Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reuse your Christmas Tree

Don't toss your Christmas tree! It's a handy design tool. Use it to mimic plants you think you want in your garden. You can easily drag it around and locate anywhere you want (unlike the real thing).
With a little imagination you can fantasize how a new tree or shrub might look.
In my  case, I want more conifers. I"m not quite sure where yet, so I'm experimenting. Give it a try. It's a great way to recycle the tree and formulate your next garden plan.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our Connection to Our Horticultural Roots

Is is commonly accepted that agriculture started in various locations around the world 10 to 11 thousand years ago. Since those earliest times, human beings have been seed savers. They saved seeds of the best and most favored plants or perhaps those with new and more desired traits to plant the next growing season. Those simple choices allowed our ancestors to develop a stunning range of varieties of plants and foodstuffs.

Farmers continued seed saving and swapping through the millennia since with little change until relatively recently. In the middle of the 1800's seed began to be produced commercially in the United States. This changed the face of agriculture forever. The early 20th century saw the introduction of commercial hybrid seed and more recently, the introduction of genetically modified (GMO) seeds. The seeds collected from hybrid (and GMO) plants do not produce plants true to the quality of the parent plant. Between this and the easy availability of seeds to buy, seed saving began to fall out of common practice.

Beans - "Anasazi"

Even so - and thankfully, some people still saved seeds from varieties of crops and flowers handed down through their family for generations. Some of these varieties can now be had through sellers of open-pollinated and heirloom seed varieties. While much can be said for disease-resistant and robust hybrids, the open-pollinated varieties offer flavors and colors not found on your supermarket shelves. I find these old-varieties so pleasing that at least 85% of my vegetable garden last year was devoted to heirloom and open-pollinated varieties.

Interested in trying something different in the garden this year? Well the RCGC is holding a houseplant and seed swap on January 24th. It is a wonderful way to not only reconnect with our horticultural roots but a great way to get unusual varieties you will not find at your local lawn and garden centers. The seeds will surely include vegetables, herbs, garden flowers, and wildflowers. The event is also a great place for indoor gardeners to trade houseplant cuttings and starts. Our event also includes two speakers and refreshments - a little something for everyone!

Please see our 2nd Annual Seed and Houseplant Swap webpage for full details and how to register online! See you there!