The ability to save seeds, even heirloom varieties is being threatened by recent mergers of Bayer/Monsanto, ChemChina/Syngenta, and Dow/DuPont. We have gone from six to three companies owning the world’s seeds.
The freedom to save and grow seed for replanting or for any other purpose.
The freedom to share, trade, and sell seed to others.
The freedom to trial and study seeds and to share and publish information about them.
The freedom to select or to adapt seeds, to make crosses, or to use them to breed new lines and varieties.
Without control of our seeds, we have lost control of our food.
Since the first seed was planted, we have always had control, if that is taken away, the stability of our food source is taken away.
When seed varieties are eliminated due to monetary values, we lose very important biodiversity in agriculture.
This makes us much more vulnerable to droughts and other climate changes that may come our way.
Some people have noticed that large funds have been set up to fight this “Seed Democracy” idea. That the advocates of seed democracy are somehow “anti-science”.
This does not matter though; what matters is that we try to save some of our own regional adapted seeds for our own use and to be passed to future generations.
If you would like to learn about how to save seeds, go to Bill McDorman Seed School and Seed Teacher Training atrockymountainseeds.org
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How To Start Seeds
Fill clean containers with seedling mix. Use soilless peat moss and mix in equal parts vermiculite and perlite to hold enough water and allow oxygen to flow. Don’t use potting soil.
Pour soilless mix into a large bucket and moisten with warm water. Fill your containers to just below the rim.
Plant your seeds according to your seed packet. Most seeds can simply be gently pressed into the mixture; you can use the eraser end of a pencil to push in seeds. When planting seeds, plant the largest seeds in the package to get the best germination rate.
Cover containers with plastic. Prick holes with a toothpick for ventilation. Water as directed.
Water newly started seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully. A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat-basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without causing too much soil disruption.
Find a place in the kitchen where there is natural bottom heat—on top of the refrigerator or near the oven. (Move the tray if the oven is on, as it may become too hot.)
Seeds sprout best at temperatures of 65 to 75°F (18 to 24°C).
When seedlings appear, remove the plastic and move containers into bright light.
When the seedlings get their second pair of leaves, prepare individual pots filled with a potting mix with plenty of compost. Move the seedlings carefully to the new pots and water well. Keep pots out of the direct sun for a few days.
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
It is all about the soil!
by David Proctor
February 18, 2021
Urban Farm Lifestyle MagazinePublished Weekly
The commercial urban farmer has a new resource, a farm in a box so to speak.
These 10’X 40’ shipping containers are equipped to grow leafy vegetables at the equivalent of an acre or two while using only 10 gallons of water a day or 90% of normal agricultural use.
The containers are humidity controlled, water irrigated, have LED grow lights.
Food is grown vertically, with a capacity measured in cubic feet instead of square feet.
One company PodPonics now call Agrinamics, has set up operations by the Atlanta airport.
They produce lettuce that is sold locally. In contrast, of being shipped cross country from California, where almost all the lettuce comes from, that we eat.
This has proven to be very popular with the local restaurants.
The chefs are able to utilize fresh local greens on their menus year-round.
Another provider of container farming is Freight Farms, which produces a container that is used primarily for vertical farming inside.
To see an intro to their solutions, watch below.
Introduction To The Leafy Green Machine 4:31
The idea is to utilize a container, whether built for this purpose, like Modular Farms manufactures, or recycle a shipping container that is converted for this purpose. The container is set up for environmental controls so the weather doesn’t play a key role in the production.
The leafy greens that are grown are then sold to local restaurants or to local customers seeking fresh vegetables that are grown locally and year-round. Some of these companies have produced very sophisticated containers that are monitored for CO2 levels, ph, LED light spectrum tuning, and are even equipped with Wi-Fi.
The cost of a shipping container can be as low as a few thousand dollars before the retrofit process.
Some are recycled refers; refrigerated semitrailers that are already insulated.
Others have to be retrofitted for insulation and temperature control.
Growtainer FINAL 1 2:28
To get started, seeds are placed in a starting medium such as I have talked about with my jalapenos.
After the seeds have sprouted and rooted out, these seedlings are transferred to a small container that is placed in the hydroponics system.
This is where the plant will be feed from the water mixed with fertilizer, using the irrigation system. The plants are surrounded by LED lights that give them the spectrum of light needed to grow.
The LEDs are very cost-effective as far as the amount of electricity that they use.
The cost of purchasing them has come down dramatically.
Some units even come equipped with solar panels and battery banks for those who want to operate off the grid. In urban areas, permits can be expensive and hard to get.
These units are a little bit easier to get going since these are mobile units and do not require building permits.
Some localities will embrace this technology since food production will help to create jobs. One company, Farm From A Box, has produced a container that is “plug-and-play”, ready to start farming two acres of land.
The idea is not to farm in the box but to have what you need to farm in the box, such as tools, solar panels, drip irrigation equipment, etc.
This is a toolbox for the want-to-be-farmer.
It can be dropped into place about anywhere and set up to start farming operations.
Farm from a Box: Community Farming. Reinvented. 1:55
We are seeing changes to how our food is being produced and how far it travels to get to us.
As land becomes more scarce and expensive, some of these ideas that utilize existing space could be turned into a great asset to a local community.
Being able to eat fresh greens year-round that are grown local is a plus for our health and community, but it is hard to maintain the true nutritional value and phytochemical components in the plants.
This is very hard to accomplish unless grown in the soil!
This film was produced by Chelsea Myers, founder of Tiny Attic Productions, LLC which is located in Columbia, Missouri.
This film did an outstanding job of documenting the reasons behind our need for paying attention to our soil health and how our agriculture has to be in tune with ecology. Nowhere in nature does monocropping come natural, nature wants diversity.
In agriculture, the predominant method of growing crops is to plow the field, then disc the field to break up the dirt and make it level and smooth for planting.
The field is sprayed with herbicides and pesticides so when the seeds are planted and germinate, the seedling will have a chance to grow without competition with weeds nor be eaten by pests.
The fields are fertilized with N-P-K, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
All derived from petroleum.
The crops grow, sometimes with the help of irrigation, then they are harvested.
If the growing season permits, another crop is planted as the one is harvested, and sometimes a third crop is planted, such as winter wheat.
Then the process starts all over again in the spring.
Tractor – Seeding
This process has kept the United States as the leading food producer of the world but at a huge cost.
We have worn out our soils, have lost huge amounts of soil into our streams and rivers.
A change needs to be made in how our farmers treat the land.
No-till planting along with growing cover crops, and utilizing managed grazing practices, needs to be encouraged throughout agriculture. When the seeds are drilled into the field, little disturbance to the field occurs.
The fields need to have a cover crop growing, that will help keep the soil in place and aerated, so moisture can be absorbed.
Another plus of having a cover crop is nitrogen fixation.
The cover crop is grazed and knocked down by herbivores and the resulting field is ready for the new seed crop to emerge.
The result is a sustainable, regenerative, relationship occurring.
The idea of the “soil is just a container for the plants” has to removed from the thought process.
We must rethink this thought to be; feed the soil, not the plant!
This is why, in my opinion, hydroponics will never replace the quality of food that can be grown in the soil.
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
It is all about the soil!
How & When To Prune Fruit Trees
by David Proctor
February 4, 2021
Urban Farm Lifestyle MagazinePublished Weekly
Pruning has some basic techniques that can be utilized by the novice pruner to know when and where to make those critical cuts.
Prune by using the four D’s to determine what to cut: dead, diseased, damaged, and dysfunctional.
Start with making sure that the tools you are using are sharp and clean.
There are many inexpensive products that can be purchased for sharpening pruning shears and loppers.
You want sharp tools to limit the crushing effect that you get when using one that is dull.
Start by removing dead and diseased limbs, and unwanted growth such as suckers and water sprouts.
Suckers are the growth from the root system and water sprouts are shoots that grow rapidly upward such as you will see when trees are top cut.
The “when” to prune is generally answered by when a plant is in dormancy.
There are exceptions to pruning during dormancy depending on the plant and the outcome that you want, but now is the time to remove dead branches and shape the plants for spring.
Pruning helps plant vigor and keeps the plant in a healthy and attractive state for the growth of blooms and fruit.
So sharpen your tools and give your plants that needed pre-spring cut and you will be rewarded with the fruit of your efforts. Pun intended.
Graves Mountain Apple Orchard
Check It Out!
Winter Pruning 13:30
Dave Wilson Nursery
Published on Feb 9, 2011
“Use sharp pruning shears for any cuts on branches smaller than 1/2 inch in diameter. Use loppers or a pruning saw for larger diameter wood.
Cut thin diameter branches 1/4 inch above a bud that is facing in a direction you want the new branch to grow. Make the cut on an angle to shed water and promote faster healing.
Horizontal branches produce more fruit than vertical ones. Prune vertical branches back to a main stem or trunk.
In spring and summer, remove suckers arising from the base of the tree and water sprouts arising from branches. Depending on the cuts and type of tree, pruning can stimulate lots of this type of growth, so it’s best to remove it quickly so the tree can put more energy into growing fruiting branches.
Prune moderately every year to keep the tree healthy and fruiting consistently. The tendency of some fruit trees to bear in alternate years can be caused by insufficient pruning.”
http://www.avtreefarm.com/pdf/Fruit%20Tree%20Pruning%20Basics.pdf by Tom Del Hotal
TEN BASICS OF WHEN AND HOW TO PRUNE FRUIT TREES by Paul Vossen
Edible Landscaping with Charlie Nardozzi
By Charlie Nardozzi and The Editors of the National Gardening Association from Vegetable Gardening For Dummies, 2nd Edition
“A cold frame is, essentially, a mini-greenhouse. By growing plants in a cold frame, you can harvest cold-tolerant vegetables year-round, even if you live in zone 5 where winter temperatures can dip as low as –20 degrees F. Cold frames are also great for hardening off seedlings, growing cold-tolerant flowering annuals like pansies, and rooting cuttings from your garden.
Build a cold frame to extend your growing season. A cold frame usually consists of a wooden box covered with windowpanes or clear plastic. The frame rests directly over the soil in your yard. You can purchase a premade cold frame for $100 to $200, or you can create your own simple cold frame by following these steps:
Build a 3-foot-x-6-foot box from untreated lumber. Cut the box so that the back is 18 inches high, sloping to a front height of 14 inches.
This sloping angle enables more sun to reach the plants, and it sheds rain and snow as well.
Hinge an old window sash over the top of the cold frame.
If the window sash has no glass, use fiberglass or polyethylene to create a sealed growing environment You can insulate the cold frame by adding rigid foam insulation around the insides of the cold frame and by weather stripping along the top edge. In extreme cold, cover it with heavy burlap or an old blanket. Remember to uncover the cold frame when the sun comes out so the plants can warm up again.
Position the cold frame so that it faces south.
If the south side isn’t practical, then use the west, east, or north side in that order of preference. It’s best to put a cold frame next to a structure, such as a house, to protect it from cold winds.
Even though the purpose of a cold frame is to trap heat, on sunny days, even in winter, a cold frame can get so hot that it burns the plants.
Check your cold frame once a day on sunny days, opening or venting the top slightly to allow hot air to escape.
You can even provide some shade by putting a piece of shade cloth over the glass.”
A similar method to provide a climate for your growing plants is a hoop house.
This is a very easy and cheap way to protect your plants.
The structure is not as rigid as a cold frame but assemble is much easier.
A hoop house also covers the plants but the difference is in construction.
PVC pipes are used since they are cheap and easy to bend.
The pipes are cut to length then bent over the garden area. They are anchored to the ground or the side of the raised bed.
A center tube is attached between the tubes to provide rigidity. Then the plastic is placed over the tubes and attached and anchored so the wind will not blow it away.
Access to the garden is normally through one end of the tunnel made by the hoops and plastic. This structure will allow the sun to reach the plants, maintain warmth and keep the snow off of plants.
Bonnie Plants has a good tutorial on building a hoop house and they also provide a material list:
Make a Row Cover Hoop House Materials Flexible PVC pipe Rebar stakes Spun-bond row cover material or frost blankets Twist ties or twine Bricks Step 1. Layout your design with the hoops approximately 2 feet apart to avoid sagging. Measure the lengths of PVC pipe you’ll need and cut the pipe using a PVC pipe cutter or hacksaw. Step 2. Hammer the rebar into the ground at the crossbar points according to your design, leaving approximately 4 to 6 inches sticking out of the ground.
Step 3. Slip the lengths of PVC pipe over the rebar stakes, gently bending the pipe to create arcs or hoops, that are secured on both sides.
Step 4. For added support, run a length of PVC pipe across the top of the hoops and secure it to the tops of the arcs using twist ties or twine.
Step 5. Drape the row cover over the PVC structure. Secure it to the ground using bricks or other heavy material you have on hand.
As you can see, both of these structures will help you get a jump start on planting this year.
The cold frame is sturdy and can be built over a raised bed. The top can be automated to raise and lower the temperature.
The cold frame takes more skill and materials to assemble.
The hoop house doesn’t take near the skill and materials to assemble, is rather sturdy but doesn’t have automation for temperature control.
The hoop house is taller and can be easily built. This structure is easy to take down and move.
My money is on the hoop house. But I really like the cold frame.
You decide what works best for you.
Check It Out!
How to Make a Hoop House for a Raised Bed 4:41
OYR Frugal & Sustainable Organic Gardening
If building a cold frame, use the cylinder shown above to take the work out of raising and lowering the frame.
If building a hoop house, keep a thermometer inside to know the temperature.
Be sure and make the One Call (811) before digging or driving rebar into the ground.
Have your local supplier of materials make your cuts for you so you just do the assembly.
Use split rubber tubing and clamps to secure the plastic on the hoop house.
Add a chain to the raised window of the cold frame so the wind doesn’t blow and damage the window.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 January 2021.
“How to Build a Cold Frame for Your Garden.” – For Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 January 2021.
“How to Build a Raised Bed Cold Frame.” Bonnie Plants. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 January 2021.
“Make a Row Cover Hoop House.” Bonnie Plants. N.p., n.d. Web.28 January 2021.
Matheson, Betsy, and Ogden Publications, Inc. “Weekend DIY Project: How to Build a Cold Frame – DIY.” Mother Earth News, 28 Sept. 2011, www.motherearthnews.com/diy/garden-yard/build-a-cold-frame-ze0z11zkon.aspx.