July 2011 Gardening Tips

July 2011 Edition

Hello Subscriber!

Cindy and Stephen Scott, Terror SeedsWelcome to the July edition of Terroir Seeds Gardening Tips. Our much-anticipated summer monsoons are upon us and the garden is loving it! Amazing how a little rain water can work wonders on your garden. Arizona’s variable climate is well demonstrated here, with single digit humidity and 90°F+ in late morning to 70% humidity and 70°F in the early evening after the rains.

With the rain and heightened heat and humidity from the monsoons also comes the insects. Right now we are plagued more by flies and no-see-ums than mosquitoes, but we found this receipe for a natural mosquito repellent that looks like it would repel any flying insect, and wanted to pass it along. It should work equally well for our horses and dogs. Please let us know your experiences with it, or if you have a favorite, tried and true natural recipe that works well. We have had a few camping trips where this repellent would have come in handy!

Insect Repellent

Blend 1.5 oz Jojoba oil with the following essential oils- Lemon Eucalyptus-(30 drops), Lemongrass-(10 drops), Rose Geranium-(20 drops) and Lavender-(10 drops). The Jojoba oil helps keep the essential oils on the surface of the skin longer, making them more effective than an alcohol or distillate base. The Jojoba oil also helps the health and condition of the skin. This blend has been used extensively in a variety of locations such as Vietnam, Mexico, Alaska and California with great results.

Let us know how your gardens are growing and if we can be of assistance to you. We have received several messages about how your gardens are doing, and we love reading about your successes and challenges.

One of the suggestions from the survey was reader input, either in the form of a reader written article about something you are knowledgeable and experienced about, or reader tips on a specific topic, to be shared with everyone on The Heirloom Seeds Blog. We would be interested in either approach, please send us an email and let us know what topic you would like to write about and your experience with that topic, or what garden tips you really need help with, along with any that work really well for you.

 


Join us at
The National Heirloom Exposition
Santa Rosa, CA Sept 13, 14 & 15

One thing that we’ve learned, both in life and in business, is that the only thing that is absolutely constant is change! No sooner had we published the last Newsletter about the two shows around San Francisco in September, than the Mother Earth News show was cancelled. We were sorry to hear about that, as we were looking forward to seeing the rest of the show.

The National Heirloom Exposition is still happening, and is really gathering some steam. It is in Santa Rosa, CA, just north of San Francisco from September 13 through the 15th.

This is a World’s Fair just for Heirlooms! There will be seed companies, farmers, gardeners, chefs and food organizations from across the country. The goal is to be the largest event for heritage agriculture ever held.

We are excited to be both an exhibitor and a speaker here, as there are some people who are well known for making a difference, such as Jeffery Smith- Institute for Responsible Technology, one of the premier sources for real world information on GMOs. Another is Dr. Vandana Shiva- Navdanya International, whos aim is to defend and protect nature and the rights of people to access to clean food, water, dignified jobs and livelihoods. The third is Alice Waters- Chez Panisse, a pioneer of the local food movement, chef and author. These are the three keynote speakers- one for each of the days.

We are presenting The Cycle of Terroir: From the Soil to the Seed to the Food You Eat. It is an overview of how the health of the soil combined with the quality and vitality of the seeds has a direct impact on the taste and nutrition of the food, which in turn directly influences your health. We don’t know the schedule of presentations yet, but will share them when we know.

If you can’t make it to see the presentation, we will have it on our blog once we return, so don’t worry about missing out!

With an expected attendance of 20,000 to 30,000, we need some help! If you will be in the area, or attending the Heirloom Expo and want to meet us and help staff the booth, we would love to talk with you. Outgoing, friendly and energetic people are needed. For a half day of help, we are offering a $50 seed order, and for a full day- $100 seed order. Please email Stephen with your contact information if you are interested!

 


Fall and Winter Gardening-
Plan in the Summer for Cool Season Harvests

Fall Garden BasketGardening over a longer season is really becoming more popular, but is still confusing for a lot of folks. When we’ve talked with you, our customers, about growing for the Fall and Winter, there is a lot of interest and a lot of questions about what and when to plant, as well as how to integrate it into the already existing garden.

We’ve written an article on how to do just that, along with a great planning and planting tool for determining both first and last frost dates based on your zip code with historical data from weather stations in your area. How to Plan for Fall and Winter Gardening is on our Heirloom Seeds Blog to get you up to speed on some of the tastiest greens from your garden!

Our Fall and Winter Gardening section is back on our website, with Eliot Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook to walk you through all aspects of growing “on the back side of the calendar”, and a seed selection that should satisfy your taste for fresh greens in the cooler season.

 


Warm Climate & Southern States-
Opposite planting season

While folks in the Northern states are planning their Fall and Winter gardens, many of you in warmer climates that may not get any serious frost are starting their regular gardens, after the worst of the heat subsides. Phoenix and Tucson are the classic “Opposite season” locations, but much of the southern parts of California, Arizona and New Mexico, along with most of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida can grow just about all year long.

Typically, seeds are started indoors in August or September and transplanted into the garden in November or December, to finish up as the heat starts again in late May or June. Raised beds using a drip system with a thick layer of straw mulch help to control moisture loss, while a canopy of shade cloth maintains the temperatures to keep the garden producing as the heat rises.

 


ChicoBags for Fresh Vegetable Storage

One of the most frustrating, age-old dilemmas facing gardeners is how to keep your fresh-picked produce, well, fresh for more than a day or two in your refrigerator. Add to that the sheer volume that your garden produces this time of year, and you’ve got a challenge on your hands!

A friend introduced us to the concept of storing our fresh veggies in plastic bags in the refrigerator. After confirming that it does indeed work, we wanted to find a better method to keep the freshness in our veggies, as the thin plastic bags tore all too quickly.

What we found were ChicoBag Produce Bags, an elegant solution presented 3 different ways. Each produce bag is made from a different fabric designed to optimize freshness with the right produce. The Hemp-Cotton bag is for leafy greens and green beans, while the rePETe™ bag is great for squash, broccoli, carrots and celery, restricting airflow and locking in moisture. The Mesh rePETe™ is ideal for apples, oranges, potatoes, onions.  After testing these bags for the past several months, we are impressed. They work very well, doing what they advertise- a rarity today. Not only are these bags made from recycled materials, but the work very well to take shopping and eliminate the flimsy, single use plastic bags used in stores.

Another use we’ve found is to keep produce at it’s peak until you can process it. Especially handy when time has run out for the evening, or you need another day or two to gather those remaining tomatoes to make that exceptional 3 tomato, garlic and basil sauce you’ve had in mind!

 


Romanesco Fennel

Romanesco FennelNative to the Mediterranean Basin region, Fennel is now cultivated worldwide. One of the oldest cultivated plants, much valued by the Romans, it was first planted in the US in the early 1800s. Almost always grown as an annual, this aromatic perennial grows to about five feet in height, having long, fine, dark green, feathery leaves, umbels of yellow flowers, and small, ridged, oval-shaped fruits- usually called seeds, which are gathered in the autumn. Growing fennel for seeds is a biennial process, as the fruit or seeds only set in the second year. The tall stalk looks like celery and is often consumed as a vegetable, while the leaves and seeds are used to flavor foods. Although the taste and aroma of fennel are sometimes mistaken for anise or licorice, the plant is actually related to caraway.

For seed harvest, northern growers should dig up the plant, along with it’s tap root. Trim the stems to 4-5 inches long. Put them in sand in a humid, cool root cellar or cold frame. In the spring, trim the roots a bit and plant 36 inches apart. Warmer climates should mulch the bulbs well in fall, uncovering again in warmer weather. The fennel will grow to full height, bloom and set seeds. Harvest the seeds when they turn from green to light brown. Harvest in the morning to minimize seed losses, spreading on a cookie sheet to allow to dry fully.

Fennel is not friendly to most other garden plants- notably bush beans, caraway, tomatoes and kohlrabi. It’s seed growth is stunted by coriander. However, it is beneficial to cabbage, leeks, Swiss chard and zucchini. Moderately fertile soil with good calcium and full sun is preferred. Avoid constant moisture.

Medicinal uses include: antispasmodic, appetite stimulant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, relieving flatulence and bloating, as well as stimulating the flow of breast milk. Recent research has shown fennel seed extracts have proven to calm muscle spasms by reducing smooth muscle contractions. Other studies show that substances in fennel can reduce airway congestion by thinning and loosening phlegm, which supports the addition of fennel in numerous European cough remedies. Fennel and ginger make a good digestive tea. Steep the fresh leaves with some sliced ginger for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Recipe ideas include: Adding cooked fennel to omelets, quiches, stuffing or sauces, add a couple of fennel stalks to beef or chicken stock for a new flavor profile, saute fennel with onion and garlic on a low heat and add to tomato pasta sauce.

Plant fennel in colder climates in the spring and in fall in warmer or milder winter climates.

 


Our customers are friends that we have not yet met, as you share our interest and passion for growing incredibly delicious foods, preserving heirloom seed traditions and biological diversity for the future through our own home gardens. Sharing this is possibly the most important work, as it helps all of us make a definite, positive impact in our lives and in those that we share.

Thanks for your time this edition, we hope you have enjoyed it. Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions, as we are always working to improve.

Stephen and Cindy Scott
Terroir Seeds | Underwood Gardens

 

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