Friday, February 28, 2014

Rain! And Saving Seeds.

Well, my last post worked! We are now in the middle of two powerful, wet storms hitting northern California. 
While we are not out of the woods as far as the drought goes, right now all I can say is YAY! Rain!
So I thought I would write about saving seeds while I listen to the glorious sound of rain pounding on our roof. I know, this is a post for the end of the growing season, oh, I'd say about September but I thought it would motivate us to think about the growing season and saving money. Not to mention the wonderful art of saving seeds.
Now, the most important aspect of saving seeds is to know which seeds to save. If you buy a hybrid plant  and try to save seeds from this type of plant you will be disappointed. If you are lucky enough to sprout anything from a hybrid seed, it will not be a healthy, productive plant. Period.
 Or, like I experienced one time with a Tomato plant, your plant will be from one of the hybrid parent plant and be nothing like your original plant. That being said, below is the method of seed saving that I have had the best luck with.
Below, I am using my heritage Red Bell Pepper pictures to illustrate how I save seeds. I chose a healthy, well ripened Bell Pepper(s) to harvest the seeds. I then cut up the pepper and scraped the seeds on to a paper towel covered plate to dry. I let the seeds/pieces of pepper air dry overnight. Some seed savers also place the fresh seeds in the oven to dry.

 The next day I remove the rest of the seeds from the pieces and make sure that all the seeds are dry. You may need to air dry for another 24 hours to achieve completely dry seeds.
 Once completely dry I place the seeds in an envelope and label with the date and the name of the plant. You can also use a jar or air tight container to store your seeds if you are going to store the seeds in an area that is damp during the upcoming winter. The seeds must stay dry or they will mold. Moldy seeds should not be used to grow plants.

Here is a picture of my Black Krim Tomatoes that I grew this last year from seeds that I saved.  

I will write about saving seeds from flower plants in another post.
I cannot stress how important it is to save seeds if you love to garden. In the era of GMOs , hybrid plants, and the use of chemicals to alter/ morph crops, heritage plants and seeds are crucial to our future of the foods we eat and the flowers we enjoy. There are several websites of wonderful clubs and businesses that sell heritage seeds and foster the future of the heritage plant. Just Google heritage seeds and enjoy the wealth of information you will find. Besides, it is fun, saves money,
 and you will have an even more sense of accomplishment when you save your own seeds and successfully grow plants with them.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getting Ready For The Rain

We are being optimistic even though this winter we have experienced the worst drought in 20 years. We decided to try to learn from previous winters and  prepare for rain  ( if it ever gets here!)
You see, we live in an area that is basically flat. Really flat. So when it rains, it floods.The rain water sits on our property and causes our clay soil to become sticky, gooey, mud. Which makes it a royal pain in the you know where to even do the simplest of chores.

This picture from last winter gives you an idea of what I am talking about.
One chore that I have to do rain or shine is feed and water the chickens, and collect eggs. Twice a day, 365 days a year. The path that I take to go see about my girls is one of the worst places for mud and my walking this path twice a day does not help the situation at all.
 So the first step was to install perforated drain pipe to help the drainage problem.
As you can tell, hubby had help from our puppy Buddy who was convinced that he was helping and that hubby was only digging holes for his enjoyment!


 Next, we wrapped the pipe with filter fabric, then laid more filter fabric on top of the pipe and path in preparation for the drain rock.

Then the truck from the rock quarry dumped the drain rock for us to spread over the fabric.

Whew! I am so glad that this project is completed! 
Now, when I go do my chores in the pouring rain, I will not need hip waders to get to the girls! 
And all we have to do now is wish, pray, and even dance for the rain because I am ready...... bring it!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Faith And A Gift From My Family

I have a Bible that I cherish. It was given to my brother Tom by my sister, Sharon. But we never called her Sharon, she is and always will be Sissy.
Anyway, this Bible.........

It has brought me so much comfort, joy, and grief. But I think the greatest gift it has given me is faith. Not just the obvious kind of faith, I mean, it is a Bible after all. The kind of faith I am talking about is the faith in family. Faith that our family will always survive and even thrive at times. I guess to understand what I mean you need to understand a little of the history of this particular Bible.

 Like I said, this Bible was given to my older brother Tom for Christmas in 1959 by my older sister Sissy. Tom was 11 years old at the time.


 Sissy always went to church, faithfully, as long as I can remember. She took all of us to church as often as she could. She was the religious one in the family. Her faith was everything to her. Always has been, always will be.
Tom went to church because he wanted to be with Sissy.
 Later on, when asked about his religious preferences, he would say he was agnostic. After the Vietnam war and his time in the Navy, Tom would say he was an atheist. He did not believe in God, he said. 

Tom died in 1985 when he was 37 years old. I thought the Bible was lost. When our Mom died in 2004, I found Tom's Bible with her belongings. It was carefully, individually, wrapped up with some other things of Tom's that Mom had packed up when Tom died. When I gave it back to Sissy, she told me that she wanted me to have it. I have treasured it ever since.

I also read from it almost everyday. I have another book that gives me suggestions on a daily basis for scripture to read. I follow those daily suggestions and find that I learn so much about the Bible and about myself whenever I pick up Tom's Bible.

Today was one of those days when Tom's Bible taught me about having faith in our family. Not only did this particular scripture hit home with me about love and charity (which I really needed to read this morning), it hit home because the scripture was underlined, heavily, like back and forth with a pencil several times.
 Now, that in itself does not mean that much. But to me it means everything. I find marked up scripture at random times in Tom's Bible when I read it. And you can tell it was done over a long period of time, not all at one time by  the different marks of the pencil and sometimes, by a pen. Sometimes, it's just a little pencil mark at the start of the scripture, sometimes just a check mark. But sometimes it is heavily underlined, like it touched my brother so much that he wanted to remember it forever.
 I dare not alter this Bible with my own marks, and today, I felt an overwhelming urge to talk about this Bible. I hope that someday it will mean as much to someone else in our family as it did to Sissy, Tom, and now me.
A great lesson in faith from a simple Bible underlined by an atheist named Tom who sought comfort and guidance in a Bible that his Sissy gave him a long time ago. I am so happy that I get comfort and guidance now from this Bible that has survived and thrives, just like our family.

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