For starters, I went through and catalouged all the seeds we already have. Mama is working on the seed order and she asked me to take care of this end of the job as she had other things to do and was a nice, slow easy paced task for a daughter who must confess to not feeling tip-top upon this overcast day.
As it turned out, there was absolutely no need for more peas...at all. Carrots, yes, but not peas. Things like peppers, melons, cucumbers, and winter squash were also pretty much relegated to the "we have enough of these left over from last year" category.
We picked two or three kinds of okra to supplement the remaining okra seeds from last year (aye, we be Southrons here in this mid-west land); a couple more kinds of greens (Georgia Collards anyone? They grow fairly nicely here.) Mama picked out half a dozen or more types of lettuce. (We are practically out.)
I cannot remember if more beets ended up in the online cart, but I do know how I love beets...We needed more Blue Lake and Roma green beans. I think they were the only beans that got added...we have plenty of the red and green Chinese Noodle beans left. :D
Then we kind of had fun choosing tomatoes...ever heard of blue tomatoes? Well, we have at least one variety in the cart!
I cannot remember if we decided on another cabbage or so, but we have a goodly number of seeds left for at least one of the varieties we grew last year.
Mama also got a few different things like Emmer wheat (it's about as ancient a variety as can be found and a whole lot less glutenous than the modern stuff [wonder if even I with my wheat allergy can eat it?]) I don't know if she got the buckwheat or not, but I know most of us, if not all of us, rather like the stuff.
Then she also added some different kinds of sweet potatoes to the cart. (Do you notice a sort of classic Southern food theme going on here: okra, greens, sweet taters...the sweet potatoes grow great up here--but Northerner's don't seem to think they are to be eaten except around Thanksgiving and Christmas. :D Right, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration and generalization....)
I will end up with some 'normal' potatoes like Red (Russet's, I guess they're called), Yukons, and the like, but those we'll get locally. I really do like growing taters. I don't exactly know why, but I think they are kind of fun. :)
Mama also has a whole bunch of flowers in the cart. Daddy is going to grow flowers for the Farmer's Market. Cut flowers. I'm still wrapping my head around this one. :D None of us girls got overly excited about the prospect when Mama suggested it, but I guess Papa did!! I reckon we'll end up helping as the season progresses. (There's a secondary benefit here--bee food!! *cheesy grin* Technically, it's not actually the pollen or nectar that the bee's eat anyway...but the honey they make from it.) Speaking of bee's, I showed Daddy my hives last night, all set up in the basement, and he got a rather rambly overview of some of what I know about bees. His questions helped me dig stuff out of my memory, too. :)
After we were done running through seeds, Mama got to talking a bit about one of the trains of thought she has been following for the betterment of our soil...and she set me on the trail to learn a little more about it myself so I can help think on ways to actually implement it in a workable fashion. It is true, our soil here is plumb worn out amongst other things. Anyway, ever heard of mycorrhiza? If so, kudo's to you. As is, I went, "What-cha-ma-call-it??"
So, the short version is it's a fungus-thingy that grows on or actually into the roots of most plants (ecto- or endo-mycorrhizae, respectively). This stuff helps with nutrient and water intake...it opens up the clay-y soil and helps bunch up the sandy stuff.
Now, what has that got to do with our soil issues? Well...when the plant dies (is rooted up, plowed under, etc.), it's accompanying mycorrhiza dies. Now, what do most farmers and gardeners do once to twice (or more) per year? Yup, plow or till; breaking up the soil, turning it inside out...and destroying this helpful fungus. SO...we are trying to figure out a way to NOT till the garden and plant cover crops (I doubt they make acre garden size drills. I have noticed more farmers in the part of the world drilling rather than doing a total plowing.) I am just wondering how one plants a cover crop (such as wheat or whatever) without tilling. I can figure out the after planting part--until I run into the next years cover crop issue. So...to put this a little simpler, I can actually, in a way, see how to work a BIG chunk of land much better than I can a small piece. I personally, do not think that going and taking a hoe to break up the surface area of the previous cover crop is the most efficient method.
But...if we skip that problem for the moment and go back to the benefits...say you have the cover crop in. The mycorrhiza (which may or may not have to be put into the soil by inoculation) grows onto the roots. So, when you plant your other plants, say beans (you could make the row or plot strictly by hoe, or using one of these mini-tiller things [we do have one though I have never personally used it] since they don't till as deeply or as widely), though you may have destroyed the mycorrhiza right in that row, the surrounding soil/roots still contains it. It will be able, from there, to attatch to the new plants.
That is all rather simplified, I am sure, but that's the general idea.
I confess that I have a rather stick in the mud approach to "new" things. I think, partly, for two reasons. First, and most stupidly, it's just new, and uncharted (for me) territory. I am not a fan of change in my lifestyle or habits. (And I do rather enjoy running the tiller.)
Secondly, perhaps somewhat more logically, I am hesitant to try something new when the old is "tried and true"...but then I have to sit back and question how "true" it is. Big ag practices really only come to fruition within the past century. Before then, was the food really more nutritionally rich? (I'd hazard a "yes" to that on a couple of fronts--however, I am really too ignorant to articulate them.) So, I got to thinking about the planting. Back in the days of horse drawn plows--or even the early tractors and tag-along implements--the turning over of the soil was not quite so deep...the rows were further apart (partly, I believe to allow the farmer to come back in, either by hand or with the tag along implements, and weed)...and so the complete destruction of the mycorrhiza would have been a little less likely. Oh, and there wasn't such a plethora of herbicides and pesticides [!! One of the things I forgot to mention was that "they say" that the mycorrhiza, making the plant healthier, actually reduces the amount of insect problems!! I'm not exactly sure how...but I did read that.]...you know that stuff gets into the ground...and...and...well...I could morph this into a health/Lyme discussion, but I will spare you that agony at this moment in time.
But anyway, going back to my second point, "Old" is not necessarily better. Sometimes "New" (which can actually just be "old before the current revitalized") really is better.
Oh, well, I think I need to go feed the chickens. Hopefully, my scribbles here will help me remember what I learned this afternoon as much as (or more than) they informed y'all as to an interesting tidbit from the field of fungi.