Monday, 27 June 2016

10:38 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket. We have two of those in Sparta: Lowe’s where she always shops, and Food Lion, which she generally avoids. Lowe’s has a middle-class and higher customer base, while Food Lion has mostly poor and lower middle-class customers. But there are a few things that our small local Lowe’s doesn’t carry that Barbara wants, so she’s going to do a look through there just to see what they carry.

While she’s there, she’s going to pick up a bag or two of baby Lima beans for me. Someone emailed me the other day to ask if she could plant stuff she bought at the supermarket, because it’s much cheaper than ordering seeds. The answer is yes and no. There are two issues to consider. First, is the supermarket seed (she asked specifically about dry beans) a hybrid or open-pollinated. If the former, it won’t breed true, although that may not matter because it may still produce usable plants, albeit with significant differences from plant to plant. The second issue is how the seeds were dried before packaging. Seeds are living things, and heat much higher than body temperature will kill some or all of them, depending on the temperature and length of treatment. When I dry seeds, I don’t use temperatures higher than 85F (~30C). In other words, like a warm day. The risk with using a commercial food dehydrator is that even the lowest temperature setting may be too hot for the seeds’ well-being.

I told her that most beans and legumes sold in grocery stores are open-pollinated, simply because they work fine as is and it would be too labor-intensive and expensive to produce hybrid seeds for planting. I’ll plant a few of supermarket baby limas in planting trays just to see how they do.