Tag Archive | Onion

Who Owns Who? Where and How Monsanto Has Their Sticky Little Fingers In the Home Garden Seed Industry


(Originally Published 9/24/11, Updated 12/1/15)

“Hi Horticulture Talk People,

I am starting to plan my garden for 2012 and I’ve been trying to not plant any varieties that are GMOs or related to Monsanto.  The problem is that I recently found out that the seed I get from seed catalogs and at the store are not grown by the company I bought them from.  They buy the seed in and repackage it.  How can I know I’m not supporting Monsanto if I am buying from a seed catalog?  If I avoid hybrids, will I be okay?

Thank you,

Stewart”

_________________________________________________________

Hi Stewart,

Thank you for emailing HorticultureTalk on Gmail with your question on Monsanto.  I completely understand your hesitancy in growing you garden without knowing where your seed comes from.

What you have been told is true: most mail order seed companies are a repackaging plant.  They purchase seed in bulk form.  In terms of seeds that are like dust (like Begonias), a ‘bulk’ packet may be a gram or ounce of seed that has 50000 seeds in it.  For larger seeded varieties (cucumbers, peas, beans, corn, etc.), bulk is a collection of 50 or 100 pound bags of seed.

Like any repacking company whether it be food, paper, or seeds, the markup on seed is… extraordinary!  When you buy a packet of seed, keep in mind that an open pollinated variety costs the seed company about 1% or less of what you are paying for it.  For hybrids, the cost is about 5% of what you are paying.

Now, you might be thinking that a seed company would want to be selling more open pollinated varieties because they can make an extra 4% for their profits.  And unfortunately, you would be wrong.  Large corporate seed producers, like Monsanto and their home garden seed market subsidiary, Seminis, pay for their place on a catalog page or website.  As a person that used to be involved in brokering deals like this, I can tell you that Monsanto wants to be front and center.  If you have a page that features your ‘best’ or ‘customer favorite’ varieties, they must have at least 50% of the varieties represented there.  You cannot put their product on the bottom of the page or in the ‘thumblap’ area, where a customer’s thumbs may cover information on the page if they are holding the catalog on the side edges.

Unfortunately, many people think that Monsanto owns mail order seed companies because they don’t understand the inner workings of how this industry runs.  If you look around on the internet, you are going to find a TON of websites and Facebook groups that say that there are a bunch of companies that are owned by Monsanto.  It’s not true, and likely someone that is a know-it-all (that doesn’t really know it all) started that rumor.  In truth, the companies are ‘owned’ by Monsanto by having the premium given for page space advertising.

In addition to this, if you work with a mail order seed company, you are not supposed to refer to the company as Monsanto to any customer (and probably even to your coworkers) because it puts the seed ‘in a bad light’.  When Seminis was still its own company, it was bring out new varieties left and right.  Monsanto bought them and then new varieites kind of dribbled out until about 2006 or 2007.  After that, instead of new things, it was ‘we have dropped these major-selling varieties’.  Great examples of this are Giant Valentine Tomato, Ichiban Eggplant, and Table Queen Acorn Squash.

Saying that you are going to avoid any and all hybrids will, unfortunately, not address the problem because some of the varieties offered in the Seminis line are open pollinated varieties.

When Monsanto purchased Seminis in 2005, they acquired the rights to a number of open pollinated — many of which were considered ‘nearly’ heirlooms.  In the time since, Monsanto has cut out a number of the open pollinated varieties — which is a blessing because at least we can knock those off our list for our gardens and have less to do with them.

Additionally, you should check out my other articles on what seed companies have a loving relationship with Monsanto/Seminis and what companies are owned by other companies (many you may have guessed and others will surprise you).

So, what varieties to avoid?  If you want to be completely Monsanto- and Seminis-free in your garden, the following is a list of varieties that you need to avoid.  Please note that those that are hybrids are not noted as the information is not provided on Monsanto’s website.

Beans

  • Alicante
  • Banga
  • Brio
  • Bronco
  • Cadillac
  • Carlo
  • Ebro
  • Eureka
  • EX 08120703
  • Excalibur
  • Fandango
  • Festina
  • Firstmate
  • Gina
  • Gold Dust
  • Gold Mine
  • Golden Child
  • Goldrush
  • Grenoble
  • Hercules
  • Labrador
  • Lynx
  • Magnum
  • Matador
  • Opus
  • Pony Express
  • Romano Gold
  • Sea Biscuit
  • Secretariat
  • Serin
  • Slenderpack
  • Spartacus
  • Storm
  • Strike
  • Stringless Blue Lake 7
  • Sunburst
  • Tapia
  • Teggia
  • Tema
  • Thoroughbred
  • Titan
  • Ulysses
  • Unidor
  • Valentino

Broccoli:

  • Castle
  • Captain
  • Contributor
  • Coronado Crown
  • General
  • Heritage
  • Iron
  • Ironman
  • Legacy
  • Major
  • Packman
  • Revolution
  • Tlaloc
  • Tradition

Cabbage

  • Atlantis
  • Blue Dynasty
  • Constelation
  • Golden Acre (RS)
  • Headstart
  • Platinum Dynasty
  • Red Dynasty
  • Tropicana

Carrots

  • Abledo
  • Achieve
  • Cellobunch
  • Dominion
  • Enterprise
  • Envy
  • Legend
  • Propeel
  • PS 07101441
  • PS 07101603
  • Tastypeel

Cauliflower

  • Cheddar
  • Cielo Blanco
  • Cornell
  • Freedom
  • Fremont
  • Juneau
  • Minuteman
  • Whistler

Cucumbers (Pickling)

  • Arabian
  • Colt
  • Eureka
  • Expedition
  • PowerPak
  • Vlaspik
  • Vlasset
  • Vlasstar

Cucumbers (Slicing)

  • Babylon
  • Cool Breeze or Cool Breeze Improved
  • Conquistador
  • Dasher II
  • Emparator
  • Eureka
  • Fanfare or Fanfare HG
  • Indy
  • Intimidator
  • Marketmore 76
  • Mathilde
  • Moctezuma
  • Orient Express II
  • Pearl
  • Poinsett 76
  • Rockingham
  • Salad Bush
  • Speedway
  • Sweet Slice
  • Sweet Success PS
  • Talladega
  • Thunder
  • Thunderbird
  • Turbo

Dry Beans

  • Black Velvet
  • Cabernet
  • Chianti
  • Etna
  • Hooter
  • Mariah
  • Medicine Hat
  • Pink Panther
  • Red Rover
  • Windbreaker

Eggplant

  • Black Beauty
  • Fairy Tale
  • Gretel
  • Hansel
  • Ichiban (discontinued in 2010 and not supposed to be found for sale anywhere, yet many Mom and Pop greenhouses in my area still supposedly sell them.  Find out more in this article and the comments that follow it.)
  • Lavender Touch
  • Twinkle
  • White Lightning

Lettuce

  • Annie
  • Braveheart
  • Bubba
  • Conquistador
  • Coyote
  • Del Oro
  • Desert Spring
  • Grizzly
  • Honcho II
  • Javelina
  • Mohawk
  • Raider
  • Sahara
  • Sharpshooter
  • Sniper
  • Sure Shot
  • Top Billings
  • Valley Heart

Melon

  • Cabrillo
  • Caravelle
  • Colima
  • Cristobal
  • Destacado
  • Durango
  • Earli-Dew
  • Earlisweet
  • Fastbreak
  • Honey Dew Green Flesh
  • Hy-Mark
  • Laredo
  • Magellan
  • Mission
  • Moonshine
  • Roadside
  • Santa Fe
  • Saturno
  • Zeus

Onion

  • Abilene
  • Affirmed
  • Aspen
  • Barbaro
  • Belmar
  • Bunker
  • Caballero
  • Candy
  • Cannonball
  • Century
  • Ceylon
  • Champlain
  • Charismatic
  • Cirrus
  • Cougar
  • Exacta
  • Fortress
  • Gelma
  • Golden Spike
  • Goldeneye
  • Grateful Red
  • Hamlet
  • Joliet
  • Leona
  • Mackenzie
  • Marquette
  • Mercedes
  • Mercury
  • Montblanc
  • Nicolet
  • Orizaba
  • Pecos
  • Rainier
  • Red Zeppelin
  • Savannah Sweet
  • Sierra Blanca
  • Sterling
  • Swale
  • Tioga
  • Verrazano
  • Vision

Peppers (Hot)

  • Anaheim TMR 23
  • Ancho San Martin
  • Aquiles
  • Ballpark
  • Big Bomb
  • Biggie Chile brand of Sahuaro
  • Cardon
  • Caribbean Red
  • Cayenne Large Red Thick
  • Cherry Bomb
  • Chichen Itza
  • Chichimeca
  • Cocula
  • Corcel
  • Coyame
  • Fresnillo
  • Garden Salsa SG
  • Grande
  • Habanero
  • Holy Mole brand of Salvatierra
  • Hot Spot (with X3R)
  • Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot
  • Inferno
  • Ixtapa X3R
  • Kukulkan
  • Lapid
  • Major League
  • Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro
  • Mesilla
  • Milta
  • Mucho Nacho brand of Grande
  • Nainari
  • Nazas
  • Papaloapan
  • Perfecto
  • PS 11435807
  • PS 11435810
  • PS 11446271
  • Rebelde
  • Rio de Oro
  • Sahuaro
  • Salvatierra
  • Santa Fe Grande
  • Sayula (with X3R)
  • Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas
  • Super Chili
  • Tajin
  • Tam Vera Cruz
  • Time Bomb
  • Tula
  • Tuxtlas
  • Vencedor
  • Victorioso

Peppers (Sweet)

  • Baron
  • Bell Boy
  • Big Bertha PS
  • Biscayne
  • Blushing Beauty
  • Bounty
  • California Wonder 300
  • Camelot
  • Capistrano
  • Cherry Pick
  • Chocolate Beauty
  • Corno Verde
  • Cubanelle W
  • Dumpling brand of Pritavit
  • Early Sunsation
  • Flexum
  • Fooled You brand of Dulce
  • Giant Marconi
  • Gypsy
  • Jumper
  • Key West (with X3R)
  • King Arthur (formerly Fat n Sassy)
  • North Star
  • Orange Blaze
  • Pimiento Elite
  • Red Knight (with X3R)
  • Satsuma
  • Socrates (with X3R)
  • Super Heavyweight
  • Sweet Spot (with X3R)

Pumpkins

  • Applachian
  • Buckskin
  • Harvest Moon
  • Jamboree HG
  • Longface
  • Orange Smoothie
  • Phantom
  • Prizewinner
  • Rumbo
  • Snackface
  • Spirit
  • Spooktacular
  • Trickster
  • Wyatt’s Wonder

Spinach

  • Avenger
  • Barbados
  • Hellcat
  • Interceptor
  • Tigercat

Squash (Summer)

  • Ambassador
  • Clarita
  • Commander
  • Conqueror III
  • Consul R
  • Daisey
  • Depredador
  • Dixie
  • Embassy
  • Gemma
  • Gold Rush
  • Goldbar
  • Goldfinger
  • Grey Zucchini
  • Greyzini
  • Independence II
  • Judgement III
  • Justice III
  • Lemondrop
  • Liberator III
  • Lolita
  • Papaya Pear
  • Patriot II
  • Patty Green Tinit
  • Patty Pan
  • Portofino
  • Prelude II
  • President
  • ProGreen
  • Quirinal
  • Radiant
  • Richgreen Hybrid
  • Senator
  • Storr’s Green
  • Sungreen
  • Sunny Delight
  • Sunray
  • Terminator
  • XPT 1832 III

Squash (Winter)

  • Autumn Delight
  • Butternut Supreme
  • Canesi
  • Early Butternut
  • Pasta
  • Taybelle PM

Sweet Corn

  • Absolute
  • Devotion
  • EX 08745857R
  • EX 08767143
  • Fantasia
  • Merit
  • Obsession
  • Obsession II
  • Passion
  • Passion II
  • Seneca Arrowhead
  • Sensor
  • Synergy
  • Temptation
  • Temptation II
  • Vitality

Tomato

  • Amsterdam
  • Apt 410
  • Beefmaster
  • Better Boy
  • Big Beef
  • Biltmore
  • Burpee’s Big Boy
  • Caramba
  • Celebrity
  • Crown Jewel
  • Cupid
  • Debut
  • Empire
  • Flora-Dade
  • Flirida 47 R
  • Florida 91
  • Granny Smith
  • Healthy Kick
  • Heatmaster
  • Huichol
  • Husky Cherry Red
  • Hybrid 46
  • Hybrid 882
  • Hypeel 108
  • Hypeel 303
  • Hypeel 849
  • Jetsetter brand of Jack
  • Lemon Boy
  • Margherita
  • Margo
  • Marmande VF PS
  • Marmara
  • Maya
  • Patio
  • Phoenix
  • Picus
  • Pik Ripe 748
  • Pink Girl
  • Poseidon 43
  • PS 01522935
  • PS 01522942
  • PS 345
  • PS 438
  • Puebla
  • Quincy
  • Roma VF
  • Royesta
  • Sanibel
  • Seri
  • Sunbrite
  • SunChief
  • SunGuard
  • Sunoma
  • SunShine
  • Sunstart
  • Sunsugar
  • Super Marzano
  • Sweet Baby Girl
  • Tiffany
  • Tye Dye
  • Tygress
  • Viva Italia
  • Yaqui

Watermelon

  • Apollo
  • Charleston Grey
  • Companion
  • Cooperstown
  • Crimson Glory
  • Crimson Sweet
  • Cronos
  • Delta
  • Eureka
  • Fenway
  • Jade Star
  • Majestic
  • Mickylee
  • Olympia
  • Omega
  • Regency
  • Royal Jubilee
  • Royal Sweet
  • Sentinel
  • Starbrite
  • Star Gazer
  • Stars ‘n’ Stripes
  • Tiger Baby
  • Wrigley

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Where Do Your Onion Plants Come From?


“I am writing regarding Sweet as Candy onion plants. I have found that they are not keeping as well as the Candy Hybrid onions I had in the past and the red ones just don’t look like the picture. I bought my plants onions from J.W. Jung and they never looked good all summer.  when I called to complain that they had not had as good of quality as in the past, I was told that they had problems with the onions in their fields and were not able to dig them as early. I know Wisconsin had a very late spring. The red onions are quite strong and I am wondering if the late digging in Wisconsin caused the strong taste and storage problems. You mentioned that you buy your onion plants from Texas, but you live in the Midwest? I live in Minnesota, but I only buy from companies that are in my area. Wouldn’t your onions be sensitive to our colder temperatures?

2014 Onions

2014 Onions 2

Sincerely,
Janet in New York Mills, MN”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Janet,

Thank you for your question regarding your onions.  I want to clarify for my readers that the “Sweet as Candy” onions is an offer at J.W. Jung’s that includes both Candy and Red Candy Apple Onions.

First thing, let me correct you on one thing.  The onion plants you purchased last year did not grow originally in Wisconsin… or anywhere close for that matter.

The onion plants that J.W. Jung’s and all of the other mail order seed catalogs in this country sell come from one place:  Dixondale Farms in Carizzo Springs, Texas.  They are the nation’s onion vender when it comes to onion plants.  While the customer service operator at Jung’s may have indicated that your onions were grown there, that would be an outright lie.

The onion plants that you receive in the spring are grown through the winter months in Texas.  In order to have a plant that is viable, green(ish), and ready for you to pop in the ground, there is no other place where they could grow.  If your plants had been grown in the Midwest, they would be dormant and look mostly dead.

In Spring 2014, Dixondale had a very good year.  However, my guess is that J.W. Jung’s did not.  Due to the lateness of the spring, they undoubtedly received their shipments in of onions in January in preparation for sending out to their southern customers.  By the time you finally had warm weather that was good for planting, the onion plants you received had likely been out of the ground for 3-4 months.  Not only would that decrease their vigor and longevity, but the molds and diseases they likely would have picked up during that time would have undoubtedly added to issues too.

In addition to affecting the long-term storage quality of your onions down the road, it looks like your Candy Onions are suffering from Neck Rot.  This could have been picked up in the garden if they were damaged by insects or when they were bound in the spring awaiting purchase.

Also, that doesn’t look like a Red Candy Apple Onion.  Looks more like a Cippolini onion.  Just saying…

 

As for where you buy your items from, that is a grey area.  While you think you are purchasing your seed and nursery stock from a place in the Midwest, the truth is that most seed and nursery companies source in their products from vendors.  The vendor could have grown that item anywhere in the world.  With hybrids, they are often developed to be able to grow well no matter where they are grown — kind of the cookie-cutter approach to gardening.  If you are truly concerned about where your source seed and nursery stock is grown, I recommend looking into resources like Seed Savers Exchange (where you know the person that really, truly grew the item and can give you the full history on it) or purchase from local nurseries that have the actual plants growing out back of the building in the ground so you can see that it is truly good for your area.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Recipe of the Week: Avocado y Huevos Caliente


food52_07-03-12-6080.jpg1341506170

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced (save 2-4 slices for garnish)
  • 1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced very thin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Warm corn tortillas (optional)
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
  2. Heat medium oven safe skillet over medium heat. Toast cumin in pan until fragrant. Add olive oil to pan. Sauté onion and jalapeno in hot olive oil until vegetables begin to soften. Add tomatoes, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer about 5 minutes to let flavors combine and liquid reduce slightly. If tomatoes aren’t very juicy you may need to add a tablespoon or 2 of water.
  3. While the vegetables simmer cut avocado in half, remove pit and peel. If needed, scoop out a little more avocado to make room for one egg in each half.
  4. Take the simmering salsa off the heat; add salt to taste. Make 2 small wells in the salsa and nestle in the avocado cut side up. Crack one egg into each avocado half. Sprinkle eggs with a small pinch of salt. Bake in the oven until the egg is done to your liking. 15 minutes yields cooked whites and a yolk that is slightly runny in the middle.
  5. Garnish with cilantro, jalapeño and lime wedges. Serve with warm corn tortillas if desired.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Recipe of the Week: Parsnip-Onion Tarte Tatin


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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch rounds and separated into rings
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, thyme, and sugar and cook until onion is softened, about 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and spread onions evenly in pan. Add parsnips in an even layer, cover, and cook until almost tender, 8 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, trim pastry into a 10-inch round. Top parsnips with pastry. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, 10 minutes, then invert.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gardening’s Latest Trend: Seed Tapes — To Buy or To DIY?


“hi mertie mae,
I see a lot of seed companies have seed tapes this year. What exact are these, do they work, and do you recommend them?

wayne”

____________________________________________________________________________

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for your questions. You, like many others that received seed catalogs this year, are wondering what all the fuss is when it comes to seed tapes.

Seed tapes, and similar products like seed disks and seed carpets, are a gardening tool that have been around for hundreds of years. They are especially popular in Europe (where people do a lot more gardening than us here stateside).  There are 3 basic reasons why people use them:

1. Dexterity issues.  For older (and even younger) gardeners, it is difficult to sometimes put an individual tiny seed in a particular spot. With seed tapes, the detail work is taken out because you just lay down the tape. It works great for children too.

2. The seed is in the ground. If you have a gully washer rain storm or birds come along, your seed will stay in the ground.

3. Perfect spacing. Every time.

SeedTapes

Sounds great, right?

Well, you must know me a bit from reading my blog because you ask for my recommendation, so here it is:

If you are smart, don’t buy the seed tapes from a mail order company.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not anti-seed tape.  I think seed tape is great if you are a person that can make use of it; however, going along with the latest seed catalog gimmick is NOT the way to go!

First, let me explain why.

1.  Currently, the seed tapes are only offered for varieties that are produced by Bejo Seeds.  Bejo is a subsidiary of Bejo Zaden Seeds, a Dutch seed producer.  We here at Mertie’s like Bejo — they have a lot of great varieties, including White Satin and Yellowstone Carrots that Mertie, Patch, and Rhubarb enjoy eating (yes, our cat loves carrots!). But if you are a person that grows a non-Bejo variety and you want seed tapes, what do you do? Do you switch varieties?

2. It is a lot more expensive to buy seeds in a tape than to by them loosely. An individual seed tape is 15′ long and has, on average, 45-90 seeds in that 15′ (45 seeds = 4″ spacing, 90 seeds = 2″ spacing). Most seed packets the same price or less often contain 200-2000 seeds, depending on the crop or the seed company you buy them from.

3.  4 years ago I had the opportunity to try commercially-produced seed tapes as a trial.  I had carrots, beets, lettuce, and radish.  With the radishes, the germination was not better than the row of the same un-taped seed next to it — and in fact, was in some cases worse because each seed was in a particular spot (to eliminate thinning), so if it didn’t germinate… well, you have a open hole in your row. Also, the little rodents that liked to wander in my garden seemed to have an easier time finding the lettuce seed because it was all in a row. They dug a hole at each spot where there was a seed was.  The beets were the only thing that did truly well, and I suspect it was because a beet seed sends up multiple shoots.  Although my research didn’t have a gully washing rainstorm involved, I find it hard to believe that the tape could hold the seed in the ground when it supposedly begins to degrade as soon as it gets wet. Those two comments seem to be complete opposites.

 

At this point, you are probably thinking, “how in the world is Mertie Mae okay with seed tapes, because she seems to be quite negative about them”.  As I have often stated in this blog, I am cheap, stubborn, and have enough brains in my head to make use of them a economical, do-it-yourself kind of girl, and as such, let me tell you how folks have been doing seed tapes since forever:

They make their own.  Efficiently and cost effective.

Depending on how you garden, there are two different ways you can do this: conventionally or organically.  Either method can be used for just about any seed, although tapes for larger seeds (corn, beans, peas) will need to handled with care after gluing so as to not knock off the bulkier seed.

 

Conventional method

You will need:

–newspaper (black and white only!!! no color!!!)

–washable white glue (Elmer’s, school glue, etc.)

–seed of your choice (can be anything)

–scissors

–tweezers for small seeds, if needed

1.  Cut the newspaper into strips that are 1/2-1 inch thick strips. (After you do this a bit, you will know what seeds work best with what thickness).

2.  Read the planting instructions for your particular seed.  Pay close attention to the seed spacing in the row.

3.  Place a dot of glue along the strips at the spacing you want your seeds.  If you want to have the ability to thin your seeds,  place the dots at the measurement indicated for planting the seeds in the ground. If you do not want to thin, place the dots at the spacing of what your plants would be thinned to.

EXAMPLE:  A carrot seed packet says, “plant seed 1/2″ apart. When the seedlings are 2″ tall, thin to 1″ apart. When the seedlings are 6″ tall, thin to 2″ apart.”

DIY Seed tape with lots of thinning: space glue drops 1/2″ apart.

DIY Seed tape with some thinning: space glue drops 1″ apart.

DIY Seed tape with no thinning: space glue drops 2″ apart.

4. Put a single seed on top of each glue drop.

5. Allow glue to dry for 24 hours.

6. When planting, make sure your row is wide enough to allow for the tape to be laid down flat. Plant at the depth indicated on the packet for the seed. Water well, as there needs to be enough water for the newspaper to absorb and for the seed to imbibe.

 

Organic method

You will need:

–organic toilet paper or paper towel

–organic white flour

–water

–seed of your choice (can be anything)

–a small tip paintbrush or q-tip

–scissors

–tweezers for small seeds, if needed

1. Roll the toilet paper out to the desired length of our strip and cut down the middle to make 2 long strips. Make multiple long strips if using paper towels.

2.  Mix the flour and water together to make a 1:1 mixture to use as paste.

3.  Place a dot of paste along the strips of toilet paper at the spacing you want your seeds.  If you want to have the ability to thin your seeds,  place the dots at the measurement indicated for planting the seeds in the ground. If you do not want to thin, place the dots at the spacing of what your plants would be thinned to.

EXAMPLE:  A carrot seed packet says, “plant seed 1/2″ apart. When the seedlings are 2″ tall, thin to 1″ apart. When the seedlings are 6″ tall, thin to 2″ apart.”

DIY Seed tape with lots of thinning: space glue drops 1/2″ apart.

DIY Seed tape with some thinning: space glue drops 1″ apart.

DIY Seed tape with no thinning: space glue drops 2″ apart.

4. Put a single seed on top of each paste drop.

5. Allow paste to dry for 24 hours.

6. When planting, make sure your row is wide enough to allow for the tape to be laid down flat. Plant at the depth indicated on the packet for the seed. Water well, as there needs to be enough water for the toilet paper to absorb and for the seed to imbibe.

(PLEASE NOTE: either method can be used to make seed disks for pots or seed carpets for raised beds or square foot gardening with minor adjustments to the size and shape of your newspaper or toilet paper/paper towels.)

And one last interesting fact:

In looking through all my catalogs to get background information for this article, I had a couple catalogs/one main company that had a slightly different description of their seed tapes that was a bit… puzzling.  If you look at Park Seed, Burpee’s, or most of the catalogs selling seed tape, you will see that they are listed as being “biodegradable”. However, the Jung Seed write-up about seed tapes (and those of their subsidiary companies R.H. Shumway’s and Vermont Bean), they are “completely biodegradable and organic”. Organic??? Really…?  After speaking with Laura, a Jung Customer Service Representative, I found out that their version of organic is that the paper is but the seed is not.  Hmmm…  This further prompted me to contact Bejo Seed.  Their representative Mary informed me that the tape is the same that they use for customers that are ordering organic seeds; however, the process of putting the non-organic seed within the organic tape paper automatically makes the tape paper NOT organic and the Jung company is misrepresenting their product.  Many apologies followed, as Bejo has the highest standards and wants their customers, and the customers of their customers, to be pleased.

Yet another example of why it is important to read descriptions carefully and always ask questions.  As always, leave it to us here at Mertie Mae’s Horticulture Talk to get you the real story behind things!

Thank you for your question, and I hope this information helps you out!

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Herbs, Etc.: To Dry, or Not To Dry


“Dear Mertie Mae,

I’ve read a lot of different things on herbs, garlic, onions, etc., and it seems like each differs on if they are better fresh or dried.  As a horticulturist, what is your opinion?

Thanks,

Rachel”

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Hi Rachel,

Thank you for your question. As a cook myself, I know what you mean. Do you use dry or fresh oregano? thyme? onions?

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Photo courtesy of Stock Food.

First off, always go with fresh onions, garlic, and shallots.  It allows you to be versatile with your preparation.  Sauteing in butter, bacon drippings, or oil will allow their addition in a recipe to add so much flavor.

There is no doubt that fresh from the garden is always best.  Just-picked herbs like mints, rosemary and sage have an overwhelming abundance of quality that can only be described as tasting “green” and “alive”. Use fresh herbs for that “green,” “alive” quality and its accompanying bouquet, or if you’re whipping up a dish or sauce in a pinch; fresh herbs release flavor more quickly than dried herbs (which need time to rehydrate) do.

Many foodies say that some herbs, such as dill, parsley, and chives, should never be used in dry form. Their “green” qualities are their primary appeal, and there is no reason to use the dried product because all things that are essential to those herbs have been taken away.  If you have extra from the garden (or you don’t like the idea of pesticide-filled herbs from the grocery store), freeze the fresh herbs in water in ice cube trays for later use.

Alternatively, herbs originally native to hot, dry climates can be excellent when dehydrated. In order to survive during the dry times, these herbs easily maintain their “green,”, “alive” qualities, which  concentrate the flavors and makes a spicier flavor. Additionally, the ability to add a dried herb to your food works with these types because they are often used in foods that shouldn’t have added moisture, like a marinating steak or roast.  Oregano, basil, and most seed herbs are from warmer climates.

The other key factor with herbs is that if you have them dried, they won’t last more than 8 months (with the exception of bay leaves, which last 2 years).

But, most importantly and beyond anything I say, trust your own taste buds.  You are the one eating the food, so go with what you like. If you do that, the rest is just details.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Recipe of the Week: Cottage Pie


Cottage Pie

Photo courtesy of Everyday Food

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
2 large carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup frozen peas

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, 3 minutes. Add thyme and beer and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add 1 cup water and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.
  2. 2Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until potatoes are browned around edges and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.