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Amparo Bertram

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08:51 pm: Seed stories
This was an eventful week on the gardening front. On Wednesday we drove up to Santa Rosa for the National Heirloom Exposition. It's a gathering for people interested in growing heirloom fruits and vegetables. The main exhibition area has table upon table displaying examples of squash of all shapes and sizes, with an enormous mountain of squash as the central attraction. There are also vendors selling all kinds of natural foods and gardening supplies and other things, plus panel discussions on various topics such as permaculture and urban gardening.

We browsed the vendors first, and I wound up with two free packets of seeds (one of which I won by correctly identifying 9 samples of seeds in little glass jars). I also bought a roselle plant (edible hibiscus), which I've been wanting for a while. I went to a panel about heirloom beans, which was seriously disappointing because the speaker spent most of the time showing slides of his farm equipment. That's not very useful to someone who measures garden space in square feet. Afterward, though, I dragged my parents back to the Rancho Gordo stall to buy two pounds of heirloom beans that I had never tried before: Moro and Rebosero.

Upon arriving home, I immediately poured out my bean purchases and sorted through them to pick out beans with distinct appearances. I managed to sort each one into seven different types based on color and speckle/stripe pattern. I can grow a small area (one square foot) of each type next year to see what kind of variation there may be.

I spent a large part of the day Thursday picking and sorting more beans. I thought I should post a picture of my harvest this year, now that things are mostly wrapping up. All but the most late-maturing varieties have produced a good crop. I put together a collage using pictures of nine of the more flashy varieties. Based on the results this year, I'm already forming an idea of what I want to grow next year. I just need to find space for it all. I suspect I will have to squeeze a lot more into my front yard.

Interestingly, my bamboo is sending up a bunch of new shoots. I'm glad that it has established itself well enough, but at the same time I'm kind of surprised, because I thought the shoots sprouted in the spring.

Today I cleared the weeds out of the front yard. Most of the summer flowers are starting to die down, but my reblooming irises are sending up a few flowers, and my begonia is finally sprouting. (I was afraid it had died last year, so I'm glad to see it making an appearance.) The volunteer cherry tomatoes have just about hit their peak. The figs are doing well, and even the artichoke is producing a bit of a late summer crop. I've started a few winter vegetables, so I should have a number of seedlings of cabbage, kale, and leeks ready to transplant into the ground shortly.

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