A Seed Saver's Garden

Pulsegleaner

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Update:

Looks like the lemon cuttings aren't taking very well. I'd get more and try again, but they are sold out at the moment.

I'd contemplate getting more giant lime seed as well (I still have one, but it does not seem to want to develop any more leaves than the first one, so it's quite possibly a non-starter), but, with customs rules being even stricter now than they were the last time, I'm not sure the trick I worked out with the seller last time would work again (it would not surprise me if, by now, even blueberry seeds can't get through customs OK.)

I've started setting up the plug plants, but, even there, results are so far rather meager. It looks like only 6 of the 18 or so fava beans I planted seem inclined to germinate, and given that a lot of the others are developing mold, I don't expect that number to get much higher. Of the very first set with the random things, I think only three have germinated. I know one is the odd looking legume seed I found in the senna (the one that was not a wild mung, rice, or soy bean.) The other two are ambiguous. None of the three seeds left over from the Estonian stuff germinated, leading me to think it is quite likely ALL seed from that seller is no good (which means actually TRYING to grow the lard pumpkins could be futile even if I COULD find a suitable area).

Actually had to pull some of the cow peas back out and scarify them before sticking them back in their pellets; after two days, they hadn't imbibed at all. These MUST be some sort of fodder grade one, a food type cow pea that had such a low rate of natural swelling would not be passed on (plus, of course, the extremely small size of the seeds, which, while not the smallest cow peas I have ever seen, are still only about peppercorn sized.)

Suppose I'll put the peas in in two weeks or so so they'll be ready for their portable pot about the same time is starts to get just warm enough to bring them out during the day (or, more accurately, out whenever I can with the option of hauling them back in in case of an unexpected late freeze.

Alliums and Pansies will be started as soon as I have the indoor right set up (I need to do that soon, if the seed grown pansies will be at about the same state of development as the purchased ones come planting time.) Ditto the basil, and the toadflax (I I can find that seed packet, it seems to have gone missing.)

I, of course, am itching to get the corn started, but I know that that always has to be the LAST garden seed I plant, since it needs warm weather and can't be held over in a pot for very long. So It has to wait until about four weeks before it could go in the ground (one week in the plugs to remove any kernels that won't germinate, one more week to remove the ones that didn't germinate healthily [never developed a root, twisted in on themselves and will never set a good support, etc.] and two or more weeks in little pots in the cold frame until the stored kernel is used up and it is safe to put them in the ground.) So between now and then, there is everything else, tomatoes, beans (of many species) cucumbers and cucumber like plants. Even my experiments trying to grow guar again will likely be sown before I get to the corn.
 

heirloomgal

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Seed saving with the future in mind; what seeds should we save? A pertinent question that crossed my path lately when talking with a veteran seed saver. I think this may be an especially pertinent topic for the younger seed saver's out there, who are in their 20's and 30's.

In my case, I save seeds first for things that I love, but I am also highly motivated by preservationist goals; keeping old seeds from passing into oblivion and #2 cherishing the work of the person who bred/stabilized/selected the seeds and sent them out into the world. However, I work within my geographical and cultural limits - if nobody wants my rare okra seeds, or rare herb seeds, I'm not accomplishing much for preservation. Getting the seeds into the hands of other growers is part of the insurance plan. So, I have to focus on seeds that people will actually want to eat/use/have, and will therefore grow them. This knocks a lot of species off the 'keeping' list for me.

But there's more to consider. With all the headlines and talk, there might be some tendency for seed savers to move in the direction of procuring and keeping seeds that can withstand heat, drought and maybe even a longer growing season. This of course leads seed collections away from short season seed varieties and toward varieties that appreciate long, sweltering conditions. After learning recently about a phenomenon called the Grand Solar Minimum, don't let go of your short season seed varieties, and maybe even work toward building those up. The GSM actually leads to terrestrial cooling and some seed species and even varieties will flounder in these conditions. Certain grains will be especially vulnerable and if you look at grain market publications it seems there are definite shifts taking place, oats being one, with a soaring price reflecting that.

So seed savers, something to tuck under your hat. Keep your short season varieties, because early summer frosts and early fall frosts may be in the cards! The GSM began in 2020 and will continue until 2053. The last was Maunder Minimum, 1645 to 1710, and agriculture suffered famously in Europe during this chilly time. This article is a pretty good summation, but the last paragraph conclusion kinds of sums up the whole piece. Lots of stuff out there to read about the Grand Solar Minmum/Maunder Minimum which it seems is upon our shores. Interesting stuff!


 

heirloomgal

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Overwintering plants experiment: almost March update.

So, two new little concerns on the horizon for two of the species. I, sadly, read that my capiscum flexuosum pepper plant needs a friend for cross pollination. Is it true? No idea. But it has flowered twice now and there were no fruit buds left behind so, I'm starting to think it's true. And I wasn't going to buy any more seeds, since a pack of seeds is $10. I will have to take a cutting I think, which is not a problem really since the plant is 1 1/2 ft tall. And I already have the right # rooting hormone. I didn't want two plants, but it may be inevitable. Rare species I guess are always a learning experience.

Second plant Ocimum selloi aka green pepper basil just finished flowering last week and I was hoping that it might form viable seedheads, but that too doesn't seem to have happened as the buds are falling off the stems. I'm not sure it's worth keeping for another year; the leaves are certainly aromatic up close, but they seem a bit coarse to me. I think I need to use the leaves in soup or something to really gauge how worthwhile it is to keep it going. It has been a pleasure to see how well it does when brought indoors though.

It looks like all the gernaiums died. A few green leaves remain, but it's probably not worth the bother in the future considering the plants were less than 3 bucks each. No idea what they died from.

The wiri wiri pepper is not only blooming like crazy but it's actually setting fruits! It's quite big too. And the chiltepin is doing super duper fabulous, it is really growing well even though this is technically a hibernation period for it. I defeintely feel I will get peppers this summer! The only thing is I have it in garden dirt and I can see both a worm in the pot as well as a compliment of very tiny bugs. I thought they were gnats, but it's not so. Whatever they are, they don't seem to be bothering the plant, flying nor spreading to other pots?

Even with some of the fails, this is the best overwintering experience yet. Aside from those little soil bound bugs, there are no aphids or mites - they typical hitchhikers that end my overwintering efforts. And I have no real explanation for why that is.
 

Alasgun

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It makes me happy to hear the tepins are doing well! Have you flavor tested them yet, from the dried ones?
Using ALL fresh ingredients, tomato, garlic etc; a world class Salsa can he made that is not only hot enough for most but more importantly has very good flavor.
 

Pulsegleaner

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Finally declared the Assam Lemon cuttings dead, and removed them (by this point, I needed the pot for something else anyway, so the dead sticks were just taking up valuable space).

Also cleaned out the pot of plum kernels. Given how soft most of the ones I removed were, I suspect the problem was simply one of the stones just being too damn old to be viable (or maybe even greengages are now so heavily bred in the commercial strains to not longer generally produce viable seeds. I've held on to the nineteen ones that still seem firm, and I'll make up plugs, get another container, re-plant them in that, just let it sit for a while and hope (I left those seeds in the fridge for about three or four months, so they HAVE to have had enough vernalization time by NOW)

Managed to get some more plantable favas yesterday, so I have sown some more. Guess I'll have to move the ones that have already germinated to a pot tomorrow; they're already growing out of the bottom of the plugs.

Sowed the peas last night, and the tomatoes the night before that. Will check on them in a week or so to see how many come up.
 

Pulsegleaner

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I THINK I may have worked out a way I WON'T need to buy a second protective cage for the corn (which would be easy) while finding a second place to place one (which would be very hard) while simultaneously dealing with the other problem I will likely have (namely, that, given how poor the germination of my corn samples are now, when combined with the number of kernels I HAVE in each sample, each group will likely be only 10-13 stalks, so most of the pollen will blow off and be lost and I will have poor kernel development again.)

First, I will measure the length, width, and height of the cage I have. I will then go and get eight pieces of outdoor grade plywood that are slightly narrower than half the length/width and about 4-6 inches longer than the height, along with about a dozen L-brackets and the screws to attach them. I will then attach each two of those pieces together with the brackets and screws to make four L-shaped pieces. Then, before I plant, I will drive those four pieces into the ground in more or less a plus shape, put the cage around them, and then plant the corn in the angle of each side of the plus.

The idea is that the partition will effectively divide my one space into four separated ones. The wood will act as baffles to both block pollen from going from one section to the others and bounce back some pollen onto the plants that would otherwise blow over the corn when the wind blows and be lost. The corn will lose a bit of sun (since each side will be blocked by the boards in either the morning or the afternoon) but it should still be okay with half a day's sun.

Dad has said he is willing to help me, and has already made some improvements on the idea (he was the one who suggested the L-brackets, and while discussing the idea with him I realized the advantage of making it four L-shaped pieces rather than one plus shaped one [that it allows me to take bits away or add them if I ever have a corn sample that needs two sections rather than one]).
 

heirloomgal

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It makes me happy to hear the tepins are doing well! Have you flavor tested them yet, from the dried ones?
Using ALL fresh ingredients, tomato, garlic etc; a world class Salsa can he made that is not only hot enough for most but more importantly has very good flavor.
Homemade salsa is definitely on the list of things to make with them! I don't have any dried peppers, the packet had pure naked seed, but I'm curious to try them. What I've read is that they have a pop of heat initially but the burn descends quickly afterward, unlike many other peppers.
 

heirloomgal

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Finally declared the Assam Lemon cuttings dead, and removed them (by this point, I needed the pot for something else anyway, so the dead sticks were just taking up valuable space).

Also cleaned out the pot of plum kernels. Given how soft most of the ones I removed were, I suspect the problem was simply one of the stones just being too damn old to be viable (or maybe even greengages are now so heavily bred in the commercial strains to not longer generally produce viable seeds. I've held on to the nineteen ones that still seem firm, and I'll make up plugs, get another container, re-plant them in that, just let it sit for a while and hope (I left those seeds in the fridge for about three or four months, so they HAVE to have had enough vernalization time by NOW)

Managed to get some more plantable favas yesterday, so I have sown some more. Guess I'll have to move the ones that have already germinated to a pot tomorrow; they're already growing out of the bottom of the plugs.

Sowed the peas last night, and the tomatoes the night before that. Will check on them in a week or so to see how many come up.
That is remarkable that you can start stuff already!! All I have planted are peppers. The tomatoes have to wait until April 1st. What kind of favas did you plant?
 

Pulsegleaner

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That is remarkable that you can start stuff already!!
I said I have started things, not that it was ADVISABLE for me to start things. For all I know, I have started everything WAY too early, and am looking down the barrel of a lot of trouble trying to keep plants alive, healthy and non etiolated, for several weeks, or even a few months, before it is OK to move them to the cold frame.

What kind of favas did you plant?
They are not of any named variety. I simply went to that bodega I hunt in, looked in their dried fava bin/bins (there are one or two bins at any given time, depending if they are selling tan favs, green favas or both at the moment,) and grabbed any seeds that looked out of the ordinary. In this case, "out of the ordinary" generally means either having a brown edge, having brown speckles, being partly to wholly purple, or having a purple patch on the back of the seed (I do also sometimes find ones with the thumbprint pattern, just not this time.) All are of the large size for favas, as opposed to the smaller "horse bean" types of the Mediterranean.
Favas are an interesting crop. In almost a reverse of the story of things like the common beans, corn, and pumpkins and squash, they are an old world crop that was brought to the new world and quickly adopted by the people of Peru and much of the rest of the Andes area. In fact, they seem to have taken to them so heavily that, by this point, even with the presumed center of diversity for the fava bean being somewhere in the middle of Asia (they don't know because they currently don't know what wild vetch favas evolved from*), in terms of actual diversity of types, you'll probably find more in Peru than in most places in Europe, since most of those got heavily jettisoned when the3 common bean was introduced and proved to be a better, more reliable producer in most areas (much like what happened to the Bambarra and Kersting's groundnuts when the peanut got introduced to Africa).
 

heirloomgal

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I said I have started things, not that it was ADVISABLE for me to start things. For all I know, I have started everything WAY too early, and am looking down the barrel of a lot of trouble trying to keep plants alive, healthy and non etiolated, for several weeks, or even a few months, before it is OK to move them to the cold frame.


They are not of any named variety. I simply went to that bodega I hunt in, looked in their dried fava bin/bins (there are one or two bins at any given time, depending if they are selling tan favs, green favas or both at the moment,) and grabbed any seeds that looked out of the ordinary. In this case, "out of the ordinary" generally means either having a brown edge, having brown speckles, being partly to wholly purple, or having a purple patch on the back of the seed (I do also sometimes find ones with the thumbprint pattern, just not this time.) All are of the large size for favas, as opposed to the smaller "horse bean" types of the Mediterranean.
Favas are an interesting crop. In almost a reverse of the story of things like the common beans, corn, and pumpkins and squash, they are an old world crop that was brought to the new world and quickly adopted by the people of Peru and much of the rest of the Andes area. In fact, they seem to have taken to them so heavily that, by this point, even with the presumed center of diversity for the fava bean being somewhere in the middle of Asia (they don't know because they currently don't know what wild vetch favas evolved from*), in terms of actual diversity of types, you'll probably find more in Peru than in most places in Europe, since most of those got heavily jettisoned when the3 common bean was introduced and proved to be a better, more reliable producer in most areas (much like what happened to the Bambarra and Kersting's groundnuts when the peanut got introduced to Africa).
That's interesting @Pulsegleaner, I didn't know Peru was so rich in fava diversity. One can only conclude then that favas do better than P. vulgaris there I guess? I've always been a little on the fence about favas; I haven't had too much trouble with heat negatively affecting my plants (they can get a bit wilty at the height of the day, but spring back to normal in a few hours) I find productivity per square foot very low. That will always be a limiter for me. That, and the fact they cross so readily. I will say though that last summer's fingerprint fava experiment demosntrated that there is quite a margin for heat tolerance in the species, and those in particular are at the upper end of tolerance for sure. I'm goign to try and find space for some Midnight Black favas, the little ones, and see if that small size will also result in significant differences in growing behaviour.

Personally, I feel skeptical about the ancient origins of various bean species. Jack and the Beanstalk is a very old European tale, 5,000 years old, and couldn't possibly be about 3 or 4 foot tall fava plants. I'm sure it's P. vugaris in that story.
 

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