There is a noticeable change on my website for this coming spring; the absence of a list of plants intended for sale. This is no error. I am not selling plants this spring. As my involvement in variety trials and seed saving expands, I find that I do not have the time to raise plants to sell here at my farm and at the local farmers market. Last spring was extremely challenging, to say the least, as I strived to get all my crops planted, and take care of thousands vegetable starts. I have decided to pool all of my energy and time into working with the seed lines I currently have, and trialing out new heritage and heirloom varieties, with an eye towards finding crops that work well here in my region. The absence of spring plants will only affect my local customers, as I do not ship live plants via my website.
After three seasons working with various grains and legumes, I feel I have a solid, basic selection that has consistently performed well under difficult conditions. These varieties I intend to continue growing out and selecting for attributes like: early maturity, disease resistance, extreme weather tolerance, etc., and plan to continue to offer these as seed through this website. This would include varieties like Kwintus Pole Beans (a customer favorite), Einkorn and Banatka wheat, all of the heirloom soybeans listed this year, etc.. The list would encompass most of what is currently available on this website, although I have dropped a few items in the past 2 years. Things like cotton and moth beans, which proved to be not well-suited for the North.
Aside from maintaining the lines I have been working with, I am also planning to trial out a few new crops, like lentils (8 varieties), Cowpeas (4 varieties), garbanzo beans and fava beans. I am also raising 6 new varieties of heritage, cold tolerant rice; 2 lowland varieties and 4 upland varieties. The Duborskian Rice has done well for me here in a zone 5b, but it has proven challenging for folks in regions with cooler summers and shorter seasons. One of these new cultivars ripens in 95 days and is suitable for zone 4. That would be amazing!
Wheat has continued to prove difficult for me here in Northern Indiana, given the excessive rainfall during the spring and early summers of the past two seasons. I have located a few landrace varieties from Eastern Europe (Georgia), Tsiteli Doli, Dika and Timopheevii. These were brought to my attention by an article written by Eli Rogsa , of The Heritage Grain Conservancy. In SARE funded trials conducted in the North East (2013), these Georgian wheats were totally free of Fusarium, even in excessively wet seasons. In addition, they are reported to have great rich flavor for baking. Plant breeders have used these wheats for years in developing, new cultivars of disease-resistant wheat. What has been neglected is the possibility of growing the landraces themselves, as some small farmers continue to do in Georgia. I received some of my seed from the USDA’s Small Grains Collection (NSGC), as well as some from a long standing SSE member in Vermont. I also have located seed for a promising strain of einkorn that is supposed to be easily dehulled without special equipment. That would be a real find for both small scale farmers and homesteads! There are a number of other cereal grains I am planning to trial out this season. I will discuss them in a future post.
I will be growing a millet variety with the extremely-rare glutinous-trait (amylopectin starch). It is a landrace variety from Japan, called Tobi Bread Millet. I am planting this out along with an interesting short season (75 days) “grain” sorghum and two “popping” sorghum varieties. Most of the sorghum varieties I have grown in the past averaged 110 – 120 days to maturity. These may prove to be good options for zone 4!
These are just a few, of this upcoming seasons projects. I am working to streamline my
data keeping for future variety trials. I want to be able to share more precise information about each crop, on this website. In the last two years, I have made some wonderful connections with other grower/researchers working on similar projects. I have been able to share a lot of my seed and data with these folks, and have received a lot of great seed and knowledge in return. There is also the opportunity now to duplicate some trial plots in multiple regions, with different soil types, and variances of climate. These would all be reflective of Northern regions, extending from the Northern Plains, through the Great Lakes Region and into the North Eastern parts of the US. I am also hoping to get feed back on some of my varieties from farmers who have the ability to conduct larger field trials than I am able to do. That will add a whole new layer of meaningful data to help me and other folks determine suitable staple crops for their gardens, homesteads, and small scale farms!
I could go on but I will simply end with a, Thanks! Thanks, to all my customers and partners in this endeavor to bring back bio-diversity and common sense to agriculture. My primary goal is to locate, trial, increase seed stock, and make these incredible, overlooked varieties available to gardeners and farmers!!