In Sadie’s sandy soil, she sows seeds

2 02 2009

Well most of the seeds will be sown in the greenhouse as transplants because that allows us more planting accuracy.
In theory seed saving is a great idea. However, we as a farm have not quite figured out the logistics of seed saving enough for the coming year. Ben saved some of the tomato seeds that we enjoyed last year for both flavor and productivity. Tomatoes are easy to seed save because they don’t cross pollinate. In the mean time we buy almost all our seeds.
This year we had a combination of leftover seeds, and lots of gifted seeds. This slightly reduced the amount of total seeds we had to buy. We bought all or our seeds from 4 catalogs. It just became way too mind numbing to comparison shop through more than 4 catalogs. The catalogs that we used were Bakers Creek heirloom Seeds, Johnny’s Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Territorial. These gave us enough diversity in seed types to be able to choose seeds that would best fit our operations. Characteristics that we were looking for in seeds were unit size, uniqueness, flavor quality, and most importantly how well the plant would handle in our ecosystem. Spending about 300 dollars on seeds this year in this order is in line with our projected cost.
Yet this doesn’t include the cost of seed potatoes, cover crops, garlic, and starter onions. The cost is then increased if we consider plants purchases, such as trees, shrubs, herbs, and other perennials. We are projecting the cost for all new plant life on the farm to be about 1000 dollars.

We actually went to look at some fruit trees today.  Gabe saw some she liked.  The trees from this nusery in Murphy were pretty large, and the price reflected their size.  The bigger the trees thes sooner we get some fruit.  2 years instead of 5 years.




2 responses

10 02 2009

I’m sorry, but tomatoes are faculative cross pollinators that rely upon insect pollination (or an intrepid paintbrush.) The only ways to be sure of cultivar purity is to give plenty of seaparation distance (usually 1 mile between CVs of insect pollinated crops), time separation (between blossom times, useful w/ brassicas) or what I like to call “dab and bag.”

All peas and beans are obligate self-pollinators due to a cliestogamous flower structure. It is impossible to grow OP carrot vars due to ubiquitious wild carrot (also D. carrota) throughout the PNW (though not on the coast, I don’t think). Wild radish can also be a problem in rural areas around the Valley, and don’t even bother trying to isolate bulb fennel from leaf fennel — it’s everywhere.

Everything else is either wind (grasses, kiwi, grapes, etc…) or insect pollinated (everything else w/ a flower). As far as saving the seeds, I try to start w/ the easiest seed (brassicas). If I can’t be sure that it’s prue, then I use it for sprouts or grinding into spice.

All that said, OP hybrids are a crap-shoot, but in theory, about 1/4 will be better, 1/4 will be worse and about 1/2 will be about the same by whatever criteria you grade upon. If one is comitted to ruthlessly cull the inferior plants, anyone can be a real Luther Burbank.

As for the perennials, one advantage of whips over feathers is that you can fully control the shape of the trees and condition the roots to your soils (as opposed to the Canadian peat they were likely grown up on). Those extra few years will increase early fruit harvests by “hardening” off the tree and allowing for more complete mychorrizal infection – esp important for mineral nutrition.

If you are feeling lucky, you can save a great deal of money by making a stool bed from an existing tree and grafting on your own scion wood at your lesiure. Seeds are also often used to create rootstock material if specific dwarfing habits are not desired (such as in a very windy area or if the competition from lichen/algae is very heavy.) With a fuctional greenhouse and bottom heat, you can even use sprouted willows as an auxin source and sprout your own small fruits from dormant wood cuttings (root cuttings are superior w/ hops and Rubus spp.)

But aren’t those catalouges wonderful? It makes January a lot of fun.

My condolances on you goat. Could he have gotten into tansy ragwort? I know it was supposedly erradicated from SW Cascadia by the tansy beetle, but I’ve seen some out there. Deficiencies of some micronutrients (like copper) can also cause symptoms like that, but that’d be very rare with the varied diet that it’s nearly impossible to keep them off of unless tied up and exclusively fed low grade hay.

Sorry; I just came off like an ass, didn’t I? That’s not my intent. I’ve been following your blog reguarly and I find it very real and inspiring — I really am pulling for you and wanted to share some of my cheepskate secrets that I gleaned from the OSU Ag library and my secret radicle (hahaha) profs.


Marie, Sellwood Garden Club

10 02 2009

Keep it coming. We need all the advise we can get. Your knowledge on agricultural practices exceeds our own. I had to look up a couple terms that were new to me. If you know any info on drip irrigation set ups for densely planted acreage that would be of extreme help.
And, no you did not come off like an ass.

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