Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heirloom Seeds

I apologize for the long delay in blog entries. My personal life has been hectic to say the least. I have moved and am engaged to be married in the Spring. :) I may write about the language of flowers and other romantic themes soon, but today I'd like to talk about heirloom seeds for the Etsyearth Team.

Spring is coming and many people are starting to plan their gardens. One thing the responsible gardener should consider is the source and variety of seed they are buying. Many seed companies are trying to gain control over the world's seed supply, and thus, our food supply. They can and do patent hybrid seed varieties. Hybrid seeds usually do not germinate, or if they do, they will not grow true to the parent, thus necessitating the need to buy a new seed supply each year. Hybrid seeds are often genetically modified and grown with the use of chemicals. What you may want to look for is organically grown open pollinated seeds. Open pollinated means that it is pollinated by natural means such as bees and butterflies.
Heirloom seeds are by definition open pollinated. They are seeds that have been saved from year to year by backyard gardeners and traded with other gardeners. They are old cultivars that have been around for a while, generally at least 50 years, and have traits that gardeners found worth saving. Without this seed saving, we would have lost many varieties of seeds. Saving seeds helps ensure the genetic diversity of our crops. In my experience, heirloom seeds are better than hybrids in their attributes as well. Heirloom vegetables taste better and heirloom flowers smell better. It's important to grow a mix of vegetable and flowers because it attracts the necessary pollinators and using companion planting methods is a good organic method of pest control. There is also something inherently romantic about heirloom seeds. They have a history and older varieties often have folklore attached to them. Sweet William (Dianthus Barbatus), dating to at least 1760, stands for gallantry in the Victorian language of flowers and is often associated with lovestruck young men in English ballads. Heirloom tomatoes may have been saved by a particular family for generations before being "rediscovered" and made available to the public. By growing and saving heirloom seeds, you are helping to ensure genetic diversity and are saving a small part of agricultural history.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Harvest

Hello people!
I apologize for my lack of updates. The whole etsy thing really has me discouraged. They are not doing anything about all of the resellers and big companies that have taken over the plants category and I certainly can't compete. My vintage shop is just about closed now and I've cut way down on my plants and photo shops. I'm trying to push my artfire shop, and have moved the rest of my vintage stuff there as well. I'm also on winkelf and silkfair, so I really hope they start picking up. Otherwise I will need to find other sources of income.
It's been very hot and humid here lately, but we've finally gotten some rain. I'm currently harvesting loads of cucumbers and they're delicious! I grew a variety called Spacemaster this year, that has shorter vines with regular sized cucumbers, and it's been quite prolific! I'm giving cukes out to friends and family. :)

I'm growing Marglobe, Rutgers, Roma, Black Krim and Brandywine tomatoes, and they are just starting to turn red. You may have read about tomato blight hitting the east coast early this year. It's a contagious disease and is in all the big stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, etc. My relatives bought plants from there and they've died. However, I grew mine from seed and haven't had any sign of blight so far (knock on wood!). My Black Krim and Rutgers are lagging behind the others because my baby bunnies ate them and I had to start over, but that's ok. :) After all, I am working on making my yard wildlife habitat, and I use no chemicals, so they are welcome. I loved seeing them out in the yard! Now they have learned to hide so I haven't seen them for a while. I'm hoping at least some of them made it. At any rate, I cannot wait for my first tomato sandwich of the year.
Of course, the onions and garlic are done and drying. I'm growing an heirloom pepper that grows 6" long peppers and have started harvesting those as well. They're gorgeous! I'm growing tomatillos this year, although I've never had them before, and they're doing well also.

Unfortunately, my watermelons were also victim of the bunny attack, but I have an heirloom musk melon called Jenny Lind I'm trying to grow. It has lots of flowers on it, but no fruit so far. I haven't grown this before so I'm not sure if that's normal or not. I have a variety of herbs I've been harvesting and I'll devote a post to that another time.
There are loads of birds nesting, and I was happy to see them using the nests I provided as well as making their own. :) I have a raccoon that has been raiding my trash, and have seen a few snakes. The trash-raiding raccoon is annoying, but still pretty cool. :) It's late so this is it for's one last photo of a pair of baby birds in one of my trees. :) I'll write more soon!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Modish interview!

Renee Garner of Wolfie and the Sneak does a wonderful gardening column on called "Petals and Pedals". A week or two ago I read her column and saw that she had featured several of the resellers I've been complaining about. I contacted modish and let her know, although I feared it would ruin any chance I had of having my photography featured on her site. :)
Renee contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to do an interview and I agreed. I told her what we have been fighting and about etsy's lack of response, or in the case of Maria, their complete lack of knowledge and consideration of our business, not to mention their incorrect assumptions. Renee posted the interview, and with the bits she had used from my mail, I feared I sounded quite bitchy. However, it was all true, and the response has been positive. :) In addition, my store has had more sales in the past week than it's had since all the resellers moved in, and I think I have it to thank. Please stop by and check it out!
Also, Ety's Organic Team now has it's own Twitter feed. Follow us here! And my twitter is Forgotten Beauty.
I'll write more soon. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April showers...

Well, we've had lots of April showers here, so I'm expecting loads of May flowers. :) Right now I have lungwort, hyacinth, bloodroot, quince and several wildflowers in bloom.
I had loads of seedlings going and it seems I got hit with damp off for the first time ever. I've heard about this dreaded disease that slaughters seedlings, but never experienced it before. It is apparently carried in the soil, and as these were still in peat pellets, I'm guessing that's where it came from. I had small gnats flying around my seedlings, and then my lovely tomatoes started shriveling up. :( I looked it up, and tried sprinking cinnamon around my seedlings in a ditch to save them. Cinnamon is anti-bacterial, and it does appear to have saved some of my plants, but I'm afraid I lost most of my tomatoes. So, I had to start over, and make sure I clean everything well to get rid of the disease. I'm now back at square one with my tomato and cucumber seedlings, but they should still be fine for planting out in a few weeks. As a side note, for some reason my cat thinks jalapeno pepper seedlings are quite tasty. He bites the tops off of them, but nothing else. I grow the kitties a pot of wheat grass, which they enjoy munching, but Hercules seems to like a bit of variety. :)
I've been hardening off other seedlings, which involves taking them outside during the day and bringing them in at night, to gradually expose them to outdoor conditions. The majority of them are now outside constantly and are about ready to plant in the ground. I've been slowly working on weeding my beds after the winter, which is really quite a task. I have a squirrel who seems to think my tuberose is gourmet fare and is rather smart.
I caught him red-pawed one day. I have started propagating the Mexican single tuberose, which is supposed to be even stronger scented than the double that I've had for years. I sold out of the double in Spring quickly, but did not think at the time of the squirrel... I just thought that I hadn't grown as many as I thought. Anyway, the single is not hardy here, so I grow it in pots. I had propagated them in a long planter which was sitting out front, along with the main pot. I walked out and the squirrel ran off. He had dug up both planters, scrounging for succulent tuberose bulbs to munch on. So I lectured him as he watched me from the tree, and he ran off. I reburied my bulbs and straightened the pots out, then went out back and put some squirrel food out. I sat on the porch for a moment and saw this furry little thief coming around the corner of my house along the forsythia. I spoke to him and he ran off again. I went back around front only to find that he had dug up and stolen my tuberose again that quickly! Little bugger. So, now I have wire and bars over the top of the pots. When they get sprouted, I'll spray them with pepper spray, but for now I don't know how to keep him out of the bulbs. One lady on twitter suggested windchimes, so I may try that. :)
My Amish snap peas are coming up nicely, as are my sweetpeas. Plants are coming up all over the yard, but I have not been able to locate my Bleeding Hearts. I moved the red one, and haven't been able to remember where I moved it to! But I know where the white one is and haven't seen it yet, so hopefully it's just too early for them.
I don't drink much soda, but when I do it's orange Fanta. So, all winter I've saved the bottles from them, and now am using them for planting. I cut the bottoms off to use as a pot, and save the top part to put over things I'm propagating, creating a mini greenhouse. This works out pretty nicely. For plant tags, used plastic silverware are great, just make sure you mark it with a permanent marker. The first marker I used was not permanent, so when I watered the plants, it washed away the name. The bottoms of cardboard juice containers are also nice for potting up seedlings. I'd love to hear more suggestions!
This is it for now. I now have my shops set up on Winkelf, Artfire and Silkfair. The etsy shop is still active as well, although I will be closing it eventually, or keeping it at a bare minimum. Please stop in and take a look, and comments are always welcome!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ecogeneration feature

Ecogeneration has been kind enough to feature my Indian Prince calendula in her Fabulous Fridays Finds! Please check it out here!

I apologize for the lack of updates. My health has been a rollercoaster ride, and I've been busy setting up shop on places other than etsy. Here's where I can currently be found:



I'm still tweaking them a bit and have to list some plants, but they're ready for business. :) I really hate to leave etsy, but they aren't giving me any choice. I would really like to go into detail about why I'm so angry, and just how they are screwing people over, but I'm not sure people want to hear it, and it would just make me more upset at the moment. So maybe tomorrow.

Spring is finally here... things are blooming in my yard! My lungwort has gorgeous flowers on it, there is bloodroot around the corner from my house, and of course daffodils are in full bloom. Things are coming up all over and I'm busily working on seedlings. I sold out of tuberose quickly this year.. so I have to let me stock build up again. However, my lilies are propagating nicely. :) I cannot wait to smell them in full bloom on a warm summer night.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Hummingbird images via TheEye. Please visit her shop for gorgeous photography and artwork!

Everyone loves hummingbirds and many look forward to their return each year. They are tiny, gorgeous and bold. Many people set out plastic feeders with sugar water, sometimes multiple feeders because hummingbirds can be quite territorial. Hummingbirds eat spiders as well, and they make their nests out of cobwebs. So, if you wnnt to attract hummingbirds, it's yet another reason to not use pesticides.
Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors, such as red and blue. They like tubular shaped flowers and need a wide variety to nectar to support their metabolisms. They need water too, of course, so if you are able to set up a mister that's perfect for these tiny little jewels.
If you want to plant flowers for hummingbirds, here are some suggestions.
Wild Columbine - this one comes into bloom right around the time that hummingbirds return here in zone 7. It is a gorgeous flower that likes partial shade and has drooping tubular red flowers. It will modestly self seed if allowed, or you can cut off spent flowers to produce more.
Geraniums - This is the species geranium, that often have scented foliage. There are a wide variety of these. Mine produce pink flowers that my hummingbirds hit up throughout the day.
Bee Balm - There are several species of bee balm, all of which are attractive to hummingbirds. I grow the wild bee balm that has hot pink or red flowers, and which also attracts bees and butterflies. This bee balm is also known as Oswego tea and was used widely after the Boston tea party as a tea substitute.
Zinnia - I grow lilliput zinnia and Red Spider zinnias, both heirloom varieites that hummingbirds like. They seem to prefer the lilliput zinnia, I'm guessing because of its form versus the splayed form of the Red spider zinnias.
Cypress Vine - This is a hardy and beautiful vine that is a self seeding annual. It has fern like foliage and bright red tubular flowers that begin blooming in late Summer and into the Fall. I grow this by my front porch, where it grows into a hydrangea, and I often sit on the porch and watch my little visitors zoom in for a snack.
Trumpet Vine - This one gets large, and takes a while to start blooming, but it's a good one to have. Give it a tree to climb as it will need the support. It has bright red and orange tubular flowers that a hummingbird can get lost in. :)
Wild purple petunia - This one is good for container gardening, as it does not get very big. It is an annual that produces masses of hot pink and purple tubular flowers. This is the variety that modern hybrids were descended from and is not fussy.
Jasmine tobacco - I also grow this one in containers, as it is not hardy here. It can be grown as an annual, or you can bring it in over the winter as long as you don't have critters that will try to eat it. It opens in the evening to emit an intoxicating fragrance. I was pulling off dead blossoms one night and a hummingbird flew up and hovered in front of me. I froze, as we looked at each other, inches apart, and then he zoomed off. :) It was amazing!
Four o-clocks - These perennial plants form a tuber that will grow larger each year. If you live outside their zone, the tubers may be dug up each fall. They produce hot pink and yellow flowers that open in the afternoon.
Old Fashioned Weigelia - This bush gets loads of bright red tubular flowers. It's hardy and lovely. There are many new varieties but they don't have the same attractionto hummers.
Scarlet Runner Bean - This heirloom bean is difficult to find. It gets very large beans that are supposed to be quite tasty, but many people grow it for the bright red flowers. I grew some last year, but not enough to sell. I hope to grow more this year so I'll have them for sale in Fall. :)
Blue sage - This plant is just gorgeous. It can be used like cooking sage, and has medicinal properties as well. It gets bright blue spikes of tubular blue flowers that bees and butterflies enjoy as well. It will modestly self sow once established.
Cardinal Flower - this plant gets spikes of crimson red flowers that hummingbirds love, but it needs damp soil to grow. It is most often found in the wild around ponds. I am growing some on the shaded side of my house where it stays damp from the sump pump. I just planted it last year so I'm eager to see how it does.
Red sage - This is another one with bright red flowers hummers love. I had some volunteer itself into my gardens and the hummingbirds made it a regular stop.
Cosmos - This one does not have the normal tubular flowers, but I've seen hummingbirds at it. I also see lots of birds eating the seeds, especially goldfinches, but I'll do another post on that. :)
There are many other flowers you can plant for hummingbirds, depending on your region. The ones I've listed do well in the largest part of the US and I hope give you a place to start. As birds lose their habitat, all birds, not just hummingbirds, depend more and more on backyard gardens for sustenance, especially during migration. So don't use pesticides, plant flowers, and provide water and shelter to help out our wildlife. Please check out my plant shops for many of the seeds I've mentioned here and thanks for reading!

Four O'Clocks
Cardinal Flower

Wild Columbine

Wild Purple Petunia


Scarlet Runner Bean

Bee Balm

Lilliput Zinnia


Blue Sage

Trumpet Vine

Cypress Vine

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Resellers and my short temper

I'm afraid I lost my temper in the etsy forums today. I've been holding on to it for quite a while but enough is enough. The plant category is full of resellers and we have been complaining for months. Now it's Spring, they are putting a serious damper on my business, which I rely on to pay the bills.
Last year I was new to selling seeds and I did not have enough saved or get photos of all my plants. Nonetheless, this time last year I could barely keep up with orders. So, all summer long every single day no matter how much I was hurting, I went out to collect seeds. I took tons of photos of everything I could think of. I had trays all over my house of seeds drying, then spent countless hours sorting them from plant material. I set up an access database to print labels, which saves me from getting writer's cramp and looks much more professional. In other words, I worked my butt off. I love gardening, but I was seriously sick of seeds. However, I am fighting to keep up with my house payments so I did it.
I spent all winter counting out and bagging up seeds in anticipation of being possibly busier than I was last year. I'm sure I overdid it on the amount of seeds I saved, but I preferred to have too many than to run out early. Well, apparently that's not something I need to worry about, because sales have been slow.
The reason they've been slow is because etsy has become overrun with resellers. Some are downright blatant about it, and state that their seeds come from China, Tibet, wherever. Others claim they grew and collected the seeds themselves, but don't have a single photo that wasn't stolen from other sites. Etsy's TOU says you cannot use copyrighted photos, but apparently they don't enforce it. Others still have commercial websites. These places are selling at Walmart prices because it's most likely leftover Walmart seed. Folks, if a deal is too good to be true, it usually is. Organic seed companies charge $3 and up per packet, but these places are selling them and claiming they are organic (except for some that are treated...) for $1.25 a pack. This one guys even has hybrid seed he claims to have collected himself. He then goes on about how these seeds are HIS LIFE, HIS LOVE, and profit means nothing!! (And yes, he caps it...)
The thing is, multiple people have been flagging these shops for months and nothing has been done. I've quit renewing items in my photo and my vintage shops, and am only doing enough to keep my shop stocked with my garden shop. I've set up on both Artfire and Winkelf for my garden items, and am on 1000Markets and am working on setting up at Shophandmade for my photography. The things I buy, I've been buying from etsy, but I will buy them from other places until these people are gone. I realize that etsy probably doesn't give 2 damns, but it's my way of protesting.
Anyway... in the forum thread today I listed the reseller shops and provided links to either their commercial operations or to where they have stolen photos from. There's been no response from etsy in the seven days the thread has been going, but it was shut down within hours of my posting the links. I also sent these links to etsycallout and have been crabby on twitter about it.
I hate being crabby. I usually don't even go in the forums, but admin was doing nothing and again, it's my livelihood we're talking about. So, while I hate to appear to be a crabby bitch, I did what I felt I needed to to try to rescue my business.

In the meantime, there is supposed to be a nifty cart feature from Artfire that I can put right on my blog and from which you can purchase without having to set up an account. As soon as I figure it out, I'll be installing it. :) Until then, please visit me at
Wise Plants on Artfire &
Green Thing on Winkelf
Or, my etsy shop is still stocked.