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The seed company's founder, Jere Gettle,
became fascinated with seeds at an early age,
and planted his first garden when he was just
three years old. While other kids his age were
trading baseball cards, Gettle poured over seed
catalogs and marveled at the wondrous variety of
vegetables and flowers that could be grown from
those tiny treasures. He was particularly fascinated
with the history of old seeds, and as he grew up,
he noticed that diversity was disappearing from
commercially available seeds.
He published his first Baker Creek Heirloom
Seed catalog in 1998, when he was just 17 years
old. Today, Gettle's company sends out 750,000
catalogs yearly to gardeners and farmers across the
country and offers 1,300 varieties of vegetables,
flowers and herbs. Baker Creek's selection of
heirloom seeds is now the largest in the nation.
" We grow a lot of our seeds at our farm out in the
Ozark hills, " Gettle says, " and we also have an
awesome network of about 200 growers. "
Heirloom seed varieties, Gettle explains, are
typically more than 50 years old-passed down
from generation to generation by seed-saving
farmers.
Unlike
conventional
seed varieties,
heirlooms are naturally pollinated by birds,
insects, or the wind, and have not been genetically
modified or hybridized. And because they haven't
been bred to cultivate perfect looks or the ability
to survive transport across the country, heirloom
vegetables are often more flavorful than their
conventional counterparts.
While heirlooms have a reputation for being
harder to grow and more susceptible to diseases,
Gettle says that is not the case if they are planted
in the right place.
" It is a myth that heirlooms don't grow as well, "
he says. " Hybrids are typically selected to grow
over a wide region, but heirlooms are regionally
adapted to specific bioregions and microclimates.
Many perform extremely well when grown in a
region similar to where they were developed. "
Merlot lettuce can be grown in USDA Hardiness
Zones 3-9, and can tolerate both heat and
light frost. Because Sonoma County's growing
conditions are near-perfect (Zone 9), the variety
thrives for months, growing new leaves after
each trimming.
23

Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 15, 2020

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Table of Contents
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