The active growing season now lays behind us. Beloved annuals have been harvested; such as winter squash, sweet —as well as hot peppers, tomatoes, and maize — all open pollinated and our own saved seeds. Maize ( Hopi Blue and Martin Prechtel’s) is hanging in a kitchen corner; Winter squash (Greek Sweet Red and Al Trompaccino) are extended out from another corner.
Our kitchen suddenly becomes smaller and more crowded!
Tomatoes are in the freezer, having been transformed into Putanesca sauce: Jalapenos and Sweet red peppers are either frozen (to minimize perishability) or still in baskets, being used fresh —some given to friends.
Our use of open pollinated seed is an example of a practice that allows us to stack functions (a Permaculture guideline:one action: multiple benefits). Not only are we saving money by not having to purchase new seed, we are able to continue the practice by saving seeds of this year’s crop.
This is icing on the functional cake! Not only does seed carry genetic information from all seasons and types of conditions past (throughout it’s entire ancestry), the plants are also adding new information concerning this current seasons’ growing conditions!
We tailor this genetic process by selecting seed from plants that, for instance: fruit early; are extra large and delicious; exhibit unusual vitality and disease/insect resistance, and other desirable characteristics.
Our urban orchard (with over 48 different varieties of perennial fruit) continues to delight, feed, deepen our relationship with our Homeland, and… teach.
Every growing season I learn more of the ever deepening and expanding complexity of life, especially in the realm of creating abundance.
Even with spraying our larger fruit (multiple times) with Surround and Serenade (organic products for dealing with both insect and disease organisms), almost 70% of the harvest was compromised.
Out of this 70%, 15% was unusable: the remainder has insect and disease damage, and must be cut around to utilize the good parts. This is labor intensive: the fruit cannot be used without this effort (which means one at a time).
Damaged fruit is very perishable (will not keep long) and must be used fairly quickly. I’ve been operating on —and eating — 8-10 apples each day! In addition, giving some to friends for quick use, and making some pies and gallettes…
We were fortunate to make it through the extended ripening season (Goldrush apples ripen in November) especially with the frequent wanderings through of multiple Black Bears.
Even with all the compromised fruit, we still have quite a lot!
Next season, though, I will pay more attention to the life cycles of insects and disease organisms, as well as timing of sprays…