Tag Archives: Mexico

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