What’s Happening?

Introducing our newest family member – Oakley (who doesn’t like her picture taken!) She is quite the lady and has started learning the skills of country life.

 

We like our birds!!!! A small showing of our “regulars”.

 

Hoop house growing! The spinach and cabbage remain delicious!

 

Let’s not forget Miss Kitty, our tomato transplant supervisor. As quick as the transplants were re-potted, she would playfully paw them out of the pot. She is a very curious kitty!!

 

Papa presenting at the Wabash Valley  Master Gardener Spring Conference in Terre Haute, Indiana. The topic , “Starting a Seed Saving Garden”. This wonderful group of dedicated Master Gardeners is very active in their community. Kudos to all your community service projects!!

Wabash Valley Master Gardeners

 

Spring  flowers are cheerful! It is a delight seeing colors once again! Real “eye candy” for the soul.

 

Papa

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Calling All Organic Gardeners and Producers!!

February 4th through the 6th is the 2016 Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference, University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Springfield MO. Those attending will be from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Kansas.

University Plaza

2016 MOA Annual Conference

The topics will include: Grain production, Livestock production, Commercial  Vegetable production, High-tunnel small fruits and vegetable production, Sustainable living skills, Culinary and medicinal plants, and a whole lot more!

The “Top Chef competition”, featuring 6 of the premier chefs from St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia, scheduled for Friday, February the 5th, is by now a tradition of the MOA Conference.

One of the surprises prepared for this year is the “Consumer Health Education Seminary”, scheduled for Saturday, February 6th and open to the general public. The discussion will focus on organic foods and their connection to a healthy diet and balanced nutrition. The session will be presented by dietitians and medical physicians and will include definitions and discussion regarding “health food terminology”. Our guests will learn about the difference between organic, non-GMO, natural foods, free range, cage free, etc.

I will be one of the speakers on Thursday, February 4th. My topic will be “Making a Seed Saving Garden” from 11 am to 12 pm.

2016 MOA Annual Conference

This will be my third year attending this incredible conference. This is a well organized conference including friendly vendors and volunteers, relevant topics of the day, organic meals as well as a beautiful conference center and hotel with free parking.

Hope to see you there!!

Papa

Seed Saving Tip

Have you saved seed from your vegetable garden or traded for seed during a seed swap? Have you provided space for them in your spring garden?

Here’s a tip worth your consideration. Find those seeds and start germination testing. Why? Germination of 50% or below should send you to your 2016 seed catalogs for replacements. Doing this now insures you will find the replacements available instead of “out of stock”.

germination1

Save time and money as a low germination rate will require double the seed sown for an expected yield.

An easy technique for germination:

  • Gather paper towels and zip-lock bags
  • Moisten the paper towel
  • For large seeds a minimum of 10 seeds ( ie.: watermelon, gourd, winter squash, summer squash, sunflower, pumpkin, beans, peas)
  • For small seeds a minimum of 25 seeds ( ie.: eggplant, sweet pepper, hot pepper, tomato, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach)
  • Place seed in moistened towel with spacing between seeds and fold towel in half. Be sure to label the bag with the seed name.
  • Place in zip-lock bag and seal.
  • Place the zip-lock bag in a warm place providing temperatures of 70-85 degrees.
  • Check the bag every 3-5 days for signs of germination.The seed coat should be bursting and either a plant shoot should be on the top of the seed and/or a root on the opposite end.
  • All the seeds in the bag should germinate at the same rate of time for the seed type.germination600
  • A 50% germination rate for 10 seeds would be 5 seeds.
  • A 50% germination rate for 25 seeds would be 13 seeds.

Any questions? Do not hesitate to contact me!!

Papa

 

Seed Saving Garden? Basics for the Beginner!

Can a backyard gardener save their own vegetable, herb and flower seed? Absolutely!

Saving your own heirloom seed is fun and rewarding. Only open pollinated, heirloom seed has the ability to reproduce itself. Who is better to trust saving seed but yourself. Think of the accomplishment!

What are your favorite vegetables, herbs and flowers? Focus on those varieties that bring back fond memories. Make a goal to start small and add more varieties when you are comfortable doing so.

  • How much space do you have available? Be realistic. Don’t try to cram a lot of plants into a small area. One option is to plant in containers. Some varieties only require limited space for proper growth and root structure (i.e. lettuce).
  • Take into consideration pollination required (wind [corn, wheat], insect [squash, watermelon], vibration [tomato], mechanical [hand pollination])
  • Isolation techniques:
    • Blossom bagging (such as individual fruit of tomato, squash, okra) using fine screening material to keep out pollinating insects.
    • Caging entire groups of plants (broccoli, cauliflower, beets, Swiss chard) using fine screening material to keep out pollinating insects.
    • Save okra seed       Tomato seed saving
    • seed saving cages 3whole    seed saving cages 5bce525c5436aa03bad5992585ea16d21

I hope this is more clearly understood. It is absolutely essential to grasp these concepts!

Papa

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That? Part 3

I met a man in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed store who lost his personal family heirloom seed in a house fire. He was saddened he could not replace those beloved seeds. All the more reason to embrace the heirlooms we can grow and make them our own.

Growing, Harvesting, Saving Seed

Beans (green, dry/fresh shell out beans), cowpeas/southern peas and peas (garden, snow and sugar snap peas) are the simplest seeds to save!!

  • Beans: 10 – 20 feet between varieties is sufficient to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating).

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years

beans-dry-bush-closeupDried beans on vineBeans pods2

  • Cowpeas: 10 – 20 feet between separation to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating) .

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years.

Cowpeas1Cowpeascowpeas2

  • Peas: 10 – 20 feet between varieties is sufficient to prevent cross pollination (self-pollinating).

–10 plants are needed for sufficient seed quantities.

–Harvest when pods are dry.

–Seed are viable 3 – 4 years

Dried peas on vineDried peas1Dried peas

  • Remember, this is fun and practical! Any questions?

Papa

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That?

Have you considered saving seed from your garden? Saving seed was once an option. Not any more. It is absolutely essential!! With an uncertain economy and a shrinking heirloom seed pool, the time has come to start saving seed. Over 90% of our heirloom seed have been lost to apathy, lack of interest and the advent of hybrids.

I offered a presentation on  Planning a Seed Garden during the September Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Fall Festival. I will be sharing this information over the next few days.

seed saving cages 2bf220def13c0a7dd7fe13d3e8f860078Save okra seedGarden cages3

  • Determine your favorite open pollinated (true to type) vegetables, herbs and flowers.
  • Does your current garden have the space necessary for vegetable and seed saving production?

–Make a garden plan to fit the space available.

Start small, planting a familiar variety that you are comfortable growing.

–What seed crop or crops are worth the space?

  • Isolation requirement, pollination method and plant requirement must be considered.

Annual Crops

  • Will your seed saving choice have time to mature?

–Tomato, winter squash and grains are harvested at maturity.

–Eggplant, cucumber, snap peas and beans need additional time for seed          maturity.

–Leaf crops (Oriental greens, lettuce, spinach), stalk crops (celery, celtuce,      cardoon, Swiss Chard, asparagus, fennel) and root crops (potato, sweet potato)    need additional time for seed maturity.

Biennial Crops

  • Need cold for vernalization requirement.

–Vernalization is a period of chilling before flowering.

  • Winter chilling is critical for flower initiation.
  • Cabbage, carrots, beets, turnips, kale grow foliage the first year.

–Overwintering initiates flowering the following spring, producing seed.

Are there any questions? Please send them!

Papa

2015 University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Conference

Preparing for the 2015 University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Conference, O’Fallon , Illinois. I will be speaking on SEED SAVING, Friday, September 18.

https://web.extension.illinois.edu/mg/conference2015/index.cfm

https://web.extension.illinois.edu/mg/conference2015/speaker.cfm

Hopefully, this will be the first of many opportunities to share the absolute importance of saving your own seed. At one time it was an option to save heirloom seed. Now it is essential!!!

Papa

Papa