Tom Johns, Territorial Seed Company
Thirty-five years old and still growing, Territorial Seed Company sells seeds and transplants to gardeners throughout the United States, with particular attention to those in the maritime northwest. In fact the need for seeds suited to that specific climate is what gave the company its
start. In 1979 owner and founder Steve Solomon sought out varieties that did well in England because, he reasoned, those varieties would also flourish in the maritime northwest, where Territorial Seed is situated. This focus continues into the present. Current owners Tom and Julie Johns look for the hardiest vegetable varieties on the planet—those
that perform well in Germany, Switzerland, and other northern countries. And then they test them. From its inception the company has maintained an extensive trial grounds, where an in-season staff of about 55 grows and evaluates thousands of varieties for vigor and taste.
Territorial Seed offers a few items that you may have difficulty finding elsewhere, including its winter gardening blends: seed that will keep you eating fresh cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli from September to March. A year-round blend of four sprouting broccoli varieties will produce a continuous nine-month harvest of mini broccoli heads
from a single sowing in regions where the climate permits winter growing. With 75 acres of certified organic land in London Springs, Oregon, Territorial is its own largest seed supplier. This enables the company to produce unique strains of vegetables that thrive where summers are cool and winters mild, such as ‘Thompson’ and ‘Umpqua’
open-pollinated broccoli, and earlier fruiting ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes.
Compost is key. “For plants to travel well they need robust roots,” Tom states. Having followed the research of Elaine Ingham of Oregon State University, he believes heartily in using compost and compost tea to produce vigorous plants. Besides growing for the farm, Territorial Seed raises tens of thousands of transplants for sale to
customers. A vermicomposting operation yields plentiful worm castings for their organic soil mix, and compost tea sprays keep transplants strong.