Posted in Farming

The Romance and History of Seed Saving (now how the heck do I do it?)

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I have been listening to lectures and reading about seed saving.  It is something I have wanted to do, but then at the end of the season I either get lazy, run out of time, or run out of plants to save!  This idea appeals to me though and makes so much sense.

There are the practical reasons, of course.  When you patent something, you own it.  When you patent a seed, you own life.  Dow, Dupont, and Monsanto would very much like to own life.  These are mega corporations that seem to have no soul.  They are made up of people with well lined green pockets and their friends in politics benefit too.  Dow and Dupont create the most powerful pesticides and herbicides on the market made from leftovers of chemical warfare, slowly killing populations of species including people.  These require plants that can stand up to them.  Monsanto, with their genetically engineered seeds, are patenting all types of seeds.  They are open pollinated so if it drifts into your garden, they own your seeds too.  If one was to stop and think about it, it is all very terrifying that a large entity could own our life force, our food, and not just any food, poisonous food.  They are already poisoning millions of Americans every day with their GMO’s that are in practically every processed food and in more and more produce.

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I am blessed to live in an area that is not known for farming (lucky me, there is a reason for that!) but the benefit of that is that I have no drift from GMO crops.  I should be saving my seeds!  I would also save $600 a year on seeds that I starry eyed buy in January.

I am also struck by the romance and the history of saving seeds.  Our grandparents that came over from other countries with seeds in the lining of their jackets.  Our Native American ancestors saved seed to take from place to place.  There were no glossy seed catalogues for them to order from each year.  Seeds were a source of trade.  Seeds were gold.  Over 94% of all seeds are gone.  Forever.  We will never know many of the delicious foods that our ancestors ate.  Even from the 1940’s.

Maryjane's first radish.

We have selected hybrid seeds to choose from.  This is a great reason to choose a seed company like Seed Savers.  They have successfully saved hundreds of seeds from extinction.  To plant a seed that was brought over by covered wagon or a seed from corn that was used as cornmeal are all gifts from a past time.  Then save the seed.

A beautiful story I read in a magazine years ago has followed me in memory.  After the Vietnam war there were several refugees.  I believe this happened in Louisiana.  The Catholic ministries bought two apartment buildings to house these refugees.  These folks were missing their homeland and their families.  With them when they fled their war torn country were seeds.  The people started a garden at their new place and planted the seeds from their homes.  They created an oasis of foods of comfort that are not grown here.  Vegetables their mothers grew, recognizable and tactile pieces of home.

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I know how to save seeds from squashes and tomatoes, that type of plant.  I just need to do it.  I do not have a clue how to save things like collard greens or lettuce or radishes.  I left  some of them up and their flowers are beautiful waving daintily over the other plants.  Now what?  Will the seeds come after the flower?  Do I need to chop their heads off now?  Oh bother, I need a book and a teacher!

This year I will at least save seeds from pumpkins, from squash, from potatoes.  Start slow and work my way up to a collection.  Create my own chest of gold.

 

Posted in Bees

Bee Keeping Mama (soon to be)

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There is a bee hive on the very tip top of the hundred-plus year old building across the street from my shop.  If you stand in my doorway you can see them busily working.  Among the ornate swirls of wood, they have made their home.  I have always had a fondness for Victorian architecture myself, can’t say I blame them.  Throughout the year we help them detour out of our shop.  Enticed, no doubt, by one hundred different types of herbs and the essential oils used in the beauty products, they come in for a sniff of the lotion or to seek an unexpected flower.  They always end back up by the window desperately trying to make their retreat.  Using a saucer and a paper cup I ease them into the vessel and set them back on track outdoors.  They have never stung us or any of our customers.  They just want to get back to work!

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Homeowners and shop owners call in the companies that guarantee your yard will be beautiful and sheepishly place those little yellow flags with the woman and child and dog with a slash through them (that doesn’t mean keep off the grass, it means it will kill you!); they usually have no idea what harm they are doing.  Doug was guilty of this himself, bringing in Weed and Feed trying to keep up with the neighbors in our old neighborhood.  We just didn’t realize the impact of such a simple thing.  Weed and Feed is available everywhere this time of year.  It does cause cancer and upper respiratory ailments in humans as well as wipes out birds and butterflies and lady bugs and….bees.  The lady who owns the building next to my shop loves to spray her yard.  There are always little yellow warning flags that the bees missed scattered throughout.  And at least three dead bees a day in front of my doorstep.  Many times the bees are disoriented and wander aimlessly in front of my store as if looking for directions to get across the street before their demise.  I could make myself crazy with thoughts of the Colony Collapse Disorder and all the Weed and Feeds on the market.  I could picket the girl next door.  Or I could combat this in a positive way.  By getting a bee hive.

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Luckily for me, my friends are going to help me.  Bryan just built me a beautiful bee hive to house the new family.  His seventeen year old brother, Brett, has been giving me a bee tutorial.  Since I learn by watching and doing, he will have to come back and walk me through it!  He keeps telling me, “Order your bees, or you’re not going to have any!”  I finally have the cash today so I will get online and order a family of bees with an Italian queen.  Feels rather medieval.  Brett is teaching me organic beekeeping.  I will not take too much honey so not to break into the bees’ store for winter.  I will let them flit to and fro from plant to plant and not scream and run when I see them.  I will not be afraid of bees on masse.  I am sure it will take a minute to get used to standing among hundreds of bees but my love for them will hopefully conquer any fears!  Only .01% of the population actually has  reaction to bee stings and I am not among that number.  I am just a bit of a baby when it comes to pain.  But saving the honey bee in any way I can is more important to me!  Offering a safe home to them in an area that doesn’t use many pesticides (love this town…it’s not the same town my shop is in) is going to be great and they in turn will pollinate my trees and garden.  I’ll keep you posted on this venture!

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