Grow Your Own, Nevada! Spring 2012: What to do with all those seed catalogs


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  • Hybrids produced by controlled pollination, sometimes hand-pollination.For mass-production of F1 hybrids with uniform phenotype, the parent plants must have predictable genetic effects on the offspring. Inbreeding and selection for uniformity for a number of generations ensures that the parent lines are almost homozygous. The divergence between the parent lines promotes improved growth and yield characteristics in the F1 offspring through the phenomenon of heterosis ("hybrid vigour").Two populations of breeding stock with desired characteristics are subject to inbreeding until the homozygosity of the population exceeds a certain level, usually 90% or more. Typically this requires more than ten generations. After this happens, both populations must be crossed while avoidingself-fertilization. Normally this happens in plants by deactivating or removing male flowers from one population, taking advantage of time differences between male and female flowering or hand-pollinating.[4]In 1960, 99 percent of all corn planted in the United States, 95 percent of sugar beet, 80 percent of spinach, 80 percent of sunflowers, 62 percent of broccoli, and 60 percent of onions were hybrid. Such figures are probably higher today. Beans and peas are not commercially hybridized because they are automatic pollinators, and hand-pollination is prohibitively expensive.The main advantage of F1 hybrids in agriculture is also their drawback. When F1 cultivars are used for the breeding of a new generation, their offspring (F2 generation) will vary greatly from one another. Some of the F2 generation will be high in homozygous genes, as found in the weaker parental generation, and these will have a depression in yield and lack the hybrid vigour. From the point of view of a commercial seed producer which does not wish its customers to produce their own seed, this genetic assortment is a desired characteristic.Both inbreeding and crossing the lines requires a lot of work, which translates into a much higher seed cost. In general, the higher yield offsets this disadvantage.F1 hybrids mature at the same time when raised under the same environmental conditions. This is of interest for modern farmers, because all ripen at the same time and can be harvested by machine. Traditional varieties are often more useful to gardeners because they crop over a longer period of time, avoiding gluts and food shortages.
  • Great for seed savers!
  • The term "treated" means given an application of a pesticide or subjected to a process designed to reduce, control or repel disease organisms, insects, or other pests that attack seed or seedlings grown from treated seed. The kinds of seed that are normally treated with one or more pesticides are corn, peanuts, cotton, sorghum, wheat, oats, rye, barley, millet, soybeans (under some conditions), pine tree and most vegetable seed.There's been a handy technology developed for hard-to-handle seeds like carrot and lettuce. You can now buy them in pelletized form - each seed is enclosed in a clay-based round pellet. They are touted as reducing "time-consuming thinning and non-uniform stands", to quote the Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog.This is true, as far as it goes. What they don't tell you, though, is that often these seeds are also pre-prepped for quicker germination. This is done by exposing the seeds to water, waiting until they've swelled and are about to break out of their coat (germinate, in other words), then drying them down again. This has the advantage of improving the germination vigor of the seeds.This also has the effect of dramatically shortening the lifespan of these seeds. Carrot and lettuce seed are normally good for quite a few years if stored properly. The pre-prepped pelleted seeds, though, are only good for a single growing season at best!I like to use my seeds for several years. This allows me to try a lot of different varieties for a small amount of money. I do not think these pelleted seeds are a good idea for this reason. What really bothers me, though, is that a normally very ethical seed company isn't giving their customers the whole picture! If I hadn't specifically asked them about it, I'd never have found this out. Fortunately I had prior knowledge about commercial pre-prepping for farmers, and was able to ask the right questions.If you buy all new seed every year, then pelleted seed might be a great help to you. But remember, caveat emptor - make sure you know exactly what you're ordering before you buy!UPDATE: The Johnny's catalog now explains that their pelleted lettuce seed is pre-primed. Good for them! But unfortunately the carrot seed does not carry the same information, even though they pre-prime that seed as well.
  • Days from when a plant was started in the ground – not from when they were started inside from seed.
  • National Climatic Data Center, U.S. Dept. of Commerce
  • The lifecycle of a plant is important for gardeners to know, so you can plan your garden effectively. Annuals are plants that complete their lifecycle- germination, growth, reproduction, and death in one growing season. Some plants are annual by nature – they evolved to behave this way. Other plants are treated like annuals so we can grow and enjoy them in parts of the world to which they are not native. An example, is the petunia which is native to South America, but used in gardens all over the U.S. Biennials require two seasons to complete their lifecycle: they grow vegetatively during their first season, but don’t bloom until the second year. This group includes plants like Digitalis, or foxglove, a commonly grown ornamental plant. Perennials live indefinitely for more than two seasons. Perennials can be herbacous (having only non-woody parts) or woody, all of which are perennial. There are no woody plants that are botanically annuals.
  • Found at the beginning or on the bottom of each page.
  • "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony."'Organic' is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole.Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water. Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.
  • Most are viable three to five years, but there are exceptions. Gather a couple of zipper-lock plastic bags, sheets of paper towel (one per variety being tested), small plastic labels and an indelible marker. Count out 10 seeds of each kind being tested, place them in a row on a damp paper towel, and roll it up, with the label marked with the variety name rolled inside, too.Put the whole thing in a plastic bag (you can put a number of these rolls into one large bag) and leave it in a warm place. Check it after a few days, and again after a week, and so on, and make certain things stay moist inside. Count the seeds that have germinated, and multiply that number by 10 to get the percentage of viability. If eight seeds are alive, your packet it approximately 80 percent viable; go ahead and use it. If only three germinated, you should re-order—or sow very heavily if you have a lot of seeds left, or only need a few plants.
  • Certain conditions are required for optimal seed germination to occur. Seeds must be kept moist throughout the germination process. In a commercial setting this is accomplished by overhead misting on a propagation bench or watered from the bottom. At home, you can water the seed after planting and enclose the container in a clear plastic bag – this prevents moisture from evaporating and usually no further watering will be required until the seeds germinate. Seeds germinate best at warmer temperatures (usually 70 to 80F) but not in a sunny location, especially when plastic bags are used. Sunlight will build up heat under the plastic that will kill the seeds. Some plants, like cole crops, like cooler temperatures for germination. Cole crops include plants from the genus Brassica – broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and mustard are examples. When planting outdoors, they should be started very early in spring. Some species , such as lettuce and grasses, require light to germinate and must be planted shallowly in the soil, but most seeds will germinate in dark or light. Germination requires oxygen, so the planting medium used must be well-drained to allow air circulation. Seeds germinated indoors should be planted in a soilless planting medium, such as fine perlite or Sphagnum peat. This will help to prevent damping-off disease caused by root-attacking fungal pathogens.
  • Seeds are usually planted in rows or hills. Mark each row with a labeled stake and form a shallow row with a hoe handle, using a string stretched the length of the row to keep it straight. Follow directions on the seed packet for appropriate planting depth and spacing. Don’t worry about planting too many seeds as some will not germinate and you will be thinning them after they germinate. A common practice is to interplant fast-germinating seeds such as radish with slow-germinating seeds such as carrots. The radishes will germinate in a few days and mark the row for you. They will be harvested in three weeks – well before the carrots start to develop. Make sure to water seeds in after planting and keep the soil moist until they germinate. Seeded plants will need to be thinned as soon as leaves of neighboring plants touch. Thinning allows you to choose the most vigorous plants and provides proper spacing between plants. Plants that are purchased or grown indoors for outdoor transplanting should be installed in the garden during the cooler part of the day – before 10 a.m. or in early evening. Vegetable transplants should be planted slightly deeper than they were in their pots. Tomatoes should be planted with a good portion of its stem in the ground to encourage adventitious root development along the submerged stem. Remember to harden off plants you have planted indoors from seed before bringing them outdoors. This involves gradually lowering the temperature and humidity and increasing light levels to which they have been exposed as seedlings.
  • After germination, the seed trays should be transferred to a light environment so seedlings can photosynthesize. Most seedlings can live off sugars provided by the cotyledons or seed leaves, but a complete fertilizer (20-20-20) may be used once a weak to provide other nutrients and produce more vigorous seedlings. Hardening off is a process whereby plants are gradually exposed to conditions they will experience once they’re moved outdoors. This process prevents transplant shock, which can happen when a plant is moved from a controlled environment to a harsher environment. Seedlings are gradually exposed to slightly cooler temperatures and reduced moisture.
  • Choosing a site for your garden is an important decision because it will ultimately determine how successful you will be. A good site will have plenty of sunshine and will be far enough away from trees to avoid shading at certain times of the day and so that vegetable roots don’t have to compete with tree roots for water and nutrients. Any rich, loamy soil will do as long as it is well draining. Gardens can be planted in clayey or sandy soils, but some preparation will need to be done ahead of time to improve its structure. Also consider where your water supply is, so that you will be able to irrigate when needed. The garden should not be located on a steep slope where water will run off rapidly – water that runs off is not available for plant growth and can lead to erosion of soil. If the garden must be planted on a gentle slope, plant in rows along or around the hill rather than up and down in order to allow water to drain into the soil.
  • Once seedlings have their true leaves, they will need to be transplanted up to larger pots, or into the ground. If seedlings are left too long in the same container, they will begin to crowd one another and compete for nutrients and light. Seedlings are delicate and must be transplanted with care. Use a flat tool or dibble to remove seedlings from their container. If transplanting from pony packs, tip the pot upside down, supporting the base of the plant with your hand. Squeeze gently on the pot to loosen and remove the plant. Take care not to injure young stems or roots. If transplanting must be delayed, plants can be stored at cool temperatures until ready to transplant – however, they must be brought out into the open for at least a day before transplanting. When transplanting into the ground, early in the day or late in the evening will minimize stress to the plant. Make sure to water new transplants thoroughly.
  • Grow Your Own, Nevada! Spring 2012: What to do with all those seed catalogs

    1. 1. Heidi KratschUniversity of NevadaCooperativeExtension
    2. 2.  "There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues." - Hal Borland (wrote outdoor editorials for the New York Times from 1941-1978)
    3. 3.  Seed catalogs and terminology Selecting your varieties Starting seeds indoors Hardening off your seedlings
    4. 4. Disease Tolerance vs. ResistanceTypical key fordisease-resistance:  Resistant varieties are not available for all crops.V - Verticillium wiltF - Fusarium wiltN - Nematode  Tolerant – may get a diseaseT - Tobacco mosaicvirus but surviveA - Alternariaalternata (crown wiltdisease)  Resistant – usually will not getL - Septoria leafspot the disease
    5. 5.  Potato (plants)  Late blight  Tomatoes (plants)  Colorado potato beetle and Japanese beetle  Garlic, onion (commercial only)  Stem /bulb nematode, white rot fungus
    6. 6. F1 Hybrid (filial 1) – first generation
    7. 7.  Cultivar = cultivated variety Examples:  ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes  ‘Sugar Ann’ snap peas  ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce  ‘Royal burgundy’ bush beans Cultivars are varieties within a crop selected for a particular characteristic.
    8. 8.  Hybrid varieties created to meet the needs of most growing regions. Heirloom varieties better at meeting the specific needs of a region (like Nevada!)
    9. 9.  Pelleted – encased in a clay-based pellet Treated - controls diseases and insect pests
    10. 10.
    11. 11.  Annuals – complete their lifecycle in one growing season Biennials – require two growing seasons to flower (ex. beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, chard, collard, endive, kale, kohlrabi, leek, onion, parsley, parsnip, rutabaga, salsify, and turnip) Perennials – live for more than two growing seasons (asparagus, rhubarb)
    12. 12.
    13. 13.  Su = high sugar: sugars 9-16% (low shelf-life < 1 week) Se = sugary enhanced: sugars 14-35% (shelf- life > 1 week) Sh2 = super sweet: sugars 28-44% (shelf- life > 1 week)
    14. 14.  Could be F1 hybrid.  May not be able to save seed If pelleted, must not contain fungicide.  Some contain beneficial microorganisms Don’t assume OP or heirloom are organic.
    15. 15.  Double-Dug, Raised Beds Composting Intensive Planting Companion Planting/Crop rotation Carbon Farming Calorie Farming The Use of Open-Pollinated Seeds Whole-System Farming Methods
    16. 16.  What vegetables will you plant? What varieties will you choose? How will you arrange your garden? When should you start? Spacing between plants? Seeds or transplants? Conventional garden or “deep” organic?
    17. 17. Seed Spacing Chart No. of seeds per Seeds per Area packet Vegetable packet Spacing required Spacing for seeds or Corn 150 3 per foot 50 row feet transplants (4 in.) Growing tips for each Pole beans 85 2 per foot 43 row feet (6 in.) crop Looseleaf 300 2 per foot 150 row feet Don’t forget to figure lettuce (8-12 in.) in enough for Head lettuce 300 1 per foot 300 row succession planting (10-12 in.) feet Make use of vertical Tomatoes 30 1 per 2 feet 60 row feet (indeterminate) (24 in.) space Carrots 800 4 per foot 200 row (3 in.) feet
    18. 18.  Early Spring (March 15): cool season veggies Summer – late May / early June: warm season veggies Fall – August: cool season veggies (again)
    19. 19. Ideal Min soil soilVegetable temp temp March April May June July Aug Sept Oct NovBeans 65-85 60Beets 55-75 40Brassicas 55-65 40Carrots 55-65 40Corn 70-85 60Cucumber 65-85 65Lettuce 55-65 40Melon 70-85 65Peas 55-65 40Peppers 65-80 60Radishes 55-75 40Spinach 55-65 40Tomatoes 65-70 60IndoorsPlantHarvest
    20. 20.  Seed must be viable Internal conditions of the seed must be favorable Environmental conditions must be favorable
    21. 21.  Moisture Temperature Light  Lettuce and grains Misting bench Air  Medium must be well-drained Disease-free  Damping-off disease Damping off
    22. 22.  Fine-textured Uniform consistency Loose, well-aerated Holds moisture but drains well Low fertility Sterile Do not use 100% garden soil
    23. 23.  Seed flats or plastic cell packs Must have drainage holes Sterilize if recycled: 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water for 5 minutes
    24. 24.  Low light intensity produces pale, spindly seedlings Two 40-watt fluorescent tubes Position seedlings 6 inches below Provide 16 hours light daily
    25. 25.  Light  For photosynthesis Fertilizing  Provide low level of fertilizer no more than weekly Hardening off  Seedlings prepared for transplanting outdoors  Prevents transplant shock  Seedlings gradually exposed to cooler temperatures and reduced moisture/humidity
    26. 26.  Plants accumulate carbohydrates (food) Cell walls thicken Temporarily slows plant growth Increase length of exposure gradually (1 to 2 weeks) Acclimatize to cold, wind, sun
    27. 27.  40°F – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cabbage, onion, leek, parsley 45°F – celery, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, endive 50°F – squash, pumpkin, sweet corn 55°F – cucumber, melon 60°F – basil, tomato, pepper
    28. 28. N
    29. 29.  South, east, west exposure Afternoon shade will protect sensitive fruits in a western exposure. Eastern exposure – sunlight less intense (6 hours minimum)
    30. 30.  Tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant Critical for short growing seasons Wait until soil temperature is right
    31. 31.  Store at cool temperatures until ready Not until the first true leaves have emerged Handle with care! Transplant early in the day or early evening
    32. 32.  Buying too many varieties Planting too many seeds Starting seeds indoors too soon Hardening off too fast Putting plants in the ground too soon Fertilizing close to flower development
    33. 33. Caused by planting when soils are too cold
    34. 34. Heidi