Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Pink explosions

A little treasure hidden deep in the memory of my cell phone, what a bursting treat!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seed labeling...You say tomato and I say toma-gmo-to!

How do you know if your vegetable seed is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)?
What is your label telling you or not telling you about your seed?

Some of the advances in seed technology are amazing, creating stronger, healthier, just down right gorgeous variates of plants. Gardner's and Farmer's are always looking at new ways to make a plant disease resistant or faster growing. Could you imagine Hosta's that were totally resistant to slugs or rose's immune to black-spot...oh happy days! This is all good news for the perennial bed and my shade garden, but do I really want these tampered with seeds in my veggie beds and at what cost to my garden and health? What is this plant really? What is the difference between all those labels and does it really matter?

You hear the terms, Organic, Hybrid, Heirloom, Genetically modified seeds a lot these days.
Organic seed is cultivated from a pure and clean seed. It must be from an organic (synthetic and chemical free) parent plant, using only organic methods of growth and disease control.
Heirloom can be both organic or chemically treated, heirloom by name are bred from generations of the same non-tampered seed, year after year and must be open air pollinated. If you like..the pure breed of seed.
Hybrid seed again can be organic or chemically treated and are produced when you cross pollinate/breed from the same variety to form a new plant (kinda like a Labradoodle half Labrador half Poodle) This helps produce plants that are disease resistant, a new color, larger in size...etc. This is how gardeners and farmers have developed new varieties for centuries and is not to be confused by the new Genetically modified way of tampering with seeds. Hybrid labels will sometimes include letters after the plant name, this is to show its disease tolerance.

Why do I not come across GMO seed packs in the store? Really though what is all this GMO seed about? What have they done to the seed to make that tomato grow 10x the size and not rot for 3mths? Will it effect me? What have they crossed this eggplant seed with to make it disease resistant not to mention resistant to pesticides? Sure a lot of this development comes from cross breading and age-old farming practices which is natural (see hybrid) but what is the difference?

Q. Isn't genetic engineering merely a minor extension of traditional breeding practices?

A. No. While farmers have used cross-breeding techniques to cultivate crop and animal species with desired characteristics, genetic engineering represents a radical departure from this practice. Cross-breeding can only occur within closely-related life forms. Genetic engineering allows scientists to cross the species barrier, mixing genetic material among of animals, plants and microorganism. The offspring of genetic engineering would never be found in nature. For example, fish genes have been placed in tomatoes, human genes in tobacco, bacteria in corn, and viruses in squash and fruit. - The Council for Responsible Genetics
Read the rest of article...mind blowing stuff!  

You hear the horror stories about commercial farming and the devastation that GMO's have created for our farmers. Particularly by the horrible miss-use use of super-seeds from companies like Monsanto, seeds created to be not only disease tolerant but tolerant of the weed killer that its sprayed with, genetically altered to grow faster and not to mention the suicide-seed so that the farmers can't harvest seed for next years crop, forcing them to buy more GMO seed every year...and this is the food we eat! Oh the global nightmare this has all become! Don't get me started on my rant!! breath, breath!!

OK, I'm calm again! I think this "not knowing" what our produce really is or where it's come from, or how it has been tampered with has inspired a number of us to start our own veggie gardens right here in our own backyards. There is something so comforting, being sure of what seed we are growing, what the soil and plant are being treated with and inevitably what we end up eating. Its simply re-assuring.

This begs the question, how do we know that the veggie seed we are growing in our own, safe, genetically modified free environment is just that? Do seed packs indicate how it came about? Where is the label, number or code to tell us that it has been tampered with genetically?

Seed industry structure table, I know its a little old, but still great resource to show you how "Owned" by big corporation our small pack seed is. Click link above for clearer pic and more info.

Unfortunately for now there is no mandatory labeling on seed packs when it comes to GMO's, just like the food we buy, we are in the dark. The best bet is buy locally direct from the seeder, buy certified organic and/or from these seed companies listed in the link below...These companies have signed the Safe Seed Pledge for 2012.

Really this whole practice is enough to send you to drink or in my case tears, curled up in the fetal position on the floor in the produce section of my local grocery-store...scared out of my mind about what we are really eating. Although thank god my produce section is conveniently located right next to the wine isle, thank you Fred Meyer.

The best thing we can do, is learn and listen to those telling us about what is happening in the world of seed, labeling and GMO's, ask questions from a variety of sources from both sides of the table...learn!
I am looking forward to growing my GMO free veggies this year!

More interesting food-for-thought articles and media....
Sustainable Seed Company's view on GMO's  great site for the latest in seed news developments  wonderful website for more updates, check out the awesome movie too! I love their product and their preservation towards seed Genomics? Government website, views from the other side of the table (not to get political though!)
Organic vegetables start out as seed  Great article to get you up to speed on the seed buy outs!
Other interesting documentaries...Food Matters and King Corn.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Plants + Music + Discovery = One amazing Northwest flower and garden show!

Wow, I don't know how they do it every year? Turn the convention center into a gardeners drool fest!! Again, the creative minds behind The Northwest Flower and Garden Show wowed the senses and blew my mind with an overwhelming garden giddiness! Yeah I was that girl you saw with the dumb expression wow wow on her face. Honestly, if there had been a glass window, I would've been the kid squishing its face hard against it just to get a better look!

This year held a few firsts for me....
My first show as a garden blogger. Which was fun as it put a whole new perspective on the day for me. Not to mention it was interesting as everyone there looked sooooo familiar. I even had one guy say to me that I looked familiar, which I quickly replied with a "yeah I have a garden blog"...Blush! Yeah I could've died right then and there, did I really just say that! Especially as I don't even have a photo of me on it. Yeah, I'm sure that's where he knows me! But it was fun going as a blogger, taking pics with a purpose, thinking up exciting future posts and hoping to bump into someone you follow and admire in the bloggosphere.

Secondly, I actually attended some! I know I am usually to busy drooling over all the plants upstairs, but this year I made sure to hear an interesting talk by David Deardorff called "Vegetable Gardening CSI" Great tips on disease control for your edibles, I also discovered a new-to-me term...Poly-cultres, very interesting indeed. Followed by a talk by Annette Cottrell called "The no effort edible garden" loved loved loved! So eye opening to learn about the verities of perennial veggies that grow effortlessly here in the!

Another first, was remembering to vote for my favorite gardens, I absolutely loved them all! But the one I envisioned escaping to and totally wanted to sneak in to take a closer peek, was by Sublime Gardens called "The Resonating Sounds of Nature - Finding Peace and Solace in the Garden" really the name says it all! This truly was a treat for all the senses, the sounds of the drums being dripped on by falling water, the rhythm of a heartbeat was so soothing. The sweet smells, the lighting and the lushness, the use of natural elements..loved it! I was particularly taken with the meandering over-sized stone staircase leading up to a hidden retreat...ahh bliss!!! They did a wonderful job of embracing the music aspect of this show with incorporating the drums that looked like garden urns (see half way up on the right) A gorgeous design on so many levels...great job!

Check out the link to find out more about this wonderful space

The Skybridge is always filled with gorgeous container garden displays, as usual Ravenna Gardens did an amazing job with the use of salvaged woods and looked wonderful! There were a number of eye-catching containers and the use of gray through weathered wood seemed to be a favorite neutral color throughout.

Please enjoy my favorite pics and garden displays from the show
(sorry about the pics, the lighting makes it hard to photograph)

 The winning garden..."Rhythm and Roots" by Susan Browne Design
Great use of salvage and whimsy, in a laid-back colorful garden. 
I especially loved the garden art made from old bits of crockery

Rock and Roll meets heavy metal - by WALP
Loved the juxtaposition of the soft lushness below with the hardness and almost dangerous looking metal wind sculpture. Very unique and completely mesmerizing!

 I am not to sure who desinged this or what it was called. But seriously...look at that wine garden! Yes PLEASE!! Now I know what my garden has been missing all along. Also, I loved the other side of this display, the front door with the clock set to 4:20, that made me giggle...hehehe! And yes they did that on purpose, which made me laugh all the harder.

I loved how the tree was mimicked on the canvas art hanging in the pavilion, a very tranquil and relaxing outdoor space, again...yes please!! 

This display was huge and so impressive, the amount of stone they had meticulously moved in and placed was amazing. I absolutely loved the water with the over-sized blocks as stepping stones. The use of moss and grass was beautiful in this display, gave for a very minimalistic look...the name though...Agh ???

While the show is captivating with its displays of creative lushness, its also a fantastic opportunity to discover the latest trends in plants, tools and design from the vendors. Plus score some free loot! This year the swag gloves, seed packs, tools, orchids, endless magazines, more seeds and a scented chest rub.

My new favorite bloom discovery from the show, is called the "Bridal Crown" double bloom daffodil (awarded daffodil of 2011) the scent was divine and the cluster of blooms just beautiful....a new must have plant for my list!
Another wonderful discovery was this edging, I have always loved the formal look and this hollow concrete block edging from Connect-A-Crete provides an instant raised bed, they snap together and at $20-$40 a piece is a great price! must remember!!

I always love going on the last day of show, its like a tradition for my friend and I. The day when everyone is thinking of packing up shop and insisting you take something extra with purchase. I am also a complete sucker of the two for one plant sales, some are even giving away the free pansies we picked up, they were giving them away by the flat...score!

 My beautiful friend Sarah drooling over the Raveena Gardens booth

We both also bought a gorgeous little lavender each from Pelindaba, love their straight from the farm lavender infused products. mental note...must visit their farm out in the San Jaun Islands...road trip this summer!!
 I'm already excited for next years show, I can not wait to see what will be install for us!!

Pop over to Catherine's gorgeous blog - A Gardener in Progress...Our day at the Northwest flower and garden show for another take on the show!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Mystery shoots?

My garden seems to be blessed with self sowing tulip bulbs...I don't remember planting you?

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