The Gordon Gnohm

Be sure to read my article, Future Farmer in The Braidwood Bugle every Wednesday. 

future farmers seeds

Seeds

Success in highland vegetable gardens can be directly tied to your seed and seedlings.
Your garden, like mine, is between 500-900m above sea level. We live and grow in an unpredictable climate with late & early frosts, 40+C in summer with hailstorms and -10C in winter. Extreme in any language. And with the climate crisis engulfing us, our local weather patterns are going to get weirder and more unpredictable. Timing will become more crucial to success and our seeds and seedlings need to handle what may come.

How can you future proof your vegetable growing future?

It’s reasonably simple, you need to grow from heirloom seeds. Heirloom seed has been collected and passed down through the generations. Its non hybrid & non GMO. It’s not engineered in a laboratory, just pollinated as nature intended by wind and insects. The seed is crossed with other viable plants to create genetic diversity. The resulting seed stock can handle greater extremes of conditions, pestilence, disease, drought, floods…

Grandmas, grandma used heirloom seed to provide for her family. Her seed stock helped her be a better gardener and was way better than the commercial (F1 Hybrid) offerings that are so readily available at supermarkets, chain stores and most nurseries.

Heirloom seeds can make even the worst gardener look better in just a season or two. The best reason to grow with heirloom varieties is to collect viable seed for next year. This cannot be done from commercial F1 Hybrid seeds.

It’ll take a few seasons for any seed to adapt to your climate, before you can start to measure success. Growing and harvesting gets better and easier, every year. There is almost no chance that your original seedstock came from a climate resembling yours. Your task is to acclimatise the new seed to your patch of earth. Most folks met with limited success, have a similar response to my question.

Where did your seed come from? ‘Im trying something new from somewhere different than last year’ they say.

Don’t try this at home.

The worst thing you can do to stifle success in your Highland Vegetable Garden, is to buy new seed from different places every year because it didn’t work as hoped this season.

Where to get the best seed for your gardening endeavours?
Your original seed can come from anywhere to start. Grow it in your climate and you will have some success. But don’t give them any special treatment, you are looking for the strongest in the pack to start your genetic stock.

Select successful plants to cross-pollinate based on factors important to you.

  • ·I always let the first cauliflower go to seed.
  • ·I collect from root vegetables that started in the coldest temps
  • I choose Tomato seed from plants that survived early frosts/hail, produced first flowers/tomatoes

I’m working towards lower strike temp, shorter harvest time, frost hardiness, bigger produce and of course flavour. I also collect seed from the tastiest of all the varieties of vegetables I grow.

How to breed your own unique variety?

If you & I started today with the same broccoli seeds and returned 10years later, we would have very different plants with different colour, flavour and growing habits. The plant will acclimatise to your style as much as your patch of earth. Both varieties would be so different in 10 years, that we could call them our own.

After 3-5 years you can literally throw them over your shoulder and the seeds will grow on your patch of earth, with less fuss and less effort than last year. Your success will compound year after year, leaving you with more time and energy for other projects.

What’s happening at mine?

This week in the garden the wattlebirds, thornbills, wrens and robins have started their mating dances. The crows are making nests. The echidnas did their train dance last week and almost uprooted a tree in the process. Broad beans are starting to put on flowers, but most are being eaten by the slugs. Our Australorps are laying again, so the incubator is getting a dust off and eggs are back on the menu.

Currently Munching; cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, beetroots, celery, carrots, parsnips, snow peas, cabbage

In Seed; kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cos lettuce

Early spring?

Ive had quite a bit of feedback about my spring notice being early, not many folks are experiencing spring yet on their patch of earth, or so they say… So, I visited the Main Street of Queanbeyan to find they are experiencing spring too. My demonstration garden in Lyons is also experiencing spring with the Daphne finishing its scented blooms. The Hass Avocado, growing in Lyons, is in flower despite the frost.

I suggest if you are not experiencing early spring at your place right now, you may want to reconsider your vegetable gardening future. (check your soil temp, you may be surprised) If you really are keen to grow vegetables, I suggest you start to look for new ground to live and grow.

Next week Microclimates

Stay awesome,

The Gordon Gnohm

Ps Hooray for rain!

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