video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
When Heirloom Gardener asked me to write about the significance of regionally adapted seed for their Winter 2019/2019 issue, the fact that such a story is of value to a nationally-distributed magazine gave me more than a sliver of hope for the world.
As a child in New York, I thought watermelons were an absolute waste of valuable garden space. I was a whimsical child, but still practical. With long, trailing vines yielding a single fruit and sometimes none, my anticipation was almost always unrequited. Every few years we’d give them another try, only to reach the same conclusion by September: We should have sown more tomatoes, more lettuce and more beets. Less watermelon.
I could not have been more wrong.
Like our reticent red peppers, eggplants lacking abundance, late-blooming dahlias and unenthusiastic peanuts, I simply needed different seeds to have different experiences. Sowing seeds adapted to your region makes all the difference.
August Ambrosia is Fruition's...
We learn so much with each day, each season. We've grown immeasurably in 2018, both in the fields and in our visions. Here are three lessons helping us grow the most, both in joy and in trial. I share them, hoping they surround you with beauty and abundance both in and beyond your garden :)
It's true: you can grow gorgeous ginger right in your backyard.
We're constantly experimenting, pushing the envelope of what can be grown in our climate. For years our market gardener friends have grown ginger enthusiastically in their greenhouses and high tunnels, but here's the thing: both Matthew and I grew up gardening and are deeply motivated to share seeds and techniques that every home gardener can enjoy. After much experimentation, we're totally confident you can grow impressive ginger without all the frills. Stay tuned! We'll be sharing organic rhizomes for you to grow your own as well as everything...
Each year we trial new varieties and develop new ones, harvesting their seeds and tucking in packets to share with you!
With each season we learn more about our seeds, ourselves, our soil, our community and our climate. Most seed companies are simply repackaging seed they've bought wholesale on the commodity market, which doesn't eliminate all the variables by any means, but it does greatly reduce their risk of not having seed in their packets.
The seeds in our packets is largely harvested on one of Fruition's four farms; we also collaborate with over a dozen talented organic seed growers to bring you the highest quality seed we can source.
And Friends, we don't always reap what we sow. Though we grew a glorious bed of Lime Queen zinnias this summer, persistent rain brought powdery mildew early to her leaves and filled her seedheads with millions of spores instead of seeds. (Thank goodness our Zinderella Peach zinnias, below, were a...
Friends, I need more than hands and toes to count the number of times people this week have told me their child asked to give or receive sunflower seeds this holiday season.
How can I not have hope for the world?!
What gift would you give the world, if you could give anything?
The gift of a sunflower is the gift of growth, of beauty, of abundance, it's the gift of life itself.
There are dozens of different sunflowers, all native to Central and North America. The only plant with more Monarchs on it in our garden is milkweed.
And did you know?
We toss them in salads and arrange them on cakes all summer long.
So yes, we grow the seeds of many sunflowers, each one with a unique gift and story to share.
We love the bright lemon yellow of Lemon Queen petals, a unique hue among so many golds. She is ohhhhh so tall, easily climbing 12+ feet tall in rich, fertile soil. She is crowned with a massive, single head on top and bursts...
People ask me all winter long if they can save the seeds they scoop out of winter squash to sow next season.
Which gives me such hope for the world!
Humbling yet true: I am gently discouraging you from saving your squash seeds to plant next season, unless you’re growing the squash yourself and paying a great deal of attention. I’ll share why (and how to pay attention!) in a moment.
First, here are the three things I can recommend without reservation:
1. Toast and eat them, see our recipe below!
2. Make squash seed roofs on gingerbread houses.
3. Stick them on peanut-buttered pinecones for the birds.
So yes, it’s true, I don’t really recommend saving your squash seeds to sow next season, unless you know a great deal about its life story. Or are entirely unattached to the fruits looking anything like it’s parents. (Which is one of my favorite games in the world.)
Squash seeds are one of our...
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!
Some years, like this year, I’ve already been skiing for a week, HOORAY! Other years, Thanksgiving arrives and leaves are bright though fading, snow yet to accumulate.
Either way, there are two things to know about how I eat kale.
First: I eat kale twelve months of the year.
This means, among other things, kale leaves are most sweet and tender in the coldest seasons. Which is SO good to know! And the reasons why are equally fascinating.
Across plant and animal kingdoms, sugars are formed in cells as cold approaches. These sugars protect cell walls as freezing water molecules expand. Pure water, H20, becomes jagged and sharp, cutting like sharp swords, as it freezes. With dissolved sugars, water becomes sloshy rather than sharp, maintaining the cell walls even as temperatures...
'Tis the season when leaves are falling and streets are lined with ready-made mulch, compost-to-be, nutrient dense and often already bagged for the intrepid gardener to stock up one of the quickest ways to build top-notch soil.
Here are three keys to maximizing your leaves this fall, to build your soil quickly and mulch most effectively:
Only apply deciduous leaves as mulch in your garden beds. Coniferous pine needles will decompose and acidify your soil, often making the resulting pH less than ideal for growing vegetables, flowers and herbs. If you’re growing blueberries, rhododendrons or want blue hydrangeas, coniferous materials are one of the easiest ways to both mulch and feed them.
Whether you’re building your soil with leaves or spreading them as mulch, send your leaves through a chipper/shredder first. I’ve learned the hard...
Everyone loves dahlias.
Who loves to dig them?
And I agree, it's not as glamorous as harvesting lush blooms as the August dew rises.
But with a little planning and a bit of experience, you'll save many times the tubers you planted, surrounding yourself with breathtaking abundance for the coming season. Plus a few extra for your best flower friends :)
Storing your own dahlia tubers is a labor of love but so, so worth it and not too challenging, with the right tips and tools.
There are many reasons and this is my favorite: You'll have so many more dahlias for next season (not totally but essentially) for free.
Tuber productivity varies between varieties, but you'll harvest 6 to 25 tubers for each tuber you plant. Not all will have full eyes allowing them to grow a stem next spring, but you'll easily harvest more than you planted, and likely a lot more. Last week, dividing our dahlias, I had 18 perfect tubers to save from one single plant....
Garlic is one of the easiest and most rewarding crops to grow, though it's not a cakewalk. I've grown garlic here in the Finger Lakes for over nearly three decades and here are the keys to surrounding yourself with abundance.
Over the years we've become enamored with growing shallots as well, which are grown in exactly the same way.
As we all know (and mostly have learned the hard way), what you reap is what you sow. Considering how long your garlic and shallots are in the ground and how much time you'll invest in weeding and feeding them, it's worth the extra dollars sowing the best stock possible. You'll reap that much more when you harvest.
Biggest Mistake: Planting anything but the biggest and healthiest organic garlic and shallot bulbs you can find.
Why? There is a direct relationship between the size of bulbs and cloves you plant the size of the bulbs and cloves you'll harvest. It's not often true, but in the...
My childhood experience of growing peanuts once --- and harvesting seven peanuts --- convinced me for two decades that growing peanuts in short seasons was extravagantly futile.
Yet seeds, again and again, show me that our imagination is the limit, that regional adaptation is the language of resilience, that we can grow so much more than we think possible.
When we started Fruition Seeds, Matthew and I were gifted a small bag of 'Northern Hardy Valencia' peanuts from a family on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who had selected them for over two decades.
Skeptical as I was, they thrived against many odds, including cold, close spacing and a family of groundhogs.
If you garden in short seasons, as we do, regional adaptation makes a difference with any seed. This is especially true crops that need more heat, like watermelon, peppers, peanuts. We are delighted to share such seeds, and such joy, with you.
If you can grow bush beans, you can grow peanuts....
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.