Irregardless of the snow piled up, we’ve been deep in the soil and plant biology studies just completing the “High Bionutrient Crop Production” 2-day intensive workshop, with over two dozen gardeners and farmers. The course presenter was Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association, and Mark and Jill Baker were the hosts at their farm in Marion, Michigan, with O’k CSA as the organizing sponsor!
Through Dan Kittredge’s presentation and info sharing, we learned how to detect and understand unique advantages and limitations of soil and crops, as well as the interactions between plants, soil, and air. We learned how we can grow better food, and work towards increasing quality in the food supply. There was much eagerness amongst the participants to learn more about the principles and practices of this form of biological and energetic farming and gardening, and plans for several local chapters in Michigan, under the Bionutrient Food Association umbrella are underway! To learn more about the BFA: www.bionutrient.org or, to learn a bit more about BFA Chapters – click here.
Amongst other things, in the two day course we were advised and learned how to look and read our soil tests and make our own recommendations to improve the soil life, integrating whole system understanding, visual plant guides of growth and status, and using plant and soil monitoring to trouble shoot problems. The course concluded with discussion about local, natural solutions and a brief (re)introduction to seminal thinkers like Mae Won Ho, Phil Callahan, Richard Olree, Stephen Herrod Buhner, Bill Mollison/David Holmgren, and Rudolf Steiner to name a few.
This winter-time, pre-garden planting gathering of minds and hearts at the Baker’s farm was a fantastic and very worthwhile, inspiring learning endeavor, and we plan to continue on the “nutrient-dense” food and farming pathway. Here is a well written article and account of a couple of farmers in Vermont who have begun and well on the way of remineralizing their garden/farm soil: http://www.grit.com/farm-and-garden/crops/remineralize-soil-ze0z1502znut.aspx?PageId=3[binnashfbalbum4wp album_id=undefined]
NOW, it’s time to sort, organize and layout the seeds and garden farming plans for the five O’k CSA 2015 gardens. For the past several years, we’ve been saving as many seeds from healthy plants—fruit and vegetables, and, herbs and flowers, as we possibly can. We still have a lot to learn about seed saving, but have managed to save many different types of tomato, squash and several varieties of pepper seeds. Making friends with other gardeners who are VERY proud of their produce and willing to share seed is a wonderful part of community and neighborhood gardening. I have up to 10 different tomato variety seeds from our O’k market gardens and the give-away plot at the community garden.
Even in our shorter Northern Michigan climate we can grow fantastic crops of tomatoes. If you’ve never saved seeds it’s SOOOOOO easy to save tomato seeds in particular. Have you’ve noticed that where a rotten tomato lies it will likely sprout another of several other tomato seedlings if left somewhat covered with soil, protected and undisturbed? That was my first aha! moment of seed saving—observing which ones wanted to be saved! Those that had already decided to save themselves! All I had to do was pick them up, tuck them into an used seed package and label them with their tomato variety name and the year!
This year we’re planning to put extra effort into our pepper and onion crop and learn more about care-taking them to encourage a greater yield. They are a bit more finicky than tomato plants and will likely spend a bit of time in the Hobbit Greenhouse once sprouted and when it warms up.
Saving tomato and pepper seeds is pretty simple, and included below is a good link with almost all you’ll ever need to read/know about saving seeds. BUT, the best way to learn is not to just read, but to actually do it—-make time now, while planning and ordering seeds to set up a system to save your own.
It can be a fairly simple act of observing as the fruit ripens on the vine, remembering to make note and select a few of the most beautiful and fully ripened for seed saving. It’s a difficult to refrain from eating the lovely fruit as you watch it grow to maturity—but remember, you’ll be carrying that loveliness into your garden growing the next year.
It’s as important to know where our seeds come from as it is where our food (in the store) comes from. Gardeners can effect BIG change in the current Monsanto-Genetically Modified seed debacle and crises by simply purchasing heirloom, untreated, open-pollinated seeds, and then saving your own seeds from the crops you raise.
Join O’k CSA and many other seed-savers and read up on Seed Saving: http://www.seedsave.org/
Our most recent and still enduring favorite gardening book is John Jeavons “How to Grow More Vegetables*” *than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine.
In addition to having the best gardening book title—EVER—the work of Ecology Action has spanned the planet with such a positive garden-food-security impact that I’m pleased to know of. Likewise, most of the needed seeds, beyond my own efforts to save-seeds, are ordered through Bountiful Gardens—which is a project of Ecology Action.
In the Bountiful Gardens catalog, one of our Northern Michigan neighbors, Craig Schaaf’ has a small published book the “Golden Rule Farm’s Guide to Growing Early Tomatoes”! 28 pages of tomato growing wisdom, “with detailed text and clear color photos for $11.95”! SO wonderful and proud of Craig’s wisdom sharing! http://www.bountifulgardens.org
We still have 2015 O’k CSA shares available—-and will have an updated, and on-line signup available soon. REGISTER BY MARCH 20, 2015: AND GET A FREE Worm Farm Bucket comes with your 2015 O’k CSA Cooperative subscription!