Archive for May, 2010

WYPIWYG – What You Plant Is What You Get

May 26, 2010

You may have seen this infomercial doubling as a YouTube video. It is put out by Survival Seed Bank and can be seen at this URL.

Survival Seed Bank Video

While I like the quality of the video and can appreciate the message—that we all need to be responsible for our own food supply and not be dependent on those that might not have our best interests at heart—I do have a problem with the company. Now I know that they certainly have the right to sell a product to make a profit. And if they can get people to pay them what they are asking for seeds, then more power to them. But, that being said, since most of us don’t have unlimited amounts of money, wouldn’t it be better if you could put together your own Survival Seed Bank? Let me tell you how.

Before we get started, there are a couple of things we need to address. First, for survival seeds, you MUST make certain the seeds you purchase and store are open-pollinated or non-hybrid. What is the difference between the two? Open pollinated seeds will “breed true” as is the common vernacular. What this means is pretty much WYPIWYG or “what you plant is what you get” from the next generation of seeds or the seeds you save. Hybrid seeds, common notated as F-1 (first generation hybrid) is usually a cross between two (or more) separate plant strains in the same family that combine desirable characteristics from each plant to produce a “hybrid” or cross. For a more detailed explanation, see this link, Wiki. By way of example you could cross a tomato that produces small numbers of large fruit with another tomato that produces copious numbers of small fruit. So in theory you end up with a F-1 hybrid that produces large numbers of medium size fruit.

So for our purposes, we want to not only provide food for our family for this year but also subsequent years as well. In addition, we also want to grow our seed stock through barter, so we need more than we need so we have some to trade. Also, you always want to keep some seeds back, just “in case” something goes wrong and you have to replant. Because “things” happen, such as a late season frost or a flood or even vandalism by either humans or animals. So, always keep some seeds as insurance, because we are talking about survival after all.

Okay, on to the solution to the problem. Where do you get your non-hybrid, open pollinated seeds? Below is an abbreviated list, with many other links and sources available. The important thing is to get busy and do NOT procrastinate. If you wait until EVERYONE is concerned, then the supply of available seeds will be exhausted VERY quickly.

OpenPollinated

JohnnySeeds This site sells all types of seeds, so check each variety before ordering

These are just two of the better known seed selling websites. Don’t overlook local coops, seed and feed stores, farmer’s markets as well as old time gardeners. There are even organizations dedicated to preserving “old time” seed varieties.

Southern Exposure

UGA.EDU

SeedSavers.org

Once you have your seeds, how to you keep them viable for as long as possible? The short answer is to store them in a cool, dry, dark location in air-tight containers. Some suggestions are to use old film canisters, but I mean really, who has those any more? Tupperware containers work as well. Just remember that viability will decrease with time, but most seeds should be viable for at least two seasons. And even if your germination rate is low, with most plants, all you need are a few to keep the flame alive.

Now, how to prepare YOUR seeds for storage is another topic entirely, which I can go into at a later date. The important thing at this point is to get the seeds for the foods you would normally eat NOW and store them. This is just like buying insurance. While I can’t say that I don’t expect to use my seeds, ’cause you know I will, I hope I don’t have to DEPEND on what I grow to live. However, if I do, then I do.

Saving seeds is just ONE small step you can take to ensure the safety of you and yours. But a word of caution is in order. Don’t wait until you HAVE to plant to survive. Start gardening now, so that IF (and some would say WHEN) you start relying on your produce to survive you are ready. Preparation removes the tendency to panic. Because, remember, “only YOU can prevent starvation.” 😉

This is just the opinion of “a man out standing in his field.” Judging by some of my opinions, some of you think I’ve been standing out in my field under the noonday sun without a hat, but that would be YOUR opinion. And in the battle of opinions, mine wins, at least on this blog. Happy saving…

Advertisements

My next step in taking over the world – one garden at a time

May 6, 2010

Well, it’s been a while since you last got the opportunity to read what I am writing. Sorry ’bout that. Have you missed me? Probably not, but I can live with that. But the real story is, can you live with me? Hmm, sorry to disappoint SO many, but I am already engaged in a “live in” situation, one that I am VERY happy with. So again I must disappoint. Now, on to the update.

When we “spoke” last, I was just getting started on my garden. I thought, after looking at the indigenous flora, that I was going to have some serious work ahead of me to get my soil, whipped into shape. Boy was I wrong. After getting the soil analysis back from Midwest Labs, I was very pleasantly surprised. I needed only a “little” NPK, along with some of the minor elements. So here’s what I did.

I tilled the garden area with a rear-tine rototiller, for the first and ONLY time, thank you very much. I then spread a “generous” amount of composted poultry litter that I then re-tilled, breaking up any chunks and going over areas I had not loosened completely the first go-round. I then built three 4′ x 16′ raised beds, along with several other free-standing raised beds. The free-standing beds are 2-3 feet wide and 8”+ tall.

Raised Bed Salad Garden
Raised Bed Tomatoes

After planting lots of stuff that I like to eat, such as tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, celery, onions, squash, climbing string beans …. okay, who am I kidding here? I REALLY don’t like string beans. They are just something that is easy to grow, there is NO shelling involved and they are easy to prepare. The fact that I planted them around the chicken yard should be indicative of the fact that if the chickens eat some/all of the damn things, I will be okay with that. Okay, back to the list. Climbing speckled butter beans, cucumbers, corn, hot banana peppers, bell peppers, jalapenos, strawberries, bok choi, broccoli, leaf lettuce, and of course some “herbs”. Enough said.

Backup Manure Source

BTW, this is the “backup” manure source for our fertilizer company. 🙂

After everything was up and growing, I was “finally” able to unload my dump trailer. Let me tell you something. Composted chicken $%#@*& is HEAVY, especially when it is wet! My dump trailer will actually carry WAY more than the hydraulics will dump. I had Anne on the controls of the lift while I had my tractor bucket under the front of the bed picking up. Everything was working as planned, until the battery leads over-heated, melting the insulation and then catching FIRE! Oh yeah, the heat was so great that the terminals actually MELTED, opening a hole INTO the battery. Fortunately, that is what JB Weld is for, so I was able to save the battery. The fire? I beat it out with a clump of grass. 🙂

As a side note, wet chicken $%#@*& compost will NOT slide out of a dump trailer once it “sets up” in the bed. I wish I had a picture of what happened AFTER the battery caught fire, as that was actually more humorous than the fire. With the 16′ bed almost vertical, and with the chicken $%#@*& compost tenaciously adhering to the sides and bottom, I had the bright idea of leaning an extension ladder up inside the bed (with the back doors open of course) to allow me to get up to the $%#@&* stuck “up there” to begin the process of loosening it and digging it out with a shovel. However, there was one problem.
In order to do this I needed someone to stand on the bottom of the ladder. Hmm, who could I call upon for this odoriferous task? Anyone, anyone? Yes, you in the back. That is correct. Anne, will you please step to the front to accept your award for “Performance in a Comedy” above and beyond the call of duty! Thanks babe.

So, to set the scene. I’m balanced on the top of a 16′ extension ladder, digging $%#@&* from out of this trailer while my lovely assistant is standing “knee deep” in what I am loosening out of the trailer! What a sight that was. If only I had of had the video camera rolling. Anyway, back to the narrative.

So, with my trailer once again empty, I went to a local wood flooring mill to pick up a load of hardwood sawdust. This worked perfectly as a mulch for the garden. As you can see from the pics, everything is covered, except that plants that I WANT to grow, which makes for a nice, “clean” garden. Since I wanted to make certain I didn’t rob from Peter to pay Paul (cause the soil microbes to pull nitrogen out of the topsoil to allow them to digest the wood mulch), I applied a thin layer of poultry manure fertilizer on top of the ground. So far, everything is working just like I wanted it to.

Stevia
This is stevia, ONE of the plants the FDA is/was at war with.

Field
In the meantime, this is the field I am “out standing in”.

So, since pictures speak louder than words. Sorry, I can’t let that one slid. Pictures don’t speak, and typed words don’t either. When the hell do we get some of these sayings anyway? Ok, since pictures are more DISCIPTIVE than words (sometimes) I hope you can get a feel (another non-involved sense in this situation) for what my garden is like.

So, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know. I will either address them or loudly ignore them. 🙂

Until next time…

Celery

This is last years celery, which is so strong I’m not sure I can even eat it. If this is what people that don’t like celery think it tastes like, then I completely understand why you don’t like it. BTW, I’ve been told it takes two years to really get celery established. I will let you know how it turns out.

Post Script: Just so you guys (and gals) think I started with some kind of “blessed” patch of ground, this is what the original garden site looked like. The ONLY saving grace to all of this is there is NO Bermuda Grass on this property. I have lots of Bahia, but thankfully no Bermuda. I do however have LOTS of dewberry plants along with a whole host of other weeds.

Garden Site