Friday, March 16, 2012


I love spring. It holds so much promise, so much potential. We can shed winter layers, dig out our running shoes and light weight jackets and finally get out into the warm sun again. Having said all that, I acknowledge, we've not had a "normal" winter round these parts. There's not been the 8 feet of snow I got to play in as a child. No day after day of bone numbing blizzards that hid your hand at the end of your arm. We even got lucky with no major round of flu or colds. (Knock on wood)

Yay for spring! I've been trying to grow little things all winter. Some have grown, some not.  A couple of green things surprised me this week, but more on that in a little bit. Last night I was following agricultural links and I found myself at a new-to-me site, the National Agriculture Library.  Following link after link, I eventually found a large collection of images that the American government used during World Wars 1 and 2 to inspire it's citizenry to grow gardens and preserve their bounty. I also found a collection of seed catalogue covers  dating from the early 1800's to  the Great Depression. I was pretty excited about this, and I'll be showing some of those posters and seed catalogue covers off here  over the next little bit. The one I shared today is from the Farmer Seed Co.  in 1907. Some of these seed companies featured some amazing artwork! Of farming importance in 1907, from The History of Canada Online,
"In the early 1900s, Charles Saunders, a plant breeder apppointed "Dominion Cerealist", worked rigorously to strain crosses of rust resistant Red Fife and Hard Red Calcutta wheat. In 1907 he tested a new frost-resistant strain he called Marquis at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. It matured much faster than Red Fife, and the shorter growing season meant farmers could grow the more valuable grain farther north. By 1910, over 2000 local farmers in were growing wheat where it not had been grown before. Marquis proved to be a sensation, and the Canadian wheat harvest soon tripled. By 1920, 90% of the entire Prairie wheat crop was Marquis. Farmers opened up thousands more hectares of land, and new mechanical tractors and threshers boosted production further."

The Cyclopedia of American Agriculture in 1907 lists pumpkins as stock feed, and advises,
"The best farmer is not the one who knows the most "science," but the one who is best able to organize the facts and the business into a harmonious system or plan.  The principles that underlie such organization are now beginning to be apprehended, and we think we see the possibilities of a sound farm philosophy, with wise generalizations from the mass of rapidly accumulating facts and practices.  Farm management will be a fertile subject for writers in the years to come. The basis of farm organization is the cropping plan or the crop management.  On this project or scheme rests the maintenance of fertility and consequently of productiveness, the subsistence of livestock, the economy of labor, the type of business."

They knew even then that the farm was a collection of systems. Smart.

The Cyclopedia continues on about crop rotation,
"A rotation of crops can be so planned as to maintain the supply of humus in the soil.  This humus, coming from the decay of organic matter, adds to the plant-food content of the soil and, what is usually more important, exerts a great influence in securing a proper physical texture of the land.  The Bureau of Soils recently asserts that the chief value of humus is to cleanse the soil of toxic excreta.  The humus is chiefly supplied by the grass crops and clover crops in rotation.  The practice of "green-manuring" rests chiefly on the need of supplying humus.  Green-manure crops are those that are grown for the special purpose of being turned under, root and top, and are not usually a difinite part of the rotation; but, so far as it goes, the root-and-stubble part of similar crops employed in the rotation answers the same purpose." (Spelling mistakes theirs, not mine)

There's a lot to learn about agriculture from the old manuals.

This week, I germinated sunflower seeds, and they're actually growing! Yipee! Of the six peas I started, I thought I was going to lose them all, but three of them decided not to give up the ghost. On The Apartment Prepper, Bernie talked about re-growing celery, so I'll be trying that in the coming week.
Are you starting anything green in the upcoming week?


Jacquelineand.... said...

Re-growing celery? I can't wait to read that one!

Jenn said...

I really love old posters and catalogues - I've printed a few and hung them up as inspiration, especially in the kitchen. I'll have to check out that archive, though - I don't think I've seen it.

I'm hoping to get some seeds started this week. Tomorrow I'm out to see if I can find a fixture for my new grow lights, and something to start seeds on - it's just too dark in here all the time for growing without help. I'm thinking I'll try a few different things, and see what happens.

LindaM said...

I've tried to regrow celery but it failed. I do regrow green onions though...
I started persimon and bok choy. Trying to coax along some other stuff...yarrow, tarragon, flowers, but the seeds are expired. It was more of a germination test for me. Starting leeks and parsley today...fresh seeds.