Tuesday, 20 October 2015

09:22 – Top of the fold front-page article in the paper this morning that says there are 9,000 people in this county who are addicted to opiates. Seems a bit high to me. County population as of 2010 was about 350,000, so that would mean roughly 2.5% of the population is addicted to heroin, oxycodone, or other opiates, or about one of every 40 people. I’d be very surprised if it was even 1% in our neighborhood, but I suppose it’s much higher in underclass areas that surround us.

We’re starting post-freeze/thaw germination tests on 30 species of seeds today, so we’ll set up an assembly line to get that done efficiently. We’ll allow them to germinate for five days, and then compare germination rates with the control specimens. Barbara is sitting at the table right now, making up little ziplock bags of seeds nestled in paper towels dampened in Miracle-Gro fertilizer. Five days from now, we’ll count the number of each seed type that’s germinated successfully and determine percentage germination rates.

Then we’ll start packaging those that pass the freeze/thaw germination test, and start further drying and then retesting on those that don’t. We’ll start shipping the kits as soon as we have everything tested successfully.

My profound hope is that no one will ever actually NEED these kits, that things will get back on the right course and there will be no disruptions in the food supply. I think that’s the most likely outcome, but I also think that the probability of a bad outcome is high enough to be terrifying to anyone who’s watching what’s going on. The last thing I want is for Barbara and me to have to grow our own food. Actually, that’s the next-to-last thing I want; the last thing I want is for us to go hungry.

12:38 – Someone asked some time ago in the comments about how much detail I’d go into for the planting guide to be included in the seed kits. Here’s an example for one of the species:

Bean (Lima)

The Henderson Bush Lima Bean is an annual, early-maturing, heat- and drought-tolerant baby bush bean that requires no poles for support. It is widely adapted, and can be grown successfully in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. This plant produces copious 3” to 4” pods. The seeds are light green when fresh, and dry to a white to very pale tan color.

Lima beans are suitable companion crops for most other species, particularly including other beans (where cross-pollination is not an issue), beets, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, collards, corn, cucumber, potato, squash, sunflower, and tomato. Avoid planting Lima beans near chives, onion, garlic, fennel, leek, shallot, or other Allium family members.

Plant in well-drained soil in full sun at least two weeks after the last frost, when soil temperature is at least 70º. Plant 1” deep, eye-side down, 4” to 6” apart, with 3′ row separation. (The eight ounces of seeds included in the HS-1 seed kit are sufficient to plant a 160′ to 280′ row.) Use compost, manure, or other organic matter to enrich the soil, and work it deeply. If available, treat seeds with a Rhizobia inoculant suitable for P. lunatus. Germination may be slow.

After germination, thin to 8” apart, but do not transplant the plants you have pulled. Avoid watering, which may damage seedlings. Carefully weed only until the plants come into bloom, because flowers are very delicate and may be damaged or destroyed by weeding. Mature plants are 12” to 18” tall. First harvest should be 60 to 80 days after germination. For consumption, carefully pick pods when pods begin to fill out and are firm. Prompt and frequent picking increases yield and produces tender beans. Leaving pods on the plants yields beans that are too tough for consumption, and are suitable only for saving for next year’s crop. Lima beans may be eaten fresh, canned, or frozen, or they can be dried for later consumption.

Lima beans are pollinated by bees. For seed saving, avoid cross-pollination with other varieties of Lima, fava, or runner beans by isolating the plants you save seed from by a quarter mile or more. Alternatively, you can plant flowers to attract bees away from the Lima bean plants intended for seed saving. At the end of the growing season allow the pods to dry thoroughly on the bush. Dried pods are light brown, and the pod will rattle when shaken. After drying in place, pick the pods and remove the seeds. Spread the seeds to dry further, and store them in a cool, dry place for planting the following year.