combination of these factors with exposure to pesticides could be causing the CCD phenomenon.

In contrast, the new study found that long-term exposure to small amounts of neonicotinoids wasn’t compromising the bees’ immune resistance to pathogens. The hives had just as many infections when they weren’t exposed to pesticides. This suggests that “neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD,” scientists said.

Three neonicotinoids are currently banned in the European Union, but these pesticides are still widely used in the United States. Most corn planted in the United States, for example, is treated with neonicotinoids. And while bees don’t pollinate corn, they are exposed to the chemical since the corn’s pollen floats to flowers and other crops nearby.

The Experiment

In October 2012, the Harvard team setup 18 hives at three locations in Massachusetts. At each location, four hives were fed high fructose corn syrup laced with neonicotinoids and two were left untouched. Researchers planned to monitor the hives over the winter since that’s when the die-outs occur.


Bulletin of Insectology

A chart shows the diminishing number of bees in imidacloprid- and clothianidin-treated colonies (the red and blue lines, respectively) between October 2012 and April 2013.

By the spring of 2013, researchers said half of the colonies treated with pesticides had abandoned their hives — the key symptom of CCD. The ones that were left weren’t in good shape. Their honeybee clusters were very small and either lacked queen bees or developing bees, the study said.

Only one of the untreated colonies was lost, and in that case the bees’ bodies were actually inside their hives and showed symptoms that appeared to be caused by a type of parasite.

The new study replicates a previous experiment done by the same group in 2010. In that study, the team only tested imidacloprid and found a higher rate of collapse — 94% of pesticide-treated colonies disappeared. They think the disparity might be related to a colder winter, which stresses the bees and exacerbates the effects of pesticides.

It’s still not clear what role neonicotinoids  play in causing the honeybees to leave their hives during the winter, but the researchers note that it might be related to “impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behavior.”

It’s been previously suggested that neonicotinoids affect the bees’ ability to remember how to get back to their hives. The bees get lost, which would explain why beekeepers usually can’t locate the dead bodies.

Study Challenges

Some bee researchers have found several things to gripe about with this study, including the small sample size, which was also a criticism of the initial experiment.

At, entomologist Jake Bova notes that hive abandonment is not a definitive sign of CCD. “Honey bees may abandon their hives for any number of different reasons, and this study doesn’t control for any of them.”

Other critics have taken issue with the delivery method of the pesticides. In response to the first study, May Berenbaum, head of entomology at the University of Illinois, noted to The Boston Globe that there’s been “no evidence of neonicotinoids in commercially available high fructose corn syrup” and that fact “undermines the premise of bees being exposed to pesticides through the food provided by beekeepers.”

Further, The Examiner’s James Cooper points out the study was published in an “obscure Italian journal” with a measly impact factor of .375 (for comparison, the journal Science, one of the most reputable in the world, has an impact factor of 31.027).

Cooper also said the authors “do not account for the fact the France still observes CCD each year, even though they banned neonicotinoids 5 years ago.”

Our World Without Honeybees

Objections to the study seem to belie the fact that any research on colony collapse disorder gives much-needed attention to a global crisis that puts us all at risk.

One-third of the food we eat depends on insect pollination, mostly by honeybees that are raised and managed by beekeepers. There is no good replacement for honeybees, which are easy to manage in masses and are unmatched in the variety of crops they can pollinate. Everything from apples and cherries to broccoli, pumpkins, and almonds depends on honeybees.

Over the last six years, American beekeepers have lost 30% of their hives each winter on average. Some winter losses are expected, but normally in the 5 to 10% range.

The Harvard study comes out just before the United States Department of Agriculture is set to release its annual report of winter honeybee losses. In a media alert, the department said that losses are “expected to be significant due to several contributing factors, including exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides.”


(Above content is copied from .  Dina, you rock! Great article! Thank you Yahoo! for permission to blog about this article!)


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Who Owns Who? Devotees of the Great Monsanto

For those that frequently read my blog, I think it comes through very loud and clear where I stand on my perspectives with Monsanto. While I will not fully type out my exact words of what I think, let’s just say that there is no grey for me. With the statements I have publicly made in the past, I will likely find myself dead in a ditch someday or in jail for not stroking the fur of Monsanto’s hairy back just the right way.

Recently I was asked by a online gardening friend where they could go to buy seeds if they wanted to avoid Monsanto. Well, of course, the obvious places would be Baker Creek, Seed Savers Exchange, etc. and so on. “But what companies should I avoid? I don’t want to accidentally support someone that even agrees with their practices.” What,  not want to agree with the folks that think that they own every seed in the world and you are wrong to think otherwise?

Back in 2005, people were shocked when Monsanto purchased Seminis.  At that time, Seminis controled 40% of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20% of the world market. If you do the math, this means that they supplied approximately 56% of the lettuce, 75% of the tomatoes, and 85% of the peppers that finds it’s way to your supermarket shelf.  If that’s not scary, consider also that about half of the beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas you buy at the store comes from them too. The company’s biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans.

In large part, these numbers reflect usage of Seminis varieties within large industrial production geared towards supermarkets, but Seminis seeds are also widely used by regional conventional and organic farmers as well as market and home gardeners. J.W. Jung, HPS, Vermont Bean Seed, Totally Tomatoes, R.H.Shumway’s, Nichol’s, Rupp, Osborne, Snow, and Stokes are among the dozens of commercial and garden seed catalogs that carry the more than 3,500 varieties that comprise Seminis’ offerings. This includes dozens of All-American Selections and an increasing number of varieties licensed to third parties for certified organic seed production.

Scary, huh?


Gold Country Seed
Hubner Seed
Jung Seed Genetics
Kruger Seeds
Lewis Hybrids
Rea Hybrids
Stone Seed Group
West Bred


(Image used with permission of


Per contractual agreements with these companies, Monsanto may also dictate the location of their product’s within the purchaser’s website and/or catalog.  You can see more about this in my previous article on the subject.)

Audubon Workshop
Breck’s Bulbs
Cook’s Garden
Dege Garden Center
Earl May Seed
E & R Seed Co
Ferry Morse
Flower of the Month Club
Gardens Alive
Germania Seed Co
Garden Trends
J.W. Jung Seed
Lindenberg Seeds
McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
Mountain Valley Seed
Park Bulbs
Park’s Countryside Garden
Plants of Distinction
R.H. Shumway
Roots and Rhizomes
Seeds for the World
Seymour’s Selected Seeds
Spring Hill Nurseries
T&T Seeds
Tomato Growers Supply
Totally Tomato
Vermont Bean Seed Co.
Wayside Gardens
Willhite Seed Co.
American Seeds
De Ruiter
Diener Seeds
Fielder’s Choice
Heritage Seeds
Western Seeds


If you are thinking now, “where can I buy seed from?”, here is a list of Non-GMO, Monsanto-free seed companies.
Amishland Seeds
Annapolis Valley
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds 
Burpee Seeds
Heritage Seed Company (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Diane’s Flower Seeds
Ed Hume Seeds
Garden City Seeds
Heirlooms Evermore Seeds
Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom Organics
Horizon Herbs
Irish Valley Seeds
Johnny’s Seeds
Landreth Seeds
Lake Valley Seeds
Livingston Seeds
Local Harvest
Mountain Rose Herbs
Organica Seed
Park Seeds
Sand Hill Preservation Center
Seeds of Change (Owned by Mars Inc.) But GMO Free.
Seed Savers Exchange
Southern Exposure
Sustainable Seed Co
Territorial Seeds
Tiny Seeds
Uprising Seeds
Virtual Farm Seed Co
Wildseed Farms

There you go folks! Enjoy!!

(P.S. If you are a seed company representative for a Non-GMO/non-Monsanto company, please feel free to comment below and we will add your company to the list!)


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.