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Posts Tagged ‘New Society Publishers’

Collection of strainers and colanders to clean seeds. Find these in your kitchen or at yard sales-BLOGIt is easy to talk about saving seeds and what a good thing it is to do. In fact, I wrote a whole book about that—Seed Libraries and other means of keeping seeds in the hands of the people. You will be able to read it when it becomes available in late January/early February 2015. I’ve been working on it all year and have now submitted it to New Society Publishers. In the coming months it will be going through the editing process and everything else involved in bringing a book to fruition. In Seed Libraries I give some tips about saving seeds, but it is not about the ins and outs of seed saving. Rather, it is about how to establish a community seed saving project and keep it going.

I thought I’d give you a preview of the photos that will appear on one of the eight color pages in my new book. You can read all you want about when to harvest the seeds, but when it comes right down to physically doing that, I’m sure you will have some questions. When saving seeds you need a way to separate the seeds from the chaff and you can do that using seed screens. As you will see, there are seed screen options to fit all budgets. The first photo shows my collection of colanders and strainers. You probably have these items in your kitchen already. When I visit yard sales I keep an eye out for ones that might have different size holes than what I already have. These work great and the price is right. However, the holes are not always the size I want to work with.

Homemade seed screens-BLOGThese two wood-framed screens were made with scrap wood and hardware cloth. The smaller one has ¼” holes and the larger one has ½” holes. The smaller one is borrowed from a friend. I made the larger one to facilitate working with beans and cowpeas. I can thresh the beans from the dried pods in an old pillowcase by hitting it with a piece of old broom handle. Everything gets poured out of the pillowcase onto the screen. The wood sides keep things contained so I don’t have pods and beans all over the place. When we moved to our five acre farm thirty years ago, I found an old screen like this in a shed. I made my new one to the same dimensions. I added the wooden blocks in the corners to strengthen the frame and to keep seeds from getting caught in the corners, and made a box to fit under the screen frame to catch the seeds.

With half-inch holes, some chaff comes through with the beans. Chaff that is smaller than the seeds can be quickly dispelled by pouring everything through a screen that is slightly smaller than the seed, holding the seed back and letting the chaff and dust through. I usually use this system for cowpeas and you would think that the quarter-inch screen would do that job for me, however I need something just a little smaller. Some of the cowpeas pass through the quarter-inch spaces. If I was trying to sort the seeds to save the largest, that would be an advantage.

Interchangeable sieves found at an Indian grocery store. Cost less than $15-BLOGThanks to my friend, Molly, I discovered the 4-in-one sieves that are available at Indian grocery stores. There is one stainless steel frame that is 8 ½” in diameter and four interchangeable screens—the holes in the largest are 1/8”. My interest in these screens is in working with the small seeds. Currently I have kale seeds to thresh with these screens. The screens are lightweight, don’t take up much space, and have the size holes that I want. For home use, this does well and should last a good while, but it is not going to stand up to the abuse that the screens in the first two photos will. At a cost of less than $15, these screens are a good deal.

Seed cleaning screens. Cost about $190-BLOGBy contrast, here is a professional set of eight screens that will take much handling for years to come. With eight different sized holes, you could surely find the size you needed. The price for these screens is about $190. With the other options available, you would have to be a serious seed saver to invest in something like this. Or maybe you just have more money than I do. These screens would be good for farms with many different people handling them and lots of seeds to thresh.

kale seeds-BLOGMy last photo is not in the book. It shows threshed kale seed put through the small yellow plastic strainer, with the pods left behind in the strainer. It works just fine! I acquired this strainer when my mother was going through her cupboard to give me a few things. I asked about the strainer and she said she didn’t think I would want it because it was plastic. She was right—I avoid plastic in my kitchen, but this strainer stays with my seed saving supplies. I like it because the holes are small rectangles, rather than circles. If you are a seed saver, take a look around your kitchen before you spend money on seed cleaning screens. What you need might already be there—at least to get you started.Homeplace Earth

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GrowSustDiet~Cat100%25I have written a book! Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth is being published by New Society Publishers. Look for it to be released in Spring 2014. To quote from their website, “New Society Publishers’ mission is to publish books that contribute in fundamental ways to building an ecologically sustainable and just society, and to do so with the least possible impact on the environment, in a manner that models this vision.” Sounds like a good fit for me, don’t you think? They did a great job designing the cover. For years people have asked me when I was going to write a book. They began asking me that when what I was teaching was already in the books I suggested they read, so I told them to get reading. What I am doing now is not readily available in the books presently on the market, so I’ve put my work into print. This book is for folks who want to grow all, or a substantial amount, of their food and do it in a way that has a small ecological footprint. Particular attention would need to be paid to crop choices for your diet and for feeding back the soil.

The cover crop and garden planning information from my DVDs is included in this book, in addition to information about planning your whole diet from homegrown and locally sourced food. If you like what you have found in this blog and on my DVDs you’re going to love this book. I wrote it just as I have always taught, mentioning resources and books for further reference as I go along. As always, you’ll find stories from my personal experiences. I think a story sticks in your memory better than lists of what to do or what not to do. I don’t tell you just how much space it would take to grow all your food, since that depends on your crop choices, soil fertility, climate, etc. What I do is to help you think things through and determine the answers to your questions for yourself. For those of you who like my worksheets, this book shows all the worksheets from my garden planning DVD, plus a new one. From what I’m told, there will be a link in the book for you to access PDFs of the worksheets online.

a good day -BLOGIf you wanted, you could use the information from this book to plan a complete diet of homegrown foods. My intent is for you to realize what it would take to grow all your food, then plan accordingly to grow what you can, considering your skills, equipment, garden space and fertility, and time available. You could start today to compare what you are presently eating to what you harvest from your garden. Most folks would need to make some changes in their eating and in their growing to get them in sync. Really take a close look to determine what you do best in your garden. If you are not going to be growing everything, you could start now to see what is available locally. So, as much as this book is about growing all your own food, it is also about community. We need to be part of the food systems in our communities. There are changes coming in our society. Some predictions point to a collapse of our society, but I prefer to think of it as a change, and changes are not necessarily bad. Working together, we can make sure the changes in our local food systems are good ones. Besides, if change happens suddenly and people are unprepared, they will be lining up at your garden gate for some (or all) of what you are growing. You can participate in the food system as a consumer (buying what you aren’t growing), as a grower, or as a teacher. Once you learn from this book and all the resources that I suggest, and you have experienced some success in your garden, teach it to others. This book and my DVDs are teaching tools that you can use. After all, I developed these materials after many years of teaching at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

Besides chapters on diet planning, crop choices and management, garden planning, and seeds; there are chapters about including animals, food storage and preservation, and sheds and fences. I want you to consider the whole of what it takes to get food from the seed to your table, in a way that nourishes you and replenishes the earth. I encourage you to keep an open mind and make changes in what you are doing if they appear to be necessary. Most importantly, I want you to understand why you are doing what you do.

New Society will be announcing Grow a Sustainable Diet with their other upcoming spring books. When they do, as with all new books, they will be offering a discount for orders before the release date, in case you are looking for a deal. Once it is released I’ll add it to my website at www.HomeplaceEarth.com along with my DVDs. Writing this book has been quite an adventure.  I can’t wait for you to read it!Homeplace Earth

 

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