Tag Archives: Arizona

A Flair For Flavor

Next up on the January Hit Parade will be our Sonoran Flair beefsteak tomato, a medium-sized sandwich slicer, smaller than some beefsteaks, maybe tennis-ball-sized. This variety is selected from F8 Solar Flair seeds(nowadays spelled “Flare” instead of “Flair”), which were selected and provided by grower and originator Brad Gates at Wild Boar Farms. We will be selecting for flavor, size and for drought and heat resistance. In the near future, we plan to select for cold hardiness as well, at high altitude gardens in Northern Arizona. At the same time, we will be carefully preserving any unusually colorful or otherwise noteworthy mutations for further investigation.

Visually, the primary distinguishing feature of these tomatoes is the presence of metallic gold stripes over a deep red appearance. The overall effect is most appetizing. Those who act on the impulse to bite into one will be rewarded with warm yet sweet flavor, a high degree of juiciness and a savory complexity that goes just as well on a bacon cheeseburger as it does with avocado and bell peppers in your salad.

Sonoran Flair Tomato

Use ground cover such as melon or squash to cool the ground and preserve moisture through the hottest part of the summer. Then you can cut the ground vines away as fall approaches, and the mature plants will produce heavily until frost.

The selection criteria for Sonoran Flair are:

  • Heat resistance. We are looking to sell a tomato seed that will set fruit well above 100 degrees. These plants have survived 120-degree summers in Southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, and set fruit in spite of spending weeks at or above 110-115 degrees.
  • Currently being adapted for short seasons and cooler summers in our Painted Desert location at 6700 feet on top of a mesa in Pine and Juniper forest
  • Drought tolerance. A scarcity of water goes with the territory when the temperatures are well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the late afternoon.
  • Size. This doesn’t mean we select for the biggest monsters we can produce. We seek to select a variety that serves as the RIGHT SIZE rather than the largest size. We’re looking for the perfect burger and sandwich slicers here.
  • As always, even if all the above criteria are met, taste is the deal-breaker. These tomatoes must taste GREAT or they just don’t make the team, simple as that.
  • Unusual colors, cherry sizes or noteworthy mutations will of course be preserved for exploration as fixed phenotypes, going into the future.
Sonoran Flair Tomato

 

The pictures show these beauties nearing ripeness in our January gardens. Over the next couple of weeks, these large berries will change color, with the lighter color deepening into red, and the dark colored stripes richening to a deep gold color.

Sonoran Flair Tomato

These are very hardy plants, having survived a brutal 2016 summer in Phoenix, and several freezes in December and January this winter. Hardy and beautiful in a single fruit. Drought tolerance is great with this variety, too. A permanent addition to our catalog.

 

Black Carrot Seeds Now Available

Been harvesting seeds from our Pusa Asita South Indian Black Carrots lately. The big one has greens that stand three feet tall, and it’s putting up seed stalks as thick as fingers. It’s a monster.

Here you can see the root crown in comparison to a one-pound coffee can and a tuna can…

Here’s a comparison shot of the seed stalks forming on this plant, compared to those of average size…

According to University of Southern Queensland research Professor Lindsay Brown, the Carrot Museum and growers in Southwest Asia, Australia and Spain, true black carrots have white centers when young, that eventually darken to purple. This information is corroborated by the Cardinal Oak Hill Farm in Central Texas, who told us their young, edible carrots were white inside with a purple ring in the center, but that the ones they pulled after going to seed were purple all the way through.

The carrots we have harvested were dark purple, nearly black at the root crown, with white centers. The taste is somewhat milder than an average supermarket sweet carrot, holding a similar level of sweetness, but more complex and layered flavor with a hint of celery to it, and no taste of bitterness or spicy bite. We especially like them for dipping into a bowl of ranch dressing. Can’t wait to try them roasted or in stews.

The blunt and twisted shape of this carrot is because it was grown in heavy clay-based soil with only a small amount of compost double-dug into the plot, which was new at the time of this planting. For a longer, more slender carrot, the soil needs to be more fluffy and full of organic material, or heavily amended sand.

Pick up a packet or two of these vigorous, unusual and tasty carrots while they’re still around. You’re not likely to see anything like them in your friends’ gardens anytime soon. Make ’em jealous and… paint the desert!

Mike and Bettie

REFERENCE: Comparison of purple carrot juice and β-carotene in a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet-fed rat model of the metabolic syndrome

Round Valley Preparedness Fair: September 24, 2016 Springerville/Eager

Having a hard time finding prepping events like trade shows, conventions, fairs and the like? Head over to the Round Valley Preparedness Fair come September 24… There’s a little something for everybody.

Torch Your Garden

The Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia Rotundifolia) is a different plant than the better-known Common Sunflower and its developed varieties (Helianthus Annuus). This flower doesn’t produce the same kind of edible seeds, but it does live and thrive just about anywhere it’s temperate. Poor soil, little water and hot sun just make these tough, beautiful flowers even happier, it seems at times.

Mexican Red Torch Sunflower

We have these plants in the full Southern Arizona sunlight for 11-12 hours a day, and all they have done is flourish in temperatures as high as 120 degrees in June and July of 2016. Nary a wilt among them all.

The big bonus is that Tithonia are irresistable to important pollinators like bumblebees, solitary native bees, honey bees, butterflies (Mexican Sunflower is a favorite of the Monarch butterfly) and hummingbirds. And they do well in more temperate climates like the Midwest and Atlantic seaboard, as well. They will need absolutely full sun and little water in those places, however.

In our opinion, you can’t find more trouble-free and effusive color anywhere else. And at the end of the season it will re-seed itself and can be tilled under to improve the soil’s carbon/nitrogen content and its texture. Leaves and flowers are edible as greens, also.

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Welcome to Painted Desert Seed Company

We grow and stock Heritage Quality, Heirloom, Open-Pollinated seeds ONLY.

Our goal is to do our part in securing regional food supplies, through diversity, hardiness, and selection for desired traits, such as flavor, color, drought tolerance and productivity. We want to provide seeds that grow beautiful, tasty and productive plants, that also happen to be tough as nails when it comes to surviving harsh conditions.

Arizona’s unique geography allows for two separate climates in which to grow: the Southern and Western Deserts (Mohave, Yucca and Sonoran) with three full seasons, and the Northern/Eastern, Alpine Life Zone at 6000+ feet of elevation, which lies alongside the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest of about 5000 feet elevation.

In both cases, drought and poor soil conditions are just the toppers to the harsh weather all over the West. Our location also provides us with access to some of the most ancient seed lines in North America, through the native people who were among the first to domesticate and develop some of today’s most productive foods, including corn, sunflower, beans, peppers and tomatoes.

Michael and Bettie Bailey, our son and a few local friends benefit from the fact that seed farming, for us, is a much-smaller scale operation than traditional row cropping on huge acreage. It only takes a few people to operate a layout which we designed as interlocking permaculture-based gardens, rather than vast fields of commercial cropland.

Victory Garden Poster

We sell only Open-Pollinated, Non-Hybrid seeds, that are grown only with natural input, both for nutrients and pest control. Extensive use of compost and soil building with mulch and crop remains are standard practice.

If we have the need to import either soil or amendments, such as worm castings or potting soil, we insist that it be sterile before it comes through our gates. It will be inoculated with the soil organisms in our operation ONLY. We are determined that nothing that comes through our gates will contaminate our natural local conditions.

This is what our children eat. The cleaner, the healthier our children’s food, the better for the world as a whole. Well-nourished and healthy leaders make better decisions, all else being equal, and the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Clean, healthy food is, therefore, a solid investment in the future that all of us share.

We constantly select for traits that thrive in our bio-region. Since our operation is located in Arizona, we emphasize ancient and adapted Heirloom Seed varieties for the Southwest Desert US, Southwest mountains, the West Coast, the Intermountain West and the Big Sky Redoubt.

We select for family subsistence, based on landrace traits when possible, for easier regional adaptation. We also undertake ongoing trials to determine the suitability of heirloom varieties from around the globe that might take well to our regional conditions.

For instance, we have found a Russian melon that thrives in the poor soil, 120-degree heat and drought of a Southern Arizona summer. Who would have thought any plant from Russia could survive, let alone prosper in such conditions? And its Northern European heritage means this same melon also does well in the standard, four-season Intermountain West.

We come from farming families, and we are life-long residents of our State. We are well aware of the needs of the people who grow heirloom seeds in our part of the world. We ARE those people, and they are our neighbors.

– mike

Farm Field Day at the Native Seed/Search Conservation Farm

Native Seed/Search is holding an open house Field day at their Conservation Farm in Patagonia, Arizona on September 24.

For details, visit https://t.co/qzcrrgpG1c

Poster for Native Seed/Search Farm Field Day 2016

Gardening With the Three Sisters

One of the most famous farming methods utilized by the indigenous tribal peoples of North America is called The Sisters. Three Sisters Planting refers to corn, providing support for pole beans, which in turn provide nitrogen fixing into the soil for the corn, and ground covering vines such as squash or melons to preserve moisture and provide cooling for the roots of the beans and corn. In the Southwest deserts, another, Fourth Sister joins the Three Sisters: Sunflowers also provide shade and cover from wind, as well as further support for beans and vines. Learn more about Gardening with The Three Sisters here:

Three Sisters Growing Guide