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seed resources for arid and alkaline lands  RSS feed

 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1831
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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I've just been reading the 220 times more permaculture thread, and the discussion has come to an individual's soil restoration project in Tucson.

Here is the current "last post " in the thread:
___________

    John Arross wrote:


    I'm looking for every way possible to improve organic matter content of my soil, while not burning a billion gallons of diesel in the process.
    I've started planting woody perennials, vetch, oilseed radishes, and about anything I can find that MIGHT grow. Growing from seed so I can try a lot of things without as much expense and heartbreak of watching a nursery plant wither and die.



Hey John,  I forgot to add that we have an awesome seed company here in Tucson called Native Seed Search that finds, propagates and sells seeds that are adapted to drylands - especially edibles. With your efforts to bring in more organic matter, the more diverse the mix, the better, so here is a catalog page from NSS for High Desert seeds.  - You can also contact them for advice. Lots of smart folks there.

https://shop.nativeseeds.org/collections/catalog/high-desert ;

There's also High Desert Seeds in Colorado -  http://www.highdesertseed.com/    ; ; And  High Country Gardens - http://www.highcountrygardens.com/perennial-plants ; ; Wildflower mixes encourage pollinators, and gosh darn it, they're just plain purty!  A lot of their species grow down here too.

Here's some resources from Albuquerque Public Library that might be useful -  http://abqlibrary.org/seeds/HighDesertGardeningResources

If you google "High Desert Seeds"  of similar searches, there's some good stuff out there.   I've got a lot of stuff on water harvesting, making small dams, and erosion control too if you want any of that - mostly on PDF's.  Just let me know if you're interested.

Regarding watching expensive nursery plants die, I hear ya. It's a drag, so seeds are the best way to go. There's a good thread on here about seed starting mediums too. I recommend 2/3 sharp sand - free on the inside bends of rivers -  and 1/3 locally made compost.  I learned that one from Mr Lawton and I like it a lot.  For broadcast seed, watering them in with compost tea and some mulch at the time of sowing is a great way to go.

Cheers! 
_______________

And my seed source suggestion:  https://greatbasinseeds.com

 
Edward Jacobs
Posts: 39
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I just discovered that mesquite tree litter will prevent the germination of some seeds. So much for my idea of growing in the shade of the mesquites, or using all that built up mulch... Something to consider when growing seeds in the Tucson desert.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1831
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Edward,
What would be wrong with establishing your beds under the mesquite trees with plants that the mesquite does not suppress?  It seems like if you get anything going under there, you would be diminishing the influence of the mesquite, and creating more diversity in the soil under the mesquite.  I'm just thinking that might begin to mitigate the germination suppression, because there is more litter, and it is of different kinds under the tree, and different kinds of roots producing different exudates where it used to be only mesquite.
 
Edward Jacobs
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I have no idea which seeds it blocks. Found a couple studies, one of which was bermuda grass, which offers some interesting ideas. But the mesquite dumps a ton of leaves every year, and the "pathogen" (or whatever it is called) is water soluble. I know saguaro and cholla cactus do well under mesquite... but who wants that growing near the yard and house? Cholla has its use, but as a crop? It's main mission in life is to litter a mile around itself with horrendous evil poky things.

Currently, I have 5 "tire gardens" under a canopy of several mesquites, growing lemon balm, several mints, tumeric, and ginger, and a couple ashwagandha plants. None were started from seed, the soil was mixed from compost and native dirt and brought from another part of the yard, and all are doing well in the shade. I also have some periwinkle and canna bulbs, and even comfrey growing in another shady mesquite spot. Growth rate has not been inspirational, but they are all alive and showing slow progress. And again, none started from seed, they are all transplants.

Just figured its worth pointing out that mesquite has this "property", in case someone is trying to grow a flower garden under the nice big shady mesquite tree in the yard, and not having any luck germinating...  Your ideas for amending the situation sound feasible and worth a try. Or germinate elsewhere and transplant.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1831
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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That's great,Edward, that you do have things growing.  and comfrey is one I think fixes just about everything.

Maybe no seed germination in your mesquite shade beds is a good thing!

That ability of mesquite to suppress seed germination beneath it probably falls in the same category as eucalyptus and walnut tress suppressing growth of most everything beneath them, allelopathy is what the technical people call it.  
 
fred greek
Posts: 5
Location: Tucson, AZ
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I understand the Native Seeds Search (NSS) folks, on Campbell in Tucson, have a seed swap program where you can get some seeds at no cost, I gather with a promise you will return more seeds later.  I’ve not used their program.

The Pima County library system has a program where you can obtain free seeds.
https://www.library.pima.gov/browse_program/seed-library/

Even if your local branch does not have seeds on hand, you can submit a request to have the seeds you want delivered to you at your local branch.  You do not have to return seeds.  You can get up to ten packages each month. 

During the cooler months, the local Community Food Bank conducts gardening related classes, check their schedule at:
http://www.communityfoodbank.org/Our-Work/Programs/Garden-Workshops/Workshops
 
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