Mystery Seeds from China? Don't plant them!

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Jul 31 2020 29 mins   4

We do read the comments you post at the various podcast services. And we respond. Recently, at the Apple Podcast site, Sage posted: “Will you please address the mystery seeds being mailed to Americans? This is super scary and I believe you can help prevent something awful since you have the audience. Thanks in advance!”

You’re welcome, in advance, Sage.

Yes, here’s one mystery in which there are still a lot of question marks. What’s the deal with all the unsolicited seed packets being mailed not only to gardeners in the United States, but all over the world? The seed shipments have fooled inspectors, because the packages are labeled as containing something else, such as jewelry or toys. The packages originate usually from China, and Kyrgyzstan.

Is it just a marketing gimmick, known as "brushing", a way to increase the notoriety and page placement on online selling sites…or, is their something nefarious about those seeds? Are they seeds of invasive or poisonous plants? Do the seeds contain plant viruses or bacteria? College horticulture professor (retired) Debbie Flower explains how a seed can carry a virus or bacteria, including the biggest threat to the country's citrus industry, the bacteria, Citrus Greening Disease (HLB).

Whatever you do, don’t plant those seeds. And don’t throw them away, either. We’ll tell you how you can help solve this mystery.

We do have more calming things to talk about here today: information on where to get inexpensive soil tests, here and here; and, how to tame the heat in peppers that you’ve grown that are just too hot, including habanero and serrano chile peppers. Dave DeWitt, author of "The Complete Chile Pepper Book" has the solution.

Don’t plant those seeds. Spend less than a half hour with us here, on Episode 33 of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. Let’s go.

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