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Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part Two (and a chance to win heirloom seeds)

September 23rd, 2011

While visiting Seed Savers, you will be able to see a lot of the varieties from their catalog in the gardens. There are several trial gardens filled with vegetables and flowers, they’re organized into different families. So there’s an entire garden dedicated to cabbage family plants, onions, members of the nightshade family, etc.

Even though they’re only planting a few plants of each variety and only a few of the varieties available, it really does make you realize the number of options that we have for our home gardens.

How can you not love the classic red barn and buildings? I think they provide the perfect backdrop for heirloom vegetables and poultry.

The plants are labeled well so you can note different varieties, and decide which ones you’d like to grow in your own garden. I especially loved these galvanized seed packet holders, I must find some of these!

You’ll also be able to check see some heirloom poultry and the Ancient White Park Cattle, the rare breed of cows that they keep at Heritage Farm.

After looking through the demonstration gardens and the gift shop, you can head down to the orchard to see the fruiting plants. During our visit some of the apples were ripe. They had a sign asking you not to pick apples from the trees, but to feel free to pick any up off the ground. We picked up a few and took some photos next to their labels since we’re hoping to put in orchard someday.

I’m so glad we hit the gardens when we did, the end of August. Everything was at the height of it’s beauty and production, which made up for the fact that I missed out on this in my own garden since I was gone almost the entire month of August.

Ironically as we left, we passed what you see above – field after field of hybrid and GMO corn test plots. A stark contrast to what we had spent the morning hours enjoying at Heritage Farm.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without purchasing an heirloom seed collection to give away here on the blog. After looking over all the seeds, I finally settled on the Heritage Farm Favorites Collection. It contains: Chioggia beet, A & C Pickling cucumber, Dragon carrot, Dragon’s Tongue bean, German Pink tomato, and Seed Saver’s lettuce mix. All you have to do is comment on this post for your chance to win. Winner Chosen:

If you were in charge of keeping one kind of edible plant from extinction which one would you choose?

See more from my visit:
Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part One
For more photos of my visit to Seed Savers that didn’t make the blog, head on over to my Flickr photostream.

Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part One

September 22nd, 2011

I mentioned on Tiny Trailer Travels Part Six that we stopped at Seed Savers Exchange on our way home. You were all excited about seeing photos from this stop. I finally had some time to sit down and go through all the photos and today is the day!

If you’ve ever driving through the northern part of Iowa, I’d recommend taking a few hours to visit Heritage Farm in Decorah – you certainly won’t regret it. Make sure you allow a few hours to walk around and see all the gardens and the orchard.

We stopped in the visitor center first, it’s full of the most diverse collection of gardening books you’ll ever see. I saw a few that I haven’t had a chance to read yet, looks like I’ll have some great garden reading this winter. They also have a collection of heirloom seeds, as well as other gardening items – and of course you can purchase or renew your membership.

It’s was drizzling slightly the day we went, but we still made it around to all the gardens. Lucky for us the new Diversity Gardens right out front that were installed this spring were in their full glory.

Since Seed Savers focusing on preserving heirloom plants, their gardens aren’t always perfect. You will see plants throughout their life cycle and in the seed setting stage. That means plants are not ripped out when they’re no longer pretty or no longer producing vegetables for harvesting. There was lettuce blooming for seed and cucumbers yellowing on their vines – no botox and facelifting for these garden – the natural cycle is allowed to carry on.

You will also find Diane’s Garden behind the visitors center. Diane Ott Wheatly was one of the founder’s of Seed Savers.

There is so much at Heritage Farm that I decided to break this post down as it was getting quite long. Be sure to allow plenty of time when you visit, you certainly won’t regret it!

Check back tomorrow for part II and a giveaway of a gift I purchased while visiting.

Are you familiar with Seed Savers Exchange? Have you ever visited their farm?

See more from my visit:
Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part Two
For more photos of my visit to Seed Savers that didn’t make the blog, head on over to my Flickr photostream.

I Love Lettuce

January 19th, 2011

I’ve been sorting through all of my seeds and entering them all into a database where I can keep track of seeding dates, germination, notes about harvest and flavor. I must say that I’ve acquired quite an assortment of seeds over the past couple years. I have a few varieties of many different things like broccoli and cabbage. I thought tomatoes would take the prize for most variety of seeds with about 20 different kinds in my box. But, I was surprised to see that lettuce/greens took the prize, I actually have 3 folders full of lettuce, spinach and other greens.

I do love lettuce and who can resist all the lovely colors and shapes in the seed catalogs. I do grow a lot of lettuce and greens each spring and fall, and we do eat a lot of salads. Lettuce is a great vegetable to grow yourself because it doesn’t take up much space, it matures quickly, is pretty adaptable to most kinds of soil and can be grown easily in pots. The seeds germinate easily and grow quickly, so it’s a perfect thing for first time seed starters and gardeners. Even though I have tons of lettuce seeds in my collection I’ll still be adding a few more this year, including that ‘Roxy’ lettuce I bought at my local farmer’s market and loved.

The varieties in my seed box:
Arugula – regular
Arugula – wild
Arugula – ‘Even Star Winter’
Kale – ‘Lacinato’
Kale – ‘Lacinato Rainbow Mix’
Kale – ‘Red Russian’
Spinach – ‘Winter Bloomsdale’
Spinach – ‘Catalina’
Spinach – ‘Bloomsdale Longstanding’
Spinach – ‘Tyee’
Spinach – ‘Giant Winter’
Swiss Chard – ‘Multicolor Bright Lights’
Lettuce – ‘Rocky Top’
Lettuce – ‘Black Seeded Simpson’
Lettuce – ‘Red Sails’
Lettuce – ‘Simpson Elite’
Lettuce – ‘Jericho Romaine’
Lettuce – ‘Rouge Grenobloise’
Lettuce – ‘Sanquine Ameliore’
Lettuce – ‘Sea of Red’
Lettuce – ‘Little Gem’
Lettuce – ‘De Morges Braun’
Lettuce – ‘Brune D’Hiver’
Lettuce – ‘Winter Density’
Lettuce – ‘Seed Savers Mini Lettuce Mix’
Lettuce – ‘Sweetie Baby Romaine’
Greens – ‘Green Malabar’ Spinach
Greens – ‘New Zealand’ Spinach
Greens – ‘Scarlet Frills’ Mustard
Greens – ‘Fall Mix from Sand Hill’
Greens – Green Curled Endive
Greens – Minutina
Greens – ‘Tendergreen’ Mustard
Greens – Mache, corn salad

It would be hard for me to choose one type of lettuce or green to grow. I would have a really hard time deciding between spinach and arugula. I think arugula would probably win if push came to shove. There’s just something wonderful about this lovely green. It’s spicy and delicious and makes a wonderful salad, pesto and a killer BLT.

It’s also quite beautiful and ornamental when you let it go to seed. And a huge bonus for me is that the deer and ground hogs won’t eat it, so I don’t have to worry about protecting it.

I’ve always wanted to make an ornamental lettuce bed in one of my raised beds. I think this spring I’ll grow 4-5 different colors and shapes of lettuces and put them in a decorative arrangements. The only problem with that is then I’ll end up with a lot of mature lettuce to eat, I guess we’ll be eating lots of salad!

What kind of seeds do have the most varieties of?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.