Heirloom or Hybrid – Which is Better?

Q.  What’s the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds?  And which type of seeds is better for the home gardener to use?
A.  Heirloom seeds breed true, meaning that the fruit from seed you harvest from the current plant will be the same as the current plant and its fruit, generation after generation.  This means that if you like the current harvest you can use the seeds with confidence that they will give you the same thing next time, and every time.
Hybrid seeds have been cross-bred to achieve improvements in flavor, productivity, disease resistance, holding capacity, or other characteristics which people want and request.  However, the next generation cannot be counted on to be the same as the original plant, and thus we need to continue buying seed from the seed grower to be assured of the same end result.

Producing seeds in your own garden is no big problem if you’re growing crops with seeds in the fruit, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.  However, for things like lettuce, cabbage, and onions you have to let the plant stay in the garden while it “goes to seed” – sometimes for as long as a second year. 

This can make a mess of your garden, and foul up your plans for continuing to grow food to eat. 
Harvesting, drying, and saving the seeds are also problems to consider before deciding to grow your own seeds.
I recommend people get the best advantages of both hybrid and heirloom plants by buying and using the world’s best vegetables and fruits from reputable seed companies, and buying a #10 can of 16 varieties of high quality triple-sealed heirloom seeds from the Food For Everyone Foundation at www.foodforeveryone.org/store
Store the can of seeds in a cool dry place, and you will have the protection of good heirloom seeds for many years, while at the same time your family harvests and eats the best produce possible.

How Not to Repeat Last Year’s Bad Gardening Experience

Q.  First of all I mixed up my lids (on the storage containers) and think I remember that the Pre-Plant is the brown and the Weekly Feed is white… Correct?
My beds are about 8 foot 8 inches long and about 4 foot 8 inches wide. I need to figure out how much preplant and weekly feed to put in there and what is the axiom… A cup is a pound the world around? Right? Soooo How much…  of each? 
Last year I found these big grubs in my beds as well and they look like a green beetle grub I have read about that gets into compost piles… I live in PG, Utah… Any idea as to whether there would be any reason to mix pyrethrum granules in at this point or not?
My garden did OK but not really well… Most plants were pretty small and stunted last year.  I did not mix Pre-Plant in last year, got started too late and tried to use a different  Fert-i-lome gardener fertilizer, as I did not (think I had) time to mix my own and did not know I could get Mittleider fertilizers.  So I had some problems that I don’t want to repeat.

A.  Your problems of last year are not that un-typical.  Many times people think they can change this and that and the other thing and end up with a Mittleider Garden yield.  It doesn’t work.  The promise is “a great garden in any soil, in any climate”, but only if all instructions are followed.  Don’t waste another year and hundreds of hours – buy and read The Mittleider Gardening Course, available at www.growfood.com.  It is simple and concise, and you WILL have success!

Measuring your fertilizers accurately is essential.  If you used a cup thinking you were applying a pound, you were starving your plants.  “A pint is a pound the world around” is the correct adage.  A cup is 8 ounces and a pint is 16 ounces, or 1 pound.

The dark fertilizer is the Pre-Plant, but this is only true if you are using gypsum, which is done in low rainfall areas, such as the Mountain West in the USA.  If you have more than 20″ (50 cm) of annual rainfall you will use lime in your Pre-Plant, and it will likely be whiter than the Weekly Feed.

The standard measurement for fertilizer application is 2# (900 g) of Pre-Plant to a 30′ bed 18″ wide, which will grow 2 rows of most plants in the 12″ planting area.  This amounts to just over 1 ounce per running foot of planting area. 
You should plant 4 rows of most vegetables in a 4’+-wide bed, with the first row next to the 3 1/2′ aisle, the next row 12″ in, then two rows near the opposite aisle the same way.   Climbing plants will have only two rows – each row 12″ in from the aisle.  Apply 20 ounces of Pre-Plant and 10 ounces of Weekly Feed and mix well with the soil.  Again, remember the “rule of thumb” for Weekly Feed is 1/2 ounce per running foot each time you apply it.

Thereafter on a weekly basis, you should apply 5 ounces of Weekly Feed down the center between 2 rows of plants – so you will apply 10 ounces of Weekly Feed each week to your 8′ 8″ bed or box, until three weeks before your crop matures.

If you do not have compost or other “Bug Hotel” material in or on your garden you shouldn’t have trouble with grubs, but if you do, take one to your local nursery and have them give you a corrective treatment regimen.

Having a great garden is really quite simple.  The book 6 Steps to Successful Gardening, also available at www.growfood.com, is so simple a child can read and understand it, but it’s profound enough to give you a GREAT garden, if followed.  Just remember these steps and follow them religiously. 

1)  Clean ground at all times – no weeds, compost, etc. 
2)  Sunshine all day long, especially for fruit-producing plants (greens like lettuce, etc. can stand fewer hours of direct sunlight). 
3)  Regular watering – daily if necessary, never letting the ground dry out. 
4)  Vigorous weeding to eliminate all weeds as soon as they appear. 
5)  Proper nutrition applied in small amounts weekly until 3 weeks before crop maturity.
6)  Harvest the crop at peak maturity.  Never leave mature crops in the garden, as their quality decreases rapidly, plus bugs and diseases will proliferate.

The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about successful vegetable gardening, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads

A digital copy costs 30-40% less, and is available instantly!  I HIGHLY recommend you look here https://www.hightechhomestead.com/Products.htm for the best gardening books available anywhere!  Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY!!

Adding Nitrogen to Your Soil Naturally – Nodulation on Plant Roots

Q.  I’ve been told I should inoculate my bean seeds. Why should I do this, and how do I do it?  Does alfalfa need it?  Any others?

A.  Why Use Rhizobia Inoculants? Rhizobia bacteria are a group of soil based microorganisms, which establish symbiotic relationships with beans and other legume plants, such as alfalfa and clover. They then form nodules on the roots of the legumes, where they store nitrogen and provide it to the plants. In return, the plants provide carbon and energy for the Rhizobia, which the plant produces by photosynthesis.  Nitrogen is vital for plant growth.  It is abundant in the atmosphere as N2, and in soil organic matter in other forms, but because of its volatility, it is not available in the NO3 form that plants can use.

Conventional methods of providing nitrogen to plants include 1) adding nitrogen fertilizers to the soil, or 2) inoculating with the Rhizobia nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Rhizobia then take N2 atmospheric nitrogen and convert it to the NO3 inorganic form that is useable by plants. In addition, the nitrogen they store in nodules on the plant roots, if the roots are left in the ground, can reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements for the next growing season. 

Therefore, before planting, some gardeners “inoculate” their bean seeds.  This consists of coating the seeds with a small amount of powder containing the Rhizobia bacteria, thus effectively enabling the plants to draw nitrogen from the air and deposit it in nodules on their roots. This ability to “fix” nitrogen is unique to plants in the legume family, because of the symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria. 

Inoculants only need to be used in poor soils that don’t have much soil nitrogen for plants to use. In fertile soil, the bacteria occur naturally, so inoculants are not needed. The inoculant comes in small packages, it is usually available where you buy your seeds, and it takes very little to do the job.Immediately before planting, put the bean seeds in a pan and add a little water to moisten them. Then add a small amount of inoculant, and stir the beans with a stick until they have a little powder on their seed coats.

To gain the maximum benefit from inoculating your been seeds, spade or till disease-free bean plants into the earth immediately after the last harvest. This adds organic matter to the soil and releases the nitrogen from the root nodules as well.   Always destroy all diseased plants immediately. 

Some people mistakenly believe planting beans and corn together is good, because the beans can climb the corn stalks, and the corn can get nitrogen from the beans.  This is not a good idea for several reasons.  The two plants are competing for the same water, food (13 nutrients are needed!), and light, and both will suffer for having to share.  In addition, the nitrogen in the bean root nodules is “fixed” and unavailable to the corn. It is only released to the soil after the bean plant has completed its life cycle.