Ann Wright: Seed saving, compost and more for August
There are a number of different reasons to consider saving seed from a delicious melon or a favorite type of tomato. Seeds hold valuable genetic resources that can be handed down over the years. Some types of seed might represent the story of an immigrant family arriving to a new land – and with that migration, seed was brought with them to begin their farms. In the early days, saving seed was a necessity for production of food to feed growing families. Saving seed also preserves biodiversity, or the variety of sustainable seed to grow the food we need. Seed that has adapted to a particular area produces stronger plants, and knowing where seed is from may help gardeners predict how the plant will grow.
Seed saving is really just the process of preserving genetic material of a particular vegetable, fruit, or flowering plant, and using it later – or sharing it with others. Seed saving starts with open-pollinated parent plants. Open-pollinated seed is genetically true to the parent plant, meaning the seed will result in a plant very similar to the parent plant. Heirloom plants are open-pollinated varieties that are un-altered over time, and have been passed on to generations within a family or community.
Hybrid seed is produced by crossing two different parent plant varieties for specific purposes such as ripening characteristics (when the fruit will ripen) or uniformity of fruit. Hybrid seed is basically useless to save and plant again, as the resulting plant will not be true to the parent and may be sterile, or will ultimately revert to one of the parent varieties.
To learn more, the Master Gardeners of Nevada County are offering a free seed saving workshop today at 9 a.m. on Zoom. Check the website (http://ncmg.ucanr.org/) for details and how to access the Zoom link or workshop recording. This workshop will help participants discover the benefits of seed saving and how to preserve heirloom varieties. Explore the differences between hybrid and open-pollinated varieties of seed, and characteristics of plants that are best suited to seed saving. Finally, learn about harvesting seed, processing the seed and proper storage techniques.
Master Gardeners are also going to be at the Fair! Our booth will be in the “Family Farm” area (near the small animal exhibits) at fair. Please stop by, say hello, bring your home gardening questions and plan to stay for one of our workshops – offered every day of the fair. Some of the workshop topics include, beneficial insects, edible landscaping, native plants, composting, worm composting, straw bale gardening, growing dahlias and many more! For a listing of all the Master Gardener workshops at the fair, check our website or the Fair handbook.
The Master Gardeners popular “Compost is the Gardeners Best Friend” workshop will be held on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 9 a.m. via Zoom. This valuable workshop focuses on how home composting benefits the environment and your garden; how to apply basic fundamentals in “cold” or “hot” composting; and how to maximize use of free raw materials such as, wood chips, pine needles, yard waste, kitchen waste and manures.
On Aug. 28 we will present, “Broccoli & Lettuce & Kale: Growing Cool-Season Vegetables in the Foothills.” The location is to be determined, but check our website for further details of all our events. In this workshop we’ll explore how to be able to grow and harvest broccoli, lettuce, kale and other cool season crops in foothill gardens during the winter and into spring. For more information, check our website (http://ncmg.ucanr.org/) for details, or for questions, go to the “Got Questions” link on the left side of the home page menu. Gardening questions and photos may be submitted on this link to the Master Gardeners. Hope to see you at the Fair!
Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener
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They flit across your face, hover near your houseplants, or gather by the window. Fortunately, these fungus gnat insects are more annoying to us than harmful to our plants.