Hey I just started a new blog of family essays.

Yeah, gets hectic around here sometimes and while yoga and meditation just left me feeling like I wanted to meditate my way into the a warm bath with a cold glass of Pinot Gris every couple of hours, I did find that writing down some of our stories could be a more productive way to relieve the pressure. And some day me and the kids will get to look back on these stories and have a good old fashioned laugh about them.Image

check it out at: http://vanessajackydavis.wordpress.com/

Harvest Season for Seeds is here!

 

 

 

 

Dandelion seeds (achenes) can be carried long ...

Dandelion seeds (achenes) can be carried long distances by the wind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seeds are everywhere,

flying by us, drifting on the side of the road, feeding wildlife, drying and

burying themselves again. And I am still struck with wonder at the power in those dormant little stones. They are a generous reminder of the continuity of life, and hope even when it’s dormant. They are one of the best things in life, and indeed they can be free. I am reminded of that each year when volunteer tomatoes, arugula, basil, strawberries surprise me without warning and produce a decent fruit.

So this year I purchased only seeds which were not genetically modified, for various reasons but mostly because GMO seeds often don’t produce in the next life. I always think there must be some paranoid farmers messing with our produce to insure that we won’t take that big watermelon home and make baby watermelons. But perhaps not so paranoid after all, that’s just what I’d do, being the penny pinching watermelon-poor person that I am. So my non GMO mostly heirloom seeds have succeeded nicely, and I have the opportunity to harvest the seeds for us and for seed bombs, and to exchange with with neighbors. So if you’re also interested, here is some information and links below to get you started.

 

  • Not all seeds are alike. I like to imagine how beat up a seeds needs to get before it ready to use–what’s it like in the wild? They need to dry out, some of them need a good freeze, some of them need darkness, most like to soaked for just before planting, and the masochistic ones, like those tortured little Blue Bonnet seeds need a scratch or cut.  Called seed scarification, I imagine it’s another brilliant way seeds evolved with eaters and scratchers hounding them. And what are heirloom seeds, or why does everybody want to eat those ugly bulbous expensive tomatoes anyway? Heirlooms are cool for several reasons, they are old, non modified, tried and true seeds.
  • They are seeds which have endured the hardships people faced before they had sprinklers, fancy fertilizers, pesticides, and the like.They have GRIT!
  • And so you don’t have to waste your hard earned cash on those chemical either
  • And, you also get a lot more seed selection.
  • Another thing is that they will grow in an environment most conducive to their survival rather than flourishing in places where they don’t belong. That leads to things like Potato Famines and stuff like that.
  • And can find plants to suit your personal taste, such as my love for tiny tart tomatoes, little yellow Blondkomphchen tomato, and little round Korean Eggplants (OK I know what’s up with my palette for little things, weird)

 

 

So seeds….Image.

 

For the most part I’m fairly lazy, and just prefer to cut when dry, place in a freezer bag and refrigerate till needed. In fact I did that yesterday driving past a gathering of brown dry Queen Anne’s Lace. And over there, those are my Nicholas sunflowers which I dry out and toss in a bag till next Spring.  But a little research for those plants you LOVE is worth the effort. And of course it’s always good to consider the environment your planting where you’re planting. They could become unwelcomed neighbors. (see Potato Famine again).

 

A couple great places to start are:

 

The international Seed Saving Institute:  http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html

 

You Grow Girl:  http://www.yougrowgirl.com/2002/10/04/harvesting-seeds/

 

 

But my super fav where I started, and it’s also where I purchased my first heirloom Non GMO seeds: http://www.seedsavers.org/

 

Or like me, if you’re interested in first looking through some seed catalogs to begin your wish collection, you’d enjoy this website which allowed me to order 20 (but up to 60) seed catalogs which are packed full of lot’s of extra information about planting, growing, and harvesting.  (I keep my catalogs for years since their like little botanical encylopedias). It’s a wonderful way to spend a cold winter weekend planning for the Spring! But keep in mind not all of those offered are heirloom or GMO free. Choose what’s best for you.

 

http://freebies.about.com/od/homegardenfreebies/tp/seed-catalogs.htm

 

And if you get hooked,  you’ll find that there are seed exchanges. It just altogether a wonderful cycle of things.

 

So I wish you the best in the harvest and cultivation of your biological jewels. Have fun, and please let me know what you learn…..

 

 

 

 

My story of first harvesting seeds.

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I remember the first time I harvested seeds. It was when I was living in my Aunt Rachel’s house in Portland, Oregon. She had the most wonderful Hollyhocks reaching over my head with lovely pink and red flowers cascading down. I loved them, because they were hers, and because she’d harvested them from my grandmothers garden. So when the stalks had dried I cut the little seed cups and put them in a plastic bag. Later that year they followed me back to Arkansas where I planted them in my own garden. The following Spring I was  delighted to find them growing up from my patch of rusty brown earth. They grew taller than me. And the seeds spread all over the yard growing and overshadowing the tomatoes and the corn and eventually drooping over the fish pond. They grew everywhere the lawn mower didn’t navigate till a several years later I dug them all up and threw them away. Despite how sad that sounds, resilient nature took over and they continued to come back. Those marvelous old heirloom seeds overcame me. So I cut them back, learned about soil maintenance and accepted their challenge. They are here with us now growing and blooming as you read this blog. I’ve collected their vital seeds to send to my sister back in Portland with what I’ve learned about them. And I’ve collected other seeds too, the Valentine Sunflowers, Bachelor Buttons, Brown Eyed Susans, Peaches and Cream Corn, Sugar Snap Peas–jewels of life and abundance. Seeds are beads of abundance and change and continuity, and the penny pincher that I am, they are gifts free to anyone who collects them.

For more information about seed harvesting, including GMO’s , responsible planting, and how-to’s, please check out the next blog and this excellent website, Seed Save : http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html

As always, let me know your story!

Firefly Season Calls for a Fairy Teepee!

IMG_1406 OK practical penny pinching parents and grandparents, looking for a way to trot through the dog days of summer with your kids? Well when we see the first fireflies they always remind us of the fairies and so this year we decided to build a fairy house, or teepee in this case. We kept it simple, but they can be as elaborate as your imagination care to go.

Now fairies, or faeries you might say, don’t need much, but I’ve read they do prefer protection from the elements, a nice bed, a little water, and perhaps a flower or two. I find that children of all ages are more in tuned to fairy needs that I am, so they of course are the primary consultants.

Here are the materials we used,  found in and around our house, as I’m sure you’ll find similar in yours.

  1. 6 bamboo sticks which we snapped to match in size, chopsticks would work too.
  2. Green twine– but rope, thread, yarn, string, any of these would work.
  3. One yellow baby t-shirt, with the sleeves cut off, and cut half way up the middle as the opening for the door. We also cut a blanket, pillow and towel out of this shirt, a 3 year olds idea.
  4. Flowers, and leaves, to decorate
  5. Small pebbles for a path
  6. A little cup to offer the fairy water

IMG_1402IMG_1403IMG_1408IMG_1409IMG_1410IMG_1406        So, pull together several sticks, teepee style and bind at the top with your     chosen cord. Open the base of the bound sticks up and push into the dirt. These can also be made indoors or in a flower pot, since fairies also live in large cities. (-: Then you or the children can cut the sleeves off the T Shirt and cut a line up the middle for the door. I cut out an upside down V shape so the door would remain open. 

Now that your structure is built you can decorate with flowers and greenery, or jewelry and things that shine to get the attention of the little creatures. Children have good intuition for these types of things. My small daughter asked me to make a blanket and pillow out of the shirt and she found a leaf for a bed. Then she made a small book for the fairy to read. And my son collected small rocks for a path and found wires in case we wanted to wire it up for electricity. Afterward my daughter brought her own small dolls to explore it.

Elsie Wright with a fairy

Elsie Wright with a fairy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love this project so much for many reasons. For one, it was what I liked to do as a child. It makes a child consider what’s important to them for comfort. It’s more diverse than just blocks; it seems and looks real. It takes problem solving skills and patience and creativity.  Also it can take a half hour to set up, or it can be the beginning to a long term project. It’s like a self made story unfolding and really holds my children’s attention for a long time. And it’s a great way for an adult to enter a childs world on their terms.

I’d love to hear about your Fairy Homes! Please let us know.