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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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