Order Online

In order to maintain distances as required by the state of South Dakota, Falls Park Farmers Market is offering on-line ordering and drive-by pick-up. Learn more and order at https://fallsparkfarmersmarket.locallygrown.net/welcome 

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Eye Candy

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Apple Of My Eye

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Give It A Whirl

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Pump It Up

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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MelonDrama

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Hot Potato

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Room For Shrooms

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Pep Up

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Can Do Attitude

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Petal Pushers

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Priceless Heirloom

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Fresh Since 1912

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Nice Melons

Make Falls Park Farmer’s Market your go to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and delicious food. Open this Saturday from 8am to 1pm!

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Radishes

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Spin Doctor

Make Falls Park Farmer’s Market your go to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and delicious food. Open this Saturday from 8am to 1pm!

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Tearjerker

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Foodie Call

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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We Got The Beets

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Spring Stalkings

Don’t miss out on some of the freshest goods in town! Make Falls Park Farmers Market your go-to place for fresh coffee, local flowers and great food. Stop on by this Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M!

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Boots and Balance

By Harriet Kattenberg, March 27th, 2018 | No Comments »

Your weather,” said our Mexican waiter, trying to make conversation, “so strange.”

Up came his hands. “Snow!”

Down went his hands. “Sunshine!”

Up with his hands, “Rain and snow!”

He shook his head, “Sunshine?”

And he didn’t mention the worst of it … MUD.

We have been slithering in mud for weeks! Snow mud is the worst. It’s slippery! It clings to your feet.

And wagon tires? Oh, my! The mud clings and the tires get larger and larger until the axles are totally immobile from all the mud.

The next day, the mud is frozen into chunks. It may fall off with a good hard kick and it may not. Ka’thump. Ka’thump goes the wagon.

We slithered. And we pulled. And we walked carefully. But we managed to seed and plant and transplant and water and seed some more. Planting schedules must be kept. Spring is coming. Falls Park Farmers Market opens SOON. May 5 to be exact.

And our crops must be ready. People are hungry for real food. Real FRESH food. Food only a day out of the field. Local. And Fresh. And we farmers will do our best to provide.

Aiden lost it. Literally. His boots stuck in the mud and he lost boots and balance. Big Brother tried pulling him out.

When jeans and socks were removed, mud had found its way into his underwear! Mommy washed her boy, wrapped him in a bath towel, and bundled him into the car.

Daddy sprayed off his muddy clothes at the car wash.

Muy Caliente

By Harriet Kattenberg, March 27th, 2018 | No Comments »

Henry and I enjoy a local Mexican restaurant. We (Henry) is not an extremely adventuresome eater so we order something safe, fajitas. We always order the same. And we share the huge meal.

Pollo Faliz; Happy Chicken.

Our favorite waiter knows us. He nods and smiles as we come through the door. And hustles to the kitchen. If Jose is not working, we must use what little Spanish we know to convince the waitresses to make our fajitas exactly the way we like them.

Muy: very.

Calente: hot.

Sizzle,” we add. Even the sound of this word is understandable.

Rojo: red.

Pemienta: peppers, we ask. Henry really does not like green peppers.

Extra is extra and cheese is queso. Heads nod and smiles smile. In minutes we are enjoying chips and salsa.

Could I make fajitas at home? I could. I should. Especially when the gardens are pumping out the best red, orange, and yellow peppers and sweetest onions ever.

And I did. When the kids were home, fajitas was the favorite and most requested birthday meal. Lots of sizzle. Lots of aroma. Our house smelled good for days!!

Peppers are seeded and showing green leaves. Whose birthday is next?

A Dr. Seuss Jingle

By Harriet Kattenberg, September 4th, 2015 | No Comments »

Gulp! Where did summer go?

The last time I sat in front of this keyboard and tried to put coherent thought into text was mid-July. Really? With the heat and humidity of this past week, it felt like July or August. But here is September!!!

As uncomfortable as we were this week, the thought that Jack Frost occasionally pays a visit in September was not at all comforting. We’ve had frosts as early as September 15.

Long balmy falls make for more profitable bottom lines. And as much as I enjoy being outside, growing, doing, bending, picking, lifting, hustling, and yes, even being totally exhausted, we must face reality, and the always judgmental, bottom line. So as much as Alissa and I would just like to sit, sleep in, cook, and clean, we have to keep going for another nine weeks. Which boiled down, means ……

You only have nine (9) more Farmers Markets this season!!!

Do not delay!
It’s time to make hay (or salsa or pickles or Caprese.)
New potatoes with butter. They will make your tongue flutter!
Visit Falls Park Farmers Market (and Seedtime) TODAY!

I bet we have more than you can eat in a day.
In any way.
Without having to eat hay.
But you may.

Eat hay.
If you wish.
In a dish.
Without any fish.

Potatoes in purple.
Tomatoes in pink.
Wash your lovely leeks in the sink.

Our lettuces are healthy.
They don’t make us wealthy.
But they taste better than hay.
Any day.

Hail to our kale.
It won’t make you frail
But will build muscles
And brains.
Forget eating grains.

Onions and garlic.
Shallots sure hit the target.
Broccoli is a scream.
Our cauliflower is green
And purple, it seems.

So Saturday is the day
To stop eating hay
And veggies are the way
To brighten your day.

This jingle is a marvel
At Seedtime and Harvest.

Eek! I’d be much smarter
If I worked much harder.
And left this old keyboard
To go fill up the larder.

Nine weeks!!!! Don’t miss it!!!

Harriet @ www.seedtimeandharvest.net

Naked? Never!

By Harriet Kattenberg, July 10th, 2015 | No Comments »

Ok, I know … Some people like to be naked.

In the shower and bathtub? Yes.
In bed? Some of us.
On the beach? … Well…. It probably depends on the beach.

But on the whole, we spend more time in our clothes than in our birthday suits.

Soil feels the same way.

Rototill the besmidgies out of a piece of ground … a garden, the front lawn … and before you can shout, “SOIL LOVES TO BE NAKED,” tiny little seeds will be sending out thread-like white hair roots. And before you can shout again, “I WANT TO KEEP THIS PIECE OF GROUND NAKED,” those little seeds will be pushing up tiny little shoots, soon to turn green, and those little shoots will grow as fast as a banshee.

Return to that naked piece of dirt a few days later and it will be covered with something, anything green.

A fellow veggie farmer told me about his stint working for a commercial greenhouse. “The floor of that greenhouse complex absorbed every chemical and weed killer used in their industry. AND most of it was covered with either concrete or rock mulch. Yet whenever a bit of soil was exposed, a weed would spring up. It was totally mindboggling that anything would want to live (or could live) on that floor.”

Naked soil leads to erosion and compaction. Erosion from rain, erosion from wind. Compaction from tractor tires, Gator tires, human foot prints.

At Seedtime, our goal is NO NAKED SOIL. EVER. A lofty goal!

We do farm somewhat traditionally. Till the soil. Break it up. Make a nice seed bed. But then we leave the tradition behind. As soon as two rows are planted, we sow a cover crop between them.

Early spring sees strips of buckwheat between rows of potatoes and tomatoes. Winter rye is seeded between beds of kohlrabi, cabbage, and broccoli.

This year, we are experimenting with a mixture of plants that will eventually bloom, providing nectar and pollen for our honey bees.

Yellow and white sweet clover, phacilia, lupines, daikon radish, mustard, hairy vetch. What a delight to our senses when these plants bloom and bustle with bees, gathering nectar and pollen, winging it back to their hives.

The hours and labor we invest in cover crops would probably shock us. Some would say we are foolish. But the soil and its living millions of microbes thank us. All kinds of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects will be happier and healthier with a varied diet.

No erosion.

No runoff. The lush cover of plants and roots holds every drop of rain, storing it for another day.

Microbes … fat and sassy.

After all ….

Who wants to be naked?

Harriet @ Seedtime and Harvest

King Corn

By Harriet Kattenberg, July 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »

cornMy eyes were opened this week. Shockingly opened!

I shared with Joel. His eyes suddenly opened.

I shared with Faren. His eyes suddenly opened.

All in the neighbor’s corn field.

Michael Poellen wrote about King Corn in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Corn is in so SO many foods. Anything processed has a high probability of having corn-something on its ingredient list.

Every second year corn surrounds our farm. Farmer Brown is old fashioned; he still rotates his crops; corn one year; soybeans the next year. With the ethanol craze a few years back, some farmers still plant corn on corn on corn on corn.

Imagine what your gut would look/feel like if you only ate one food, regardless if it was a healthy food or a processed food. We all know we need diversity in our diets to supply as many different vitamins, minerals, and sources of fiber as possible. So with only corn root exudates as food, the soil and its microbes are sick, too.

But I digress.

Corn. The wisdom of corn.

I never thought I, of all people, would praise corn. I don’t like to grow corn, weed corn, pick corn. I do, however, like to eat sweet corn. That’s it.

But the other day my eyes opened to the wisdom and power in the design of corn.

We had one tenth inch of rain, refreshing our hearts for a few hours, but not enough to slow the work schedule or dampen the soil.

Irrigation tape

Irrigation tape

However, in the corn field, the soil around each plant was visibly wetter than between the long rows. The soil directly around each plant looked like there was irrigation tape dripping water to each plant’s roots.

Suddenly my eyes opened. I saw each corn plant was holding all of its rough leaves up to the sky, like a multi-armed human spreading her arms wide to the heavens, asking for blessings. The rough hairy leaves gather dew and every drop of rain and directed the precious moisture down the stalk to the roots below.

No wonder corn/maize grows all over the world, from the fertile fields in Iowa to the dry lands of Mexico. Corn is tough and strong and knows how to collect water from the atmosphere and direct it to its roots. My amazed eyes ran over our fields of veggies and flowers. All coddled. None were actively fighting for survival the way corn does.

Corn truly is a king!

Harriet @ Seedtime and Harvest

Broken Ankle Chain

By Harriet Kattenberg, June 26th, 2015 | No Comments »

I want bats!  I SO want bats!  Especially when I read that bats eat cucumber beetles.  And mosquitoes.  And a thousand other bugs. 
 
But I never (or I should say, seldom) see bats.  We had one living above our garage.  When we had a water leak and then a hole in our ceiling, we’ve had a bat or two in the house.
 
But I really want bats outside. 
 
So Sons put a couple of bat houses up on the shed walls.
 
Two years.  No bats.  (I can take a flashlight and pear up into the bat houses.)
 
This spring, one of the many Mrs. Robins living on the farm, decided the bat house made a very good platform for her mud nest.  Slightly sloped but nicely tucked under the eave.
 
First round of egg laying, setting, and brooding … nothing. (I always worry about the effect of the habitual habit of chemical farming…)
 
Second round of egg laying and nesting, Mrs. Robin raised a nice family of baby robins.  We could see the bobble heads as they begged for a morsel of worm.
 
Soon the now-feathered speckled babies were big enough to fly.  All left … but one.
 
Lonely stood there in the bedraggled nest all alone.  Quietly.  Lonely never begged for food.  I never saw Mrs. Robin feeding her; I never heard Lonely make a peep.
 
“Is Little Lonely afraid to fly?”
 
“Why does Lonely not take off like her brothers?”
 
Monday’s storm with its 100 mph winds … Lonely was still standing there. 
 
The mud nest was slowly decomposing under Lonely’s feet.  Lonely did not fly.
 
Wednesday morning, Lonely was on the ground in front of the shed. 
 
“Hurrah!  Lonely finally took the leap and tried to fly!  Maybe she really cannot fly.  Look how she hangs around in front of the shed.”
 
Later, as I was working with Ryan, I told him about Lonely’s fear of flying.
 
“Oh,” said Ryan.  “She had a clod of mud tied to her leg and couldn’t fly.  I cut the string and she flew immediately up into a tree.”
 
“What?!!!  What clod of dirt?”
 
Ryan gave the ‘clod’ a kick.  The ‘clod’ was the sidewall of the old nest built from mud, grass, and ……. old bailer net wrap.
 
All those big round bales you see all over the countryside after harvest?  They are wrapped in poly netting.  The big bail busting machines grind bales and twine into feed and bedding for cattle.  The bits and strings of the netting are irresistible to birds for nest building.
 
Irresistible but deadly.
 
Thanks to Ryan, Lonely had her ankle chain broken and freedom restored.

Harriet @ www.seedtimeandharvest.net

Grandma’s Farming

By Harriet Kattenberg, May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »

Skies are blue.
Sun’s shining.
Wind is calm.
The soil is lightly moist: its texture a fine crumb.
Seeds are pushing up in tiny green rows.

What a beautiful day to be farming!

Coffee brewing.
Two little kids are upstairs sleeping.
Dirty dishes in the sink.
Rugs need vacuuming; floor needs mopping.
Alissa and her boys will be here soon.

What a beautiful day to be a farming grandma.

The crew is arriving.
I gotta run.
Who am I today? Farming or Grandma?

The day is over.
Grandkids gone.

I’m a’sitting.
Farming.
Grandma.

My poetry teacher never did like my style! Oh, well. The day went quickly. I hope the grandkids had fun. We caught two snakes, four baby sparrows (Noah calls them chickies), and one tiny toad.

Mom picked up her kids for an extended family get-together in the park. Bathed the night before, hair flying, shirt and pants clashing, just up from naps, off they went to the next adventure. A few dollars in their pockets for picking-up branches, watering tomatoes, filling micro trays, planting lisianthus and snapdragons. Tummies full of milk, beef, mashed potatoes and green beans, with nachos for a snack and as-many-as-they-can-eat home-made apple juice popsicles.

“Grandma, can I have a peppermint?”

“Grandma, can I have a granola bar?”

“Grandma, can I have a cheese stick?”

“Grandma, can I have some ice cream?”

“Sure.”

The mess and the wrappers and the dirty floor and the ½ glasses of milk and juice sometimes bugs Grandpa.

Kids growly as bears when they get home sometimes bugs Mom. “What time do they go to bed? Really?”

But you know … that’s what going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house on the farm should be about. Outdoors. Freedom. Fun. Sun. Extra snacks. More popsicles! No curfew.

We DID get the trailer loaded with lots of tomato, pepper, and herb plants. Lettuce is washed. Micro and pea shoots cut and bagged. Asparagus cut and bunched. Spinach carefully picked and bagged.

Hill garden weeded. Tomatoes tied. Steel posts stomped into the soft earth. Stock trellised. Gardens tilled. Biodegradable mulch laid. Irrigation hooked up.

It’s all poetry. In motion. Beautiful. Perfect.

See you in the morning!!!!!!!!
Henry & Harriet @ www.Seedtimeandharvest.net

Lovely word.  Chitting.

I have always wondered where this word came from.  Google, Wikipedia, World Book Dictionary, World Wide Web … are not telling me much.

Greenspouting.  Preparing seeds for faster germination.

Since its spring and time to plant potatoes, let’s focus on chitting potatoes.

Potato eyes will sprout in total darkness in late winter, early spring. It seems this schedule is built into the potato.  There is no amount of blackout that will prevent the sprouting. (We refuse to talk about chemical treatments that prevent sprouting).  But sprouts grown in the dark are long, gangly, and white.  These sprouts depend on the nutrients and life force in the potato, eventually making the potato inedible.

(It was Mother’s job as a child to go through the family harvest of potatoes in the winter and remove the sprouts.  “Once in a while, I would accidently poke my finger into a rotting potato.  The smell was so awful…nothing smells as bad as a rotting potato …and I probably had a rotting tooth as my dad didn’t believe in fixing teeth … and that rotting potato smell seemed to be the same as the rotting taste of a rotten tooth …To this day I can hardly eat potatoes, especially when the chef misses any pits or dark spots while peeling.  Potatoes need to be snow white.  And I don’t like potatoes in soup, either.”   Poor Mother!)

When seed potatoes are exposed to light, indirect light, the eyes begin to sprout.  The skin will green up.  The potato has been stimulated to begin growing.

Cut large potatoes into pieces about the size of a chicken egg.  Try not to break the little sprouts.  Each piece needs two or three eyes.

(Mother told very few jokes but one of her favorites was:  Did you know you are supposed to wrap each potato in newspaper before you plant it?

“No, why?”

Gleefully, she would exclaim, “So it doesn’t get dirt in its eyes!”  And then giggle!!!!)

And do we plant potatoes on Good Friday?  No.  According to the Biodynamic calendar, Good Friday and the whole Easter weekend is a blackout period.  We do not work in the greenhouse or gardens other than watering.

Can potatoes be planted too early?  Yes, the tender shoots will freeze.  The original potato piece will send up new shoots but the plant has been set back several weeks.  At Seedtime, we try to be patient and plant a little later.  We may not have the earliest potatoes at Market, but we’ll have the most energetic and delicious potatoes at Market. 🙂

Soon!

Your farmer friends,
Henry & Harriet Kattenberg, Seedtime & Harvest

John Really is Nuts

By Harriet Kattenberg, March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »

Suzie was complaining during coffee break to her co-workers.  “I think John is nuts!”
 
“Your husband, John?  Why do you say that?”
 
“Well, he’s been dreaming about squirrels.  Every morning he tells me about his dream of the night before and it’s always about squirrels.”
 
“Squirrels?  Like … cute little bushy-tailed squirrels?”
 
“Yeh, right!  It started out, cute little bushy-tailed squirrels.  But lately his squirrels are getting bigger and bigger.  This morning he told me that the squirrels’ eyes are getting bigger and bigger and their noses have been growing, too.”
 
Soon, conversation around the water fountain was centered on John’s squirrels.  “What did John dream about last night, Suzie?”
 
“Hey Suzie, how big were John’s squirrels now?”
 
“Does John’s squirrel’s nose grow every night, just like Pinocchio’s nose?”
 
“Oh, it drives me crazy!  Last night, John dreamt that the squirrels were lined up along our big picture window, peering into the living room.  And John says his squirrels are hungry!”
 
Hoots of laughter surrounded the water fountain.  “Does John dream about nuts, too?”
 
“Sometimes.  He says the squirrels are very, very hungry and they are looking for nuts.”
 
A psychologist had joined the lingering group.  He took a sip of water and with seriousness, asked, “Do you have squirrels living near your house?”
 
“We do have squirrels in the summer,” admitted Suzie, “but of course, we haven’t seen much of them during the winter.  We live in the old part of town and have lots of big old trees.  John puts out cobs of corn for them but he’s never dreamt of squirrels before.  Lately he’s been dreaming of squirrels EVERY night!  And last night he dreamt of nuts!  A nice big bowl of nuts.”
 
“Maybe your squirrels are hungry.  Maybe they are communicating with John, asking for something to eat.”
 
“Oh, phooey!  I think John’s nuts!”
 
The stories and teasing continued until one Monday Suzie arrived at the water fountain, looking haggard, and complaining of exhaustion. 
 
“What’s the matter, Suzie?  You look awful!  Are you starting to dream of squirrels, too?”
 
“Ha!  I’m not dreaming because I’m not sleeping!!!”
 
“You are awake all night?”

“All night!!!  I’m trying to sleep.  Honestly, I’m  trying!  Listen ….
 
“When I arrived home Friday night, John was already home.  He was standing in the living room, next to the coffee table.  Just standing there, staring.  I stared, too.  We had a big bowl of left-over Christmas nuts, walnuts, almonds, Brazils, pecans, you know, typical mixed nuts.  The bowl, the coffee table, the carpet was a disaster!  Every nut had been chewed open and the nutmeats were gone.  Broken shells were everywhere!
 
“I was speechless.  John was speechless.  Hand in hand, we started creeping around the house, exploring, looking for clues.  We went outside, examining every window, every door.  There were teeth marks along the base of the picture window.  (Gives me the creeps thinking of squirrels standing there looking into our house!  Watching us!)
 
“We couldn’t find an opening or hole.  We went upstairs, moving from window to window.  Finally, we found a small hole in the corner of the screen on our bedroom window.  (John always sleeps with our window open, even when it’s twenty below zero.)  There it was … a small hole; the wires had been chewed and when we looked closer, we could see the ends of the wires were shoved out.”
 
“Are you telling us that squirrels actually smelled the nuts from inside your house …. Chewed a hole in your bedroom window screen …. Went all the way downstairs …. Ate your nuts …. And then found their way back upstairs …. And out the same window????”
 
“I’m telling you!” affirmed Suzie.  “And every time I close my eyes to sleep, John whispers in my ear, SQUIRREL!!! And I jump!”
 
Heard around the water fountain, “John’s nuts!” 
“Squirrels are nuts!” 
“John’s nuts!” 
“Squirrels are nuts!”

PS. The real story is in bold.
PSS. The story in bold is true.
PSSS. John and Suzie found a wet spot on the carpet next to the coffee table.
PSSSS. John and Suzie eat Seedtime’s veggies and enjoy Alissa’s Flowers.

Hybrid vs Heirloom?

By Harriet Kattenberg, February 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

Hybrid? Open pollinated? Heirloom? Genetically modified?

What’s it all mean? What is the difference? What’s better? How do we choose?

Here’s my general guidelines and a few reasons why I choose what to grow ….

Let’s start with what we do not grow … gmo. Never.

Let’s hope honest science and honest research can catch up with what is actually happening to people’s health. Someday the technology will offer a true benefit. For now … No to gmo.

Heirloom tomatoes are old time tomatoes and should have some type of history behind them. Open pollinated tomatoes are similar, however may lack the recorded history. I love growing heirloom and open pollinated tomatoes. To me, their flavors are more mystical, more old-fashioned, and more complex than in hybrid tomatoes. The seed of heirloom and open pollinated tomatoes can be saved by home gardeners and most of the plants and their fruits will be closely identical to the original.

The hybrids we offer are not genetically modified but hybridized by moving pollen from one plant to the flower of another plant. The parents might be kept in secret by the breeding company and the seed will not produce an identical plant. My understanding is that by growing out and saving these seeds for several generations, a great, great grandchild plant may finally produce a similar fruit to the original hybrid.

To my tongue, hybrid tomatoes have more acid. I tell plant customers, ‘they bite you back.” Heirlooms very seldom bite but are usually of a mellow nature. Blacks are always mellow and mystical. Yellows, golds, oranges, whites can be very, VERY mellow. Greens are the sharpest, sometimes even sharper than hybrids.

In sweet peppers, we choose hybrids to get a greater number of fruit, fancier shapes, and more colors. Some of the open pollinated produce lots of peppers, too, such as Chinese Giant.

There are many unique open pollinated hot peppers. As a home gardener, it would be fun to plant a different hot pepper occasionally. Some have extra-ordinary heat levels, shapes, and flavors. Peppers will cross indiscriminately so if you want to save seed, grow one variety each summer. And check your neighborhood. Bees can carry pollen two or more miles.

In eggplant, the open pollinated varieties are 80 to 90 days to maturity. We can find hybrids that mature in 60 days which is important to a market vendor. As a home gardener, I’d probably not worry about earliness but would plant an open pollinated so that I could save the seeds.

Radishes? We choose mostly hybrids to give us an extra week to harvest. Spring weather can be very erratic. A sudden warming spell will send open pollinated radishes into a bolt as they shoot up a stalk for blooming and setting seed. We’ve had long rows of open pollinated radishes bolt a few days before harvest, leaving us with nothing for Market.

Beans are mostly open pollinated and it is easy to allow a few plants’ pods to remain on the plant, dry completely, to be harvested and shelled for next year’s planting. Bean flowers ‘trip’ before opening; bees do not do the pollinating. You are quite safe saving seed even while planting numerous varieties.

Winter squash comes in hybrids, open pollinated, and heirlooms. I really enjoy growing and eating the heirlooms and some of the open pollinated. One problem with heirlooms, most are larger, ranging from 10 to 15 pounds, making them a harder sell as our families continue to shrink. Traditional breeders have dedicated many years in breeding sweeter, smoother-fleshed, and smaller squash. Johnny’s delicious Sunshine squash took 20 years of breeding work and years of increasing the seed supply for this highly-popular new squash. Now Johnny’s is introducing a smaller, sweeter butternut squash called Butterscotch, weighing only two pounds.

This year, I searched Baker Creel Seed catalog for small, good-tasting heirloom squash. Conclusion: Half of our planting will be tried and true familiar hybrids (acorn, spaghetti, buttercup, butternut) and half of our planting will be unique heirloom and open pollinated squashes from around the world.

One word of advice: Spend a little more on quality seed. When seed packets are ten for a dollar, you are probably paying for paper and packaging.

Our favorite seed catalogs:
www.Johnnyseeds.com
www.Rareseeds.com
www.Highmowingseeds.com
www.Fedcoseeds.com
www.seedsavers.org

Happy dreaming, planning, and planting!