Untreated Seeds

Does it seem weird to you that seeds for food crops are treated with chemicals?! There has been a lot of press the last few years about seed treatments for large-scale crops (ie corn, soy beans) causing a lot of harm to insects (such as honeybees). There is also a lot of discussion on how to minimize the damage these seed treatments cause  (such as, how to plant the treated seeds to minimize the impact to honeybees and other beneficial insects).

But, what about the seed treatments for crops that we eat directly? How many people are concerned about the chemicals coating some vegetable seeds?

150318 marigold seeds

I saw a seed packet recently that stated:

"Caution: if you are allergic to chemicals, be careful not to handle seed without gloves. Do not feed seed to birds or animals or burn as fuel. This seed is treated with Apron, Thiram"

150318 corn seeds

A few thoughts came to mind when reading that...

1. Shouldn't everyone wear gloves when handling treated seeds? Not just people who are "allergic to chemicals"? What about a mask to prevent inhalation of the dust?

2. Why are these food-crop seeds treated?

3. I realized I have never made a point to say that we do not use any treated seeds! We like them au naturel. This is just common knowledge here that we use only untreated (natural) seeds, we never thought to mention it.

150318 statice seeds

I've read some stats about plants grown from treated seeds. I'll have to look up the exact numbers, but as I recall, a level of only a few parts per billion of some seed-treatment insecticides will kill a honeybee.

150318 onion seeds

If it does this to bees, what is it doing other beneficial insects? What is the effect of the seed treatment on the microbes in the soil that these plants are growing in?

zinnia seeds

Since we are doing our best to increase the biology in the soil...

And we prefer to not handle strong chemicals when possible (even with gloves and a mask)...

And we choose to not let any chemicals come in contact with the food we produce (at any stage in the production / harvest cycle)...

And working to encourage a healthy population of beneficial insects in our gardens...

150318 pea seed

We will continue to use only untreated seeds in our gardens!

(** All the seed photos in this post show the beautiful diversity of seeds in their natural form. So much variation in colour, shape, texture, size, form!)