A must see movie!! SEED-THE UNTOLD STORY

seed-the-untold-story

Seed-THE UNTOLD STORY
Jean Cocteau Theater
Nov 16-24
7 pm

SEED THE UNTOLD STORY movie is coming to Jean Cocteau on Nov 16-24 . We should all go see this award-winning movie while it is here for a few days. This is right up our alley with building a sustainable, healthy community. Their goal is for SEED to inspire audiences to take action and become a champion of seeds.

SEED: The Untold Story is an eye-opening environmental documentary about the dramatic loss of seed diversity and the movement to restore the future of our food, from the creators of The Real Dirt on Farmer John & Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?

Visit seedthemovie.com/santafe for more info on movie times and movie guests.

From their site: http://www.seedthemovie.com/
‘Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds — worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. This documentary follows passionate seed keepers who are protecting a 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94 seed varieties have disappeared. A cadre of 10 agrichemical companies, including Syngenta, Bayer, and Monsanto, controls over two-thirds of the global seed market, reaping unprecedented profits. Farmers and others battle to defend the future of our food.’

Hope to see you there!

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Seeds already germinating!

seed startingseegermination 02-16

I planted some lettuce and greens seeds on Feb 8 and by Feb 11 some are already germinating! That’s only 3 days. Wow. Unbelievable! Here’s the lineup again and how they’re doing so far:

#1 Yugoslavia Red lettuce just peaking up

#2 Santoro barely peaking up

#3 Slow-Bolt Cilantro not up

#4 Carmel spinach just starting to come up

#5 Baby Pak Choi way up

#6 Forellenschuss lettuce way up

Not surprising, the two larger seeds #3, the Slow-Bolt Cilantro and the #4 Carmel Spinach are slower to germinate. I imagine the bigger the seed, the longer it takes to germinate. But to my surprise, the spinach is starting to come up already and the little seeds like lettuce just exploded through the soil. Amazing. I’m totally surprised how fast some of them have germinated.

Now I just got to make sure to mist them heavily 2x-3x a day to keep the soil moist while they all germinate. I will spray diluted Chamomile tea on the baby seedlings tomorrow to keep Damping Off disease from coming. It works great.

How to Start Greens/lettuce seeds inside

seed germination tray

Here’s what  last year’s lettuce looked like when germinated and ready to be transplanted into bigger pots

Greens/lettuce seeds started inside February 8

Yesterday I planted some lettuce and greens seeds. Here’s how I do it:

seed germination tray

I cut this tray into thirds

I bought these flats above for starting seeds indoors and under lights. I cut them into thirds as I like I them a little smaller as they are easier to handle and not so flimsy.

I like shallow containers to start SMALL seeds as it is easier to get the correct soil temperature needed for germination and I can plant a lot of seeds in a small space. Bigger pots for small seeds are harder to get the soil temperature correct. Optimal seed germination temperature for greens and lettuces it is 65-70 °F and it should take between 7-10 days to germinate.

seed starting tray_dots

I mark each row every inch and plant a seed there

Before I put in the seeds, I marked each row with a dot (I used a silver sharpie) one inch apart so I could evenly space the seeds and that way I can also see if a seed germinated by that dot. I use Metro Mix 360 soil for starting seeds. I pre-moisten the soil.

seed starting tray_seeds

Put kiddie (play) sand on top after putting seeds in rows.

I used a pencil to make a small hole in the Metro Mix and put a seed in it. Afterwards I put ‘kiddie’ play sand over each row to cover the seeds and pat it down. Small seeds can easily break through the sand when germinating. I would use bigger pots for larger seeds. You must keep the soil moist at all times till they germinate. Because the trays are so shallow, I only have to mist the pre-moisten soil with a sprayer, sometimes several times a day. You could put a clear top on it till germination happens. I never put the trays under a faucet to water as that could move the seeds around.

thermostat probeseed starting tray with thermostat

Here I have them sitting on a heat mat but I don’t turn the mat ‘on’.  For greens/lettuces I put the probe in the soil to see what temperature it is at with the thermostat. I find for greens/lettuces the lights above the seed trays provide all the heat needed to stay in that temperature range.  Here the thermostat reads 66°F. I’ll turn seedling heat mats on later for warm season crops like tomatoes which like the soil temperature much warmer for germination. The thermostat is great for controlling the temperature.

seed starting tray with journal entry.jpg

Write down what variety each row is in a notebook

I identify each row with a number and then keep a record of what each number represents instead of trying to write down what it is on that little piece of tape. There are 12 dots so that means since there are 6 rows in each ‘mini-flat’ that there are 72 seeds in this tiny space! After they germinate and their first two true (cotyledon) leaves appear, I will transplant them each plant into a 4 pack and from there directly into a cold frame, low tunnel or greenhouse. Still too early to  throw them outside without protection.

Here is what I planted:
1-Yugoslavian Red lettuce-butterhead type
2-Santoro lettuce-butterhead type
3-Slow-Bolt Cilantro
4-Carmel Spinach
5-Baby Pak Choi
6-Forellenschuss (trout) lettuce-romaine

Older Seeds-how to test for viability

seeds

If you have gone through your seeds and find packets that are over 3 years old, you may want to test them for viability. Are they still good enough to plant again? Many seeds are good for 2-3 years and some much longer if they didn’t get wet or damaged. I grew the state record for giant green squash (345 lbs) from a seed that was 8 years old. I was amazed. Read about the giant green squashes here; https://giantveggiegardener.com/2011/10/04/greenies-battle-it-out-for-who-will-go-to-the-weigh-off. So sometimes older seeds are fine too. Here are some things you can do with older seeds.

  1. First,  if they are over 3 years old I may toss them in the ground later in spring (especially flower seeds) to see if they germinate or
  2. I may test the seed packet (look at the date on the package) to see if they are still viable. Three years or older? Test them. To test them, take 10 seeds and soak them in water for a few hours to overnight and then put them in a damp paper towel and put them in a Ziploc bag and on a shady, warm windowsill or on top of your refrigerator (not a sunny place, you don’t wanna fry the seeds). Then in a few days check them to see how many have germinated.
  3. I use this chart  “Germination tables from Heirloom Seeds – Know when to plant all your vegetables.” to see how long it should take to germinate a particular seed under ideal conditions.  If none have germinated, keep checking them. After a few days, you’ll see some of them have germinated. So if 8 out of the 10 germinated, you have a 80% germination rate. If 5 out of the 1o seeds germinated, then you have a 50% germination rate, if only 2 have germinated than you have a 20% germination rate and so on.  I would probably toss those. This chart is also great to have when we are actually ready to start seeds inside under lights or directly outside (later) to see what is the optimum soil temperature is for each seed and how long it will take to germinate. I will post later on that when starting seeds inside or outside. This is just to test for seed viability right now.

Time to get seeds!

275px-Painted_Pony_Bean

It’s time to start getting my seeds for this coming growing season. I have most of my seed catalogs that I want and have looked at them. This is an exciting time for growers! So many things I want to grow and many new varieties too!  Here are some things I do when starting this process:

  1. The first thing I do is go through my seed storage boxes where I threw the packets in last year after planting. I have to organize them first to see what I still have.
  2. After reorganizing my seed boxes, I decide what I want to grow this year. Now the fun begins! Scouring over all the catalogs, I start to make a list and I need to decide where they will go in the garden because every year I over buy and run out of room in my garden. Many of the catalogs are so beautiful that I want to buy everything! I call it garden porn!  I too run out of beds to grow everything I want! Imagine that! Some of you have seen my gardens last year-I have 4000 sq feet of gardening space and still run out of room.
  3. I have a few rules I try to follow when purchasing seeds. Rule number one for me-I only grow things I love to eat so celery will never be on my list and if my partner didn’t love radishes so much, I wouldn’t grow them either (they taste like dirt to me). Why grow vegetables you don’t really like? Rule number two-I grow some vegetables that are more expensive than others. For example, I grow shallots instead of onions. Shallots are expensive, onions are cheap. Rule number three-I grow vegetables that I can’t find as starts in the nurseries. I’ve gotten some great vegetables that just aren’t available unless you grow them. You can either start them inside or direct seed some of them outside when the time is right. Also:

Home Grown New Mexico is having its 2015 Seed Swap on
Wednesday, March 15th at Frenchy’s Barn  on Agua Fria from 3 pm to 6 pm.
It’s free and you’ll get great seeds!

Other groups who will be at the Seed Swap:

The Santa Fe Master Gardeners will have several info tables there where you can get how-to info on composting, growing native seeds and more.

In addition the Seedbroadcast truck people will be there getting people’s seed stories and putting them online. Do you have a great seed story? Tell them!

The Tomato Lady (that’s me) will be there at the Home Grown New Mexico table inside the barn. I will have some of my tomato seeds and giant vegetable varieties available as well if any of you want to try growing a giant this year!

This is great resource for gardeners and a fabulous way to start off the growing season. Vegetable, flower and herb seeds will be available.

If you have any seeds you can bring to swap that would be great, but if you don’t you can still come and get some fabulous seeds for this year!

How to Save Tomato Seeds

Some of you may still have the last of your tomatoes inside your house ripening. If you would like to save the seeds or if you don’t have any seeds but would like to learn how to save them for next year then read on. It’s a simple procedure where we must remove the gel from around the seeds before drying them.

But before that, the first thing to consider is if the tomato is a hybrid or an open pollinated (OP) or an heirloom tomato. Don’t save hybrid tomato seeds as they won’t grow out true meaning they will not grow out to be the same tomato. They revert to one parent or the other and are unstable so you won’t know what you’ll get. If you have open pollinated (OP) or heirloom tomatoes you can save the seeds as both will grow out into the same tomato. An exception to this might be if you plant cherry tomatoes close to the tomatoes whose seed you want to save. Cherry tomatoes could cross-pollinate with other tomatoes but most heirloom tomatoes do not cross with each other. Just grow your cherry tomatoes away from  your other ones.

Put tomato seeds in a small jar of water (viewed from the top)

Put tomato seeds in a small jar of water (viewed from the top)

First you want to save a tomato that is really ripe and soft. To save the seeds from tomatoes we must remove the gel from around the seeds. Cut the tomatoes open and squeeze the tomato with the gel and seeds into a jar and add about 2-3 inches of water. Cover the jar.

white mold grows on top of the water

white mold grows on top of the water

In a few days you will notice that there is a white mold growing on top of the water and most of the seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the jar. Don’t freak out, this white stuff is fermentation working on your seeds.

drain the tomatoes and stuff off

drain the tomatoes

After about 4 days, strain the tomato seeds in a fine sieve or strainer and wash the yuck and tomato stuff off of the seeds. If you wait too long the seeds will start to germinate which will ruin them.

Put your seeds on wax or parchment paper. Write down the variety.

Put your seeds on wax or parchment paper. Write down the variety.

The seeds can now be put on wax paper to dry. If you use paper towels, the seeds may stick to the paper causing trouble removing them. Be sure to label them so you remember which variety they are. After they are thoroughly dry, store them in a plastic bag or jar for next year. It’s fun to save seeds and see what happens next year.

Glass Gem corn colors

Glass Gem corn 6

Glass Gem corn 6

I planted some Glass Gem corn seeds this year from Native Seed Search in AZ and grew them out. For the last 3 years I’ve tried to buy this seed but it was always sold out so I was excited to try them this year. The range of colors is incredible. Opening each ear of corn was like Christmas because you wouldn’t know what colors would be inside.  Many of the colors look like little glass pearls hence the name and some look less pearlized but all are stunningly beautiful. An interesting note is I noticed in the packet that some seeds had color and other seeds less color and it didn’t seem to matter when they grew out but maybe that’s because no one has tried to isolate particular colors yet.

I know the seeds are pure because I didn’t grow any other corn this year and all my neighbors don’t have any veggie gardens for wind cross-pollination. I am saving the seeds and will sell them by the color next spring. Of course there is no guarantee that each kernel of corn will even produce its particular color because of its unique genetics (just because you have blue eyes doesn’t mean you will produce a child with blue eyes-it depends on your genetics and the one you mated with). I’ll let you know next spring how you can buy some of them.

I’m going to take my favorite colors next year and replant the seeds and label them to see if they grow back out to that color. Great project for a Master Gardener, don’t you think? Of course I’ll have to isolate them or cross-pollination will happen for sure. I might call upon a few of my gardener friends to grow one particular color in their garden with no other corn-growing there to see what happens. This will be an interesting endeavor.

There were 15 different color combinations with some producing very limited colors due to just a few ears having those colors and some have a lot of ears with a particular color combo. Some I won’t even sell because there aren’t a lot of seeds with a particular color.  So here are the colors. Check out these beauties!