Friday, January 24, 2014

Seed ordering ideas, suggestions and tips

Is it really January 24th? Yikes!! Time to order seeds and get the onions and leeks started for spring planting.

Browsing through seed catalogs can be such a great way to spend a few winter evenings, dreaming of all the great veggies, herbs and flowers you will grow in the coming spring months, but before ordering I have  several words of advice or wisdom. First make a plan of what you want to plant, how much of it you want to plant and inventory your old seeds! Then you can order more exactly what you want. It can be hard to resist all the great descriptions in the catalogs. Having a plan can help to curb your winter appetite and enthusiasm  so that you can stick to a garden of manageable size and doable veggies. I always allow myself a few trials or experiments but avoid getting carried away! If you take on too much and are not successful it becomes discouraging and stressful to garden.  Why turn your hobbies and passions into drudgery by making it too hard?!

 Just for an example, lets say you want 20 heads of lettuce every month. I would suggest planting 15 to 20 seeds in short rows every 2 weeks during your growing season. For your first two planting, try this suggestion, plant the seeds closer together, say 4 to 6 inches, thin the lettuce at 4 weeks and get something to eat while waiting for the remaining heads to mature. 2 plantings in April, 2 in May, 2 in June and on through September in most climates. 6 months x 40 seeds = 240 seeds. Do you want to grow a spring lettuce like Forellenschluss, also called Black Trout or Speckles, or a summer lettuce like                          Sierra?and a fall lettuce like Rouge d'Hiver? Your seed company should tell you the approximate number of seeds per packet, allowing you to order what you need. This helps keep the cost of your orders down,limits the amount of seeds you have laying around taking up storage space and you can order new seed for better germination, instead of having to use up old seed that you feel guilty about not using. You can always germ test older seed by putting 20 seeds on a wet paper towel, fold the towel and place in a zip loc bag and put in a warm dark place, top of the fridge is a good spot. In 7 days, check to see how many seed have sprouted. If 10 out of 20 have sprouted, that's a 50% germination rate. Not so great, seed companies sell seeds with a 85% or higher for germination rates. Germination rates should also be readily available when ordering seeds.

Another thing I learned over the years ordering seed, I have limited the number of companies I order from. Every company will charge some fee for ordering, so one season I added up all the fees I paid for shipping and realized I could have purchased $75.00 worth of seed instead of spending it on shipping costs and fees.

Seed exchanges are getting more popular, and using local seed from other growers who have been successful with a certain crop or variety is a good place to start. This also gets you away from the hornets nest of the politics that surround seeds and seed companies. Monsanto owns a lot of seeds, sticking to heirloom, non-hybrid seeds keeps you away from using any seeds they own or produce, if this is a concern for you. Once again, a good seed company should be willing to share with you the source of their seeds. I still struggle with this when it comes to onion seeds as I can only grow good onions if I plant day neutral onions. All the good day neutral onion seeds in America are owned my Monsanto. A neighbor up north is starting to produce and sell some acceptable seed for onions, but the onions are about 2/3 the size, and lack some of the sweetness.

Check back for more ideas and advice. Happy gardening!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Just spreading the word. We are looking for a Intern for Morning Star Farm for the 2014 Farm Season. We want to find someone seriously interested in farming as a career path, and able to commit for the entire season. Roughly April 15th to October 31st.

There is a complete description of the internship on the web page, morningstarfarmoftaos.

Three Kings Preparation

I always love the twelve holy nights. These deep nights of darkness offer me a invitation  to delve into my inner life, examining my dreams, hopes and desires for the farm and my personal life. It is also the time to work with and apply the Three Kings Preparation.

A bit of history about this unusual preparation. It was created by Hugo Erbe, a student of Steiner's after the bombing of Hiroshima. He created this preparation to protect elementals from the negative effects of the various forms of pollution man is increasingly creating.

The Three Kings preparation is made from the substances that the Three Kings from the Orient brought to the Christ child on January 6th, Ephinany or Three Kings day.  Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh are the main ingredients. These ingredients get ground together and mixed with some rain water and glycerin to form a richly scented, resinous, golden paste on New Years Eve. Then on Ephinany, the preparation gets stirred and applied. This preparation differs from other applications of BD preparations as it is used as a Perimeter spray being sprayed away from the farm or garden to create a safe, protected space for the elementals. 

This preparation is said to offer protection from various negative forces, EMF's, nuclear contamination, and weather events, such as frost, hail, heavy rains, droughts.

I can share a story about my experiences. Last year I was away in El Salvador over the Holy Nights. I had run out of Three Kings Preparation, ( one batch can be used for several years ) and figured it would not matter if we skipped applying it for one year since we have been applying if for 12 years. When I returned to the farm in late March I jumped into farming once again. One particularly windy May day, a twister type wind came across the farm and went into the Greenhouse. Once inside the Greenhouse, this twister lifted up, destroying over $3,000.00 worth of plastic and shade cloth. In hindsight I will always wonder if this event would have happened if the Three Kings preparation had been applied.