Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Opalka Tomato Seeds are In

I just wanted to let everyone know that the Opalka Tomatoes are starting to be harvested. Everybody that has been asking me for them will have the opportunity to get some. However, I will probably only have about 100 packs this month but we should be in full stock by Sept. Thanks to everyone that inquired.

To orders seeds, please visit our retail store:

Natural Does Not Mean Organic, and Organic Does Not Always Mean Healthy

Natural. All Natural. 100% natural.. Made with…….. yadda yadda yadda. Frankly, the words don’t mean much anymore.

As I walk through the isles at the grocery store, I have to admit, I’m enticed by the concept of natural. I’m obsessed with feeding my family healthy organic foods. And why not? We all want to give our bodies the best food we possibly can. So, why then isn’t “natural” food a good thing?

Deception

I believe most people consider “natural” to be organic, or close to it. But the honest truth, it doesn’t really have anything to do with untreated, non-gmo, pesticide free food. It has more to do with the company not using artificial ingredients in its product.
To me, this is deceptive. In one regard “natural” does mean what it supposes, but on the other hand, I’m convinced it is used to lure people into a false idea, and that idea being “organic”. Does anyone remember “all natural” products being so prevalent before the popularity of organic foods? I certainly don’t. So to me, there seems to be a correlation.

What is Organic?

Organic means growers and processors must not use any chemicals or genetic engineering in its foods. In other words, to be organic certified, a farmer must not use chemicals in their fields and all pest control must be certified by federal standardization.
Organic standards also exclude genetically modified seeds (like Monsanto’s roundup ready soybean).
”Natural” offers no such guarantee. Why? because there’s no global standard by which a grower, processor or seller must follow. We are basically taking their words for it. To me, it’s a ploy to sell products.

Organic does not always mean healthy

Before you come unglued, please let me explain. The “organic” standard is based on EXCLUSION. This means that farmers are not allowed to use certain chemicals. However, this dose not mean they are required to INCLUDE things. 
When I  talk about healthy foods, I’m talking about foods that are nutritious. Fruits and vegetables that nourish the body. I assume they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They also contain vital nutrients for healthily growing and maintaining our bodies.

So what’s lacking?

Organic farmers are not required to introduce micro-nutrients into the soil. These trace elements are essential for fruits and vegetables to take up and store and then pass on to the person who ingests it. But if a farmer is only introducing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, they are producing vegetables severely lacking in the some 70+ elements our bodies need and thrive on. Therefore, just because a market is selling “organic” produce, it is not necessarily selling HEALTHY produce. Even though they are following the governments organic standards.

What’s the answer?

Grow your own. I know that sounds blunt. But is there any other guarantee that what we’re eating is truly organic and nutritious at the same time? I know that many readers may not have land to grow their own food. Some live in apartment buildings or have very little plots to grow on. My answer then, is to befriend the local farmers in your area. Shop the farmer’s markets and get to know the growers. Don’t be afraid to ask them the important questions like, “Do you use organic fertilizers only”, or “do you add micronutrients to the soil in the form of organic compost and essential rock dust minerals”. Hopefully they will be honest with you so you are able to make an informed decision about your food buying. After all, your health depends on it.

Seed Definitions

Sorting out the confusion of Hybrid, Open Pollinated, Heirloom and Genetically Modified Seeds.

 

seed

What is an Heirloom?
There are some heated discussions about what defines an heirloom. Many believe an heirloom has some history to it, or that it has been grown for a certain amount of years to prove its worth. But the general consensus is that an heirloom has certainly been handed down through the years, passed down for the purpose of preservation. Heirlooms are open-pollinated.  It has also been suggested that heirlooms are from varieties at least 50 years old. This too is open for debate.

What is Open-Pollinated?
Open pollinated means the seeds from the plant can be saved, grown again the following year and produce an exact replica of the plant the seeds came from. For instance, if you grow a certain kind of tomato, and you like its taste, size, and production, you are pretty much guaranteed the seeds from that tomato will reproduce closely to the original plant.

What is Hybridization?
In order for a plant to produce, it must be pollinated. Although hybridization can and does happen naturally, forced pollination is done by human intervention with the intent of producing a specific characteristic. Someone may cross two different varieties of a certain vegetable. A variety may be chosen for its resistance to frost, and another may be chosen for its disease resistance. The two are crossed in the hopes pf producing both desirable traits in the offspring.
What the problem with hybridization?
1. For one thing, hybridized plants are generally patented. You must buy new seeds every year if you want to keep growing that plant.
2. The seeds cannot be saved and replanted. You will hardly ever get a desirable result from them. They will be unpredictable.
3. Because cross-pollination can occur, a purely historical heirloom plant is in danger of being pollinated by a hybrid or genetically modified variety and it’s purity is lost. Not only is the original variety lost, but its history is gone and we are forced to accept the new one.

What is a Genetically Modified plant?
GMO (genetically modified organisms) are plants that have had their genetic material altered. An organism from a completely different species, like pig genes for instance, are inserted into the plant gene. The purpose here is to produce a plant resistant to certain factors like disease, weather, and even more horrifying PESTICIDE.
For instance, a genetically modified soybean has been produced with a bacterium resistant to pesticides. This means that plant can be sprayed with the pesticide and the chemical does its job to weeds but does not hurt the soybean. Farmers have jumped on this bandwagon like gangbusters. They weigh the cost of weed control against having to purchase new seed every year from the seed companies.
We will not go into the ethical ramifications about such practices, but will state that if this doesn’t alarm anyone, then there is something seriously wrong in the world!
Who benefits from Engineering?
Seed companies with the sole purpose of controlling the world’s food supply, specifically the seed to produce the food. Many do it under the guise of solving hunger or some other ridiculous reason.  Plain and simple, it is all about money.

Family Seed Planting Chart

What To Grow For A Family of 4
What a family of 4 needs to grow for a one year supply of food
The following chart is only an estimation.
Some would need more, others less. You must make your own adjustments.

Type of Vegetable/Fruit Amount of
Plants Needed
Spacing (if row)
Apple 3 Trees
Apricot 2 Trees
Asparagus 30 plants
Beans 100′ row 6″
Beets 100′ row 6″
Broccoli 25 Plants
Cabbage 15 Plants
Carrots 200 plants
Cauliflower 15 Plants
Celery 20 Plants
Cherry 2 Trees
Corn 200′ row 12″
Cucumber 10 Plants
Eggplant 10 Plants
Kohlrabi 20′ Row
Lettuce 30 Heads
Mustard 5 Plants
Onions (Green) 15′ Row 2″
Onions (Bulb) 30′ Row 8-12″
Parsley 3 Plants
Peaches 2 Trees
Pear 2 Trees
Peas 130′ Row 5″
Peppers (Green) 10 Plants
Peppers (Hot) 5 Plants
Plums 2 Trees
Popcorn 30′ Row 12″
Potatoes 60′ Row 36″
Pumpkins 5 Plants
Radishes 30′ Row 6″
Raspberry 100′ Row 12″
Sage 2 Plants
Spinach 20 Plants
Squash 5 Plants
Strawberry 100′ Row 24″
Tomatoes (Slicing) 10 Plants
Tomatoes (Paste) 20 Plants
Tomatoes (Salsa) 5 Plants
Turnips 10′ Row 8″
Watermelon 6 Plants

Seed Planting Depth

Vegetable Depth to plant
Asparagus 1’”
Beans (bush & pole) 1”
Beans (lima) 1”
Beets 1”
Broccoli 1/2”
Brussels Sprouts 1/2”
Cabbage 1/2”
Cantaloupe 1”
Carrot 1/2”
Cauliflower 1/2”
Cucumber 1/2”
Eggplant 1/2”
Kale 1/2”`
Kohlrabi 1/2”
Lettuce 1/2”
Okra 1”
Onion (seed) 1/2”
Parsley 1/8”
Pepper 1/2”
Potato 1-2”
Radish 1/2”
Spinach 1/2”
Swiss Chard 1”
Tomato 1/2”

 

Ph Needs For Vegetables

Vegetable Optimal pH
Artichoke 5.6-6.6
Asparagus 6.0-7.0
Beans 6.0-7.0
Beet 5.6-6.6
Broccoli 6.0-7.5
Brussels Sprouts 6.0-7.0
Cabbage 5.6-7.0
Cantaloupe 6.0-7.0
Carrot 5.0-6.0
Catnip 5.0-6.0
Cauliflower 6.0-7.0
Celery 6.0-7.0
Chard 6.0-7.0
Chili Pepper 5.0-6.0
Chives 5.0-6.0
Cucumber 5.0-6.0
Dill 5.0-6.0
Eggplant 5.0-6.0
Garlic 5.0-6.0
Kiwi 5.0-7.0
Leek 5.0-6.0
Lettuce 6.0-7.0
Mint 6.0-7.0
Mushroom 7.0-8.0
Okra 6.0-8.0
Onion 5.0-7.0
Parsley 6.0-8.0
Parsnip 5.0-7.0
Peas 5.6-6.6
Peanuts 5.0-6.0
Peppers 6.0-8.0
Potatoes 5.8-6.5
Pumpkins 5.5-7.0
Radish 6.0-7.0
Raspberry 5.0-7.0
Rhubarb 5.0-7.0
Rutabaga 5.0-7.0
Shallots 5.0-7.0
Soybeans 5.5-7.5
Spinach 5.0-7.0
Squash 6.0-7.0
Strawberries 6.0-7.0
Sunflower 6.0-7.0
Sweet Corn 6.0-7.0
Sweet Potatoes 5.0-7.0
Swiss Chard 6.0-7.0
Tobacco 5.0-7.0
Tomatoes 5.0-7.0
Turnips 5.0-7.0
Yam 6.0-8.0
Zucchini 6.0-7.0

 

Seed Viability Chart

The following chart will give you a guideline to saving your seeds. Many factors will affect the viability such as, the seed’s age, humidity, temperature and light.
Also, these numbers are minimum years. If the seeds are kept in optimal conditions you could expect much longer storage times. The germination rates usually starts to decline after that. I will say however, that I’ve germinated tomato seeds 25 years old that were only stored in a closet. I’m not suggesting you will have to same results, but under proper conditions the list below should be more than accurate.

Type of Vegetable Years of Viability
Artichokes 5
Arugula 3
Asparagus 3
Basil 5
Beans 3
Beets 2
Broccoli 3
Brussels Sprouts 4
Cabbage 4
Carrots 3
Cauliflower 4
Celery 3
Chard 4
Chives 2
Cilantro 5
Collards 4
Corn 1
Cucumber 5
Dill 5
Eggplant 4
Fennel 4
Kale 4
Kohlrabi 5
Leeks 2
Lettuce 3
Marjoram 1
Mustard 3
Okra 2
Onions (green) 1
Onions (bulb) 1
Oregano 1
Parsley 2
Peas 3
Peppers (hot) 2
Peppers (sweet) 2
Pumpkins 4
Radishes 4
Rutabaga 5
Sage 2
Soybean 2
Spinach 3
Squash 4
Strawberry 2
Tomatoes 5
Turnips 4
Watermelon 5

 

The Windowbox Roma Project

 

Why Growing Medium Does Make A Difference

windowboxroma

May 15
I started Windowbox Roma from Seed. Both seeds were started in a general potting soil mix purchased from a local store.
However, 4 weeks later and both were still only about 1″ tall and looking very frail.

June 15th
I repotted the seedling on the right into a new mix of:
1 part peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part potting mix

2 weeks later, you can tell a major difference. The repotted plant has taken off. It is lush, green and healthy, putting out many new leaves.
As the one on the left that was kept in the pure potting soil has only grown about 1/2″ and has not put out any new leaves.

Notes:
The seedling will still have to be replanted into a better mix. There are just not enough nutrients in the mix to provide adequate food for the plant to survive.
I will be replanting it into a mix of mostly compost, potting soil and a small amount of perlite.

As with all potted plants, they will need continual care as far as nutrients go. I will be watering with compost tea weekly.

The conclusion:
Growing medium plays a significant role in the health of the plant. Do not skimp on the medium.

Update 07-13

In just 3 weeks, a noticeable difference in the two.

The replanted one on the left is now about 10″ tall. The one left in pure potting soil has not grown at all.

windowboxroma2

So it’s clear. The type of medium in regards to density DOES make a difference.

How To Save Cherry Tomato Seeds

Saving cherry tomato seeds is easy. Every grower should learn. I’m saving seeds from a hybrid I’m trying to stabilize. This will be the second year saving them

Growing Green Onions For Free From Store Bought

Growing green onions over and over for an endless supply.
Don’t throw away store bought green onions. Cut the roots off and plant them. You’ll have more green onions than you know what to do with.