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Alabama Seed Savers - Who's Growing Heirloom or Open Pollinated Plants?

by: countrycat

Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 15:00:00 PM CDT

Can it be that Alabama doesn't have enough food?  It must be, since I often see warning signs about food recalls at the grocery store.  This week it was a ground turkey from Arkansas - months after scores of people became ill from it:

But Wednesday's recall announcement came almost five months after the first illness, when the USDA asked the meat giant to recall the massive amount of ground turkey, saying the meat was linked to at least 77 illnesses. 

Because, of course, we don't have enough turkeys in Alabama?

Or maybe it's food scares about beef, lettuce, eggs, or even peanut butter...  One thing a lot of these events have in common is that they are scattered over a wide geographic area.  This makes it harder for food safety professionals to locate the source of the outbreak and even realize that one is in progress.

This is yet another reason we need to be supporting our local farms, farmers markets, and local agriculture.  If our friends and family get sick, it's pretty easy to figure out how and why if their food is local.  Furthermore, local farms and individual home gardeners are more likely to grow produce for flavor while commercial growers are concerned about marketability.

Hint... that's why supermarket tomatoes taste like... well... let's just say they pretty much suck in the flavor department.

As the blog Keating's Desk noted last week, we're experiencing a sharp decline in plant variety. This is more than just a taste or health issue: it's important for our national security:

As we have seen recently, a single negligent act at on plant in Arkansas is capable of contaminating food in 26 states. Imagine what the intentional act of single terrorist could do.

We limit the danger of catastrophic epidemics when our food supply is not so concentrated and controlled by so few agribusinesses and corporations. The National Geographic article reminds us of a famous historical episode when a country lost variety diversity: the Irish Potato Famine.

A number of LIA regular contributors are avid gardeners and many of us are committed to propagating heirloom and open-pollinated varieties.  In the past, we've offered in the spring to share seeds with other gardeners and we'll do that again next spring.

However, it's handy to know how many seeds we need to save!  Who's interested in heirloom field peas, watermelons, muskmelons, okra, and peppers?  The cathouse garden can help you out.  Who else in the LIA community has seeds to share?  Amazingly, in today's food marketplace dominated by large agribusiness interests, saving seeds is an almost political act.

So let's get political!  Let us know what you have to share and what you'd like to have!


countrycat :: Alabama Seed Savers - Who's Growing Heirloom or Open Pollinated Plants?
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Seed Savers (4.00 / 1)
I'd be interested in a seed saver exchange - just about any heirloom vegetable or flower.  I grow my own but am always looking for new and interesting stuff!

Local farming / Farm class (4.00 / 2)

 It is very important that we support our local farms. And it is very important to increase urban farming. Our warming planet has been taking it's toll on crops. Texas farmers alone are $5 billion in the hole so far for 2011. (because of the drought) A farmer can't water hundreds of acres with a hose. But you can provide a garden with whatever it needs in your backyard.

 To increase urban farming we need our schools to start having mandatory agriculture classes. They could also implement the brilliant seed exchange program that's outlined above. Even if a student goes on to become a doctor or lawyer, a home garden just might end up becoming the main source of food in the coming decades. 

October 2012 was the 332nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985. - N.O.A.A.

You are so right. (4.00 / 2)
I love my little garden but I have been home every day all summer to water it. This weekend we will take a short trip. In those 4 days I predict that the garden will be gone because of the unrelenting sun. You are so right about global warming.

[ Parent ]
count me in! (4.00 / 1)
I am a terrible plant killer so don't have any seeds to share in exchange, but my husband can probably make them grow and I'll just keep my non-green thumbs off.  What can I share instead?  I can write a poem about your seeds...

at the cathouse... (4.00 / 2)

We have:

Livingston muskmelons - heirloom variety from Indiana.  These are sweet and relatively large.  Some are over 7lbs.

Rattlesnake watermelons - red melons that also get huge - 50lbs or more.  We have a couple that size in the garden.

Brown Sugar crowder peas - another old variety that produces very heavily.  I didn't plant any this year, so the seeds are 2 years old.  I'll have to check and make sure they germinate.

Stupice tomatoes - open pollinated, very sweet and tasty.  Tomatoes don't get very large, but they are delicious.

Star of David okra - TALL plants (well over 6 feet) produce huge crops of okra.  The okra pods don't get stringy & tough until they're 5 inches long (or maybe a bit more).  You can break the pods off by hand; don't have to cut them off.

An excellent source for heirloom seeds is a small growing company in Tennessee: New Hope Seed Company.  But order early; they's small & their seeds often sell out in the spring.

New Hope Seeds is a small, family owned and operated organization located in Tennessee. We specialize in open-pollinated and heirloom vegetable seed varieties that are rare and not readily commercially available.

Several of the heirloom seed varieties that we offer are heirlooms from our own ancestors that have been passed down for many generations in our family. We also work to preserve heirloom and rare open pollinated plant varieties by locating, growing, documenting and offering to gardeners and farmers so they can have a chance to experience the 'goodness' of what our ancestors grew and enjoyed. In turn this helps to greatly insure their continued preservation.


"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

Are those the tomatoes (4.00 / 1)
You canned & canned & canned this year?

I've got three tools in my arsenal: my voice, my wallet, and my vote.

[ Parent ]
you betcha! n/t (0.00 / 0)

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
seed age (4.00 / 1)
i put some seed in empty coffee cans, seal them with tape, and put in the freezer over winter. good to test a few in the spring before putting in the garden but i got good plants off 6 year old blue lake beans and lots of tomatoes off two and three and four year old seed.

Growing and buying locally (4.00 / 1)

I grow squash, tomatoes, and okra. My corn never produces here and I need to send off a soil sample to Auburn to see what I need to do, but I buy a lot from local growers and my freezer is set for the winter. I'm getting ready to till my garden again and plant my fall/winter crop of collards, some winter squashes, as well as some brussel sprouts. I picked up somt brussel sprout seeds at C.T. Garvins a couple of days ago and my fingers are crossed that they'll do well.


corn can be hard.... (0.00 / 0)

If the weather is too cold, it doesn't germinate.  If the weather's too hot, the bees don't pollinate.....  Then there are the crow and racoon problems!

We gave up on corn a couple of years ago because it took up so much space and was such a pain to grow.  Now, I go to the local farmer's market at peak season, buy 8 dozen ears or so, and spend an afternoon husking, washing, cutting, and freezing.  SO much better than trying to grow it myself!

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
Countrycat, check your LiA mailbox (4.00 / 1)
I get a "Mailbox full" error when I try to send to it :(

I've got three tools in my arsenal: my voice, my wallet, and my vote.

Wish I knew how... (0.00 / 0)

I have it forwarded to my personal email.

I'll have to ping Mooncat when she's back on the blog - dealing with important home stuff right now.

Grab me on FB in the meantime!

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
Years ago I grew Red Ripper cowpeas. (4.00 / 1)
I wonder if anyone else has grown them. I planted them among my corn so they could climb the stalks after I harvested the corn.DESCRIPTION from the Local Harvest website: 70 days. [Heirloom from Virginia and North Carolina.] Large number of peas per pod. A good flavored table pea with 10" long pods containing as many as 18 large peas per pod! The reddish-green pods are borne high and are easy to see in the foliage. The vines are resistant to very hot, dry summers. Use green shelled or dry.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...."      Hosea 4:6

NEVER heard of them, but (0.00 / 0)

I'm going to try and find some!

I LOVE field peas... can never have too many


"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

[ Parent ]
countrycat, if you don't grow corn (4.00 / 1)
give them something to climb on....some hogwire fencing, concrete reinforcing wire, bamboo poles, or anything you have, They're climbers and that makes them easier to harvest. They grow lengthy vines and can just spread out on the ground, but that makes cultivating and harvesting more difficult......sorta' like walking in kudzu vines.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...."      Hosea 4:6

[ Parent ]
corn (0.00 / 0)

i usually have good luck with corn. this year germination was a little spotty but i got enough to eat an ear or two a day until i got tired of looking at them. we dont can and do  little freezing. nothing like major production. if you want a good old fashioned not sweet corn that grows well here try hickory king. old timers recall it. i've seen farmers peel one in the field and take some bites of it raw. couldnt wait to get it to mama in the kitchen. it's a real tall corn. if you like a real sweet one try peaches and cream. it's always done well for me in ole alabama.

you dont need to send soil samples to auburn and rely on it for soil analysis. the seed stores and places like lowes and home depot send soil test kits for less than 15 bucks. you can test your soil yourself.  fun.

I would love some! (0.00 / 0)

Mostly just interested in the watermelons, okra, and peppers.  I've never had a muskmelon, so I'm not sure about that one.

A good deal of my "gardening" is done in containers, though, because my husband has a tendency to get a little overzealous with the weedeater.  Are any of those good for container gardening?

My tomatoes this year (and seems like everyone else's around here) got some sort of infestation, so if you have any extra seeds there, I'd be more than happy to grab some.

As I've mentioned, we're in the process of selling/buying a house.  I found a great home the other day but had to put it at the bottom of my list because it barely had a yard, and I really REALLY want a nice little space for a small vegetable garden.

Sorry. Should have mentioned... (0.00 / 0)

The thing I did grow successfully this year was Thai chillis.  I can definitely pick and dry out a few of those for seeds if anyone wants/needs some.  I don't eat them myself, but they're very pretty.

I also have rosemary and basil, but I'm not quite sure how to go about getting seeds from those.  The basil has some small flowers, but the rosemary is like an evergreen bush.

[ Parent ]



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