If you are looking for a good mix of seeds from the common to the unusual, heirloom plants, gardening supplies, farming antiques, and participating in a bit of history, then Comstock, Ferre & Co. in Wethersfield, Connecticut is the place for you!
Last Sunday, they held an Heirloom Festival in celebration of 202 years of Comstock service to CT. They had nationally acclaimed horticultural speakers, musical entertainment, vendors, plants, and handcrafted products – and of course, lots and lots of seeds.
In fact, the seed stock is probably one of the coolest things about this place. Tall wooden shelves line the interior building showcasing rows with a wonderful assortment of seeds in beautiful seed packets. Even if you are not into growing from seed, looking at all the colorful labels is fun. And most of the seeds are heirlooms.
Comstock is big on heirlooms, and they offer documentation and books to explain all and why they find them beneficial. As one of their handouts states, “Heirloom varieties are often the product of many generations of careful selection by farmers and gardeners who knew what they wanted from their plants. If a variety has been carefully nurtured and its seed kept by generations of a family or in a small geographic area, it stands to reason that it must perform well in the conditions under which it has been preserved.”
My definition of heirloom is summed up by my Dad’s tomatoes. I swear they are the best, and he saves the seeds every year to regrow the product he carefully selected. It pretty much has been unchanged, and unmodified by genetics, which is another big topic of discussion and awareness at Comstock, the whole GMO concerns. I won’t go into that whole world which is really getting mega attention these days, but lets just say if you want to be educated on Heirloom benefits versus GMO’s – Comstock is one place that will do so for you.
During this festival day at Comstock, my sister, Louise, was sporting a GMO free shirt as she conducted her chorale group of students from the Silas Deane Middle School.
Louise just loves Comstock and their offerings, and I keep telling her she reminds me of a Master Gardener. She is tending to her garden of veggies daily and continues to expand her collection of plants and knowledge. I’m starting to ask her questions now on veggies – she is so passionate about it.
Comstock is located in a historial section of Wethersfield, CT at 263 Main Street. When you arrive, you will find street only parking, and a couple of nearby quaint shops, and even ice cream just a few short steps down the side walk.
The building is very old and you get the feeling you are entering a bit of history as you walk around checking out the antiques upstairs and downstairs.
The greenhouse is stocked with starter plants – lots of tomatoes, and other veggies. And you can pick up some handmade birdhouses or other gardening decor, weeding tools, and trellis. They have an interesting mix of items for sale.
Steve, my husband, purchased a birdhouse, and when we got home to read the documentation provided about its creator, it turned out he is from our home town of Broad Brook, CT. Small world. He made them from salvaged barn board from Windsorville, CT tobacco barns and roof slates.
After we listened to the young group of singers with wonderful voices, we shopped around the rest of the vendors at the festival, and I picked up one packet of seeds – Castor Beans. Yup castor beans. I love big foliage plants and this one is on my list to try. It has reddish bronze leaves (Gibsonii variety), and stunning scarlet seed heads. It looks tropical and gets very tall, but only one word of caution, all parts including the seeds are poisonous. However, it was a must-have for me.
We couldn’t stay long that morning due to other obligations, but it is a place I will revisit – especially useful early in the season to pick up your seeds for the garden. Comstock, Ferre & Co. has been selling heirloom seeds for over 200 years. Let’s help them to add another 100 to their record.
Container Crazy Cathy T