September 2013 Edition
“To forget how to dig the earth and tend to the soil is to forget ourselves.”
~ Mahatmas Gandhi (1869 – 1948)
“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)
In This Issue-
Welcome to the cooler season of Fall, with its harvests and preserving, canning, pickling, fermenting, drying to keep the food through the winter. Our hope is that your garden was very successful this year and you have an abundance of produce to put up and share with family and friends.
We start off this edition with two quotes about soil from well-known people who weren’t known for their gardening. Fall is also the time to start feeding and preparing your garden beds for the winter, adding a good layer of well-aged compost, planting cover crops or winter crops for the coming spring. For a more in-depth look, see our “Building Great Soil” section of the website.
We’ve just returned from visiting growers and have brought back some early varieties of seed that were ready, as well as photos and video of the new varieties that we’ll be adding soon. We have an idea how magazine editors and staff must feel, working on a publication 3 months ahead of the calendar, as we are knee-deep in preparing the 2014 Heirloom Seed catalog, adding the new varities to the website and uploading photos and video. We have fresh White Sonora Wheat available now, which works wonderfully as a winter wheat in mild climates and a spring wheat in colder ones. See our article in this edition for more on this delicious ancient wheat! Green Machine Melon was also ready, so we brought that back as well. This is a remarkable melon, reliably sweet, highly productive with a smaller size that is perfect as a breakfast for two.
Please remember to send your reviews in, as we are having the final drawing for a $25.00 gift certificate at the end of September. For details, see our August edition.
White Sonora Wheat –
Perfect Grain for the Home Gardener
White Sonora Wheat is enjoying a resurgence of popularity today all across the country, thanks to restoration efforts in Arizona and South Carolina. Introduced in the early 1700s by Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino to the Sonoran region of Mexico and Southern Arizona, White Sonora Wheat was the staple wheat for the western United States for almost 200 years, from the early 1700s to the 1900s. Starting in the early 1800s, California planted Sonoran wheat almost exclusively.
Its popularity was partly due to its resistance to Fusarium fungus, drought tolerance and its exceptional sweet flavor for baking. It was also prized as a brewing grain, again for its flavor it gave the beer. During the Civil War, much Sonoran wheat was exported from Arizona and California to the eastern states to make up for lost production due to the war.
White Sonora Wheat really shines, as it is lower in gluten and higher in protein than today’s super-hybridized dwarf varieties. White Sonora Wheat is an extremely flavorful semi-hard white spring wheat that can be used for whole wheat flour in breads, cakes, pancakes, tortillas, and more. By many accounts this is the best flour for cakes, breads and tortillas ever. Because it is a white wheat, not a hard red wheat, it makes lighter products that have a sweeter and lighter flavor than those typically associated with whole wheat.
Continue reading- White Sonora Wheat
Fall is in the Air!
Fall is in the air! With the bountiful harvest also comes preparations for the 2014 Heirloom Seed Catalog. To make room in our new catalog for some very special things for 2014, we have added many books and tools to our Sale and Clearance Department. We have taken significant discounts on these items and have limited quantities available and when they’re gone they are gone!
Is there a seed variety, gardening tool, product, or book that you would like to see us carry in the future? Many of our new seed offerings are a result of customer suggestions. We would like to ask you if there are other products you would like us to carry and if so, what? Please email your suggestions to us at seeds@UnderwoodGardens.com.
Speaking of new items and specials… next month starts our annual Shea Butter sale. Fall is a great time to order Shea butter for the winter months and for all year long. We offer this sale in the Fall when we can easily ship our 100% pure shea butter direct to your door.
To learn more why our shea butter is so good read our Shea Butter article and let this review say it all -
“This is the only Shea Butter I have ever found in AZ that is equal to the one the first made me love this stuff. Being first introduced to a quality butter, I was disappointed to find out that the stuff sold in stores was nothing like it. Brand after brand was dirty grey and barely melted. When you find a good one like this, it is silky and literally and melts like butter. A different thing all together.”
The sale starts October 1st. Look for a special email the beginning of October where we will also be unveiling some great new organic products for the Fall.
Alice Berner’s Cornbread
When we were looking for a classic sweet cornbread recipe to make in our Kamado, or ceramic charcoal-fired barbeque, we came across this one that is perfect for homegrown heirloom corn and White Sonora wheat and uses honey for the sweetener, instead of sugar.
This recipe comes from Alice Berner, who farms wheat in northern Montana without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Alice developed this recipe using their local honey and the wheat that they farm. Even without white flour, this cornbread is light, moist and very flavorful with a sweetness that is warm and inviting. It is great with a roasted chicken like our Herb and Vegetable Roasted Chicken!
Continue reading – Alice Berner’s Cornbread
Your Gardening Questions Answered
Q: I just discovered your site and watched the video on saving seeds. I am learning to save seeds.
My question is this: are ALL Detroit Dark Red Beet seeds heirloom seeds? In other words can it be determined whether or not the vegetable is an heirloom by the name? Today at the local mercantile store I saw seed packets of Detroit Red Beets that do not say “heirloom” on the package and I am wondering if they are an heirloom seed or if they could possibly be a hybrid with that name.
And I suppose that the term “Brandywine Tomato” would mean it is an heirloom.
Where might a person obtain a list of some of the popular heirloom vegetables?
A: Good to hear that you are learning to save some of your own seeds, this is a great step forward to more resiliency and self-reliance.
Unfortunately, the name of a variety of seeds will not guarantee that it is an heirloom. For instance, the “Marketmore” cucumber is both a hybrid and an heirloom, sold by different companies. As heirlooms become more and more popular, as more people look for and ask for them by name, and as the larger seed companies realize that there is a real market in “heirloom” seeds, there will be more obfuscation and confusion of the history and names.
This is truly a case where getting to know who your seed supplier is really matters. Only in this way can you be secure in knowing that who you buy your seeds from cares and is committed to the quality and purity of the seeds they sell. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for clarification in order to really know what is going on. Look for good descriptions with a short history and info on what type of climates or conditions that the different varieties will grow in. Single sentences in a catalog or website that have virtually no information or education are worthless. Look also for articles and videos that explain why and how the company does what they do, the processes and they use and the quality standards that are in place. It is an intensive process to grow great quality seed, find growers who understand what is needed to maintain purity and quality, review each year’s harvest when visiting their farms and make selections for trials and grow-outs for the next few years. The effort is well worth it, and we don’t mind talking about it!
Ask your mercantile store where the seeds for the Detroit beet came from. See if they know and go from there.
The only listing that I know of for heirloom seeds is through the member to member portion of Seed Savers Exchange. They are a non-profit organization that also sells heirloom seeds through their retail store and website. They sell about 600 varieties, but there are over 25,000 varieties available through the members exchange.
We believe in a world of healthy soil, seed, food and people. Everyone has a fundamental need for vibrant food and health, which are closely linked.
We work to achieve this by challenging and changing conventional gardening thinking, providing successful and unique methods and techniques while inspiring the power of choice and action for the individual.
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