Saving seeds from last year’s crop

Seeds are pretty inexpensive, and you can find just about any variety of anything in the world online. But this year we selected seeds from some of our best organic plants that were left in the garden to fully mature and produce seeds well into Autumn.

I take small brown paper bags, place the seeds in them, label them with the variety and date and allow them to fully dry for a couple weeks. Since warm temps and humidity can ruin your seeds, place them in small airtight jars and then store in a cool place like your fridge.

Fermenting Seed: This year I went a step further with my tomato seeds by fermenting them. This removes the seed’s gel which contains a germination inhibitor and other potential disease. The entire process take about 5 days, but the steps are pretty easy.

 

Take a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of filtered water and place the freshly harvested tomato seeds in the water and sit in a cupboard for 3-5 days. Over time, the seeds will float and then sink. A film or mold will develop over the top and the water will become a little cloudy. It will also smell really bad. This is normal.

Close to the 5th day, or when all the seeds have sunk to the bottom, carefully remove the top film and then add water. What you are wanting to do is stir up the pulp and other sediment to slowly pour off until you can put the seeds in a sieve and rinse. Set them aside on a paper plate (seeds will stick to napkins) to dry. You should have fuzzy seeds ready to plant next year!

Searching for wild ‘Hen of the Woods’ mushrooms in Tennessee

As you enjoy the beautiful colors of Fall this year you may notice several varieties of wild mushrooms growing at the base of some large hardwood trees in Tennessee. One mushroom in particular we need your help finding is called “Hen of the Woods,” or Maitake (Grifola Frondosa).

If you find one of these beautiful native mushrooms, and you live within about 75-100 miles of our organic farm in Woodbury, TN, we’d love to come visit and take tissue samples to replicate in our farm’s mushroom lab.

What to look for: The huge 9 lbs. Maitake pictured here was found on our property October 22, 2012 at the base of a large oak tree. You can find them either at the base of oaks and other hardwoods or running along large surface roots fanning out from the tree. They usually return year after year (learn more).

What we’ll do: we will bring a small lab kit to sample the tissue, replicate the mycelium in a petri dish and then spawn the culture samples into various growth mediums including sawdust and pegs for logs. If you find one, call us at 615-469-7778. We will only positively identify this variety of mushroom in person, but close-up photos emailed to us can help us decide whether to make the trip.

If you are interested in growing your own Shiitake or Maitake mushrooms on logs at home, send us a short message to receive future notifications on scheduled workshops or availability of spawn pegs and inoculated logs from Half Hill Farm.

Read more: Paul Stammets has a nice article that includes excellent research on Maitake mushrooms and its medicinal value, in particular for Type 2 Diabetes. Below is the nutritional value of Maitake mushrooms excerpted from the article.

  • 377 calories per 100 grams dry weight
  • 25 percent protein
  • 3-4 percent fats (1 percent polyunsaturated fat; 2 percent total unsaturated fat; 0.3 percent saturated fat)
  • ≈60 percent carbohydrates (41 percent are complex carbohydrates)
  • ≈28 percent fiber
  • 0 percent cholesterol
  • B vitamins (mg/100 g): niacin (64.8); riboflavin (2.6 mg); and pantheonic acid (4.4 mg)
  • High concentration of potassium: 2,300 mg/100 g (or 2.3 percent of dry mass!)