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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's time to plan

January is the time when we {here at the homestead} begin to plan out our garden. It's actually a perfect time. We are inside more and have a few minutes to dedicate to our seeds.

I have already begun receiving seed catalogs. They are stacked up neatly on my hope chest. There are some companies that I will not order from, but most are good, seed saving friendly companies that I will buy from every year. Jung's and are my favorites.

I was asked how does one go about starting/planing their first garden in a small urban yard. It is relatively the same as what I do here, though mine is on a much larger scale. The first step is to decide what you want from your garden. Do you want only seasonal items, like tomatoes and lettuce? Or are you wanting a storage crop like potatoes and corn? Or both?

Seasonal crops on a small scale are easier to deal with. You can devote a piece of ground to that lone plant{s}, same with your roots. But if you are wanting both on a small plot, creative planting comes into play. {we can get into that later if you want}

As I seed save, now is the time when I check through what I have. What has been saved without mold, what seeds do I have enough of, what do I need more of, and make a list of those items. I also consult my growing and harvested list, I keep a record of what food stuff we hve finished too early, and what we had too much of {not eaten}. The next step is to go through the catalog picking out the things that I need, then things I would like to add.

I chose to buy heirloom plants. Some of these did start off as hybrids in the early 1900's but now breed pure and qualify for the heritage status. There is nothing harmful in ingesting hybrids {F1} the biggest problem with them is that you can not seed save them, as they will not breed pure when open pollination is possible {Like in a small garden}, the other problem with them is that when open pollination is possible, they can breed with your neighbors heirlooms spoiling their chances of breeding their heirlooms pure. I suggest staying away from plants and seeds labeled hybrid for those reasons. And never touch anything that is labeled GMO or a "New" hybrid in area's where the GMO is not required labeling.

I am able to expand my garden, while most urban and suburban dwellers are not. I am lucky enough to be able to experiment and purchase want items, thus expanding my garden and having a large preserving crop. With a small scaler wanting a larger abundance you need to plan carefully. Take the time to draw a garden to scale, arranging your plants to fit.

Most seed and plant companies will send your orders out to you when the season is right for planting in your area. Onions, potatoes, and items in the cabbage family do will if planted early and mulched, so stay calm if you receive these items when it's still cold outside, if the ground is workable, they are plant able.

A well planed out garden can help you avoid headaches and disappointments.

To find heritage/heirloom seeds and plants for your area {including Canada and France}, try looking at the Council for Responsible Genetics.

For a list of the worst GE offenders, try the FDA's website where they have listed their consultants.


Caroline said...

OK, do you know how to save tomato seeds? They kind of have that cushion around them. I tried just drying some from this year, and I ended up with a stuck-together mass...

Anonymous said...

Caroline, the best way to save tomato seeds is to allow them to ferment in a glass of water, set in a window sill. After a few days, a mold will form over the top of the water. you want to skim that off along with any floating seeds. the seeds you want will be at the bottom of the glass, strain out the water and allow the seed to dry before storing them in your freezer.

The Fool said...

Thanks for the links and info. Not surprisingly, Monsanto and Dow dominate the final listing. What I found interesting...and somewhat that only one university was noted on the same list (University of Hawaii for messing w/papayas). I would have thought that academic research was all over this one. Perhaps it is, with the corps buying up the patents as soon as possible. Disheartening is that Alaska is not represented on the listing by the Council for Responsible Genetics. The process you note for saving tomato seeds is fascinating. I've never heard of it. Did you discover this tidbit by trial and error, or did you inherit such lore? Too cool.

Phelan said...

The Fool, You could always talk to a local supplier about the Concil for responsible genetics, they might not know about it. The tomato seed saving can be found in just about every homesteading book, and possibly gardening books.

The Fool said...

I'll pass the info regarding the Council along to someone better connected in such circles. I am not an avid farmer or gardener. I have friends who are, but I pretty much left the farms behind at 17 (over 30 years ago). My NoNAIS support stems from a perceived need to protect and maintain our basic rights and vernacular values; not necessarily to benefit my own lifestyle. The info on saving seeds is not common lore to me. Thanks for sharing.

Regarding your post today - I was always told that "compromise" means that "no one gets what they want." Good luck.

Billy said...

I always learn so much when you post. I can't wait to start!

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