Chicken moats are popular around here for keeping rhizomous species from invading a garden. A chicken moat is two fences spaced about 6 feet apart, that totally enclose a garden. Enough chickens are kept in it to keep the area between the fences eaten down to bare dirt.
Mark: I also make exceptions to the rule of one seed jar per species or variety. For example, the promiscuous tomatoes are a very active breeding project, therefore, I often save seeds separately from each plant. I found a few Delicata squash with fuzzy fruits. I saved seeds from them separately, because I want to explore the trait without committing wholeheartedly to it. I save specific strains of inbreeding domestic tomatoes.
I can't believe that I was so slow to adopt the strategy of one jar per species!!!
Nicole Alderman wrote:I ordered some of these Chariot tomato seeds through Experimental Farm Network, and they sprouted up really fast. The other tomatoes I started from seed didn't sprout nearly as fast.
Interestingly enough, I planted about 900 tomato seeds a few days ago. Brad, the ancestor of Chariot was the first to sprout. Brad usually ties with Jagodka for earliest to produce fruit.
I sorted seeds today. Emptied jars of old seeds from breeding projects into a bucket. Washed the jars. Emptied hundreds of seed packets into the bucket. I'm intending to broadcast them into non-cultivated areas of the farm. I'm getting much better at simplifying seedkeeping, and only keeping one jar of seeds for each species/variety.
I really like the semi-runner beans. I lump them in with the bush beans. They are more productive for me than bush beans, but a bit longer season, which makes harvest problematic some years. I think that there are 4 types of vines in common beans. I only select against the super-long vines that twist tightly around things (that's the type that I call pole beans). The floppy vines that just lay on top of things are really nice! I grow beans sprawling on the ground.
The snow has melted, and I'm planting cold loving seeds: Lettuce, onion, cilantro, fava, wheat, barley, rye, oats, fenugreek, pea, lentil, garbanzo. Soaked the fava beans overnight to give them a quicker start. These are William Schlegel's landrace, plus a few from Colorado.
I added a sign up form to my web site where people can ask to be notified when the book is available: Notify Me
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of growing conditions that a plant experiences during its lifetime. Type of soil is one minor component among many. The difference between sand and clay, derived from the same underlying bedrock, may not be much of a change. Even if my neighbor 30 miles away has a different soil type derived from a different type of bedrock, we still share the same weather, altitude, latitude, solar flux, insects, diseases, and organic mindset.
A key components of my selection criteria, is that I don't want to grow plants that require fertilizer, mulch, compost, weeding, or sprays. My plants are tuned to a low-input agricultural system.
I grow and cook beans jumbled together. Whenever someone feeds me a "pure variety" it is a particularly boring meal. Every bean in my mouth exactly the same as the last. Dull. Mind-numbing. I can't think of any recipe that involves beans that is tastier when made with near-clonal varieties.
There are two techniques that are commonly used to grow cactus in zones cooler or wetter than their native habitat. Both are designed to minimize the amount of water they experience during the winter.
1- Plant into very well drained soil. My cactus bed consists of about 6" of pea gravel, covered with about 6" of a mix of 80% sand to 20% compost. That keeps the roots dry, even though the eves of the house drain into the bed.
2- Cover the cactus beds with something to shed the rain/snow during the winter. Tin roofs are common. I had good success moving potted cacti into an unheated greenhouse for the winter, and not watering them until spring.
Regarding spiral breeding of chickens. Males don't stay in their mother's flock, they move to the next flock in the rotation. You don't have to keep track of individual hens, roosters, or eggs, you only have to keep track of which flock they belong to. Spiral breeding isn't about keeping pedigrees, it's about separating the birds so that you don't have to.
My winter wheats come out of winter looking green. I have deep snow all winter. My snow melted a week ago, and the wheat is already growing well.
If your crop doesn't green up within a week to ten days, I'd recommend replanting. If you plant spring wheat over top of winter wheat, any winter wheat survivors will mature seed a month before the spring wheat. It can make harvest difficult. However, saving seeds from those that survived the winter will select for winter hardiness.
I've been received great reports about how well they grow in blight infested areas. Seeds are available from Experimental Farm Network. Anything from the promiscuous/panamorous lines would be good to trial.
My favorite tasting tomatoes are the interspecies hybrids between domestic tomatoes and solanum pennelliii or solanum habrochaites. They have fruity flavors that people are describing as guava, melon, tropical, plum. Even sea urchin! Whatever that is. The high umami fruits are lovely.
Orange or yellow fruited tomatoes are winning every tasting panel award. No red fruited tomato has even come close.
I worked as an analytical chemist, using the aforementioned isotopes, to track what happened to the poisons when they were applied to a plant or the soil. Therefore, I'm not worried about the small amount of chemicals on a seed. They get highly diluted, and degrade in the ecosystem.
As also mentioned, there is the issue of what system you choose to grow in. If you choose to plant seeds that have been treated with chemicals and synthetic fertilizers for decades, you are choosing plants who's genetics have been deliberately and inadvertently selected to depend on those conditions. Then when they experience the bugs, microbes, and soils in a more natural garden, they are at a disadvantage.
Experimental Farm Network is distributing my seeds this year. That fees me up to act more like a seed elder. Therefore, I'm writing the book that people have been asking for. Today's big news is that I received an ISBN! At my typical rate of 1100 words per day, I'm about 5 days from finishing the rough draft.
I see purslane being tremendously weedy in the gardens of my family. Therefore I don't allow it in my gardens. Huh... It's an annual, so easily weeded out... Weird the habits we get into. I eat a lot of it, while helping out family. I just don't grow it myself.
I make swales with a rototiller. My technique is about as follows:
Survey with an A-frame level. Dig a pothole every 6 feet to mark the gradient.
Cut down any shrubbery that's in the way.
Mow along the gradient.
Till along the gradient. (A reverse-tine tiller is most effective because the sod and shrubbery roots that I dig through are tough. A BCS sounds awesome! And I usually dig when the soil is dry, because that's when I can access the site where I'm building swales.)
Rake the soil downhill to form a berm. I find raking much easier than shoveling, cause the tiller's digging isn't consistent.
Repeat, until the berm is about a foot tall.
I dug swales like this a decade ago. They were originally about 4" deep due to being over bedrock. Once in a while, they filled with sediment after a particularly fierce storm. It's super easy to rake, hoe, or shovel newly deposited loose dirt onto the berm. After each such event, the berm got a bit taller. I haven't noticed problems with frost heave. The most common mode of failure is people driving over them in wet weather!
Rocky ground is too hard on the rototiller. Tines bend or snap. The engine bogs down. Works great in loamy soils.