Plant a fall garden in the New Climate Era

Dear Friends,

Some of the more undesirable features of life on Earth have already gotten worse in the New Climate Era: stronger storms, hungrier mosquitoes, more virulent ticks, a historically embarrassing president.

Our fall bed of lettuce, arugula, and radishes has been going strong since late August.

Ok, we can’t blame the ascendency of Donald Trump on climate change. But he is exacerbating the problem with such moves as deleting references to climate change from the White House website, withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, and supporting fossil fuel expansion with the Dakota Access pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline, and fracking.

As climate change progresses (read “worsens”), the list of undesirable creatures and features is only going to grow.

Our heirloom tomatoes look determined to produce through early November. This variety — Siciliana Rosa — is still going strong.

I have, however, noticed a few positives to climate change — most notably an extended fall garden season. As both carbon and methane emissions further concentrate in Earth’s atmosphere, growing some (or much) of one’s own food is likely to become not merely a pastime but an essential element of life. So, with an eye toward both great dining today and survival in the future, I’d like to recommend to you the virtues of a robust fall garden.

Sweet Garden Sunshine peppers promise an abundant fall harvest.

 

 

 

 

And I’d like to remind you that you’re welcome to come tour our urban farm during the event Kathy and I are hosting for Rob Sand and Deidre DeJear this Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines. We’ll serve a light breakfast (much of it from our garden), and US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will be here. Merkley’s on the list of Dems potentially interested in running for President in 2020.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the urban farm collage below, or check out the guided video tour on my Facebook page.

There ain’t no stopping these greens: Swiss chard, kale (two varieties), and collards.

Squmpkin! This accidental cross has proven hardy and resistant to pests and powdery mildew.

We don’t have a lot of land to work with. But the sky’s the limit (sort of), so we rigged this vertical sweet potato spider trellis.

Our second planting of green beans (in the raised bed where we grew cauliflower this spring) has done really well.

Our two hot pepper plants are nearly seven feet tall! I’m not a huge fan of scorching my palate, but when a crop does this well, you learn to love it.

We left these pods of okra to ripen to have seed for next year. Seed saving in the New Climate Era is likely to become a standard household activity.

Leeks are another crop that keep on giving — and they’re so hardy they’ll likely continue to produce into November.

We’ve still got some eggplant, though the plants are fading fast. Gotta figure out to control the flea beetles next year.

We won’t harvest these young carrots til November. Behind them, fall zucchini is a new experiment. No flowers yet, but we’re hoping.

Turnip bulbs are starting to flesh out. We planted more turnips than normal people should be allowed to plant. Enough said.

Our adopted gnome Trumpski guards the herb bed.

One hive failed, but the other just gave us over two gallons of honey!

Please like & share:

Unity Through Seed Saving

Dear Friends,

Twenty years ago, I began saving seeds from my garden. I now save about fifty heirloom varieties annually. It’s encouraging to see more people understanding the importance of seed preservation, because as our Earth plunges deeper into the New Climate Era, saving heirloom seeds is likely to play a key role in humanity’s ability to adapt and survive.

Bear Paw Beans, gifted to Ed from Donnielle Wanatee

One of my most treasured seeds is the Scarlet Runner Bean, with its purple-and-black beans and beautiful red flowers. I’ve meticulously kept a line of Scarlet Runners going for nearly a decade, and I’m careful to never plant more than half of what I’ve saved.

Well, almost never. Last year’s Scarlet Runner crop did poorly. I was only able to save a couple dozen seeds. For reasons I’ll never understand, this spring I abandoned caution and planted all of my remaining Scarlet Runner seeds.

To my dismay, none of those bean seeds germinated. A line of seed I’d saved for nearly ten years was gone.

Donnielle Wanatee and her daughter Lovena in front of their family’s wiki-up at the Meskwaki Powwow.

In June, Donnielle Wanatee and her daughter Lovena visited the urban farm at our home in Des Moines. While Lovena helped Kathy pull weeds, Donnielle told me about “Braiding the Sacred,” a gathering she’d just returned from in upstate New York. (Braiding the Sacred is a growing network of Indigenous corn keepers whose work centers on ancestral corn varieties and the sacred responsibility to care for them.)

One of the leaders of Braiding the Sacred, Angela Ferguson, heard of a man who’d carefully maintained 1,100 different Native seed varieties. The man unexpectedly gifted the entire collection to Angela! In that collection, Angela found seven corn seeds from the Meskwaki and Sauk-and-Fox. She gave some of each of those to Donnielle.

Bear Paw Bean flowering

In addition to those corn seeds, someone at the gathering gifted Donnielle a few bean seeds, a variety called “Bear Paw.” As Donnielle and I sat on my porch, she showed me each of the Meskwaki corn seeds given to her by Angela.

Lastly, she showed me the Bear Paw Bean seeds. My jaw dropped! It was the exact same seed as my Scarlet Runner Bean!

Donnielle gave me sixteen of those seeds. The very next day, Kathy and I planted eight of them. The plants are now over ten feet tall and thriving like none I’ve ever planted before.

Cherokee White Eagle Corn, gifted to Ed by Donna Vaughn in 2011

Maybe this seems like a trivial matter, but to me the experience was an example of how mysteriously yet graciously spiritual forces within our world come into play.

How odd for me to plant every last one of my Scarlet Runner seeds.

How odd that not even one of those seeds germinated.

How odd that, barely a month later, a Native friend shows up at my door with the exact same seed.

Is it odd, or simply the way the Universe works? I don’t know. But for me, saving heirloom seeds is both logically and intuitively one of the most important tasks we can do. It’s one way we stand up to the forces that continue to push us into a climate future that is dangerous and foreboding, into a reality that negates all that is alive and beautiful.

In addition to all the other important work Donnielle does, I’m honored to march with her on the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March.  “I’d like Iowans to start having the conversation that no one should have to leave this state,” Donnielle told me. “We should all be able to live together. This is what the March has the potential to bring about. We have to start working together because a rising tide raises all ships, and that’s what I’m trying to do with my Iowa.”

Ed Fallon

Please like & share: