Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cottage Garden

With all the rain we've had, I haven't had a chance to clean out the garden. So, right now I'm turning the garden around the house into a cottage garden, mixing herbs, flowers and veggies. I hope I'll still be able to get the big garden done, but if not, at least I'll have vegetables in.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Busy Few Days

Looks as though a few seedlings have come in a bit weak. They are some that I started on my counter, but I guess even though I was playing with the natural light situation, I didn't get it right. So, unfortunately I'll probably have to put more of those seeds directly in the ground, and hope they pop in time.

Found a good sized green frog by the walk way this morning. Something was wrong with him, but I couldn't figure out what, only that it seemed like his back end wasn't working. So, I put him in a little aquarium I had with some soil/grass and water to see what, if anything, could be done.

Well, within about a half hour, he was perking right up, and within the hour, his back legs were once again working. Seems as though he was a bit dehydrated, and just giving him that little bit of water was all he needed. I am keeping him for the night to make sure he is plenty hydrated, then I'll let him go in the garden tomorrow.

The bee balm, french tarragon and lily I was given yesterday by someone who was splitting plants, seems to be doing well. I did put them in the garden when I got home. As they had been without water and laying on the ground for about 2 or 3 hrs before I was able to get them home and plant, I wasn't sure how quickly they would pop back.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Can I Really Grow It?

This is a question that many new gardeners might ask themselves. The answer is…..YES! YOU CAN!

Now to be fair, it may not be quite that simple. Not all plants will grow in all places, outdoors at least. And if all that you have is an outdoor garden, then depending on where you might be located, in reality there could be limitations. However, if you’re willing to bring plants indoors for the winter, then you’re back to being able to grow a large variety once again.

Although there is a much larger selection of plants available if starting from seed, some new gardeners may not be comfortable starting seed, while other gardeners - new or experienced - may just not have the time or patience to start with seed. Also, those who want to try fruit trees will probably prefer to start with a small tree. In either case, there are many nurseries where specialty (and not so specialty) plants may be purchased by mail, online or locally. You may not find quite as large a selection with plants as you would find with seeds, but with a little searching and building a little network with other gardeners, it is surprising what can actually be found.

Once you have your seeds and/or plants, then it basically comes down to following planting directions and proper care and feeding of the garden. (If you’re not sure how good your soil is, there are test kits available to find out if there is indeed any problem and how to remedy it.) What happens from there depends on the plant and Mother Nature. If it is a vegetable, fruiting can be expected within the season. If it is a fruit, some, such as strawberries, may be expected within the season (depending on when planted) while trees may take a year or more (depending on age of the tree planted) for the first fruiting. And while we’re discussing fruiting trees (and bushes), some are self- pollinating while others will need another one of their kind planted nearby in for pollination. Tags or descriptions should state this, however if not, it is best to inquire. A tree needing cross-pollination that is all alone in a yard will be a waste of time, space and money.

Part of the fun of gardening and growing your own food is trying your hand at new and/or unusual plants. Whether from seed or by started plants (a.k.a seedlings), half of the fun is the challenge of the new and unusual, while the other half is literally the fruits….and vegetables… of your labor. So the next time you see something unusual, try it! It could end up being the best thing you ever grew.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seeds and LOTS of Rain Don't Mix

As have many of you, we here in Western NY/Finger Lakes area have had our share of rain and then some, although no where near the flooding. A few weeks ago I took a chance and planted some chard and parsley, hoping that the seeds wouldn't get water logged, as I planted in a "non mud hole" area.

However, it looks like the seeds may have rotted out in the ground anyway. As both are cool weather plants, something should have been up by now. I though something had started, but they have seemed to disappear. So, I guess we'll be trying again.

We've been having a drying out period around here, so hopefully some more things can get in for the gardeners and farmers. I know some of the fields around here have miniature ponds in them right now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hybrid vs Heirloom

There tends to be a controversy about what is the better vegetable to plant in the garden, hybrids (not GMOs, just plain old hybrids) or heirlooms. In most circumstances, the choice will depend on what the grower wants or needs to grow, market, taste they are looking for and speed they need in growth. There can be other situations that a grower would want to look at, but these would normally be the basics.

If you, as a grower, want to save seeds from what you produce, then in most cases, you’ll want heirlooms. While theoretically seeds can be saved from any plant, hybrids tend to not always reproduce true to the parent or reproduce at all. A quick experiment I did a few years ago with 5 hybrid cauliflower seeds that I saved from the previous year yielded two plants that produced a vegetable, 2 that remained plants only, and one seed that never produced at all. I plan on doing some further work to see how far I would have to go to get seeds that produce true at all times, but for the initial run, had I been relying on those seeds for the year’s cauliflower, I would have been sadly disappointed. On the other hand, saving the seeds from an heirloom will produce plants and fruit true to the parent.

The reason for this is that heirloom plants (and therefore seeds) have been developed through open (natural) pollination, keeping the seeds of the best of that year for the following year. And by continuing to follow suit, developing hearty varieties that grow true. Hybrids, on the other hand, have been artificially pollinated working to obtain in one plant, the best characteristics of 2 different parent plants. Therefore, when trying to save seeds from hybrids, you may get the exact vegetable you had last year, a throwback or even nothing at all.

The next thing that a grower will look at, is the market. Today, many consumers are shopping and buying locally, direct from farms and farmer’s markets. Although most really do not look at whether or not they are buying hybrids or heirlooms, the heirloom market is expanding as more consumers, including restaurants, are looking specifically for these products. Although the heirloom market will probably never close down the hybrid market by any means, as the mass market still wants the hybrids, it does pay to look at what the consumer wants, especially if you are a grower who sells the majority (or all) of what you produce, locally.

Taste is another thing the growers may consider when choosing between hybrids and heirlooms. Although this aspect will be consideration more for the personal garden, those who sell will also pay attention to taste as far as consumer preference. (More so for the local sellers than the mass marketers.) My family tends to find the heirlooms tastier than many of the hybrids. However I had put in some hybrid cherry tomatoes last year that were sweet as sugar with heavy production and surprisingly, very hearty.

Selection by taste will be a trial and error type of situation. Unless you’ve had the fruit or vegetable before, be it heirloom or hybrid, the taste will be unknown until it is grown and tasted, whether growing for home or market.

Speed of growth may be important as well. If you, as a grower, insist in starting seeds directly in the ground, then you will need to look at growth time. Heirlooms can tend to be slow growers, but then again, so can many hybrids. If you are in a short growing season and do not want to start seeds indoors, then the limitations are being dictated from this point and seeds will need to be chosen that fit the time available for growth. If seeds are started indoors and ahead of time, however, unless the garden is in an area with a very short growing season, limitations in selection will be few.

Finally, what does the grower need? If you are growing for yourself, you’ll choose what you want, what you like, what tastes good to you and your family and what will work in your garden. If you are growing for market, then you’ll be selecting more for what the market is dictating, although there is nothing wrong with trying to introduce your consumers to something new. And if you do so, have a few tasting samples available, and if it is a really new and different fruit or vegetable, have ideas on how to use it.

In going back to what is better…hybrids or heirlooms….it all depends. Each has its’ place. While purists or those focusing on seed saving might decide on straight heirlooms, market gardeners and mass marketers may focus more on the faster growing and many times larger hybrids. Some may grow both types. But in the end, the decision will be what will work best for the situation at hand.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Raw Milk Rally May 16, Washington, DC

Raw Milk Rally in DC May 16 re: Dan Allgyer Raw Milk Rally in DC May 16 re: Dan Allgyer

National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association

5 May, 2011

Link to Article


Raw Milk Rally May 16, Washington, DC

Raw Milk Will Be Available -- Cow Expected Also!

WHEN: Monday, May 16 · 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


WHERE: Upper Senate Park. Between Constitution Ave NE, Delware Ave NE, ad C St NE. Next to the Russell Senate Office Building.


UPDATES: Stay tuned to the Grassfed on the Hill website for updates!

For the past year and half, the FDA has conducted an undercover sting operation on Pennsylvania Amish dairy farmer Dan Allgyer and his loyal private buying club customers. Last week, the FDA served Dan notice that it is seeking a permanent injunction against him for introducing raw milk into interstate commerce. In response to this affront of our freedoms, Grassfed on the Hill, the DC area buying club he provides for, is organizing the rally to support Dan and other farmers targeted by the FDA, and stand up for all our rights. Please join them and lend your voice. Stings on Amish farms and armed raids against our country's farmers are NOT an appropriate use of our tax dollars!

Speakers include:

Jonathan Emord, Attorney

Sally Fallon, President, Weston A. Price Foundation

David Gumpert, Author and Real Food Blogger

Mark McAfee, Founder and Owner, Organic Pastures Dairy

Baylen Linnekin, Executive Director, Keep Food Legal


Please pray for Dan and his family.

Media inquiries:

Liz Reitzig


Yours for real food freedom,

Deborah Stockton, Executive Director

National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)

Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade

that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products.

NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oh Beans.....!

Today the Dragon Tongue Beans went in around the teepees. Now hopefully they won't rot in the ground. I also took a chance and put a tomato plant in...early for around here. But I am starting a number of tomato seeds and I am hoping this will end up being an early crop while waiting for those started from seed.

Spirit Seed and Garden Project

I have just gotten the blog up and running for SS&G. You can visit at:

I don't have all the links in the margins yet, but as it is part of this blog, the two will share some of the programs such as You Tube, Facebook, etc.

Just a note that I am looking for small advertisers and major sponsors (limited number). The major sponsorships will get the programs going in ernest.

If interested in selling sponsorships and advertising, please contact me, as this time of year especially....I can use the help! Excellent commission.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Of Teepees, Beans and Herbs...

I've had it with the northern climate this year, so I've been diving in and starting on the garden. I hope that it doesn't come back to bite me later, as we can still get frosts through May, so I'm having to really pay attention to weather.

I'm only doing cooler weather things right now. Some chard, lettuce and parsley have already gone in, and lettuce has started coming up. Looks like parsley as well. I have started building teepees for peas and beans,although I think I may let the Scarlett Runners go right up one of the bushes on the side of the herb garden as they get so tall. I also put some new herbs in to expand the herb garden. I've added marjoram and chamomile. I also had to tie up a sage plant. It was getting a bit heavy and falling over a bit.

I've also been trying to figure out where other things will be going in the various gardens around the house, barn and even garage. And I started some more seeds indoors today as well as purchasing 2 tomato plants to get an early crop while waiting for the ones I'm starting from seed.

Hoping for a great garden this year!