Our next working bee is on Thursday 3rd Nov, 11am in the library. All volunteers are welcome to come and pack seeds with our friendly group.
Seed Donation from Useful Seed
Gregg from Useful Seed has once again generously donated lots of seed to the seed library. There will be some variety in the plants that grow from some batches of these seeds. Gregg grows lots of varieties of the same plant together to create landraces, plants with a lot of genetic diversity. They develop over time through the plant’s ability to adapt to the environment it finds itself growing in.
As Gregg says: "….we want to offer genuinely new varieties, developed for home growers….we ‘mix up’ varieties through intentional crosses, so gardeners can select new varieties that suit their purposes from the resulting hybrid swarms." (http://www.usefulseeds.com)
So, for example, if you find that a particular corn plant thrives in your garden, or grows faster, or grows a lot of cobs, or grows very sweet cobs, save seed from that one. We note on the packet where our seeds come from, so read the packs to know if you have Useful Seed, and expect some diversity in the resulting plants.
BTW, how is your garden growing?
We are interested to hear about your successes and failures with seed from the seed library. Let us know if something grows well for you and also if seeds fail to germinate, or are not what it says on the label! Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing Squash and Saving Seed
Summer’s coming, and we can grow squash again! Squashes will easily cross-pollinate, and so it is important to think ahead if you intend to save the seeds. I think it is most important to have true seed when growing things like squash or pumpkin, plants that use a lot of resources, time and water and space in your veggie patch, so that you don’t spend months growing those odd shaped pumpkins that don’t taste nice!
The trick is to find out what variety of squash you’re planting. There are 3 main types:
Cucurbita pepo, (such as zucchinis, Delicata pumpkins)
Cucurbita moschata, (eg. Butternut squash, Tromboncino zucchini)
Cucurbita maxima, (such as Queensland Blue, Hubbard, Jarrahdale, Galeux d’Eysines)
Because Cucurbita pepo squash can only cross with other Cucurbita pepo squash, you can plant them next to Cucurbita moschata or Cucurbita maxima types. Same with Cucurbita moschata and maxima. They will only cross with other moschata and maximas.
So I usually plant one variety of Cucurbita pepo – a zucchini
One Cucurbita moschata – the butternut squash
And one Cucurbita maxima – Queensland Blue pumpkin
And they will not cross pollinate.
You can also hand-pollinate, though this isn’t fail-safe as the bees and insects may have got to the flowers before you. If you are uncertain if your plants have cross-pollinated, you can grow the seed the next season and check that the plants grow true. There will always be more seed than you need, so donate any excess seed to the seed library!
Broad Bean inspiration?
This is my annual broad bean dilemma – I love growing broad beans, I love the beautiful flowers and the way the beans grow on the plant, and the fact that they are good for the soil, but every year I feel uninspired about shelling and cooking them! What a chore! I am picky enough to want them podded and shelled, to get that gorgeous little green inner bean, and it takes such a long time. So when I heard about a recipe that stews whole, little-finger sized beans with tomatoes, onions, garlic and a bit of lemon juice, it seemed like the recipe for me. It’s pretty good, and definitely wins on the preparation front. I’m still seeking inspiration though...any other tasty broad bean recipes? Email them over, email@example.com