Thursday, December 26, 2013

Planting lemon seeds

Planting lemon seeds from lemons 

Yes you can plant most citrus seeds from store fruit if you take a few precautions. 
After removing your seeds from the Lemon ,immediately soak them in warmwater to remove all the residual sugar and flesh off the seeds. This is to prevent fungus and mold from living off the sugars and hurting the seedling before it has germinated. Take sterile  compost or soil and plant your seedlings one half inch below the soil surface. Voice in the soil and then cover the pot or trade to prevent the soil and seed from drying out. It may take up to one to two months for the seed to germinate. As soon as the seed germinates it needs light immediately. This might not necessarily mean direct sunlight if you're sprouting these in the winter time but it's going to need a bright light source. 

Currently there are no genetically modified lemon trees but that might not be the case forever. Please keep this in mind. 

A interesting thing about citrus seeds is that you may get several seedlings from each seed. One of these will be from the embryo formed due to pollination in the orchard, but the others will be "apomictic" seedlings which are vegetatively produced. That means that the apomictic seedlings will be exact genetic reproductions of the tree on which the fruit was formed, they are clonal seedlings. The one seedling produced by pollination will not be clonal as it will carry genetic material from the pollen parent (father) as well as the seed parent (mother). In any case, you should have a lemon tree, and it will very likely produce tasty lemons in about 15 years! I thought you would want to know that it will take a long time unless you graft from the seedling to a mature lemon tree. A mature tree may often be purchased at a nursery in the house plant section. There are dwarf house plant lemons from which you may also choose. Grafting may reduce the time for fruit production to only 5 years or so. And the trees can be bonsaied to produce shorter varieties although production will be reduced

Monday, December 23, 2013

Irish country buttered eggs

A fantastic process and one that's practically unheard of in the states is buttered eggs. It is a traditional way of preserving eggs for the short term in Ireland and it was probably invented in the 19 century. In the 1850s Ireland was exporting more than 12 million eggs to Britain and by 1900 that number had exploded to 45 million. A comfort food in southern Ireland and in other rural parts of Ireland as well they are very popular in Cork and can be often found in the markets around Cork city. Buttered eggs yield a fantastic texture and flavor that's not found in regular eggs.
The most important step in making traditional buttered eggs is that the eggs must be collected from the nest fresh, as soon as they are laid. The porous and still warm shells are rubbed with a thin coat of butter which seals in the freshness and the flavor. The albumen stays soft and curdy when poached or boiled. Lard can also be used for this process and I can attest that eggs can last for months when stored like this. I store them at room temperature but you can also increased the longevity of them by refrigerating them. I was often told in America that you can preserve eggs by storing them in sand or sawdust both of those experiments produced foul results. I am now forever sold on buttered eggs especially when, like some of you, you see your eggs decrease come the depths of winter. A great way to help preserve your harvest and a useful tool for the local homesteader anywhere. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

An elderly couple took a photo of themselves in the garden for every season.

How to tell if your seeds are GMO

Some of the most often ask questions of us is:
 "How do we stay GMO free when many people around us maybe growing it ?" 

" How do we know if our seeds contain genetically modified material? " 

" How can we prevent our seeds from becoming contaminated with GMO traits ? " 

It's very difficult and expensive to test your seeds for the Monsanto Roundup ready gene. They believe that gene is so fantastic that they would be a fool not to include it in every genetic manipulation they do. You can use this against them, but you'll have to use your imagination and be a good food detective. First get a disposable seedtray and some soil and plant your seeds. Allow your seedlings to grow a few inches tall. Buy a Roundup ready spray bottle , yeah I know you're contributing to the monster but this is the cheapest way to find out. Or if you know somebody who already uses Roundup you can nic a little bit off of them if you ask them. Simply spray the seedlings with the Roundup ready spray ( or a comparable Glyphosate product ). If your seedlings die then that means that they arent round up ready . This of course does not test for the BT GMO Gene, which is a much more costly investigative process. But this also means that you've probably ruined the seed tray and a good spray bottle. You really haven't ruined it because you'll sadly need it down the road to test others seeds. So like a GMO version of Sherlock Holmes , retain these tools for future investigative work.  I have a small squirt bottle I use just to test my seeds in this process and you can too just don't confuse it with your general you spray bottles and seedling trays and keep them in a plastic garbage bag with a spray paint " skull and bones " on them like I do. 

With the BT GMO gene one would have to make an isolation tank  like 10 gallon aquarium. You would then have to collect insects that are known to eat the plants that you are testing. Grasshoppers are great for corn, soy and wheat btw . Tobacco hornworm is another that works .You would then put the seeds inside the aquarium and sprout them and once they are tall enough ,at least a few inches ,you would add the insects and close off the tank. If the insects eat and die they contain the BT GMO trait. If they don't eat and die this might still mean it still contains the BT GMO trait. Rumor has it some insects can detect the poison and won't eat from plants that contain it .You have to make sure you get the insects that eat the plants that you're sprouting. I did this one with some cotton seeds a friend had sent me, it worked but that means I rejected all the seeds. ( I destroyed the genetic material by tossing the seeds in my burn barrel ).the downside of this , if you can't keep a grasshopper alive for a few days in an aquarium without these test plants, you'll never be able to do it with it. 

Another way is to use conscientious sowing and harvesting. Know your crops and know your foods and plant accordingly. If all your neighbors are growing corn, GM modified corn, then probably you shouldn't plant your corn unless you want to corrupted it with the GM trait. One way of working this is to know your neighbors ,understand what they are growing and when they are growing it. I stagger all my corn plantings so that their crops can't possibly infect mine. Sometimes this means I'm growing corn when they are growing soybean. Sometimes this means I'm planting later when they're planting earlier. If you grow in a hoop house or polytunnell you can can control pollen drift this way as well. Understanding what your neighbors are doing will help you plan better in the future. Understanding what they do and how they do it allowed us to convince two farmers to get off the GMO teat .... This is just one benefit to the movement by opening up relations with those who use these dangerous products . It tough that we have to do things like this just to stay organic or to ensure that we are uncorrupted with their genetic material. 

Also understanding what kind of crops these guys are manipulating is important. They are not currently manipulating horseradish, as for one example, so this means there is no GMO horseradish. The big guys target crops that sell a lot, because there is money to be made off. They don't want to target crops that people rarely eat they target stuff that people consume in large masses, because it's more lucrative for them. You can use this knowledge to helping your investigative work.
Garlic is grown mostly thru clones and not true fertilized seeds , by planting each clove you are planting exact duplicates of the plants you harvested . To date there is no GMO garlic . Cloning is another way for you to create a genetically uncorrupted plant but one that is filled it's own complications as well. A process if you have the time to investigate could prove very useful in your arsenal of tactics to remain GMO free

It used to be that the fantastic heirloom pepper " California Wonder "was one of the most popular heirlooms to grow. This pepper was grown and sold in supermarkets across the country and still is to this day because it is one of the greatest bell peppers out there. A very large plump fruit with a thick skin it worked extremely well when it came time to ship these. Unfortunately, drawn to the potential for profits, Monsanto has already patented a California wonder 300 . This now means that you can't  tell the difference between the California wonder and  the California wonder 300 because labeling is so in accurate here in America. They currently tell us that CW 300 isn't  in our produce sections that these are peppers that are grown for processed foods only. But this doesn't tell us if the CW 300 has crossed over into the non CW 300 . This is why labeling is important we need to know not only for food is genetically modified but we should be allowed to know if our food is patented. Some of these genetically modified produce will not provide viable seeds . This is the corporate way to stop seed saving. If you saved seeds from a pepper and if they didn't grow that might mean that it is a hybrid patented crop meant not to produce viable seeds. That of course is not the be-all, end all to that sort of argument. There could be many variables indicating why your seats didn't sprout . Hybrid sterile plants could be only one of those reasons as could poor plant husbandry on your part. 

Knowing your crops is just as important as knowing your neighbors crops because unfortunately when it comes to some crops they are all interlinked . I grow a particular type of heirloom pepper and I don't want cross contamination of this ( by gmo or any other heirloom or commercial grade pepper ). I grow it only when I know the peppers that others grow aren't going to infect mine. I have talked neighbors out of growing peppers just so I could grow mine and pay them with free peppers !  lol I also have the benefit of growing in multiple sites that allows me some sort of control. Knowing what my neighbors are growing is sometimes even more important than than knowing what in growing . 

One more word of caution: There is a lot of misinformation out there from both sides. Some people think every produce food in the supermarket isle is a genetically modified organism. This is untrue but scarily enough it could be our possible future. Investigate the plants are growing and find out what companies are doing GMO studies on them. The more popular the produce, The greater the range of profits , the chances are more likely take GM manipulation has happened or is happening. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Grow food from a traffic light

Well it all began when some friends and I were discussing the new LED indoor grow lights. We were turned off at the cost of the commercial models available as being very expensive. We had openly discussed building our own, buying the materials, and using our own sweat equity to save money. We had done our research targeting just the red and blue LEDs as plants primarily use red and blue from the spectrum of our light to produce food. So goes our future of building our own commercially viable grow lights. Doing a lot of work in urban agriculture and teaching the needy how to grow food, I still found the cost of these lights to be out of the hands of the people who need them the most. We seem to have many peppers and doomsday peppers who are around us and we openly discuss that if society was to collapse how to rebuild it from the materials that can be found in an average urban setting. Making grow houses from fence posts and even how to dig wells to retrieve water for growing in urban settings. I had shared a post on the Gateway Garlic Urban Farms like page on Facebook. This was a document from a person who calls himself the orchid king and he openly blasted the LED light system . He claimed that plants use lights other than the red and blue that are commonly seen in these LED systems. This prompted the discussion between some very educated people on the page some who supported and others did not. It seemed the universe was trying to prepare me for something but I could not be prepared for what I had discovered next and this is where this blog really begins.
I was driving through an unnamed suburb going to check on a friends house who is out of town. He had asked me to check on the house while he was away in Florida and so I decided to stop by one early Sunday morning. He lives in the third house off the corner and out in front of his house was a big pile of fiberglass and metal and plastic of various colors shapes and sizes. As I got out to investigate it I quickly noticed that this was the aftermath of what possibly could've been a horrible accident from at least two different vehicles. Underneath this pile of debris was a traffic signal light whose case had been shattered. I turned around and noticed that a new traffic light had been put in its place on the corner and this obviously was the debris field that had been swept up by the city crew but who had neglected to take it with them. I decided to grab the traffic light out of the garbage pile and figured I would take it home replace the bulbs and at worst-case scenario sell it somebody for a few bucks as a backyard novelty item. When I took it home and took it apart I was shocked to see that it did not contain ordinary lightbulbs but this was an LED traffic light. What appeared to be clear LED lights colored by a corresponding colored plastic lens was not the case either. In all three cases the green yellow and red colored LEDs were also colored by the color corresponding lens. I did a quick test and noticed that despite being hit by a car, and knocked off the pole and possibly dragged across the street only two of the LED light bulbs were knocked out, and that might not even happen because of the accident. Apparently these things are made to withstand heavy duty wear and tear.

I then joined the yellow and red matrixes and glued them onto the large green LED matrix which as one can see in the photo is a completely different type of part. At one time these traffic lights must of been repairable but that was no longer the case as the system that was used to replace it is completely different than this one. They run on 110 household electricity and some of them even having minor fuses inside so that they can be replaced. I used to nonconductive, high heat resistant silicone adhesive to join the three of these lights together. 

I planted a tray of kale, a tray of cabbage, a tray of basil and some green onion bulbs . I hooked this light up to it and suspended it above the plants and hope for the best.
And this is what I grew ! These are replanted onions and a Broccoli from seed. I also started a tray of Black Russian Kale. As this is an ongoing experiment photos and more details will be added shortly. 

Winter dormancy period of plants or " is my crab apple tree really sleeping " ?

Evolution has programmed cold climate plants to survive winter by going into a period of dormancy. Tissues gradually hardens as days grow short and temperatures decline in autumn. Chemical activity continues within the plant at a slow pace until the growth inhibiting hormones a fall and winter give way to the growth promoting hormones of spring. This prevents the catastrophe of a seed or bud sprouting too early, only to greet the killing frost. Evolution has also ordained that the winter to spring chemical changeover be completed only after a specific period of chilling. Without enough hours of the right degree of cold aplant cannot fully break it's dormancy. Dormancy last in plants  for varying lengths of time and begins at varying seasons of the year. Spring flowering bulbs, for example, start to become dormant when the foliage dies back in Midsummer and do not emerge from their period of rest until mid winter, when the chilling of the soil coupled with the increasing amount of sunlight stimulates them to resume their annual cycle of growth. But however long it lasts dormancy always occurs in several stages the first few of which are more or less invisible.
To prepare for the rest period ,plants enter a period of intense activity. First they manufacture and store extra proteins, sugars and fats in their cells to tide them over the lean months and give them the energy they need to burst forth in the spring. Then if they are to bloom early in the following year, they will set flowerbulbs so they will be ready to move quickly as soon as their dormant period is over. Leaf buds too are formed many of which contained in miniature all of the preformed leaves and stems for the next years growth only after these preliminaries do they begin to show signs of slowing down: stems stop growing, and deciduous plants shed their leaves. As winter sets in some perennial plants vanish from site only leaving the crown to indicate the continued presence in the garden. Underlying these various physical maneuvers is a series of chemical changes in the plant. Some of these changes are central to the hardiness and help to explain why certain plant can survive subfreezing temperatures while others, the tender plants, cannot. Like much else in nature this ability, or lack of it, is a product of evolution. Scientist think that the ancestors of all today's plants originated when the was climate was warm and humid and temperatures varied little in the course of the year. In the eons that followed the climate cooled and the plants that could adapt to cyclical changes in temperatures were the ones that persisted and reproduced. Some plants, the annuals, survived the winter in the form of seeds, which the parent plants produced and distributed in a single season before they died. Others persisted in the form of bulbs into which were packaged in embryonic form of all the flower stems and leaves and other plant parts Still others kept their woody structure intact but went to a hardening process that protected them from being injured by the cold. Certain favorable conditions a moist well-drained soil, for instance, and shelter from the wind will occasionally combine to let a plant grow in temperatures that drop below that usual heartiness limits. It may live through seven winters, with protection, but then succumb during especially severe one. The term half hardy is sometimes used to describe such plants, but strictly speaking is erroneous because a plant is either hardy in a particular climate zone or it is not.If a plant is not hardy, the correct term for it is tender. A plants ability to endure the cold also varies with its condition at the time the cold strikes. If you  subjected a supposedly hardy plant to freezing temperatures in Midsummer, it might not be hardy at all but could die. Plants become hardy only when they have had a chance to acclimate themselves gradually to the cold a process that takes a long time. For most plants the prime trigger that sets the hardening process in motion is not the falling temperatures, but the shortening of days and lengthening of nights. Even if an autumn is unusually warm, these plants will prepare themselves for winter. This is clearly a better arrangement for plants since the seasonal change in the length of days is constant year in and out, while the temperatures are not.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Homemade garlic skin paper

This paper is a 0 km paper meeting all the materials to make it came from right around my homestead. It is made from recycled newspaper, pulverized garlic skins and chunk garlic skin. The newspapers were heated in the pot on the stove and then pulverized in a food processor. A large portion of garlic skin was pulverized and then next with the recycled newspaper matter. I next added in broken chunks of unpulverized garlic skin for color and texture. I added a few tablespoons of starch for sizing 
I took a window screen out of my house and I placed it on a flat sidewalk. There was a little raised lip of the metal frame which supported the screen which I placed up right. I made sure my mixture was fluid enough to pour well and I poured it out on the window screen. I allowed this to drain away for several hours , leaving an evenly deposited pulp mixture across the entire screen surface. I then took a piece of plexiglass that I had and placed it on top of the poured mixture and I pressed to squeeze out the water. I allowed this to drain for several hours and then I flipped the entire mechanism upside down placing the plexiglass on the bottom and the screen on top. The screen easily lifted off the new top surface of the paper and I was able to rinse it and return it back to its home undamaged. I use a portable fan to blow dry it until I could lift it off the plexiglass and it is still drying as of posting this .