Monday, August 31, 2020

Saving Seeds from Your Garden

Learn how to save seeds from your vegetable garden in this series
for beginning seed savers.


I'll be giving two presentations on the art and science of saving seeds via Zoom, through the Mountain View Public Library . 

 See the descriptions below:

You must register separately for each, part I and part II. See the links below:

Seed Saving Basics, Part I: Thursday, September 17, 5pm- 6:30pm

Description: This talk is an introduction to the art and science of saving your own seeds. Learn the basic techniques for saving seeds from popular annual vegetable garden plants. Covered in part I: why we save seeds, the basic botany of flowers and pollination, saving pure seed and when to worry about species crossing.Vegetables discussed: lettuce, tomatoes, beans (includes peas), and peppers. Storing seeds will also be discussed.

Register for Part I: September 17, Part I


Seed Saving Basics Part II : Thursday, September 24, 5pm- 6:30pm

Description: this talk is a continuation of Part I, and will cover saving seeds from cucumbers and squashes, and biennial crops, such as brassicas (kale, broccoli etc) and carrots. If time allows popular herbs such as sweet basil and cilantro will be discussed. Plus simple ways to test the viability of your stored seeds (germination testing).

Resources for learning more about saving seeds and plant propagation will be provided.

Register for Part II: September 24, Part II

Lettuce seeds ready for harvesting
Lettuce seeds 

Photo credits: Patricia Larenas

Monday, May 25, 2020

Saving Seeds is an Essential Activity

In this time of the pandemic and sheltering-in-place, I'm abundantly grateful that I have a seed saving habit. As the pandemic began to make inroads in Silicon Valley, I had the sudden urgent desire to plant as many edibles as I could, and to reclaim some of the nooks and cranies of our yard that host ornamental plants instead of edible ones. 

I wasn't alone.

The rush to order seeds seemed to be a global reflex that caused seed companies to be quickly overwhelmed with orders: so much that it caused several of the large seed suppliers to temporarily close their online stores in order to keep up with the demand. If you are a gardener you know that the season marches forward and some crops need to be started in a certain window of time.

Therefore, I rushed to my seed collection and got growing without delay. I had most of the varieties I wanted to grow, and I was able to share extra seeds with others.

I'm even more committed now to saving seeds- it's essential, and even when we appear to be in times of stability, changes can occur at a frightening speed.

Save seeds. Sow them. Grow them. Repeat.

Small amounts of seed in coin envelopes for sharing

Pole beans can easily be grown in a sunny small space, even in the front yard!
Photos: Patricia Larenas

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Victory Garden for Today - Growing Edibles Under Lockdown

We' re all in this together: the global pandemic that is COVID19 has arrived. But there's something we can do to help ourselves, our families, and our neighbors:
Grow edibles- it's a perfect time to kick start your growing project, if you haven't already. Containers work great if you don't have space or access to a garden. And make sure you plant enough to share with those who can't have a garden, if possible. 

Young children naturally love digging and planting seeds

Healthy for Body and Mind
I'm starting my veggie garden with renewed enthusiasm not only as a bit of extra insurance in case our food supply chains are interrupted, but for my mental and emotional health as well. Kids will especially need activities to engage them during this time. Even very young ones can keep entertained by filling containers to start seeds, planting seedlings, and helping to harvest the bounty. Watering is another task very much prized by kids, in fact it's my grandson's favorite!

When my grandson was only two and a half years old, he was very good at shelling dried peas from the dried vines- and to my amazement he worked at this quietly for quite some time. I like to think I'm grooming him to be a good steward to the planet, and fostering his connection to the living world around him.

By gardening you can feel good about doing something positive for the planet- the more plants we cultivate the better, although there's a right and a wrong way. Organic, regenerative gardens without pesticides and herbicides benefit everyone (and every being). My garden has native plants as well as edibles. I'm aiming for a healthy ecosystem as much as possible, because this means I don't need to use harmful chemicals. To this end I include habitat for wildlife as a priority. Think tall hedges for nesting birds and flowering shrubs for pollinators. See my post "Creating a Health Garden Ecosystem".

Shelling peas at two and half years old

Resources for Getting Started
You Tube has lots of content about growing vegetable gardens, and for lots of short helpful videos check out Peaceful Valley's Grow Organic website. They're a great source for supplies for organic gardening (based in California).

On this blog, have a look at my Gardening Index and Recipe Index, also check out the links I've listed on the right sidebar. 

And if you have a particular question you need help with, let me know in the comments.

Let's get our hands in some soil and get back to our roots!
Here's hoping you are healthy and happy in these challenging times.

                                                                      Photo credits: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke