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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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