Tag Archives: organic gardening

Are Seeds On Your Mind?

Baker Creek Catalog

Vance and Nancy looking over the 2015 Baker Creek seed catalogs at Blackacre Nature Conservancy in Louisville..

Our seed swap is coming up and that always generates a lot of seed questions, particularly about seed types: genetically modified, hybrid, open pollinated, and heirloom.

GM (Genetically Modified) crops are created by adding genetic material from one species into the DNA sequence of another species. The result of genetic modification by laboratory methods is a combination of genetic materials that could not occur naturally. You will not find GM seeds in a home garden center at this time.

Hybrids are developed through traditional breeding, where pollen is moved between members of the same species. Plant breeders carry pollen from one plant to another by hand or with the help of insects to produce controlled crosses of two individual plants. Hybrids are typically bred for increased vigor, pest resistance, larger fruit size, or for the ability to withstand shipping and handling. Hybrid cultivars are developed over many years. A few examples of hybrid plants are Sun Gold tomatoes and many of the “super hot” chili peppers, such as the Carolina Reaper. You cannot save the seeds from hybrid plants for planting, you will have inferior plants that are not true to the parent plant. You are able to root cuttings (“take clones”) if you would like to reproduce a hybrid.

You may hear discussion about open pollinated seeds. Open pollination is achieved by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants. One of the bigger challenges in maintaining a strain by open pollination is avoiding introduction of pollen from other strains. Based on how broadly the pollen for the plant tends to disperse, it can be controlled to varying degrees by greenhouses, tall wall enclosures, or field isolation.

Heirloom seeds are open pollinated cultivars that have been kept true to variety, with no cross pollination, through careful cultivation methods for over fifty years. Baker Creek Seed Company is using tent enclosures in its own gardens to house the plants. Bumble bees are then introduced to control the pollination. This prevents cross-pollination from undesirable sources, as well as preventing cross-pollination between strains. Heirloom seeds can be saved and replanted, ensuring a trustworthy supply of family food year after year. When saving seeds, separate cultivars of the same plant variety to prevent cross pollination.

NOTE:  Both Baker Creek and High Mowing Seeds are Non-GMO Project verified. They are the only two seed companies in the US currently testing seeds at high risk for GM contamination for cross-pollination with GM varieties.

SEED STARTING VS BUYING PLANTS:  Benefits of seed starting include increased variety of plants to choose from, having complete control over what is used on your plants, and quite often, healthier plants to start your garden. Healthier starts = healthier and better garden performance, and better harvests. More and more plants are available that are locally grown and organic, or at the very least, not sprayed with pesticides.

Starting your own plants is not difficult with the right equipment and space, primarily a grow light of some sort and a warm area.

To assist with timing your plant starts, there are several apps and online resources. One of our favorites in from Mother Earth News, it is a free, personalized planting reminder called “What to Plant Now” that is emailed to you directly. http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/what-to-plant-now-zl0z0903zalt.aspx

Free Workshops Saturday June 20th

beneficial insects

beneficial insects for your garden

ORGANIC PEST CONTROL WORKSHOP Saturday, 6/20 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Gardens are in and growing, now here come the bugs! Learn how to go to battle with the critters that want to eat your plants before you do. Don’t panic and spray poisons, come in before the problem is out of hand and learn how to handle these problems in a safe, natural way. Vance will be at the helm to show you the myriad of organic pest controls and natural fungicides that are available, explain how they work, and give some practical advice on keeping your natural garden healthy and thriving. Using beneficial insects in your garden will also be addressed. There will be a question and answer period after the lecture. This workshop is free, and attendees will receive 20% off all purchases after the workshop on Saturday!

compost_tea

Our own Compost Tea to Brew at Home

Free Compost Tea Making Workshop               Saturday 6/20  4:00 – 5:00

Learn how to make a biologically active fertilizer for your garden using a five gallon bucket, air pump, air stone, and the New Earth Compost Tea Kit. This kit includes worm castings, kelp, two kinds of guano, and our own Smart Tea as an activator. This workshop is being held right after our Natural Pest Control workshop. It starts at 4:00pm this Saturday, 6/20. Come at 3:00pm and attend both. It will be an afternoon of sharpening your gardening skills and covering two very popular topics!

The Organic Life

What does organic living mean to you?

As a first generation, organic lifestyle family, we have found that we–and our property–are works in progress. This is not an “all or nothing” journey, and each year we find we have progressed along the organic, sustainable, path. We own about seven acres outside of Louisville, and each year we try to add something to our property. One year it was blueberries. Another, fruit trees. A raised bed–or two–gets built and added annually. Last year we brought in chickens. This year we gave away our chickens! We enjoyed them, but discovered they were not a good time/work value for our family.

Wherever you may land in your path to sustainable living, you have probably discovered that it all takes a lot of time. The blogs and books inspire us to “do it all”, but we quickly realize that we all must pick and choose where we want to prioritize our hours.

This year we are cutting back on our growing endeavors to focus on some long-neglected home repairs. We also want to slow down and enjoy what we have already worked so hard on in years past. Our focus this season will be on already-established berry patches and raised beds. Rather than spending time growing corn, we will finally plant our cool, pole bean “hideout” before our sons are too old to enjoy it. (That will be made from a repurposed, never used, chicken run.) Rather than growing quantity, we will grow what we love and share our extra gardening space with neighbors.

This morning we slowed down and were able to see our “pet” robin’s eggs hatch. She nests on our front porch.

Thanks for joinibabybirdsng us on our journey.