Tuesday, February 2, 2016

About Us

Since 1900 Farmers Seed & Supply Co. Inc. has been the destination for farmers and gardeners in the central Virginia area.  We have been located at 1306 Main Street in Lynchburg, Virginia for over 100 years, selling garden seed, bulbs, vegetable plants, fertilizer,  potting soil, pesticides, hardware, tools, animal and bird feed, greenhouse supplies, lawn seed ,  and  thousands of other garden-related products.
We package and sell our own money saving no-frills label garden seeds and carry a complete line of Burpee, Weeks, Crossman, and Cooks Garden packaged seed.   We have Heirloom and Organic seeds including vegetable, ornamental and flower seeds.  We carry hybrid seeds but not GMO seeds. We stock organic fertilizers and pesticides that are  OMRI listed.
We are located just 2 blocks off Business 29 exit 1 (head north), or just one block from the Lynchburg Community Market.   

Keep up with our ever changing inventory on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Farmersseed/

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Know Your Beans

Kathy Woolsey

   Is Green Bean Casserole on the menu this Thanksgiving at your house? My family serves green beans with a little pork for Thanksgiving and for just about every holiday.  I doubt green bean casserole was on the first Thanksgiving menu; French fried onions were hard to come by back then.  November would have been too late in the season for green beans anyway, but shelled beans were most likely served.  The Wampanoag’s grew many cultivars of Phaseolus vulgaris the common bean and shared them with the Pilgrims.  Kidney, Pinto, Navy, Black Turtle, and green beans are just a few of the hundreds of varieties of grown by Native Americans.   Today, the Seed Savers Exchange lists over 4000 cultivars of Phaseolus vulgaris from around the Americas.

     Common Beans can be bush, half-runner, or pole.  They can be eaten young as green beans or fresh shelled or dried.  These beans originated in Central America and quickly spread north and south. The Spanish took them east and west.   Eastern Native Peoples planted corn and beans together on the same mound so the beans could climb the corn stalks.

There are other species of beans native to the Americas, Phaseolus coccineus the Scarlet Runner bean, Phaseolus lunatus the Lima bean and Phaseolus acutifolius, the Tepary bean.

The Tepary bean thrives in the dry Southwestern US. They are rarely grown or seen around here. They are usually eaten fresh shelled or dried very much like the common bean.
The Scarlet Runner bean prefers a cooler climate. It is grown as an ornamental in many gardens for its bright red flowers. The beans can be black or purple. It can be eaten as a green bean and a shelled bean. I have never had much luck growing them around here. 

There has always been a debate about Lima Beans and Butterbeans. The truth is they are both Phaseolus lunatus. Some folks call the big ones Limas and the small ones Butterbeans. They are called Limas because Europeans first saw them in Lima Peru.  ‘Carolina Sieva Pole’ bean is an heirloom variety that thrives in the heat and produces small white butterbeans. ‘Thorogreen’ Bush Lima is the most popular variety in the South, with a good yield of light green colored beans that are wonderful in Okra soup.    

At Farmers Seed we sell about 20 different varieties of green beans Phaseolus vulgaris.  Our favorite is ‘Roma II’, a flat pod with a white bean. The pods are flavorful and always tender and never a string even when the pods were mature. We called them snaps. Every Sunday mother would fill the bottom of a big pressure cooker with snaps and a piece of side meat and place peeled white potatoes on top. This she would cook until the potatoes were soft and the snaps would melt in your mouth.  #beans, #Garden

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Three Sister Garden of the First Peoples

Although we grow many of the same crops as Native Americans, our gardens look very different.  Today we plant our gardens in neat rows that are carefully spaced and our crops organized for crop rotation.  A patch of corn here and a few rows of beans over there and then there are large commercial farms with hundreds of acres of a single crop. Native Americans developed a unique system of companion planting that was well established before Europeans arrived.  Corn, beans, and squash were gifts of the Great Sprit and were called the Three Sisters and always planted together in the garden.  The Three Sisters Garden has always fascinated me for I am the oldest of 3 sisters and we all love to garden.
There were many tribes in North America and many had their own legends about the Three Sisters and there were variation in the garden design as well.  Some gardens were large circles with mounds of soil spaced 4- 5 foot apart.  The mounds were about hand high and 20 inches wide, with a flat top.  The corn was planted first.  Many of the First Peoples looked for a sign from nature to tell them it was time to plant. My father always said to plant corn when you hear the Whip-poor-wills calling at night.  
Planting the Sisters
Men hunted, fished and tended the tobacco plants. Women cleared the land and did most of the vegetable planting.  Four corn seeds were planted on the top of the mound in a circle spaced about a hand stretch apart. Often the seeds were lined up with the compass points to honor the four directions.  When the corn reached about hand high, the beans were planted in between the corn to complete the circle. After the beans were up the squash was planted on the side of the mound.  The three sisters helped each other as sisters do. The beans could climb up the corn and provide the corn plant Nitrogen in the soil. The squash would run about on the ground and shade the soil keeping moister in and weeds out.  There were some variations; sometimes the squash was planted on smaller mounds in between the larger corn and bean mounds.  The First Peoples cook corn and beans together in a dish called succotash.  The Proteins from the corn and bean combination is equal that of meat. 
Some eastern tribes planted Sunflowers Helianthus annuus along the north edge of the garden. Tribes west of the Mississippi planted Cleome hassieranna around the garden.  Lewis and Clark called the cleome the Rocky Mountain bee plant.  These flowers provided food for the pollinators and the sunflower seeds provided food for the people too. 

 Pumpkins are the unruly sister and were planted in a separate patch because the vines could climb up the corn and the heavy weight of the fruit would pull down the corn.   Did the Pilgrims serve pumpkin pie at the first Thanksgiving? Probably not, since sugar, flour and Crisco were in short supply in 1621. Traditionally a whole pumpkin was placed on a bed of hot embers and roasted until it collapsed and then served without any Cool Whip. 
Kathy Rice Woolsey