coming up: spring plant sales

A Spring Plant Sale on the farm! Mark your calendar! Tell your friends! We’re excited to be hosting a fancy pants fancy plants sale this spring, offering a selection of what we find works best for us in this area as well as a few new-to-us varieties of garden vegetables, herbs, and flowers. All of our plants have been started from seed on the farm, they are all open-pollinated and grown using organic practices. Come by the farmstand, explore the gardens, peek in the greenhouse, and take home a few plants.

Farmstand sale days will be Saturday April 30th, 9 to 1, and again Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday May 7th, 9 to 1. Starts will be available for purchase and pick up at the farm during the week as well and throughout the month of May, please give us a call to arrange a time to come by.  Initially we’ll have herbs, flowers, brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) for sale; tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, additional tender herbs and flowers will be available starting in mid-May. We are delighted to be offering tomatoes grown from our own saved seed, as we’re working on regionally adapting several varieties.

We will also have fresh vegetables for sale – lettuce, radishes, mustard greens, scallions, bok choy; as well as eggs, farm flower seeds, and fun, hand crafted goodies, including pot holders and wooden spoons.Also, friends! Check out this great introduction to soil health, a presentation given at the 2012 Quivira Coalition Annual Conference by Jill Clapperton (just about a 1/2 hr). She offers insights on nutrient cycling, cover crops, mycorrhiza, no-till – both educational and entertaining. We think you’ll enjoy this. And as you’re planning your garden this spring and readying beds for planting, think about your living soil and what a privilege it is to steward.

Thanks for your support and happy spring!

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saving seed: tomatillos

All our seed orders are in and now packages brimming with seed packets are arriving pert near everyday. Our table has been buried for quite some time now in a thick mantle of books, notes, calendars, charts. It’s seed season, our minds are racing with numbers, and our hearts are full of hope.

We’ve got seeds on the brain these days and are extra specially looking forward to the very first annual Spearfish Seed Swap in a couple weeks. Mark your calendar: Saturday Feb 22nd, 2:30-5PM at the public library.

To celebrate the occasion and help muster enthusiasm for the joy of seed saving, I’ve put together a few words on saving tomatillo seed.

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How to save tomatillo seed.

Pick out the very best looking tomatillos from your most healthy, strong, vigorous open-pollinated tomatillo plants. Open-pollinated varieties produce offspring that is true-to-type, versus hybrids where  the next generation may not exhibit the same characteristics as its parents.  We usually pick from 4-5 of the top tomatillo plants in order to help ensure some degree of genetic diversity. You’ll know the tomatillo is ripe, and the seeds are ready to collect, when the fruit has filled out the paper lantern wrapper and the paper begins to split/dry at the base.

Remove the wrappers. Cut up the fruit into wedges and pop them into a blender. And gently bbzZzzZzzzzz them up into a cheerful, bright green tomatillo slurry. The seeds are small and robust and won’t be damaged by the blade.saving tomtatillo seed_blender

Then pour this slurry into a tall container and add water. I would suggest using a clear glass or mason jar for this, so you can see what’s happening. Mix this up with a spoon or chop stick. The good, viable seed will sink down to the bottom of the container.saving tomtatillo seed_pouring

Pour off the floating green slurry and any floating seeds, adding water and pouring again until the water is clear and the seeds at the bottom are all that’s left. Then sieve out the seeds and lay them out evenly on a coffee filter or thin cloth.saving tomtatillo seed_drying

Let the seeds dry in a dark place, with good air circulation. Be sure to fuss around with them a bit while they are drying, mix them up so they don’t dry all stuck together. When they are all dry, seal them up in an air tight container and store them in a dark spot. You’ll know they are dry enough for storage when the seed breaks instead of bends under pressure. Just pick one out and bite it, if it’s bendy or soft, let them dry out more. Also, very important: label your seeds! Make sure you keep track of the seed variety and date grown.

Another very important: Share your seeds with neighbors and friends.

Easy! No stinky fermentation process, no winnowing. And just think of next summer’s gloriously refreshing salsa verde! (…and more salsa verde!)

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Here are some seed saving resources we’ve found helpful and inspiring:
The Seed Ambassadors Project Seed Saving Guide
John Navazio, The Organic Seed Grower
Suzanne Ashworth, Seed to Seed
Carol Deppe, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties
Organic Seed Production and Saving, the NOFA guidebook
Janisse Ray, The Seed Underground

See you at the Seed Swap!