Saturday, 14 January 2012

The cult of Diggers

a mix of daikon and parsley seeds

 It seems lately that a day doesn’t go by without an article appearing in the media that waxes lyrical about Diggers and their heirloom seeds. Take this article from the Age the other day. But do you really need to pay $49 to become a member of the Digger’s club to have a productive and sustainable garden?

I must admit briefly flirting with the Diggers concept with the purchase of some Diggers heirloom tomatoes. Last year was my second attempt and I went all out with the full mixed punnet (Black Russian, Tigerella and Mortgage Lifter) I think they were accidentally under priced so it seemed like a bargain at the time. This was at the expense of other varieties I have planted in the past.  Blame the weather or the fact they were planted out in October, but I think I had a grand total of about 3 tomatoes! The only tomato that did come through was the  likely certified commercial hybrid cherry tomato that’s  still feeding the family this year.  Not to be deterred I undertook to save the seeds of a single Black Russian (along with my hybrid cherry) to produce this year’s crop. While the cherry tomato and its descendants are coming along I am yet to be impressed by my ‘Diggers’ descendants.
Its also worth noting Diggers doesn’t have a moratorium on so called heirloom seeds, many of the seeds advertised in the catalogue are available through cheaper brands like Yates and Mr Fothergills or are sold as seedlings at Bunnings (even under the budget labels!). I have been growing  seeds  from the same $2.5 pack of Mr Fothergills version of Diggers ‘Blue Lake’ climbing beans for ages and now I have moved onto their babies (bean and pea seeds must be some of the easiest seeds to collect and grow).

Despite all of this I did have to thank one friend’s dalliance with the Diggers cult when I harvested my second crop of Daikon (Japanese radish) seeds today….. I will have to admit I don’t think these ones  are for sale down at Big W.

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