Edibles with Ease: When to Get Growing from Seeds or from Starts? Read more »
In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Keep your lawn and your shoes clean and free of clippings by adding our innovative, sturdy Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Ree... Read more »
The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... Read more »
This is the second how-to in a series focused on getting the most out of your basic paper punches. Read more »
Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
Our ProCision™ Rotary Bypass Trimmer features a unique dual-rail system that stabilizes the rotary blade, eliminating wiggle fo... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of crafting and mixed media tasks, our Amplify® Mixed Media Shears sense blade separation and force th... Read more »
Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with a Squeeze Punch that makes every embellishment up to 2X easier to pun... Read more »
My idea is to show everyone that they can make something cute and fashionable without spending a lot of money. Read more »
Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! Read more »
This year, it seems like spring is way overdue at our house. Read more »
Perfect for tight, precise cuts, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force the blades back togethe... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
Perfect for users with larger hands or anyone who needs to make long cuts through multiple layers, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabr... Read more »
I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
Our Big Kids Scissors take the basic design of our teacher-recommended Kids Scissors and enlarge them for kids that are a littl... Read more »
Our Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those older children who ar... Read more »
Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
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Community gardens aren’t just allotments — they’re urban farms, great places to share gardening skills and crops.
Keep all of your tools performing at their best.
With our understanding of genetics we can breed plants that thrive in difficult climates, create grains that resist disease and produce huge yields, and grow identical, tough-skinned fruits and vegetables that withstand mechanical processing, international travel and last a long time on grocer’s shelves. But is that what you really want?
There’s a price to eating tomatoes in January and Brussels sprouts in June. The down side to our “improvements” is a bland, mechanical sameness to the look and taste of those fruits and vegetables; questionable contents and nutrition in those modified grains. And don’t get me started on all those food miles. Of even great concern with these genetically modified organisms are the potential health risks that we’re just now learning more about. Sadly, it seems to be the way of the future as we develop an even greater and disturbing dependence on the agribusinesses that produce them.
For growers, the seeds can’t be saved from current crops. These hybridized wonders must be purchased over and over again every year; they don’t reproduce naturally. Heirloom plants, on the other hand, have unique flavors and appearance that you just don’t get in hybridized products. Just ask anyone who’s tasted an Anna Russian or Cherokee Purple tomato to compare it to typical store-bought hothouse variety!
More importantly, heirloom plants help preserve the earth’s biodiversity; Mother Nature’s way of not putting all her eggs in one basket. Growing and saving heirloom seeds helps insure the world’s wonderful variations of plants will continue for future generations along with sustaining the diverse network of wildlife that depends on these species; many of which are rapidly vanishing forever. Habitat destruction, climate change and our own failure to recognize and act on the importance of perpetuating these dying varieties are some of the greatest culprits to their demise.
Saving the seeds of heirloom plants is not complicated, but you may need to do a little extra planning to these seeds varieties are protected and not cross-pollinated during the growing season. Unlike hybrids, heirloom plants are open-pollinated. They will “breed true” from seed and be exactly like their parents. However, birds, insects and the wind carry pollen from blossom to blossom indiscriminately, so genes from one variety can cross with another. You can lose the traits you originally wanted. Unless you’re growing species that don’t cross-pollinate, like tomatoes or beans, you must isolate different varieties of the same plant to keep the seeds pure. There are several ways to isolate plants.
Plant cross-pollinating varieties of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and melons at least 10 feet apart, or in different areas of your yard. Odds are the same insect won’t visit the same area of the garden on the same day. Or make an insect barrier from sheer, tightly spun fabric like floating row cover. Cut a piece large enough to cover the flowers before they open. Protect the stem with a strip of cotton, then wrap the edges of the fabric around the stem and secure with a twist tie. Finally, grow a wide variety of plants like sunflowers, corn and lettuce that mature at different times.
To collect heirloom seeds, leave fruit or flowers on the plant so the seeds mature. Some seedpods, like peas or beans, dry on the vine and feel papery and stiff when they’re ready. Gather on a dry, sunny day; rain or dew could promote mold in storage later.
To clean the seeds, remove them from the pods and pour between large mouth jars in the gentle breeze of a small fan. The heavier seeds fall while the lighter chaff is blown away. Spread the seeds on newspaper and let them dry for one or two weeks.
Seeds from fleshy fruits like tomatoes need to be separated from the pulp. First, scoop the seeds, pulp and juice into a jar or plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Shake the mix daily over four days. Then carefully add a generous amount of water to flush the pulp and juice out of the container while being careful to allow the healthy seeds to sink to the bottom of the container. Once the residue has been flushed, dump the remaining seeds into a strainer for a final rinse and place them on a coffee filter where they will dry out of the next few days. Store seeds in small envelope. Label with the plant name and harvest date. Place envelopes in an airtight container such as a Mason jar and store in a cool, dark place. Your refrigerator is an ideal location for this.
Finally, always hold some seed back when you sow next year’s garden. You never know about the weather. And if you suffer a drought, floods or other disaster, you won’t lose your heirloom collection. If you’d like to buy heirloom seeds to grow and save for future generations, Seed Savers Exchange is a great resource. Learn more at www.seedsavers.org.