EVER GROW AN OPEN-POLLINATED or heirloom variety from seed, only to have it not look or taste like the photo on the packet—or even like the “same” variety when you grew it before? Maybe not your fault! Seeds aren’t like widgets; someone has to take care of the living genetics to make sure subsequent generations remain true to type, and even continue to evolve. But who’s doing that critical, demanding work? In a new series, we’ll meet seed farmers who are, and hopefully get you shopping smarter than ever before. Our first expert Q&A is with geneticist and longtime plant breeder Dr. John Navazio—senior scientist with the Organic Seed Alliance—who helps set the scene. I’ve bought a copy of his recent seed book to share with you as well. [read more…]
My vegetable garden is one of my favorite spots. As a vegetarian for more than 30 years, I grow (and eat!) a lot of vegetables. Tips and techniques for how to grow vegetables organically, vegetable seed varieties I recommend (both heirloom and some hybrids), timing of spring and succession plantings and much more.
MY TINY FAMILY’S GIANT TRADITION: Brussels sprouts! I bring over the homegrown, still-on-the-stalk, bigger-is-better sprouts to my sister’s each Thanksgiving, and we have at them, assisted enthusiastically by my brother-in-law (and pushed around the plate by my niece). That’s baby-sister Marion and a mock-terrified me showing off a recent holiday harvest–just one image of many in another long family tradition: taking crazy photos. Individual crustless pumpkin pies and pureed sweet-potato soup with greens might be on the menu, too: [read more…]
HOW CAN EVERY LAST SCRAP of goodness we’re all gathering during garden cleanup be put to optimal use? I asked Lee Reich, who joined me on this week’s radio show, to share strategic soil-improving, weed-thwarting, and future harvest-enhancing steps you can take now, as you put the garden to bed. Learn to compost smarter, prep your soil easily—and maybe win one of Lee’s books, too. That’s Lee with his trusty scythe, above, which doesn’t figure into composting but into how he cuts his meadow-like fields. Impressive, and mesmerizing! A couple of his great how-to videos on composting and soil prep are on the jump page, along with links to the audio of our conversation. [read more…]
AROUND NOW, THE HOOKS on my mudroom walls offer no space for coats (though the weather hints I’ll be needing mine). Too many paper shopping bags are hanging there instead (photo above), one after another with faded, upside-down plants inside, meant to let go of their increasingly dry seed. That’s my primitive tactic, but there are better ways to save seed, and the Organic Seed Alliance shares them—from which variety you grow with eventual saving in mind, to maintaining that crop in the garden, to drying and even storing it–in a free, 30-page book-like pdf download loaded with both the botanical science and sensible tips, too. [read more…]