Posts Tagged ‘heirloom gardening’

It’s Been a Long Time (Since Last Year’s Garden)

Wow, it has been far too long since I’ve made a new posting.  All of the computers in the house were broken for several months and our library (20 miles away) has a 30 minutes time limit per patron/per visit for internet usage. Unfortunately our twice a month trip to the library was barely enough computer-time to delete all the junk email from my inbox.

So, I deeply apologize for being completely out of touch for approx. 2 months or so there.

We’ve had a rather mild winter here in South Dakota once again. And I am wondering if we will have another drought summer with lots of grass- hoppers as we did last summer.  (However, our tomatoes and peppers really seemed to enjoy the hot summer weather last year.)  I say lots of grasshoppers, but of course it was NOTHING like the nearly Biblical Plague of Grasshoppers that Laura Ingalls Wilder describes in her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek… I can certainly be thankful for that.

We’ve started a few vegetable plants indoors already in our windowsills. Lettuce, Herbs and a few cherry-type tomatoes, all of which make good container garden plants. Toward the end of this month we will be getting the indoor mini greenhouse out of storage and setting up our grow lights and really getting busy starting our heirloom vegetable and flower transplants so they will be ready to set out in the garden this spring.

Varieties We plan to Grow in 2013: (Not a complete list, but a nice start of one.)

Beans: Gold Marie Vining (wax type pole bean), Royal Purple Pole, and Chinese Long Bean

Broccoli: Purple Sprouting and Romanesco

Carrots: Amarillo (yellow), Atomic Red (red), Cosmic Purple (purple), Snow White (white), plus an heirloom orange carrot

Cabbage: Red Express

Cauliflower: Cheddar, and both a green and a purple variety.

Celery: Red Re-Selection

Cucumbers: Dragon’s Egg, Boston Pickling, Uzebeski

Eggplant: Ping tung (very sweet elongated variety)

Popcorn: (the only corn we will grow this year) Dakota Black

Peppers: Lipstick, Chocolate Bell, Orange Bell, Yellow Bell, Red Bell, Green Bell, Mini Bell, Anaheim, Santa Fe, and Sweet Banana.

Pumpkins: Red Warty Thing, Cinderella, the pumpkin that looks like it’s covered in peanuts and a blue pie pumpkin that my grandmother always grew in Oregon.

Tomatoes: Black Prince (which we loved last year),  Black Icicle, Orange Icicle, Green Zebra, Chocolate Cherry, Yellow Pear (which come up wild here every summer), Pink Caspian and Nature’s Riddle to name a few.

*Traditional garden center hybrids like Better Boy and Early Girl have never really done well for us here on this farm, but many of the heirlooms we’ve tried have done very nicely on our farm here.  One notable exception to that was the “Mr. Stripey” plant I bought last year at the local big box store… it was the weirdest tomato plant I have every grown… huge plant with weird fuzzy leaves, lots of blossoms… but it never produced a single tomato fruit  despite plenty of bees and other pollinators(I am sure that other people do fabulously with this variety… it just never did anything for us, making me wonder if it’s not adapted to the Southern US or something?)

We’ll probably grown a dozen or two others, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head.

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Rain, Rain Please Don’t Go Away

(Shhhhh…The secret to perfect garden soil is…..Bunnies! Chickens! And Goats! Oh my!  Go ahead… Get Your Manure On!)

So,it rained early yesterday morning until about 10 am or so.  I hope it continues to do so off and on this spring, as it’s been such a dry winter in South Dakota.  Usually we get several feet of snow between Nov/Dec and April.  This year we’ve had less than 8 inches of winter precipiation… most of it ice rather than snow. (Of course after 3 spring/summers of heavy flooding, really doesn’t seem so bad.  But my farming neighbors with their traditional grain crops to plant seem somewhat concerned about having a drought summer… very bad for the corn and wheat crops particularly if we don’t get rain in May/June.  I don’t want to see food commodity prices going further out of control, as grocery prices are already so high, along with fuel and clothing too.)

I do wonder though that the neighbors GMO (roundup ready) corn doing less well, might actually be a good thing for us, if Pioneer Pa plants popcorn (quite the tongue-twister… lets say that 5 times fast) as one of our family’s crops this spring.  New to farming and gardening and wondering WHY?  Corn is a crop that utilizes wind to polinate and I’d rather not have the neighbors’ Monsanto patented Genetically Modified Organisms polinating my kids’ favorite snack.  My oldest child in particular seems very sensitive to GMO’s in his diet,  as seen by his increased stimming (self-stimulating) and increased echolia behaviors when he has regular (non-organic/traditional) cornmeal or corn syrup in his diet, but seems fine eating popcorn.  Popcorn as a crop has been less “tinkered with” than the startchy common dent corn that is used for human and animal feed purposes and ethanol production.  However, popcorn can and does cross-polinate with dent and sweet corn varieties if the wind and planting times are just-so.

If you are gardening (small urban/suburban farming) this year, just say no to the GMO’s.  Please plant open-polinated heirloom plant varities in your garden.  the more folks who do so and the more people who continue to save their own seeds from their crops, the better chance we have at keeping the genetic diversity and wholesomeness of our food supply.

Recently, Monsanto has been sueing small organic and heirloom farmers and gardeners for patent-infringement, when Monsanto’s GMO crops that were planted by these farmer’s neighbors contaminated the heirloom farmers crops.  Anybody who knows anything about an organic or heirloom farmer knows that WE DON’T WANT OUR CROPS CROSS-POLINATED BY MONSANTO’S GMO’s!  This is a well-duh sort of moment.  Anybody with half a brain can figure out that this situtation is completely backwards.  If anybody is being infringed on it’s the heirloom farmer, NOT an enormous multi-national seed conglomerate.  Seriously… shouldn’t Monsanto have thought about the possiblity of cross-polination by wind and insects PRIOR to tinker with and trying to patent life???

For more info on the fight back against Monsanto, check out some excellent articles on the subject and also the fight to get GMO’s labeled on foods from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at www.rareseeds.com

K-9 Pioneers update:  At 24+ hours old, Shiny’s puppies are doing very well.  Mommy has lots of milk, is a very attentive mother and the pups are pleasingly plump.

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