“…the Midwestern U.S. looks more like a marsh than the fertile fields that grow some of the nation’s most lucrative crops. That’s because this spring has been one of the rainiest on record for the region. As a result, many farmers have been forced to leave their fields empty.”

Heavy winter snow and fast melt led to flooding in the Midwest and then heavy spring rains continued flooding fields where crops should have been ready to plant, especially corn and soybeans. We must pay attention to what’s currently happening to our nation’s bread basket. When weather interferes with crop production and the livestock market, that means grocery prices will rise.

What can you do now? Plant crops and save the seeds from whatever you don’t eat. It might be too late to plant corn unless you plant a short season corn that produces quickly. One variety of corn is Yukon Chief Sweet Corn that grows in 55 days, perfect for locations with cooler, shorter growing seasons—sounds like a variety of corn for our area. This hybrid was developed by Dr. Arv Kallio of the University of Alaska, to germinate and grow in cooler soils where sweet corn generally cannot be grown.

When planting seeds, a popular school of thought is to place the “scar” of the seed facing downward into the soil. What’s the “scar”?

Take a look at the bean. The scar is the white, oval shaped slight indentation of the bean. This is the point that was attached to the mother plant in the pod. The little stem attachment is like an umbilical cord to the pod. When the bean seed is removed from the pod, the point of attachment leaves a scar which is scientifically known as the “hilum” (pronounced, high-lum). Every seed has a hilum. It’s like a belly button.

When planting, place the hilum into the soil first because this is the point where the roots develop and grow. This improves the seed’s germination rate as the roots grow to the pull of gravity. If the seed is planted with the hilum facing upward, it will take the root more time and energy to re-orient its growth, which can decrease the plant’s vigor. A plant’s relation to gravitational pull is known as “geotropism” and also called, “gravitropism”.

Another way to increase a plant’s germination rate is to soak the seeds in water overnight before planting. Beans, peas, okra, morning glory seeds do well if soaked overnight. Small seeds don’t need to be soaked. Forget looking for the hilum.

The point of this information is to encourage people to plant annual crops that will provide seeds for next year’s garden. Don’t succumb to paying high prices for produce when you can grow your own organic and heirloom vegetables. If you don’t have a garden, grow in containers and pots on the patio or back step because…it’s not too late. Preserve what you don’t eat through canning, freezing, or dehydrating and ultimately, save your seeds for the future.

The Children’s Garden: has an open house every Saturday from 9-11 a.m. All children and parents are welcome to visit the Children’s Garden for information, tours and education on planting, maintaining and harvesting vegetables. Children at our garden range from toddlers to teens and everyone participates.

Plant/produce sales: Saturday, June 15, from 9-11 a.m. We are currently selling plants and onions, our first harvest from the high tunnel. More produce will be for sale when available.

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