Posts tagged with Growing

Seneca Round Nose Corn #1

Posted on December 10, 2019 by Leave a comment

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Being an amateur native american historian, a gardener/farmer, and former resident of western New York state, it was inevitable that I would have an interest in growing Seneca White Corn/Iroquois (“Haudenosaunee”) White Corn. Seneca Round Nose Corn is the name of the specific seed variety that we planted this year (2019). Seed for Iroquois White Corn is hard to find. It seems that the sales of the seed is somewhat protected. The Seneca Nation of Indians do not sell the seed, but do sell Iroquois White Corn products through the Iroquois White Corn Project (“Ganondagan”). So far we have found three seed sources although the names and descriptions are slightly different. We believe they may all be the same variety, but we will have go grow them to form a better opinion. We planted the “Seneca Round Nose” corn in 2019. This corn has to be isolated when grown to keep the genetic purity of the seed. We will grow a second variety in 2020 and a third in 2021. This year we only had a about 50 seeds to plant that were 5 years old, but we did get excellent germination and did produce a small crop; certainly enough to use and also save seeds for future planting. All non white seed will be used or discarded. Some of our ears have a pinkish purple color or a yellow kernel or two.

We planted late this year due to a cold wet spring. That along with a few other growing issues caused our ears not to fill out completely except for one full ear. The stumpy ears will not affect the seed quality except for a small percentage of kernels.

Seneca Round Nose Corn
Seneca Round Nose Corn

Seneca Round Nose Corn
Seneca Round Nose Corn

We planted in “hills” this year in what may have been an Iroquois tradition. My parents used to tell me that the Iroquois grew the corn in hills with 4-5 plants per hill and that they would bury a dead fish under the hill before they planted to fertilize the seed. The fish would release nutrients as the fish decayed and the corn plant grew. This story may or may not be true, but it makes sense. It would require a lot of fish to plant a field of corn even in hills.

We planted late and in a somewhat shady area. This was necessary for us because we had lost previous crops to raccoons and deer. This time we planted within a 4 strand electric fence to protect the corn. Next year we will plant in rows for better light and less root completion, We may have less plants but hopefully higher quality full ears to harvest. We planted pole beans along side the corn plants and squash in the next row, in a way imitating the Iroquois corn-bean-squash trilogy (“Three Sisters”). In our case, the pole beans grew up our corn stalks, as expected, but also pulled down some of the stalks and reduced our corn ear production a little bit. This would not be a significant problem in a big corn field.

Growing Seneca White Corn
Growing Seneca White Corn

This corn is not a hybrid and can be replanted from year to year and you will get the same corn. You can replant your own seed. Even though you can buy and/or plant one of hundreds of varieties of sweet corn with long lasting sweet flavors, we picked one ear and made corn on the cob. The ear was just a little past its prime for sweet corn, maybe just a little doughy, but it tasted very good when picked and boiled it immediately. We put butter and salt on it and it did not taste much different than current sweet corn varieties just not quite as sweet. But still very satisfying.

Iroquois white corn is non-GMO (genetically modified organism), low in sugar, high in fiber, high in protein, gluten free, has a low glycemic index, is packed with amino acids and releases carbohydrates slowly. Consuming Iroquois Corn products may help to improve diet related health issues.

Boiling "Green" Seneca Round Nose Corn
Boiling “Green” Seneca Round Nose Corn

Boiling "Green" Seneca Round Nose Corn
Boiling “Green” Seneca Round Nose Corn

Our farm is just 8 miles from Houghton, NY where a major Seneca community once flourished. It was very satisfying to imitate, on a small scale, what they did every year, not so long ago. The Iroquois or there predecessors were the first to cultivate this land and grow this type of corn which has been planted for 1400 years and possibly longer. The Seneca are still planting this corn.

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Boysenberries – Bringing a planting back to life

Posted on March 26, 2016 by Leave a comment

Boysenberries are a bramble berry that originated as a cross between a European raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and a common blackberry (Rubus fructicosus) an American Dewberry (Rubus aboriginum) and a Loganberry Rubus X loganobaccus). Rudolph Boysen gets credit for the boysenberry, but the heritage of the berry may have also been influenced by John Lubben (lubbenberry), and Luther Burbank. The boysenberry was somewhat lost to history, but was found and brought back to prominence by Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame and George M. Darrow of USDA plant breeding fame. The Knott’s made a business out of making boysenberry pies and preserves. The boysenberry has now lost most of it’s prominence again to bramble berries that are more economical to produce.

To us, the boysenberry has the appearance of both the raspberry and the blackberry. The color, flavor and drupelets are more similar to a raspberry, but the berry has a “core” like a blackberry. A raspberry core is hollow. We picked just a handful of berries last year.

In late March, we rented our community garden plot in southern California, we inherited a planting of boysenberries. The boysenberries had been planted a year or two previously, a simple trellis installed and then left unattended. The planting had lacked for water and fertility and was overrun by bermudagrass.

We inherited a poorly maintained Boysenberry planting

We inherited a poorly maintained Boysenberry planting

The first thing we did was to apply a 30 day supply of Miracle-Gro fertilizer, and a 90 day supply of Osmocote fertilizer to the base of the plants. Next we installed two drip irrigation lines about 10 inches apart at the base of the plants. Then we installed black landscape fabric for weed control and covered it with about 4 inches of “weed” mulch. The weed mulch was from weeds we gathered as we cleared the rest of the garden plot.

Smothering the bermudagrass with "weed" straw

Smothering the bermudagrass with “weed” straw

After a few weeks of regular watering and renewed soil fertility, the plants responded with the appearance of vigorous new cane growth.

The extra water and fertilizer is starting to pay off

The extra water and fertilizer is starting to pay off

As the new growth became very vigorous we started to train the long canes to achieve a desired height and trained other canes over the top of the trellis to keep them off the ground.

Training the trailing vines

Training the trailing vines

As we approached the end of August, we stopped fertilizing to inhibit new growth and let the plants “harden” a little going into winter. The amount of established canes will be sufficient for full berry production next spring for the cane training system we used.

Late August - ready to go into winter!

Late August – ready to go into winter!

Sometime in November or December we cut the base of the canes, which had overflowed on the ground at the base of the trellis. We cut the canes about a foot above the ground. By doing this, it will improve air flow and disease prevention. It is possible that we did not cut the bottom cane growth high enough and we will need to observe what happens when the fruit matures for positive or negative results.

Winter trimming and drip fertilizing system

Winter trimming and drip fertilizing system

In late December, January and February, we made an application of liquid Miracle-Gro fertilizer through the drip irrigation system to encourage rooting during this cool, moist period. Our whole garden is connected to this drip fertilization method. We like this method of fertilizer application, although we cannot use it all the time, because not all our garden plants need to be fertilized at the same time.

Spring green-up!

Spring green-up!

As soon as temperatures began to rise late in February and early March, the dormant plants began to grow again and started to form flower buds. The plants looked very vigorous.

Blossoms opening!

Blossoms opening!

The volume and health of the boysenberry plants indicate that we will have an ample crop of berries.

Honeybees pollinating the blossoms!

Honeybees pollinating the blossoms!

We are fortunate to have a good population of honeybees in the area to help pollinate our blooms. We do not know where they come from in our urban setting, but we are glad they are visiting our garden.

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Growing Seedlings for Spring Planting

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Leave a comment

We wanted to grow a few seedings. Some varieties that are hard to find, as transplants, at garden centers. We decided to purchase a Jiffy® seed starter kit and add our own potting soil to the six-packs. We chose this system for several reasons: 1) It has trays that will separate into six-packs; 2) It has a tray to hold the six-packs; 3) The tray will also hold any watering overflow; 4) It had a clear plastic cover. 5) The Jiffy kit was also reasonably priced and individuals parts could be purchased separately later.

Jiffy® Seed Starter

Jiffy® Seed Starter

We liked the idea of the clear plastic top, however this top rests very close to the top of the seedlings and has no ventilation holes. If the clear cover is left for very long in direct sunlight, the plants may overheat and be killed. This not only happen to us, but also with a neighbor gardener who tried the same set-up. We will discuss our solution below in the post.

Separating the seed trays

Separating the seed trays

It is important that the potting soil for seedlings has several attributes. The soil needs to be made of fine particles that will hold water around the seed. The soil needs to be sterile so that it will not have weed seeds, fungus organisms, or other organisms. Fertilizer needs to be contained in the potting soil or needs to be added to the soil, so that the plants have nutrients until the time of transplanting.

Picking a potting soil

Picking a potting soil

The potting soil needs to be added to the individual cells and packed enough to eliminate any air spaces in the potting soil. This will help ensure uniform water holding capacity and root penetration. The potting soil should then be leveled a little below the rim of the cells so that the water can soak in when watering without running off.

Filling the trays with potting soil

Filling the trays with potting soil

The next step is to plant the seeds at the depth required as described on the seed package. If you have a lot of seed you may decide to plant one or two extra seeds in each cell to ensure all the cells will have at least one seedling. If more than one seed germinates, the extra seedlings can be removed, leaving the healthiest seedling. If you are limited on seed, just plant one seed per cell. Sometimes it is a good idea to save some seeds in case you have to re-plant due to unforeseen circumstances. Once the seeds are planted be sure to add enough water so that all the potting soil is saturated with water. Add the water a little at a time to prevent overwatering.

The seeds have been planted and watering begins

The seeds have been planted and watering begins

Now that the seeds have been planted it is important to meet the germination temperature requirements for each seed type. This information is usually published on the seed package or can be looked up online. Most seeds will germinate at a soil temperature between 65 degrees and 80 degrees. Some seeds will germinate at cooler or warmer temperatures. In order to keep the soil surface moist, a barrier of some type will help to do this. This can be in the form of a plastic cover or possibly a light colored, coarse weave fabric cover. It is important to have ventilation to prevent overheating especially if using natural sunlight. If you intend to grow a lot of seedings a heating pad designed for seedlings can be purchased through an online gardening supplier. The heating pad can be set for the exact temperature that your seed needs for germination. For indoor growing, special growing lights can purchased and installed over the seedling trays.

Mini greenhouse made from an upside down storage tub

Mini greenhouse made from an upside down storage tub

We seem to have had the most success using an upside down clear plastic storage container with ventilation holes drilled in the bottom of the tub which becomes the top of the mini greenhouse. This top covers the entire planting tray. The holes can be drilled with larger or smaller holes depending on the outside temperature. We have about eight 1/4 inch holes drilled in our tub. For a tub that is in direct sunlight all day, we increased the hole size to 1/2 inch diameter. The height of the tub allows the heat to rise above the seedlings and venting the hot air out through the top. The tub still holds most of the moisture under the tub keeping the humidity high near the seedlings. The high humidity helps with germination and prevents the potting soil from drying out too quickly. We have found that this type of cover is heavy enough to resist light winds and can be further secured by placing a weight on top such as a small brick or stone.

We have cool nights here and sunny days, so we have been putting the seedlings outside during the day and bringing them in the house at night. The house temperature is at least 70 degrees. The outside sunlight has been raising the temperature under the tub higher than 70 degrees for most of the daylight hours.

Add ventilation holes

Add ventilation holes

Seeds will take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to germinate. This information should be printed on the seed packet or can be looked up online. In our case, the tomato seedlings are up and growing after a week, but we are still waiting on the eggplant seedlings which will take at least another week to germinate.

The seedlings starting to germinate

The seedlings starting to germinate

Update – 3/26/16:
After trying several configurations of small or mini greenhouses, we like the Coke® bottle mini-greenhouses, with 2 inch peat pots the best. It is easiest to control the environment, one on one, with each seedling. The 2 inch peat pots are easy to remove for transplanting without damaging the transplants.

We liked the Coke® bottle mini greenhouses best

We liked the Coke® bottle mini greenhouses best

We did need to fertilize the seedlings several times. The amount of nutrients in the potting soil was not sufficient to supply the necessary fertility until the seedling was ready for transplanting. The seedlings do require a lot of daily maintenance, including watering, managing sunlight availably, daytime and nighttime temperatures and wind. The seedlings also need to be thinned, most often, to one plant per unit.

We tried a variety of growing configurations

We tried a variety of growing configurations

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Fun Growing Cabbage in a Winter Garden in Southern California

Posted on February 20, 2016 by Leave a comment

1/21/16

1/21/16

We planted some cute little miniature heads of cabbage November 1st, 2015 near Los Angeles in southern California. We purchased the transplants locally and we wished we had taken a photo of them. It frosts occasionally where the garden is located so we planted the cabbage along with some broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, romain lettuce and swiss chard transplants. These plants will tolerate temperatures above 25 degrees pretty well. We had not planted cabbage in a garden in many years and forgot what fun it is to watch. The plant seems to grow so slowly and gradually gets bigger and then seems to explode over the last few weeks before it is ready to cut the head.

2/5/16

2/5/16

Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower grow well together and require about the same care. These plants respond well to three heavy applications of nitrogen fertilizer; once just after planting after they have recovered from transplant shock; a second time about a month after planting when they have developed a significant amount of foliage; and a third application just as the heads are starting to form. We also use osmocote at planting which in cool weather is a 90 day slow release fertilizer containing Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous(P), and Potassium (K). We grew several acres of pick-your-own broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower for two years back in the 1980s. We had great success doing this.

2/12/16

2/12/16

In our growing situation we built a “bunny fence” around the perimeter of the garden to keep out the rabbits. We also have squirrel and gophers. The squirrels don’t seem to be interested in the cole crops and the gophers seem to be under control at the moment. We also make an effort to control the cabbage looper worms.

Ready to cut - 2/18/16

Ready to cut – 2/18/16

We look forward to making fresh cole slaw, boiled cabbage, and cabbage rolls!!

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Growing New Whitetail Antlers

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Leave a comment

We have been trying for several years to capture whitetail deer anger growth during the summer with the camera. It appears we are having some success this year. Antler growth is influenced by age, genetics, and the quality of the nutrition on which the deer feeds. In this field, the deer are eating Whitetail Institute Whitetail Clover, which is specially developed for white-tailed deer. We can see that the main beams, and brow tines are forming and additional points are beginning to form. It is difficult to tell at this point how many additional points will form prior to the completion of growth for this year.

Growing New Antlers - Mid July - front view

Growing New Antlers – Mid July – front view

The antler growth starts at the pedicle where the antler is attached to the skull. The antler is made of bone. The antler growth is regulated by hormones and controlled by day length (photoperiod). The antlers will harden off and the velvet will be shed prior to the breeding season in the fall. Then in January or February the antlers will fall off and the process will start again next spring.

Growing New Antlers - Mid July - back view

Growing New Antlers – Mid July – back view

On this particular deer we can observe that this set of antlers is developing on an animal that is probably 2 years and 4 months old. The deer is of medium weight and condition and the antlers are nicely formed but somewhat thin and not very big. It appears that it will be a 7 point buck. Deer in this location have an abundance of food choices, between forest browse, abandoned farm fields, cattle pastures, dairy hay fields, and deer food plots. If we are lucky, this deer will re-visit our camera site and we can continue to watch his antlers grow.

Antler Growth by August 21st

Antler Growth by August 21st

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