Gardener's Grapevine 2013.01.23

Written by David Green.

This past week I have been home with my husband getting things organized for him. He has to walk with a walker and it limits what he can do. The walker is not to keep him from using the hip, it is to keep reminding him not to move wrong. Once his muscles heal he can put the walker aside.

With that said, you would think I’d have gotten a lot of things done. Well, the intention was there, but the reality is that I could be home for six months and not catch everything up. Top that off with trips to the doctor and physical therapy, and you begin to see the week sliding away.

At least the Christmas decorations are back in their totes and soon to make the trip back to the attic. It is so much work to get the decorations out and up with just as much work to put them away. I start out gung ho and end up with "Oh, goodness, why did I get all this out?"

Gardening is the same way. Every spring I think, let me at the dirt, I want that plant and that plant. I start January with the intent of starting my seedlings inside and having great plants by spring. Some things come to pass and some become like the decorations—oh, what have I done? I have great respect for those folks with a yard full of big beautiful blooms and not a weed in sight. Either those people don’t sleep, eat or hold a job or they have a huge staff of hired people helping out, because that takes an act of God to accomplish on your own.

Let’s talk about seeds. Do you keep left-over seeds? Do you start with new seed packets every year? Do you save seed from your favorite plants? I do all of the above. Every year I plant seeds from the year prior and take a chance on if they will germinate or not, so I decided to do a little research on the topic. What I came up with from many different sites is that you should test the seed prior to planting and see if it will germinate. Most recommend wetting paper towels (I would use a couple put together for added strength), placing the towels in a low pan and add eight to 10 seeds in a row on the wet towels. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it on top of the refrigerator so it’s out of the way, yet warm. Leave it there for a week and water with a spray bottle if the paper towels get dry.

After the week, open it up and check to see which seeds have germinated. If less than 50 percent have started throw out the seed; more than 50 percent you are working with good seed. It sure saves a season of poor crops and wasted garden space. Some seeds, if stored in a cool dry place, can last five years or more. Others are just not that resilient.

Years ago saving seeds was a given if you were to have a decent garden. Most everyone relied on their gardens to get through the year without starving. Canning and drying foods were a common way of life for everyone. Seeds have been available to purchase for a long time, but it was and is much less expensive to save your own. You can save seeds from open pollinated or heirloom plants, but not from hybrids which most vegetable plants are if they come from a garden store. Open pollinated plants are plants that the offspring replicates its parents. The seed will breed true to type. Sources for open pollinated seed include Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Seeds of Change, and the Territorial Seed Company.

Seeds must be completely dry prior to storing them in airtight containers. A dry seed will shatter when squeezed in a pair of pliers.

Whatever you do for seeds, I wish you good luck. Gardening is as much luck as it is knowledge.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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