Instant Payday Loan Lender Instant Payday Loan Lender

Saving Heirloom Seeds 101

May 9th, 2013

winebox

For many, preserving an heirloom seed in its original genetic makeup is important.

Why?

When we think of the word “extinction,” a head of lettuce normally doesn’t pop up in our minds. It’s also obvious that our grocery stores aren’t full of endangered fruits and vegetables either. But think about the prize-winning heirloom beets you boasted last spring, or your grandfather’s special heirloom tomatoes you remember eating every summer. If these heirloom seeds are not saved, the legacy of these plants will eventually die out.

Furthermore, preserving heirlooms creates diversity, making some gardeners feel it’s their responsibly to save these seeds so that genetic variation doesn’t become extinct. If you decide to save your heirloom seeds this year, there are some important ideas to learn and put into practice to ensure success.

How To Preserve The Genetic Makeup

Ensuring an heirloom variety doesn’t accidently change its genetic makeup is a top priority. Luckily, there are some simple practices that can help limit genetic loss. One is to ensure heirloom plants do not cross-pollinate with other varieties. The easiest way to avoid this is to separate varieties a fair distance away from one another. It’s a good idea to research each plant to ensure the distance is far enough away. For example, lettuce may only require separating it 25 feet, while some pepper varieties are considered a safe distance when distancing them at least 500 feet.

Other gardeners prefer time isolation, caging, bagging, and even individually hand pollinating - these are all techniques that can help avoid accidental cross-pollination. Keep in mind that while these practices take time and thought, if two varieties cross – their genes are permanently mixed.

How To Harvest Heirloom Seeds

When you’re ready to harvest, specifically select seeds from the plants that grew quickly and with vigor.  A common mistake is to choose seeds randomly, and from mediocre plants. One major rule of thumb? Never save seeds from malformed fruit, or a fruit that has been damaged by insects, mold, or disease. Plants should be strong, healthy and not exposed to stressful conditions when early seed formation begins.

Removing any diseased plants away from potential seed saving plants will increase the viability of the plant and its seed. Diseased plants can also spread pathogens to otherwise healthy plants, and can affect the success of succeeding generations as well. During seed formation, be sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture at flower time – this will promote pollen development and flower set.

Furthermore, learning how to properly harvest seeds from a variety of plants can ensure you’re getting the most from each plant. We look forward to sharing how to properly clean, dry, and preserve your heirloom seeds in a future post.

Friends, which heirloom varieties are you growing this year?

Be Sociable, Share!

Seed Saving 101

October 13th, 2012

Why save seeds?

When we think of the word “extinction,” a head of lettuce normally doesn’t pop up in our minds. It’s certain that our grocery stores aren’t full of endangered fruits and vegetables, either. But what about the prize-winning carrots you boasted last spring? Or your great-grandfather’s special heirloom tomatoes you remember eating every summer? If no one decides to save these seeds, the legacy of these plants will eventually die out.

What are some other reasons to save your own seeds?

Gardeners save a few seeds or every seed from their crop, sometimes for a specific purpose, or for other gardeners to enjoy.  Many do it simply because they liked the vegetables they grew last year, and want to grow them again. The fact that it saves money is also a wonderful positive.

If you decide to save seeds this year, there are some important ideas to learn and put into practice to ensure success.

Learn the overall quality of the parent plants. Specifically select seeds from the plants that grew quickly and with vigor.  A common mistake is to choose seeds randomly, and from mediocre plants. One major rule of thumb? Never save seeds from malformed fruit, or a fruit that has been damaged by insects, mold, or disease. Plants should be strong, healthy and not exposed to stressful conditions when early seed formation begins.

Learn how to effectively save seeds, and choose plants that are easiest for beginners. Beginner seed saving plants generally produce seed all in the same season, and are self-pollinating. Some plants to keep in mind are beans, lettuce, peas, peppers and tomatoes. If you’re new at this, choosing these types of plants will generally increase the likelihood of successful seed saving. Also, check out this full seed saving guide for beginners.

Learn the characteristics of healthy seeds. Start with healthy, sturdy seeds, and consider these characteristics:

1) Maturity and Size – The relative size and maturity of the seed will correlate to the survivability of the plant. Therefore, allow seeds to ripen to full maturity before they are harvested.  Keep in mind that large, mature seeds will have more food stored to nourish the seeds once they have sprouted, and will also produce strong seedlings.
2) Viability and Vigor: Find out the germination rate for your batch of seeds. This will determine the vigor in which seeds will sprout out of the soil under ideal conditions.

Learn how to care for plants during seed formation. Removing any diseased plants away from potential seed saving plants will increase the viability of the plant and its seed. Diseased plants can also spread pathogens to otherwise healthy plants, and can affect the success of succeeding generations as well.

During seed formation, be sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture at flower time – this will promote pollen development and flower set.

Learn how to expand your garden once you’ve become more experienced.  Expand your garden by including plants that require separation to keep unwanted cross pollination at bay. These vegetables include: corn, cucumbers, muskmelon, radish, spinach, squash and pumpkins. Take a look at this helpful resource for more information.

**Friends, which plants are you saving seeds from this year?

Be Sociable, Share!

Tips For Sustaining A Survival Garden

February 27th, 2012

There are never any guarantees that our grocery stores will continue to be stocked full of food, or that a natural disaster will allow us safe roads to drive to the store on. Many emergencies are such that there is no time to start growing a garden, or just begin gaining experience at growing food. Perhaps that knowing this, you have already started a survival garden of your own.  But the only question remaining is, “how do I keep a survival garden thriving all year long?” Growing your own survival garden is similar to any other garden in terms of chores and maintenance, but do keep these points in mind:

Sustainable Plant Choices: A survival garden should include plants that are both nutritious and perennial.  It is also advantageous to choose plants with a long, repeated harvest. A survival garden that only requires daily and weekly tasks like fertilizing, mulching, pruning, weeding and watering is a far less daunting than starting a garden from scratch each season.  Also, while perennial plants need nurturing, they are also fairly forgiving for new gardeners, and when temporarily neglected. Good choices to include in your garden are: asparagus, root vegetables, beans, artichokes, horseradish and a variety of herbs.

Become An Expert! Do your research about each fruit, vegetable and herb you grow in your garden. Buy a few books or search online for instructions on the best techniques for proper planting, maintenance and harvesting in your garden.  There is no substitute to knowledge and experience to ensure your garden will thrive when you need it most.

Proper Planning: When including more plants in your survival garden, space should be optimized the best way possible.  Stagger and plant close together, and pay special attention to plants that have deep root systems. Plants that have deep roots (like tomatoes,) should be grown next to plants with less intrusive roots (like lettuce).  Take a look at our post on Companion Planting for more information on plants that grow well together.

Many survival gardeners also like to create designated areas for the variety of plants growing in their garden.  Separating and labeling medicinal herbs, vine vegetables and culinary plants may prove very helpful and accessible when in an emergency situation.

Seed Saving:  In an emergency, no one can afford to waste money or allow a garden to fail. In fact, some emergencies can last for more than one season or year.  Saving seeds from plants that are vigorous and thriving can ensure well-grown food years in the future.  To get the most out of your seeds, first be sure to never use hybrid or genetically modified seeds, as these will not be able to reproduce. Using non-hybrid seeds, also known as open-pollinated, allow you to reproduce the same plant and yield seeds every year.  Keep watch for vegetables and fruit in your garden that are free of disease, yield a high number of produce, and are the best looking (also – resist the urge to eat them!).  Mark that plant with a stake or ribbon. Allow the seeds to fully ripen before harvesting, and carefully place them indoors for drying.  A paper bag or clean newspaper will work just fine.  Once dried, store seeds in a labeled, airtight container or clearly marked envelope. Seed saving can only occur when non-hybrid seeds are planted. You can find a wide variety of non-hybrid seeds within Humble Seed’s The Producer- which makes the perfect survival seed bank.

Canning and Preserving: Preparing early and not waiting for an emergency to arrive is the key to survival. After each harvest, begin storing an emergency supply of food by canning your bounty and storing them in a dark room, food pantry or cellar.  Freezing food is not the best option for disaster preparedness, as there are never any guarantees that electricity will work.  Never canned before?  See our Canning And Preserving 101 post for an easy step-by-step guide to canning your produce.

Be sure to read our original post on Disaster Preparedness for more information and tips on survival gardening!

Be Sociable, Share!

Survival Gardening: How To Boost Your Disaster Preparedness

December 28th, 2011

It is as good a time as ever to begin your own survival garden for you and your family.  This year, increased food prices, economic uncertainty and recent record natural disasters have undoubtedly heightened our concern about the safety and availability of food. A desire for a survival garden may also be rooted in the fact that you crave fresh, organic and non-GMO vegetables, fruit and herbs year round. Or like our parents and grandparents during World War Two, “victory gardens” save money, while allowing commercially grown food to be directed to areas that need it.  Whatever the reasoning, survival gardens are easy to construct and following these additional suggestions can allow your family to eat healthfully from home.

How To Start A Survival Garden:  First, decide what your gardening goals are.  Are you looking to add a few more fresh fruits and vegetables to your weekly meals? Perhaps you want an emergency food supply? Or, maybe take it a step further and completely live off the grid? Whatever you decide, it’s best practice to begin by planning a 4-foot wide space for your garden.  You do not want it any wider or you’ll have some trouble planting, harvesting and weeding in the center.  You may make the length as long as you prefer, yet many like to begin with 4×12 feet and the opportunity to grow larger as need be. Pick a location that’s relatively flat and receives sunlight with some shade at certain parts of the day.

After you have found the perfect location, dig an area about 1 foot deep.  You may dip deeper to add more vitality to your garden, but keep in mind that you’ll need more soil to compensate.  Using sized pieces of wood, form an “L” at one end of the garden and use a power drill to set each screw in.  Do the same for all four corners until you have a sturdy rectangular shape. Fill in the hole with nutrient-rich, organic soil, leaving some space a few inches at the top.  Use compost periodically to boost the soil’s needs.

Deciding What To Plant:

Grow any type of fruits, vegetables and herbs you prefer, but do keep in mind that some plants are advantageous to grow together while others will literally steal nutrients from the plant next door.  Check our Companion Gardening blog post to see a complete list of companion plants.

Planting medicinal herbs and plants is a good practice for those who aspire to grow a garden for emergency purposes. Garlic, onions, aloe, cloves, anise seed and other herbs have proven medicinal qualities that could be helpful for injuries and other ailments in a crisis.

Emergency Seed Banks: Many of us want to be prepared in any type of natural or economic disaster, and creating your own emergency seed bank is one way to ensure your seeds are viable when you need them most.  Begin by selecting a wide variety of seeds that are non-hybrid heirloom and non-genetically modified.  Next, make sure your seeds are completely dry and place them in a vacuum-sealed bag.  A Mylar® bag may also be used to ensure tight sealing.  Then, place bags in an airtight, waterproof container or a compact storage case.  Carefully label your seeds and keep planting guides in the container as well. These simple steps will increase the lifespan of your seeds, while giving you more control and self-sufficiency over your food supply in a worst-case scenario.

Storing Fruits and Vegetables: Canning your leftover fruits, vegetables and herbs from your survival garden can prevent waste and can prepare you and your family for most unexpected emergencies.  Using mason jars and two-piece lids will suit you just fine for canning foods.  Make sure the food, cans and lids are sterilized before you label and place the jars in storage for later use.  Freezing food in air tight bags will also retain most of the nutritional value, while blanching vegetables before freezing can stop enzymatic activity that slowly causes the quality of the food to dissipate. Remember that freezing is better for short-term consumption, as a loss of power could mean the loss of your food if you do not have a backup generator.

Do you have a prepared food source for your family in an emergency? 

Be Sociable, Share!

Guest Blogging for Humble Seed

June 8th, 2010

At Humble Seed, we know that people who live sustainably or are interested in living sustainably through growing their own foods are knowledgeable on various subjects related to our philosophy of:

We believe that the benefits you receive from growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables from seed outweigh buying store-bought foods.

Whether you are an experienced gardener, a prepper, or an organization that is interested in growing a community garden, growing your own food from seed provides you with fresher foods, saves you money, and can help you maintain a healthy and self-reliant lifestyle.

If you’re an individual who [or you work for a company that] is passionate about topics that complement the Humble Seed philosophy and happy to share your expertise for the betterment of our planet, we would like to consider you as a guest blogger for our Humble Seed website. From composting to seed saving and heirloom vegetables to community gardens, we’re excited to help build awareness through great, informative blog posts.

Guest blogging is a great way for an individual or company to get new readership via linking back to your blog. It’s also great for readers, as they will get to learn about topics they’re interested in from fresh, new perspectives.

If you’re interested in guest blogging for Humble Seed please send the following information to jmitchell@humbleseed.com:

  1. Short bio that outlines how you fit in with the Humble Seed philosophy.
  2. Link to your blog or website.
  3. Topics within the niche that you are interested in covering.

Note: This is not a paying gig but more of a ‘sharing is caring’ blog partnership in order to promote sustainability.

Be Sociable, Share!

Seed Saving

May 28th, 2010

 

One of the greatest joys to be had from growing your own herbs and vegetables is seed saving. Seed saving is one aspect of sustainable living and old as mankind; it’s the traditional way gardens were maintained. The cyclical process of planting | harvesting | planting not only saves you money in the long run, but also offers wonderful rewards.

Whether you may be interested in seed saving as a hobby, to preserve 50+ years of outstanding heirloom varieties, for self reliance, or to provide your family with nutrient-rich foods of outstanding quality, seed saving is an important art form that honors the true taste and texture of our favorite foods. From generation to generation, seeds have provided civilization with a diversity of plants that nourish and sustain. It’s seems only fair that we nourish precious plants back, via seed saving.

If you’re new to seed saving, consider saving seeds from beans, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, as they offer the greatest chance for successful seed saving. Once you get basic seed saving techniques mastered you can try your hand at saving those vegetables that require more seed saving care.

For seed saving techniques, visit Humble Seed then click on ‘our products’ then ‘Seed List and Details.’

Be Sociable, Share!