Organic Gardening; Heirloom Seeds V/S Hybrids


It’s spring, even though it’s still pretty cold in some parts of our country. Here in southern Nevada it’s definitely time to plant some seeds. If I decide to plant my vegetables from seed, are all seeds equal? Will I get similar results? What is a hybrid? And what is a heirloom?

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you buy vegetables at the grocery store they are usually hybrids. A hybrid is a cross bred vegetable, that is modified to grow a big crop, be resistent towards diseases, and yield a harvest that is as tolerant as possible. Fruit and vegetables sold at the store often have to withstand extensive travel to get there, and of course most consumers like them to last as long as possible before they go bad. They can be modified with help of humans, or naturally in nature. (Genetically Modified Organisms are always created in a lab, and that is not the same thing as a hybrid.)

A heirloom vegetable on the other hand comes from someone that saved a seed from their favorite vegetable, and planted it again. It’s not unusual that heirloom seeds are hundreds of years old. Most gardeners would agree that they are non-hybrids, and open pollinated. If you save a seed from a heirloom vegetable, and plant it next year, and save a seed from that vegetable to plant the year after that…..and so on, you are always going to get what you first started out with. That is not the case with hybrids. If you ever tasted a heirloom vegetable, you never want to eat a hybrid again. They taste a million times more, and comes in varieties most people are unable to imagine. For me the choice is simple, if I take the time to grow my own vegetables (which I love to do,) it’s definitely going to be both organic and heirloom varieties. If I like them, I save the seeds for future use. It’s a great idea to build a seed bank of your own. Have you ever tried saving seeds? It’s pretty cool!

I planted some cherry tomatoes with the kiddos at work today. I’m pretty sure it was the first time they planted something from a seed. I can’t wait to see how they react to the process of seeing their seeds turn into a delicious harvest. I’m going to have them help me take care of the plants every day.

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. – Lindley Karstens

The seeds we planted today are going to be part of a container garden. It’s the beginning of my favorite season! Extra exciting this year since I am in a new area, and gardening is likely going to be pretty experimental this first season. Do you have exciting garden plans? Tell me in a comment!


Ms Zen

Update Saturday

When I went to bed last night the Carr Fire was 133,924 acres, and 39% contained. Slightly bigger than the day before, but the containment is also higher. There are still evacuations in order, but many people that were evacuated have been allowed to return to their homes. Especially in the city of Redding. There is a red flag warning because of the high winds, and dry conditions. The danger is by no means over, but the fire is still moving away from the city. Other surrounding communities are at risk. 

I’ve been thinking about the impact the Carr Fire have on our local wildlife. Several places that I love to hike at, have been completely burned down. I especially think of one place, where I used to go on a regular basis, to watch Ospreys. There’s several nests within a couple miles radius there, and it’s not unusual to see as many as 20 birds fishing in the Sacramento River. Since they are birds they can fly away from the fire, but I imagine that they would be greatly disturbed? Especially the birds with young ones in the nests. When it’s safe to do so I’m going to drive up there and check. There’s currently spot fires in that area, and I can not do it right now. Hopefully soon. 

My animals are doing good. The horses, especially Ghost (the young one,) are more attention seeking than usual. Despite his cautious nature, he is very social. He likes to spend a lot of time together. On his terms of course.. Before the fire I used to bring a book out in the pasture and sit there and read for an hour, or two most days. I don’t do that now, because of the smoke. The dry, dusty conditions we’re having, make them look dirtier than usual, even though I groom them every day. My dog Gretchen is playful, and happy. That makes me very happy, since she showed signs of great stress, when the fire raged closer to us.

The garden is doing wonderful, even though it could use more staking. My longest stakes are 7ft tall, and my tomato plants are currently 10+ft looks like a jungle. I get at least 5lbs of cherry tomatoes every day, and some cucumber, and yellow squash as well. My bell pepper should be coming along within the next few weeks. I’ve started a couple very interesting tomato varieties from seeds this week, for my fall garden. They will stay in a bright, warm room, next to the garage (used to be an art studio,) until the seedlings are ready to go in the ground. With some luck I timed it right, and they will be able to grow to full maturity, and be harvested before the cold weather sets in. I believe that I timed it right this year. I’m often a couple weeks too late, so I started three weeks earlier than I usually do, to give them enough time. Now it’s up to mother nature.

I propagated Valencia Oranges, and Cara Cara Oranges yesterday. The container garden gives me so much joy. I’m going to add a new variety of figs, from a nearby farm, next week. I need to go there and dig up the young trees myself, so I’ve been holding off a little, due to the air quality. The lady said that she had peach seedlings that I could have as well. Looking forward to go there. 

I’ve been contemplating what kind of green house I should put up for my container fruit trees, when it starts to get colder. Yesterday I decided that I’m going with a simple greenhouse kit, that I successfully used before. It is economic, and rather easy to assemble. I can do it myself. It’s not a permanent structure, so I don’t need a permit. It’s also easy to disassemble, if/when I want to move it. The frame is sturdy, and the covering is OK. You can purchase replacing covering if need be. I lived in a very windy area when I used it the last time, and the cover lasted two years before ripping. I added some extra stakes on the sides, and it held up good towards the wind. 



I found a couple old photos of the greenhouse. It’s this exact model I’m thinking of getting for my container garden this fall. (Forgive the poor quality of the photos.)

A short post to let my friends, and family now that I’m doing good. My bags are still packed, and I am ready to go if the wind changes. However, I feel relatively safe now, since the fire have been steadily moving away from me, for several days. I’m actually going to school for 8 hours today. More about that later. I’m off to feed my animals, and water the garden, before heading to class. Have a wonderful Saturday!


Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share; Carr Fire Update – My Garden – Zen 

I promised you a more positive coffee share this week, and I will deliver! The zen is slowly finding its way back. The coffee is ready, please have a cup! How is your week so far? 

Last weekend I was in shock, when our county was declared in a state of emergency because of the Carr Fire. When a big fire just gets bigger, and gets totally out of control you feel kind of small. I’m a very organized person, that plans ahead, and take care of things in good time etc..well, there’s limits to what you can do in the midst of a raging fire, after you packed your bag. (You don’t want to unnecessarily endanger yourself in anyway, so that precious resources would have to be used to rescue you.) The more positive note is that the fire is getting more contained by the day. Last night (Thursday,) it was 37% contained. The containment lines towards the city of Redding, with the highest population, is strong now. BUT CalFire also said last night that Low relative humidity and an unstable atmosphere have increased fire behavior. I am by no means letting my guard down! My bags are packed, and I’m still ready to go if need be. This is the latest info I have about the fire.

Incident Start Date: July 23, 2018 

Incident Start Time: 1:15 p.m. 

Incident Type: Wildland Fire 

Cause: Mechanical Failure of a Vehicle 

Incident Location: Highway 299 and Carr Powerhouse Road 

CAL FIRE Unit: Shasta/Trinity 

Unified Command Agencies: CAL FIRE, National Parks Service, Redding City Fire, US Forest Service 

Size: 126,913 acres 

Containment: 37% 

Expected Full Containment: Unknown 

Firefighter Injuries/Fatalities: 2 


Structures Threatened: 1,358 

Residential Structures Destroyed: 1,060 

Commercial Structures Destroyed: 19 

Other Destroyed: 474 

Residential Structures Damaged: 189 

Commercial Structures Damaged: 8 

Other Damaged: 61 

Situation Summary:  Low relative humidity and an unstable atmosphere have increased fire behavior. Shifting winds, steep terrain, and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters. A Red Flag Warning has been issued this evening through Saturday. Crews will work through the night to mitigate potential spot fires across control lines. Repopulation of residents in the areas affected by evacuations will continue as conditions permit. 

When the worst shock subsided, I decided to do my best to stay in a positive state of mind. As soon as I possibly could, I went back to work. On my free time I’ve kept myself very busy in the garden, and taking care of the plentiful bounty from the garden (canning, and distributing the goodies to friends, and family.) I’ve had plenty of time to plan my fall garden this week, and I’ve been propagating some new fruit trees.

I’ve been focusing on propagating citrus trees this week. I’ve propagated California Honey Mandarin, and Meyer Lemon trees. The method in the photos above, propagating from cuttings, in simple tiny green houses made out of plastic bags, is very effective. If you count the amount of work, and the success ratio, this is my favorite method for the majority of fruit trees. My experiment with air layering this spring worked out wonderfully as well, but it is a lot more time-consuming.

My container garden is growing, both in number of trees, and size of the trees. I currently have four relatively big pomegranate trees, a big number of fig trees, lime, lemon, mandarin, two varieties of orange, dates (still very small,) and I just started a couple apricot trees as well. It is very rewarding. I think fruit trees are beautiful. Partly because of the joy of seeing a new tree grow (you can easily see weekly progress during the summer,) and partly because of the promise a new fruit tree gives for the future. I love the nurturing part. Some new baby fruit trees require a lot of attention to thrive. It feels so awesome when it is obvious that they do. I enjoy the challenge. I still consider myself a newbie to growing fruit trees, it’s something I’ve only done for the past 5 years, or so. Still relatively new. It’s kind of exciting not always knowing what to do, and being forced to do research. I document my experiments, and write down what works, a not. That will eventually be a part of my book; Productive Organic Gardening On A Budget. The book is far from finished. I’ve decided to work on my book every week, but lift the timeframe I had in my head. I want it to be both visually appealing, and of good use to my readers. I really like learning about something I find fascinating, like growing my own food. (Yeah, I find the learning process to be very beautiful, and fascinating ..after all, I am a teacher.) Bringing a beautiful tree as a gift to someone I believe would appreciate it, is one of my favorite ideas for a gift. To me a gift is more meaningful if the person giving it have put a thought, and effort into the gift. This gift could potentially help feed a family for years to come. Not even mentioning the joy, and beauty it brings.

My effort to stay in a positive state of mind have been successful. Everything that is happening is beyond tragic. Over 1000 people lost their homes, and people have died, but I can’t go around thinking about that all day, then I would need some serious help myself very soon. I’d rather stay positive, and perhaps I can inspire, or make this tragedy easier for someone. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of semi-strangers this week; phone calls, emails, messages, real life conversations with actual strangers while in town. The majority of people are coming together, and showing a beautiful side, that might have passed unnoticed earlier. I see it. Many people are noticing the positive vibrations that this tragedy started. Another unexpected effect of this is, that I actually have been blogging every day since this started. All this turned into a good new writing habit. It started to ease the mind of friends and loved one, and ended up being a wonderful outlet for me. Writing helped me process this tragedy to some degree. Kind, encouraging, daily interaction with my blogging friends, via comments on the blog every day have been absolutely wonderful, and very helpful in keeping my spirits up. I’m going to do the best I can to return that. The goodness in other human beings had me humbled. 

Do you need a refill on that coffee? I think I’m going to have another cup 🙂 Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? 

This was just to let my friends and family know that I’m still here. In good spirit. Thinking of how this week started, I feel so much stronger now. How are you doing?

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? All are welcome! 


Ms Zen