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Seed saving and moving climates  RSS feed

 
Natasha Flue
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I've been thinking on this for a little while and I was hoping to get some thoughts and advice from people on the situation.

I'm currently living on the Delmarva Peninsula, which is a microclimate in Zone 6b/7a depending on the year. We have fairly mild (40s mostly) winters with occasional hard and prolonged freezes, although these two past years have been balmy and mild (50s and 60s, thanks climate change) with very random hard freezes. The summers are hot with very very high humidity because the Chesapeake Bay is to the west. Average summer temps are 80s with night temps in the 60s and 70s. Most of the time, the humidity begins at 100% in the mornings and drops to 50% over the course of the day. Rain is pretty average all year round. There's a lot of wind here. Elevation is at most, 20 feet above sea level. The frost free dates are generally April 15 to Nov 1.

I'm living and gardening down here while I pay off my student loans and save up money. In around five years, I'll be moving back up to my parents farm, to live and work on theirs, and start my own little farm. They live in northeastern PA, mountainous area, zone 5b, 1000 ft above sea level or more depending on what part of the farm. The ground freezes solid all winter, with snow cover half the time. Frost free dates are May 15 to Oct 7. Summers are average with humidity increasing when a storm system moves through, but dropping back down after. Some hot days in summer but average is in the 70s. Night summer temps are 50s. Rain is pretty average here as well.

I'm going to be seed saving and doing plant adaptation in my garden here in Maryland and I had been thinking about using the STUN method. But with a move only a short (relatively) time away, I'm not necessarily sure I should with the different climate. The soil here in Maryland is a sandy loan, while PA land is channery loam on a slope. My primary crop focus for adaptation is corn (flour and flint), tomatoes, beans, peppers, peas. I might just end up saving seeds to build up a stock so when I move I have a lot of seeds for the large (relatively) amount of land I'll have available.

Thoughts, advice? Most of what I'm doing right now is learning how to grow a bunch of different crops on a tiny scale (300 sq feet plus containers), to see if I like them or can grow them when I get more land. Grains especially! And learning to save seed and make compost right now.

This is my first post but I've been lurking for a couple of months now. This forum is great!
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1677
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Hi Natasha;

Welcome to permies! What a great first post. And a really thought-provoking situation.

My first thought is that creating landraces is the best way to design for resilience. A landrace that has lots of genetic variability is more resilient, so if you save the seeds and then plant them in a different climate and biome, there will be enough genetic variability that at least some of them will adapt readily to the new growing situation. Then you can select the strongest out of that bunch, and create a new landrace that is adapted to the new garden.

If you read any of Joseph Lofthouse's threads on permies, you'll learn a lot about landraces and how to create a resilient garden. R Ranson's posts are another place to learn about landraces and seed saving. And there are lots of others.

Keep us posted on your progress, and I hope you get lots of great information from our resident experts!

Cheers
Tracy
 
Casie Becker
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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It never hurts to practice a skill. Even if the varieties end up poorly adapted to your new climate, you'll still have practice on saving seed and breeding the plants for the new environment. I've not moved climates, but have noticed that seed I saved myself (when viable at all) is far more vigorous and has better germination than purchased seed when sprouting. I think this is safely before the climate has much impact on the plants.
 
Natasha Flue
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Thanks for the advice on landraces! I've done a little bit of reading on them but it seems like a practice that needs a lot of space to raise the number of plants needed. I've only got 300 sq feet of in ground. Beyond that, the only expansion I can do is in containers. I'm renting a house and fenced yard that is maybe a half acre lot for everything including the trees and driveway so I can't get any more ground space for a number of reasons.

This storm that rolled through messed with my planting plans so my early crops won't get in the ground until Saturday.

I'll dig in deeper to the information they post and maybe think about a few plants that would be space efficient, focus on those.

Thanks!
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 53
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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A couple of weeks ago, a forest researcher at a university in the neighbouring province (I live 10 miles from the border) wrote about work he was doing.

He believes that a start on the climate change question (assuming northern hemisphere), is that you find all the native plants applicable for the target region.  And then you get seeds, seedlings or whatever of those same native crops, but from places closer to the equator (further south).  The question of how much further south, is left as an exercise to the user.  If the native plant in question grows from latitude 60 to latitude 30, and your target is at latitude 49; you probably don't want to be getting seed/seedlings from latitude 30.  Latitude 45 might be okay.  What seems to be true, is that the further north your target region is, the larger the distance south you might want to be looking.

He wasn't a believer in "exotic" (or introduced) species.

I have a problem with "native".  And that is, I think it is assumed that what most people think is native, implies equilibrium.  If the climate was to stay just as it is for another 100,000 years, the same species we now call native would still be here, would still be very abundant, and there wouldn't be anything else/new here.  No importation of species by humans, no importation of species by birds or anything else.  No evolution.

I don't know too much about northern Pennsylvania (I was in State College once), but where I now live was a lake bottom of a glacial lake in the last ice age.  I don't think we ever came to equilibrium.  And yet, there are "experts" talking about native species.

Landraces looked interesting.  Okay for annuals, probably not for trees to make lumber.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My target for adapting to climate warming is to grow crops/trees that thrive 300 miles further south at the same elevation, or nearby  but at 300 feet lower elevation. What that means in real life, is that I am expecting peaches and walnuts to thrive for me, because they are currently doing really well in the next valley over at 300 feet lower in elevation. But have been marginal species in Cache Valley.  Last fall, I planted around 100 pecan seeds, because I expect them to become a viable species in my climate. And I expect Joshua trees to become viable at my place!!! 



 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 53
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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How did you arrive at 300 miles south or 300 feet lower elevation?  The northern limit of Utah is 42N.  What rules of thumb do other people have?  Maybe a person could hack up a formula for this?

But, 300 miles is 5 degrees latitude.  So my gut feeling of looking at plants in Idaho and Montana for myself is probably okay, as I am very close to 56N.

Thanks for the info.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Gordon Haverland wrote:How did you arrive at 300 miles south or 300 feet lower elevation?


My strategy is informed by videos from Connie Barlow.
 
Natasha Flue
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My target for adapting to climate warming is to grow crops/trees that thrive 300 miles further south at the same elevation, or nearby  but at 300 feet lower elevation. What that means in real life, is that I am expecting peaches and walnuts to thrive for me, because they are currently doing really well in the next valley over at 300 feet lower in elevation. But have been marginal species in Cache Valley.  Last fall, I planted around 100 pecan seeds, because I expect them to become a viable species in my climate. And I expect Joshua trees to become viable at my place!!!  


That's really interesting! I might try to bring some fig and paw paw trees north with me then. They grow and thrive down here in Maryland but not in PA where my parents are. It's only a 200 mile difference but it is a big elevation increase, around 1000 feet.

I wasn't even thinking about it but I actually started a small experiment that I'm going to save seeds from. We had three weeks of warm weather in February, 50 to 75 degrees, when normally we have our worst storms of the winter. I threw some extra peas in the ground in the first week of February because the weather was making me want to garden and I was getting twitchy! They've done a pretty good job of surviving the 20 degree nights we had last weekend and this weekend. They were originally going to be for eating but I might as well save them. They were planted a month and a half before recommended planting date and two and a half months before our frost free date.

They aren't huge but they're a jump on the rest of the peas, which are going in either tomorrow or saturday.

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Gordon Haverland wrote:
He wasn't a believer in "exotic" (or introduced) species.


I have to wonder what he eats.

 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 53
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Saskatoons are native (you might call them service berries).

The feeling I get from the government, is that they think that quaking aspen, poplar and various willows are just fine for fence posts and lumber on the farm.  Maybe if I was to pulp them and make the posts and lumber out of glued up paper, they would be okay.

Personally, I think most of this comes from not realizing that what they think is native, isn't.
 
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