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Archives for November 14, 2014

GARDEN MAIDEN: Tips on saving seeds

All seeds are not worth saving, well, unless you’re an apocalyptic fearmonger with a bunker. Then you might be fine with any seed that shoots up any stalk with any nutrients at all. But for the seasonal gardener interested in producing true to seed crops, plenty of seeds are better tilled in as nutrients for the soil.

We often experience an incredibly tasty melon or an especially sweet heirloom tomato and naturally want to save some seeds to get the same thing next year. Or we find a huge potato at the supermarket and wonder why nothing happens when we bury it in the backyard.

Please, allow me to renew some greenness to the thumb you’ve browned with blame and disdain during your attempt at growing crops from saved seeds.

Just like humans, plants have a reproductive parts. Some have male parts, some have female parts. Some have male and female parts on the same plant, such as corn where the tassel does the work of the male of fertilizing the female silk in order to adorn the cob with kernels of juicy sweet corn.

For some species, it doesn’t matter what parts they have, since they rely solely on wind or insects for pollination. Or are above the need for interaction and are completely self-sufficient when it comes to producing fruit as long as basic environmental needs are met. Then there are particularly designed species, or hybrids, whose seeds you save will likely be sterile and entirely incapable of propagating through normal genetic reproduction.

So what does this have to do with saving seeds? Nothing at all if you’re not attached to what you get next year, but plenty if you care about the quality of your crop.

Knowing how the plant produces its crop determines whether the seed you save will actually germinate, No. 1, and whether it will produce “true to seed,” No. 2.

As far as germination goes, don’t count on saved hybrid seeds or seeds you’ve collected from conventional grocery store produce. Commercial produce gets much of the life zapped out it with irradiation during shipping and to prolong storage. And sterility is a common trait of the offspring of any hybrid seed.

So again, don’t beat yourself up too badly if the 2-pound, bright-red beefsteak tomato seed you carefully dried and saved from last year didn’t germinate in the seed tray. Or if you threw some of the seeds from the monster zucchini bought at the grocery store into the ground and waited and waited to no avail. It’s not you, it’s the seed.

Then comes the question of whether the plant you grow will produce true to seed, or develop the same crop traits as the parent plant. If you are lucky enough to get a plant from the hybrid seed you saved, it will likely not produce true to seed. The resulting crop may resemble the previous season, but it will likely develop morphisms and not at all become what you thought you were going to be growing.

Don’t waste time saving seeds of hybrid varieties because you like the flavor, taste, size, longevity of the crop. A hybrid is carefully crossed in a controlled environment, and hybrid seeds should be purchased annually. Variety name on seed packets typically indicate whether it is heirloom or hybrid. F1 in the title is a good clue the crop you are growing is hybrid. F1 stands for ‘first filial generation of offspring of distinctly different parental types’, meaning the selected traits bred into this seed are first-generation crosses.

This is import: Genetically Modified Organism does not equal hybrid and is not required to be labeled in the USA. There are plenty of trusted organic hybrid seed suppliers who breed non-GMO plants to create excellent hybrids free of animal or synthetic chemical DNA. Knowing the origins of your seed is key to determining the outcome of crops grown from seed saving.

Whether an open-pollinated or heirloom seed produces true to seed depends on whether it is unadulterated during the pollination season. In other words, isolate varieties that may cross-pollinate during the growing season so the seeds they produce do not mix DNA.

For the beginner seed saver, securing self-pollinating seeds is a good start for optimizing success. Plants in this group pose the least threat of cross-pollination compromised only if another variety of the same species is in the same vicinity. Vegetable plants in this group have flowers that only respond (pollinate) to pollen from their own plant with transfer of pollen happening within the individual flowers without the aid of insects or wind. For pure seeds, do not grow another variety nearby (Beans-150’, Tomatoes-100’, Peas-50’, Lettuce-20’, Peppers-400’).

Vegetables that need more attention for pure seed saving include corn, cucurbits (cucumbers/ melons/squash) and spinach. These crops are pollinated by wind and insects and easily cross with similar species.

Corn requires a mile of isolation, cucumbers a half-mile between varieties and spinach only will be true to seed if no other variety of spinach is within 5 miles of the seed you are saving. If saving seeds from squash and pumpkin, choose varieties from separate species to avoid cross-pollination of offspring seeds. For example, if you grow green Hubbard and buttercup squash, both cucurbita maxima, seeds saved from either crop may mix and match characteristics of the other plant.

However, butternut will not cross with crookneck summer squash and can be planted side by side in the home garden when planning to save seed. Knowing the schtick of pepo, mixta, moschata and maxima (Scientific species) matters when saving seed of cucurbits.

Many plants in the garden are prolific crossbreeders engaging with any pollen that crosses its path, come any hairy bodies, proboscis or high wind. Kale, onions, mustard greens, cabbage, beets and carrots are better left to the experts when it comes to saving pure seed.

However, if you’re not attached to what has been, give up expectation of what is supposed to be and open your tastebuds to natural cross-breeding in your garden, saving seed from any of the heirloom varieties in your garden is well worth the discovery of new shapes, colors, tastes and growth habits in next year’s garden without spending a dime on seed packets come spring.

Feel free to share your seed saving stories with me online at

  • HOLLY HUGHES is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener intern who resides in Grand Ridge. She can be reached through The Times by emailing

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Tips for your garden

seed pod

seed pod

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014 6:00 am

Tips for your garden

DAINA SAVAGE |Correspondent


Spend the weekend deciding whether you want to cut back attractive seed heads in your garden or allow the birds to finish feeding on them. Although it’s best to clean up most dead plant material (especially peonies and hollyhocks) so insects and diseases don’t have a cozy home for overwintering, you may want to leave a few things that are pleasing to you and your feathered friends. 


If you don’t have a compost pile, now’s one of the best times of year to start. Pile your leaves and add your frost-blackened tomato vines, your mushy jack-o’-lanterns, brussels sprout stems and apple cores. Enclose the pile with wood pallets, snow fencing, cinder blocks or straw bales. When the snow thaws and spring rolls around, you’ll have a rich soil amendment with little effort. 

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Thursday, November 13, 2014 6:00 am.

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Garden Tips: Tree peonies not really trees

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Disabled West Richland Air Force veteran wins new van

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Stuart Rattle book details his architectural approach to garden design

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Open gardens

Though grass-fed, free-range egg production is the central feature of Wild Hen Farm in the Myrrhee Valley in north-east Victoria, the property is also home to a large garden that seamlessly blends into its rural setting. As well as an assortment of trees and shrubs, there are stone wall-surrounded vegetable beds and a Gothic-inspired cage to keep the birds off espaliered fruit trees, berries and tropical species. It is open from 10am to 5.30pm today and tomorrow, at 165 Redcamp Lane, Myrrhee. There will be talks on egg production at 11am and 2.30pm each day. Gardens in Mount Martha, Narbethong, Malmsbury and Camperdown are also open, with Open Gardens Australia this weekend. Go to for more information.

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Wilmore City Council ponders future of Sims Ball Field

Wilmore City Hall

Wilmore City Hall

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 1:15 pm

Wilmore City Council ponders future of Sims Ball Field

By Amelia Orwick

Central Kentucky News


The Wilmore City Council further discussed possibilities for the future of Sims Ball Field in a rescheduled meeting Monday, after members of the Sims family addressed the council in September with hopes of revamping the field.

The Sims reported in September that family representatives and a few community members had been meeting about once a month at the field to begin developing ideas for its renovation.

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      Wednesday, November 12, 2014 1:15 pm.

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      This ’60s house rocks Space-Age vibe

      This house was “completely built, furnished and landscaped in 10 days” for the 1963 Seattle Home Show, according to a story in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on March 3, 1963.

      “The model house, known as ‘Vista ’63,’ is being designed to give Home Show visitors an idea of how materials, construction methods, equipment, design, decorations and landscaping can be combined to produce a pleasing home,” the story says. “According to its designers, it is a ‘house of ideas’ rather than a home of the future for the public.”

      Architect Ken Koehler designed the home, which W. R. Wood Construction Co. built, Howard-Williams furnished and Malmo Nurseries landscaped. The address is 7001 Brighton Lane S., and it’s for sale for $948,000.

      The listing ties the house to the Space Age, reporting:

      The kite-shaped footprint and graceful, triangular elevations of Vista ’63 caused visitors to liken the building to spaceships that were currently under production by the US government. Indeed, the main living level commands starlight views into galaxies far away, beginning with the viewing deck that wraps around the building to the south.

      It adds that the master suite “floats above the residence and is reminiscent of the lunar landing module of an Apollo-era spacecraft,” while the two-car carport “is supported by angled legs inspired by engineered spaceship struts.”

      The house is 3,942 square feet, with four bedrooms, 2.75 bathrooms, two fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, a family room, a den, the original Low-Fi Rangaire intercom and starry sky acoustic tiles, a deck, balconies and views of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington on a 10,296-square-foot lot.

      Click through the gallery above to check it out. Want to see it in person? An open house is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

      Here are some other recent real estate features:

      Read more real estate news. Visit’s home page for more Seattle news. Reach Aubrey Cohen at or (206) 448-8362.

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      Wildlife art dresses up new diamond interchange at Chubbuck

      Wildlife art dresses up interchange

      Wildlife art dresses up interchange

      Art adorns the new diamond interchange at Chubbuck.

      Do you like the new interchange better than the old one?

      Total Votes: 24

      Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014 1:16 am

      Wildlife art dresses up new diamond interchange at Chubbuck

      By Journal Staff

      Idaho State Journal

      1 comment

          CHUBBUCK — New art pieces at Chubbuck’s diamond interchange over Interstate 86 showcase that the new interchange is one-of-a-kind in several ways.

          Besides being the first interchange of its kind in Idaho, it gives the Idaho Transportation Department’s Region 5 Senior Environmental Planner Alissa Salmore a chance to share  her vision and initiative.

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      Thursday, November 13, 2014 1:16 am.

      The Idaho State Journal invites you to take part in the community conversation. But those who don’t play nice may be uninvited. Don’t post comments that are off topic, defamatory, libelous, obscene, racist, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. We may remove any comment for any reason or no reason. We encourage you to report abuse, but the decision to delete is ours. Commenters have no expectation of privacy and may be held accountable for their comments.

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      ‘Don’t turn parks into gardens, let kids play’

      NOIDA: The city’s RWA federation has expressed opposition to the landscaping of parks in many sectors by the Authority, as it leaves no room for children to play. “The Authority had promised at least one children’s park in all residential sectors. Now, even those are being taken over for landscaping. Where will the children play if all these parks have small hillocks and plants around them?” said Suresh Tiwari, senior vice-president of Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Associations (FONRWA).

      Tiwari added that in successive meetings with former Authority CEOs – V K Malhotra in 2002, Balwinder Kumar in 2011 and Sanjeev Kumar in 2013 – the federation body had reiterated their demand for minimum landscaping in parks, but nothing came out of it. “The CEOs had agreed then, that at least one park per sector will be left for children to play in. Yet, all parks are now being landscaped,” said N P Singh, president FONRWA.

      However, a senior official of the horticulture department who refused to be named, maintained that demand for landscaping came from RWAs, and that they do not embark on landscaping on their own. “We have never resorted to landscaping of parks, unless the RWAs ask us. It’s only on their demand that we comply with due sanction and clearances,” said the officer.

      But Tiwari insists it is the opportunity for some to make money each time a park is landscaped, that has led to their rise of late. “Each hillock costs thousands of rupees. The more there is order for such items, more is the opportunity to make money,” said Tiwari, who added that parks in sectors 19, 20, 22, 26, 27, 30, 50 and elsewhere have all been landscaped of late.

      For the RWA umbrella body, checking unnecessary costs while also meeting residents’ needs is a tightrope walk.

      According to sources in the horticulture department, two to three trucks of mud are needed to create a small hill of circumference 40-50 m in a residential park, which is estimated to cost around Rs 10-15 thousand. “Similar amount goes in planting 20-25 plants around the hill and grass that’s used to beautify it. The cost varies with the size of a park and number of hills to be created,” said the officer, who further added that tenders for landscaping parks in Sector 72 and 119 have been cleared already.

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      Colorado company earns national award for retirement community landscaping


      Landscaping surrounding and inside the Wind Crest retirement community earned Littleton outdoor maintenance company Terracare the National Landscape Award of Excellence.

      Caitlin Hendee
      Digital Producer / Social Engagement Manager- Denver Business Journal


      The brightly colored flowers, open space, criss-crossing walkways and horticulture therapy gardens at Wind Crest retirement community in Highlands Ranch on Thursday earned Terracare Associates the Professional Landcare Network’s National Landscape Award of Excellence.

      Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) gives the award to companies that demonstrate superior landscaping skills, lawn care, design/build creation and installation, container plantings, erosion control and interior maintenance.

      According to PLANET, Littleton-based Terracare received the award for creating a landscape that is inclusionary of Wind Crest residents and maintains a high standard of integrated plant life.

      Wind Crest, which will soon get a $59.4 million expansion that includes three additional buildings, is an 84-acre property that includes residential units for seniors, assisted living, memory care and long-term nursing care.

      The landscape surrounding and inside the community includes native grass and cottonwoods, drought-tolerant turf and gardens for congregating.

      Caitlin Hendee is digital producer and social engagement manager for the Denver Business Journal and contributes to the “17th Lincoln” blog. Email: Phone: 303-803-9226.

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      Garden Delights program now at 16 schools

      Schools throughout Broward County are getting greener through the Garden Delights program.

      The program is at 16 low-income schools, with funding coming from the Broward Education Foundation. Children are involved in creating the gardens and enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. Master gardeners help them with planning, installation, plant selection, garden maintenance, pest management and to promote Florida-friendly landscaping practices.

      Sunrise resident Ian Wolinsky plays an integral role. He’s the program’s master gardener coordinator, advises teachers on delicious ways to utilize their crops and provides cooking demonstrations.

      “The kids work on the garden, and the students’ parents will come in to volunteer to help the program,” he said. “… The kids love getting dirty and their hands in the ground. They love planting seeds. Then when they actually go to harvest, they can’t believe what it is they are actually harvesting and that they can eat it. You are basically teaching children who never knew where a carrot came from how it grows.”

      The primary goal is to improve youngsters’ eating habits, and students will share the knowledge they gain with their families and community.

      Tom Severino, the foundation’s president and CEO, has seen some of the gardens planted firsthand and has been to teacher training at Marando Farms.

      “The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills that the kids learn about the science and biology of growth [and] nutrition … is excellent,” he said. “Healthy living and lifestyles of nutritional choice is also a part of the program.”

      Coco Burns, the foundation’s program coordinator, said Garden Delights “shows results, and it’s so much fun to see these kids get dirty in the garden. They are really excited. It’s fun to do site visits to be there with them when they are planting and harvesting.”

      Veronica Soto, a teacher at Discovery Elementary School in Sunrise, has helped run their garden the last three years. She said it’s made a lasting impact.

      “They get to see how a cucumber starts off as a skinny little thing to a plump, juicy cucumber,” she said. “They see how the strawberry grows from a white, tiny flower. … My first-year students are currently in fifth grade, and today they approached me when we were outside. They asked if they could help.”

      Wolinsky is proud of the program’s impact.

      “That’s why I got involved in the program,” he said. “Seeing a child’s reaction to something they created is priceless.”

      Scott Fishman can be reached at

      Copyright © 2014, Sun Sentinel

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