Friday, June 4, 2010

Farm Experiments

Farming is like playing a sport in which they keep changing the rules and moving the goalposts. Like this year when we found out some of the seed that we really like has been farmed out to be grown in China. Now I have nothing against Chinese seed, if I was growing heirloom Chinese vegetables, but I do think as a country when we’ve become too lazy or cheap to raise our own seed, the end can’t be far. Millions of people are out of work right here and we are sending work to China. The Roman Empire fell when they couldn’t be bothered to hire their own soldiers to defend their empire. Mercenaries, they were cheaper to hire. When Roman was ready to fall, they had already put the fox in charge of the hen house. Well, Leo and I aren’t quite ready to go yet, so we are making a concerted effort to save all our own seed. And, we certainly are not buying anything that was not grown here. Okay, I confess, there are still a few French and Italian seeds, but hey they are French and Italian varieties, not available here. So, I’ll save the seeds this year. They are not American tomato plants raised in China to save a buck. Here’s part of the great tomato variety trials. Thanks to Dr. Carolyn Male, a tomato expert from Salem, NY who has kindly sent me the seeds of some very rare tomatoes to trial and grow out. I will return seeds to her in the fall. With old seeds, they first need to be soaked 8-12 hours in fish emulsion (Phew!) Every cat on the farm wanted to help with this. Then they are carefully transplanted to cell packs. The cell packs are labeled twice! Once with pencil on the tray and once with a popsicle stick. Then I give them a shot of Endomycorrhizae and off to the sprout house they go. It’s late for tomato starting, but I want to help Dr. Male preserve these varieties, plus I know that all of you will help eat and rate them. Dr. Male wrote the book 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden which I highly recommend.

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