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Turtle Tree seed crops from left to right: Provider Premium Snap Bean (with a crew member weeding), trial Brussels sprout, Clear Dawn Onion and Ashworth Sweet Corn. Photo courtesy Turtle Tree Seeds

NATURE’S TURN: On the cusp of winter, Turtle Tree Seeds turns toward spring

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By Monday, Oct 22, 2018 Farm and Table

October 22 – November 4, 2018

Mount Washington — With the Sun slow to rise and quick to set, gardeners and farmers were alert to the lurking killing frost. There were tender plants to be dug and potted for wintering over indoors and others to be gathered and safely placed in cold storage. I am always reluctant to end the growing season: Flourishing, late season greens and root crops have the potential to grow larger, green peppers the trajectory to ripen to red and beans to swell in the pod. Morning glory buds might unfurl and myriad flower seeds mature and self-sow.

About 10 days ago, I dug and potted several lemon grass and amaryllis plants, gathered up all the Hokaido and Butternut squashes, and picked the last of the tender beans and tomatoes. I began to pull the lovely, white Japanese turnips, the leaves of which are delicate and sweet-piquant. Last week, on the eve of the deepest chill and wind chill of the season, I reached into reserves of dogged determination to secure my harvest of fennel, dill, peppers, French sorrel, amaranth and most of the turnips. I covered lettuce with season extension cloth. With a nod to Asian greens, carrots, celery, parsnips and beets, I counseled them to show fortitude and to come through the tempestuous 28-degree nights. They did, although their tender neighbors succumbed to the black frost.

Screens for separating seeds from dust, leaves, sticks, etc., and sorting by size and shape. Photo: Judy Isacoff

When fall turns toward winter, preparations for the 2019 growing season are well underway at Turtle Tree Seeds, a unique biodynamic and organic seed producer and distributor located in nearby Copake, New York. Unique because Turtle Tree attests to exclusively offering “100 percent open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable, herb, and flower seeds grown without the use of chemical inputs.” Further, “Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition … Most biodynamic initiatives seek to embody … ecological, social and economic sustainability.

Ready to be cleaned and sorted: dried snap pea seed stock. Aug. 29, 2018. Photo: Judy Isacoff

In this spirit, Turtle Tree Seeds is a part of Camphill Village, a vibrant community that includes people with developmental differences and is dedicated to everyone living productive, fulfilling lives. At Turtle Tree, adults of all abilities, among them volunteers from around the world, work together to grow, harvest, dry, clean, test germination rates and pack seeds. Another of Turtle Tree’s social commitments is to offer public educational programs about growing and saving open-pollinated seeds. Browse the website for program offerings, especially in springtime.

Leek seed head maturing in the field. Aug. 29, 2018. Photo: Judy Isacoff

I have thrived on every aspect of my relationship with Turtle Tree Seeds, including procuring seeds and other supplies, sowing the seed, admiring the crops as they grow, savoring their robust flavor and relying on their storage potential – Rolanka Carrot and Robuschka Beet have kept in cold storage for a year. I am still harvesting colorful, tasty Asian greens, lettuce mix, Rodynda red cabbage and all the rest that survived the frost.

Co-general managers Lia Babitch and Ian Robb are excited to release two new Turtle Tree-bred varieties for 2019. They are Red Sunset onion, a round red storage onion in development for 10 years, and Robbins’ Red tomato, selected for outstanding flavor and color. Ian and Lia are planning to mail their catalogue for the 2019 growing season in early December and also publish it online at that time. Request a paper catalogue today by email at Turtle@TurtleTreeSeed.org or telephone at (518) 329-3037.

Ian, left, and Lia, right, show finished drying rack of Rolanka carrot seed heads. Aug. 29, 2018. Photo: Judy Isacoff


To request a paper catalogue call and leave a message at (518) 329-3037 or email Turtle@TurtleTreeSeed.org

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