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!

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share

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I can’t believe it’s already the weekend. This week have gone by faster than fast. How was yours? Please have some coffee with me, and tell me all about it!

I started out Monday being slightly tired, after a fun, action filled weekend at the rodeo. I took it a  little easy (for me,) on Monday (my friend E tells me that my life is always like boot camp, compared to hers.) I had to spend quiet some time to clean up space on my computer, to be able to download all the photos I took at the rodeo. I believe this is my favorite.

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I’m not done editing the photos from the rodeo yet. I’ll do a little at a time, and share them here as I go.

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My daughter was mesmerized by the events most of the time, but still, I think this jumping thing she did after everything was over, was her absolute favorite.

On Tuesday afternoon I went to see a friend of mine that lives a couple hours north of me, in Weed (CA.) I really enjoyed the drive. I drove over Shasta Lake, passed by Castle Crags, and Mt.Shasta to get to her. Seeing all that beauty up close makes me think of Tim McGrath’s song Humble and kind. Natures beauty does something to my soul, every time. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a beautiful place, it’s almost likes it grows a little every time, even if it took my breath away the first time. There is still some snow on Mt.Shasta, but the surroundings are green. 

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We’ve been making our new place a little more ours this week, both on the inside and the outside. I pretty much been dividing my time this week between my daughter’s school work, the horses, and the new place. It’s been a great week, with pleasant weather in the 75-85’s, a little hotter a couple afternoons. We’re supposed to have rain for three days now, which I welcome with open arms. I bet my garden are going to LOVE that. 

This is the humble beginning of my annual garden.

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Squash

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Cherry Tomatoes

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Spinach

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Garlic

My daughter have shown an interest in growing corn, for a couple years. It’s something she mentions on, and off. When I planned my garden this year, I hadn’t heard it for a while, so I did not make any plans for it. This week she’s been talking about it every day. Maybe because we’ve been working in the garden more. So we decided upon a place where she could grow a couple rows of corn. I prepared the spot yesterday. It’s an extension of the garden we’ve already made. I watered the ground there to make it softer, dug it out, filled it with a layer of old horse manure, another layer of tree shavings mixed with goat/sheep manure, and a top layer with soil from my compost, before planting the corn. I hope it will do the trick. It’s the firs time I attempt to grown corn, so that’s a little exciting. I admit that I could of done more research. I am usually better at researching everything I plan to grow, before planting. I didn’t this time. I wanted to get it in the ground before the rain. Rain will be unusual for us from now on, and I wanted to take maximum advantage of it.

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Our tiny corn field. I also planted some cucumbers right next to the fence. 

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The tiny cornfield, in front of the fenced in garden area. In the back of the garden is my container garden, currently consisting of; 4 pomegranate trees, lavender, cilantro, oregano, and basil. I just planted the kitchen herbs from seeds. I’m planning on adding both more fruit trees, and more herbs, to my container garden throughout the season. My container gardens have a tendency to get HUGE. I sold my whole container garden by the end of last season. I’m a little bit wiser, and know a little more about what I want in my garden now. It’s exciting to build it up again. I believe that container gardening, is something that’s just going to get bigger and bigger, as more people see the advantage of growing their own food, and how simple it can be.

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FTB Fancy Tradition

Ghost and Fancy, are enjoying their days in the new pasture. They are both looking great right now, and are in good spirits, showing more energy and Joie De Vivre than before. I work with each of them a couple times a day, about 15-30 min at a time. Depending on what we do.

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Ghost is in a period of processing things, and have asked me to slow down a little with introducing new things. I try to listen. He needs more time to feel completely comfortable with ropes, that’s a thing we’ve been working on a lot, with good progress, but he still needs time. He have no problem having my hands (he loves being touched and often begs me to just stand with him,) or my weight anywhere on him, but man made materials are scary. He had a little episode yesterday morning. I had just finished grooming him, and was going to play with him at liberty (without any equipment on.) He loves playing at liberty, and is very tuned in to me. Sometimes I think he tells me that he would love to be a trick horse. Anyways, before taking the halter off, I purposely let the lead rope slide over his back. He knows that I’m about to take the halter off, and knows that he have the lead rope attached to him. No surprises. He is usually cool with the rope sliding over his body. I’ve done it a lot, to desensitize him to this most scary object, that certainly could eat him..but yesterday he completely fell apart, and jumped up in the air, crashed into the round-pen, and started to run around like crazy. He is a very sensitive horse, and have days like this. He had very minimum interaction with people for the first (almost) 4 years of his life. Until January this year, when I bought him. Even though I feel terrible when he have episodes like this, it clearly tells me that his mind is not ready to proceed our training. We need to stay in the stage we are longer. That is OK. I’m in no rush, as long as we move in the right direction. If I feel that I can’t connect with him, it would be different, I would look for someone who could, but I feel that we do connect.

He ran around with the rope hanging over his back, dragging on the ground. He is responsive to my directions, even though he was freaked out, he respectfully changes direction when asked. Taking control over a horse’s hooves, by frequently changing direction is the easiest way to gain control over a situation. When this happens, I start to exaggerate breathing deep and slow, until he follows my lead. After he calmed down yesterday, we took a break, doing nothing together. He responds very well to this form of reward. Initially when he starts to relax, after a scary episode, he isn’t ready to be touched yet. After doing nothing together for a few minutes, I left him alone in the round-pen. To give him an opportunity to digest things. I came back ten minutes later, took the halter of, and caressed his whole body, inside his mouth, in his ears, on his legs, everywhere. It’s to make him feel my love, and also to tell him that it is OK, that I will always take care of things in a safe way, and listen to him, but he has to trust me. After that I opened the gate to the round-pen, and took him for a walk on the property, without a halter. He follows me with his head on my shoulder. When I stop after a few minutes, and sit down on the ground, he licks my right cheek. That horse has the biggest heart. Just being with him teaches me a lot. 

Fancy on the other hand is getting really comfortable with her new life. She is thriving. I’ve cleaned her up, and given her a job. My daughter rides her 15 min every day. Fancy still need to gain more weight, and get stronger, but light exercise (that will increase with her getting stronger,) is helping her to get stronger faster. She is so proud to have a job, and she takes excellent care of my daughter. My daughter have never ridden a horse as big as Fancy, and is not 100% comfortable with her height yet. My daughter knows how to ride by herself, but for now, she wants to be lead around. That’s OK. She insists that Fancy is her horse, and that she is going to ride her every day. My daughter is proud of herself for riding a big horse, despite her fear of height. I love seeing her conquer her fears, and grow in the process. It is a win/win for everyone. Fancy feels important, and is gaining health by the day. Ghost watches us with huge eyes from the other side of the fence. It’s very obvious that Fancy enjoys having my daughter on her back (photo here,) and I believe he understands that. I feel at peace, and very grateful.

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Thank you for having coffee with me. I really enjoyed your company. How is spring in your area? Is everything green? Are you enjoying having coffee on the porch this weekend? Tell me about it in a comment!

Love,

Ms Zen

 

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Productive Organic Gardening On A Budget

 

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The theme  of the weekly photo challenge this week is; Smile. Growing my own food makes me smile, in many ways. Literally because I enjoy working in my garden, and internally because it makes me feel good eating organic food. My conscious also smile back to me when I try to lessen my ecological footprint, by eating a more locally produced plant based diet.

The photo above is an 11 day old Squash seedling. My daughter was smiling while planting the tiny seed 11 days ago, and she’s been smiling while watering it, and checking the growth every day since then. Today we had to replant the seedling (photo below,) into a bigger (repurposed) pot, since it outgrew its tiny seed starting cell. I saw another big smile on her face (and I’m pretty sure I smiled myself as well,) when we carefully lifted the little plant, and saw the intricate root system already developed. That’s pure magic! Don’t you think?

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I believe that you are what you eat; mind, body and soul. I enjoy growing my own food.  My ultimate dream is to have a small homestead, and be as self sufficient as possible, producing the majority of my family’s food myself. I’m slowly working my way towards that goal, by growing as much organic produce as I can every spring/summer, and by continue my learning process about how to do it (by reading, doing my own garden, and helping out at farms in my area.) I love that gardening is a lifelong learning process. 

Yesterday when my daughter and I was making lunch, she was cutting celery, and started to ask me questions about why sellers is good for us to eat. We talked about how it is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and I mentioned a study I read recently about its cancer fighting powers. I remember seeing a photo of someone (in a garden group I’m a member of,) planting celery leftovers. So we read a little more about that, and tried it. According to what we learned you can cut it straight off at the root, saving a few inches, and place it in water for a few days. You’re going to se it start growing new celery in the middle first, and a couple days later the roots are supposed to come.

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This was what it looked like this morning, already started to grow new celery in the middle. Maybe even a root under? Not sure. When it develops a root system you can plant it either in a pot, or outdoors if the temperature is right. Both my daughter and I, are very excited about this. It’s the first time we try growing celery like this. I try to expand my garden to some new varieties every year. Especially if I can find something my daughter really enjoys, it certainly makes it easier to motivate her to eat her vegetables.

I cook all the food we eat from scratch, and I use a lot of garlic in our food. You’re supposed to plant garlic in the fall, for a harvest next year. I didn’t know that you actually can plant it in the spring as well, with a slightly smaller harvest. I spent some time learning about that this morning. You can trick the garlic that it is still winter, by having the garlic in the fridge. Conveniently, I had organic garlic in my fridge. Having my soil and everything out already, after replanting some seedlings earlier, I decided to try my knew found knowledge. Nothing like learning by doing 🙂

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I took two garlics, that I carefully opened up, and then I choose the biggest cloves. It was suggested to plant three cloves in a small pot, carefully leaving the white skin on the cloves.

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Plant with the pointy side up. The soil is supposed to be loose, and moist. After planting them, water, and then sprinkle either airy soil, or shredded leaves over the garlic.

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I sprinkled seedling soil on top. Just a little bit. Garlic like to be moist, and have at least six hours of full sun when they are growing. I’m planning on transplanting mine outside when they get bigger. Did you know that you can eat every part of the garlic? The cloves, the skin (huge antioxidant,) the sprouts – everything. I’ve never planted garlic in the spring before, and I’m curious about what kind of impact this late planting, is going to have on the harvest.

I’ve been experimenting with organic gardening on a slim budget, for the past 5 years. I’m a homemaking, homeschooling mom, that for the most part been alone in my responsibility to raise a healthy, happy little girl. Especially during the first years my creativity was often tested to the max, when it came to providing healthy food, due to limited finances, and moving a lot. I’ve lived and I’ve learned. I’ve kept track of different methods I’ve tried, and how I adapted them to fit new places we moved to. I’ve had everything from an 80 acres ranch, to a small RV pad. I’ve tried regular gardening in fields (still organic,) raised beds, container gardening, and combinations of them. I’m planning on publishing what I’ve learned, along with photos, and Pro’s/Con’s with different methods in a book. Eating healthy organic food doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it is possible to build a productive organic garden even if you have a very small space, live in an apartment, or an RV. I’d like to share how. If you have more space, that’s wonderful, and you can grow even more, keeping your costs down when using a few tricks I’ve learned along the way. My goal is to have my book ready for publishing this fall, around harvest time. If everything goes well. It’s a fun project, that also makes me smile. I haven’t told anyone about it until today.

What makes you smile this weekend?

Love,

Ms Zen