}

November 30, 2013

SENSIBLE SEED SAVING

Black Heirloom Corn, or Green Aztec corn might be worth saving for planting next year, but I needed to make sure that the seed was bone dry - 2 hours in a 110 degree oven did the trick. I only save a couple of vegetables from seed, opting to focus my seed saving on other plants in the garden which cannot be found elsewhere.

As the Holiday season sweeps in, and we are bombarded with Black Friday and "Week of Black Friday' deals for everything ranging from automobiles to underwear, so too come the seed catalogs. Like most everything else, they too seem to arrive earlier and earlier each year. My personal rule? I try to save them until the week after Christmas, resisting any temptation to peek at what All America Winners made the cover, or what amazing 'new' heirloom tomato is suddenly the 'it' tomato of the year. Aside from Pelargoniums, geraniums and a few seeds which much be sown before the New Year, I too stay away from any seed sites until the last week of December. I've noticed  an abundance of blog posts and Google+ groups talking about seed saving, and like many gardening tasks, there are as many false truths being passed around, far too many to comment on here. Instead of stepping upon my soapbox, I am just going to share with you what I bother to save, when it comes to seed in my garden, and, a few secret sources for seed really worth seeking out, and bothering to save.

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November 23, 2013

Some Farm-to-Table Thanksgiving Prep

Our heritage-breed turkeys this year can breath a sigh of relief, as they have been officially pardoned ( by me).


Don't worry, I am not going to show any photos of slaughtered turkeys as I did last year, in fact, I don't think that we'll even be killing any turkeys this year due to time, and well, the fact that the entire turkey-slaughter process ended up being a significant weekend-long event last year. I think I am OK with a nice store bought turkey this year. It won't taste like that years delicious turkey feast, but I can use this time to prepare something different - say, like fresh ground corn meal from our own heirloom green Aztec corn.  This post will focus on more of the gardens harvest - particularly, that task of making home made cornbread for stuffing, and continuing to prep the pie squashes for pies later in the week. And, of course, some puppy shots plus a surprise addition to the poultry house, at the end of the post.



I have never raised dry field corn before this summer, but I think it will become an annual crop. Even though we don't have a large garden anymore, a few hundred square feet dedicated to field corn will provide enough corn for at least ten pans of corn bread - and believe me, if you have never tasted freshly ground corn meal made from a nice, flavorful, richly scented heirloom corn variety - you are missing one of the true gifts from a garden.
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November 17, 2013

AMARYLLIS CONFIDENTIAL




It seems everywhere we look today, there are amaryllis. On those hip lifestyle blogs "white Amaryllis for Christmas", on Pinterest ( you know, "how to grow an amaryllis in a jar"), every single retail store has them merchandised in handy kits on endcaps, even your local hardware store carries these easy-to-grow and showy giants. "They're just McMansion housewife flowers" one of my younger, and most cynical  graphic designers called them, this past weekend.  Ugh. Probably because they can look as tasteless as a tacky Holiday sweater to some who cannot associate memories or nostalgia with them, but the amaryllis has much more to offer than mere holly berry red and snowman white seasonal metaphors worthy of a Restoration Hardware catalog cover.

The genus is broad and the newest hybrids, exotic spider flowered 'cybister' types, dwarf miniatures and curious rare species can be so incredibly interesting, that getting bored is hardly an option. For me, who comes from a time when there was only 5 forms available, todays wide selection can only mean that the amaryllis is becoming more and more interesting each and every year. After all, amaryllis really deliver on all fronts, except perhaps fragrance. It really all comes down to finding the best varieties, and growing them in the best manner. So I will share my amaryllis secrets ( and even a few personal gripes) with you.
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