Phoenix Seeds exists, primarily, to provide access to a broad range of self-replicating varieties of seed suitable for home food production. The focal point of the business is a small house and seed garden in Snug in southern Tasmania, where seed is produced in situ and brought in from outside sources and distributed to Australian residences (except WA*) The premises are not open to the public.
The principle idea, besides making a living, is to encourage people to grow food at home, preferably using seed saved from plants grown in their garden and thereby having some say in the full cycle of plant food production. Also, many species of vegetable plants are becoming very difficult to import into Tasmania necessitating more applied seed production and storage.
*Please note that due to the imposition of considerable quarantine inspection fees, orders are not accepted for Western Australia.
Seeds per packet
There’s an almost overwhelming volume of information pertaining to gardening and horticulture these days, which can make it easy to lose touch with the simple truth that each and every garden begins with love. I gratefully acknowledge the delight and wonder of the beautiful, simple experience of sowing a hard ball of seemingly lifeless matter into the earth and, with due care, watching a plant take recognisable form, eventually providing my body with delicious, natural nutrition.
Garden plants may not reach maturity for any number of reasons: a young seedling, having just pushed through the soil surface, may succumb to disease or lack of moisture; I may eat the plant or part of it when it is most succulent or as flowers set or when the seed is plump and most nutritious. Disease is likely to reflect some aspect of the conditions under which the plant is grown, especially the soil. An appreciation of the life cycle of a grassland or forest system can be of great benefit here, particularly with regard to the natural, continuous supply of organic matter to the top soil. The form a garden takes is as varied as the gardeners involved and will, no doubt, reflect some aspect of them, though the guiding principle, surely, is that of enjoyment-whether in the delight of the physical activity of gardening, the gratitude for the beauty of the garden or the wonderfully appropriate nutrition resulting from the gardening process. I love it.
Like gardeners, each seed is likely to have its distinct way of getting things done (germination for example), though some general rules apply with respect to providing seed with conditions likely to facilitate healthy growth, such as: a growing medium-usually soil of some sort (preferably with some nutrient value); light(preferably direct sunlight); warmth; water; air and adequate drainage. This just about covers the basics. The finer points of the aspects, as well as ongoing cultivation techniques, come down to either experience(preferably) or research. For instance: some plants are known to have a distinct preference for either acid or alkaline soil- commonly referred to by specific pH levels; some seed won’t germinate unless it is dark whereas others won’t germinate unless exposed to sunlight; some seed germinates in relatively cool soil(e.g. onion) whereas others require an optimum soil temperature of 35degC(e.g. zucchini) and would just as soon rot rather than germinate in cool soil.
Seed Type & Terminology
Non-hybrid seed, with proper management, reproduces true to type(produces distinct varietal characteristics for 4 or more generations), evolving in the course of time. Quite often, the most appropriate seeds to sow are those produced in your garden. When saving seed, endeavour to consider the parent plants as a whole entity and avoid focussing on individual parts such as big fruit, earliness, vigour etc., though these aspects are, of course, part of the whole.
All Organic, biological, biodynamic vegetable and herb seed is marked O/G both in the catalogue and on seed packets. The term organically grown, in the context of this catalogue, not only indicates that a seed lot has been grown free of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides etc., it also usually signifies that it has been grown on a much smaller scale than standard commercial operations allow, with more loving attention and less, if any, mechanical handling of plants and seed. Quality is more easily realised. It is a source of significant pleasure to handle such seed.
Hybrids are a rich source of new varieties and, besides being well worthwhile cultivating, can be very useful for home breeding purposes. When referring to common vegetables, the word hybrid generally means the offspring of a deliberate, manipulated cross between two, true-breeding varieties of a particular vegetable. Such crosses are often favoured by producers since they can exhibit a trend known as hybrid vigour, resulting in an increase of desirable, sellable and reproducible traits. This is normally true for one generation only, which, for the home gardener, usually necessitates a return to the seed shop for a repeat performance. Rather than ignoring the practical benefit offered by hybrid breeders, some outstanding selections are included in the catalogue and are identified by the word hybrid in the catalogue description and the cultural information provided in each seed packet. The notation F1 on a seed packet also signifies hybrid status.
If you want to save true to type seed, take some time to find out what is involved to accomplish this successfully. Don’t bother saving seed of hybrids unless you have developed the significant, necessary skills for working with these.
Cultural instructions are enclosed in each seed packet and are updated as information comes to hand. Each common name listing in the catalogue is followed directly by the botanical name and in turn by the planting code which is to be taken as a general guide only. For example: CARAWAY Carum carvi B/d/sp,au/100/S/25/FT/Light
Habit: Annual(A); Biennial(B), Perennial(P)
Sowing procedure: sown direct in the garden(d); sown in beds or trays and transplanted later(t)
Sowing season: spring(sp); summer(su); autumn(au); winter(w); early(e)- (an item in brackets here means that the seed can be sown at this time outdoors in warmer climates or indoors in cooler areas)
Number of seed per packet: (or weight in grams(g)). This item is subject to wide variation and is at best an approximation.
Time taken for seed to germinate: short(S) 0-14days; long(L) 15-25days; extra long(EL) 26+days
Optimum soil temperature for seed germination(in degrees C)
Frost tolerance(FT), Drought tolerance(DT)
Light or Dark required for germination: (Light) or (Dark)
Sow by ASAP stamped on the seed packet signifies the need to sow the seed as soon as possible from the time of receipt. Store the packet as is in the fridge in the meantime.
Seed packets are supplied on the basis that they are non-returnable.