How To Organize a Community Seed Swap

I posted this link last August, but feel it wouldn’t hurt to post again.  The link goes to Mother Earth’s News:

How To Organize a Community Seed Swap

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July 2012 was the hottest year on record in the US making seed saving more important than ever!

NOAA and the National Climatic Data Center has released the information that July 2012 is the warmest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States.  EarthSky breaks it down for us here:

http://earthsky.org/earth/july-2012-warmest-month-ever-recorded-in-the-u-s

Without getting into the debate about climate change and global warming this situation demonstrates that our heirloom seed and plant varieties and the need to propagate, spread, and preserve them are going to be ever more critical for food security.

Heirloom varietals in their great diversity and the suitability of specific types to fit within different micro-climates offer us options that are safe to eat and able to produce seed year after year.  In addition, by selecting heirloom plants that do well in a particular area and focusing on the healthiest of those plants for seed saving we allow the continuing development of seeds that evolve to better fit a specific area.

This is a practice that has gone on for thousands of years and has allowed human beings to live in all the various places of the world.  Until recently it has been successful without the help of the industrial food system and its negative side effects and has also produced a food heritage rich in genetic diversity and plant species we could grow and eat in the places where we lived.

The bad news is that since the advent of industrialized agricultural practices, including monoculture, we have lost many varieties of food plants.  The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of this and getting involved in saving what we have left!

With more widespread involvement and the spread of information about heirloom plants and seed saving we have the hope of sustaining a source of genetic diversity in our food plants grow and encourage those varieties that can produce, and evolve even when we have extreme climatic conditions.

Encouraging beneficial insects in your garden

I have a daily photo project going on Facebook and this has caused me to look closely at the many natural wonders and mysteries that are right around the home I live in.  It has also given me an awesome opportunity to learn more about Nature and improve my relationship with Her by bringing my focus to some of the small creatures that are my neighbors.

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(photo ©2012 Shapeshifting, Inc. all rights reserved)

Insects play a huge role on our Earth and in our ecosystems, yet most individuals don’t give them much thought unless they are being bothered by a pesky fly or mosquito.  Yet even flies and mosquitoes play important roles in the chain of life.  The dangers of pesticides and herbicides are known but monied interests keep them in use and even push for increased use because of the profits that are made in sales.  Genetically modified plants are created then pushed into production, use, and profit generation that actually generate even more pesticide and herbicide use despite the known and many unknown dangers to all life.

Because of this we are seeing increasing danger to our very survival because of the havoc these practices wreak on beneficial insects and the insects deemed “destructive” that still play an important part of our food chain and the survival of our ecosystems.  CCD (colony collapse disorder) in honeybees is one such effect as well as the extinction  of certain bumblebees and other types of bees and insects that are crucial to pollination.

What can we do?

I have learned through researching some of the insects I’ve captured through my photo project that there are many needs of beneficial insects in our gardens that most of us are probably unaware of.  At least I was unaware.  One of the needs I discovered was that bare ground needs to be kept (free of mulch and plastic) for many bee species to nest and hibernate.  Squash bees are one species, among many, that need this.  Squash bees are necessary to fertilize squash plants because they become active earlier in the morning than honeybees.  Squash blossoms are at their peak at this time.  Many species of bumblebees also need this.  Bumblebees are the main pollinator of tomatoes because their vibration causes the pollen to be released from the tomato blossoms.  Other beneficial  insects have different needs.

Becoming educated about the insects and their needs is a good place to start to help your organic garden thrive with the help of beneficial  insect activity and help our ecosystems in general.  Something I recently learned about is building insect homes.  You can consciously create places that are attractive places for insects to nest and hibernate that will help your garden.  Here is a link that gives some helpful tips:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/gardening/insects/building_homes.aspx?mediacode=T08ITH0124&=125272

This is just one idea that a person can learn about and do to help our insects.  Planting flowers, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, implementing permaculture principles and much more are important, too.  Becoming educated and proactive on behalf of our insect friends will enhance all of your gardening efforts while helping to foster biodiversity 🙂