As you may or may not know, we are pre-selling our annual sweet corn and purple hull peas that will be ready in July. The corn should be ready mid-July and the purple hull peas will be ready around the end of July.
Since we are getting the “GMO” question a lot, I decided to go ahead and write a short post about GMO crops. So is our corn GMO? Take a minute to read about genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineer organisms. The answer about our corn is below.
First of all we need to define a couple of phrases. The phrase “genetically modified organism” or GMO is what everyone uses but this phrase is not accurate. All greenhouse and field grown crops are genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification refers to any sort of modification to a plant that includes breeding as well as biotech methods. Heirloom plants are a result of genetic modification from cross breeding open pollinated varieties that produced that specific plant. Hybrid plants are another example of genetic modification.
Genetic engineering (GE) or transgenics is the phrase/term that most people mean when they say “GMO”. Genetic engineering means using biotechnology to manipulate a organism’s genome.
Here are some points to consider (Source: Inside Grower “The Real Story Behind Genetic Engineering” by Jennifer Duffield White, January 2014):
- Most GE crops are field grown crops.
- The most common GE crops in the US are soybeans, corn, cotton and canola.
- The GE corn is not corn with animal or human genes. Most commercial GE crops fall into these 2 categories:
- Tolerant of glyphosate (RoundUp)
- Production of insecticidal proteins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a microbial insecticide which occurs naturally in the soil and is approved for organic production.
- GE crops tested and scrutinized constantly for safe consumption. Critical Reviews in Biotechnology published in 2013 which is an “overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research.” They analyzed and categorized 1,783 scientific records, published from 2002 to 2012, on GE issues. Their overall conclusion: “We can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far had not detected any significant hazard directly connected to the use of GM crops.”
- Eating transgenic DNA will not give you the personality of a bacteria. The European Commission concluded in 2010 that eating transgenic DNA does not differ from any other DNA present in food, nor does ingesting it carry a higher risk.
- There is no scientific evidence of toxic or allergic effects of GE food. Transgenic proteins go through an evaluation process to test for toxicity, stability, in-vitro issues, allergies and so on.
- Companies, farmers and procures are labeling their crops as non-GMO when there are no GMO or GE crops available that are approved to be grown. They are promoting their products as “safe” when there are no “un-safe” products available and in doing so they are preying on public fear and perpetuating the supposed dangers of a GMO or GE product.
So to answer the question, yes we do grow a GE corn that has the Bt gene added. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) by itself is approved for labeled organic production. So by inserting the gene that produces the all natural insecticidal proteins into the corn, we get a corn that has a gene that produces a natural Bt proteins that helps the corn have fewer worms in the ears.
Last week I heard a presentation from a member of the University of Arkansas Agriculture Department. This gentleman has spent nearly 40 years doing field trials and evaluations that look for dangers to our food sources. Chemical companies support this type of research that the USDA uses to determine whether or not a certain chemical is safe to use on field crops. He mentioned how closely the crops are monitored and tested to make sure that they are safe for consumption.
He also made a statement that stuck with me. He said that we can’t feed the county with non-GMO crops.
What is not understood is that with out our advances in crop yields that are due to GMO from both breeding and genetically engineered crops, there would not be enough food to feed everyone. If you don’t believe me, try growing a garden of heirloom vegetables and try to feed your family completely from just your garden. I think you would be surprised at how little each heirloom plant produced and how many of them succumb quickly to a disease.
In my opinion, GE crops are safe and necessary for farmers to continue to produce crops that are both plentiful and affordable. There will be a lot of do not agree with me and that is entirely up to you. However, I caution you to thoroughly research and validate where you are getting your information. I recently read an outlandish and ridiculous article about the dangers of GMO crops. No where in the article was any links to research supporting their claims.
Today as I searched for an image to use in this post, I can across a graphic of the Top 10 GMO Crops which included tomatoes. By the definition of GMO above, yes there are a lot of GMO tomatoes in production that have been bred for disease resistance and higher yields but there are no GE or transgenic tomatoes in production in the US. The point is that while this graphic was correct by the literal definition of GMO, it was misleading by implying that we all are eating transgenic tomatoes when there are no transgenic tomatoes currently on the market.
There are dangers and concerns with GE crops and the producers are well aware of them. They are taking extraordinary precautions to make sure that there are no un-safe crops being grown. There are numerous trials, studies and research that are currently ongoing to ensure the safety of the food we eat.
We hope that you will enjoy some corn with us this summer but we also understand if you are not comfortable with a GE corn. If you do want some of our sweet corn and purple hull peas, you can order by calling us at 479-474-1125 M-F between 8 am and 4 pm.
Thanks and have a great week!
Our Ozark Beauty Strawberries are ready now. They even have small strawberries on them. Ozark Beauty Strawberries are ever bearing strawberries which means that they produce strawberries consistently through the spring. They will produce some off and on in the summer and then again some in the fall.
The strawberries are small but sweet. You need a good sized patch of them if you are looking to harvest a large amount.
Charley’s Vegetables Ozark Beauty Strawberries will be available in Garden Centers across the south over the next few weeks as the Garden Centers open up and stock up. You can see the list of Garden Centers here.
If you don’t live near us or one of the Garden Centers, you can buy direct from Becky’s Bloomers at www.buygardenvegetables.com.
Click for more information on How To Grow Strawberries.
The hottest trend in vegetable gardening these days is actually an old-time favorite: heirloom tomatoes. This revived interest stems from the search for the standout flavor from days of old. But as even the most seasoned gardeners know, it can be challenging to produce a modest harvest of a traditional variety.
Bumper Crop Grafted Tomatoes (left) yield up to 50% more than standard heirlooms
That’s where Grafting comes in. This natural method is an ancient technique dating back some 7,000 years to China. Often grafting is associated with roses and with apple and other fruit trees. In the world of tomatoes, grafting allows the benefits of a hybrid tomato – high yields, disease resistance, tolerance to weather stress like hot and cold – while maintaining the true essence of the delicious homegrown fruit.
Here’s the back story on grafted tomatoes:
1. Skilled technicians hand cut heirloom top scions (the fruiting portion) and strong hybrid rootstocks (the underground rooting portion).
2. A special grafting clip is used to join the scion and the rootstock.
3. Grafted plants are nurtured until fully fused.
4. In just a few weeks, garden-ready grafted tomato plants are ready to make their way into your garden.
Bumper Crop Grafted Tomatoes from Burpee Home Gardens deliver yields of 50% more fruit than standard heirlooms. What’s more, they come from Burpee, the most trusted name in home gardening.
“Grafted tomatoes provide a kind of insurance policy against soil-borne disease and stresses. They might cost a little more, but you’ll get higher yields from a combination of disease resistance and the vigor that the strong rootstock provides,” states Scott Mozingo, Product Manager for Burpee Home Gardens.
Grafted tomatoes require only a few special planting instructions. Make sure the grafting scar is at least 1 inch above the soil at planting; burying the graft negates the benefits. Provide extra support like a trellis or cage. Because of their vigorous growth, grafted tomatoes are not recommended for containers. Besides that, care is as straightforward as a regular tomato: sunny location, moist soil and regular fertilizing are all that are needed to produce superior yields.
Additional details on Bumper Crop grafted tomatoes and the full lineup of Burpee Home Gardens vegetables, herbs and flowers are available at burpeehomegardens.com.
Hey everyone, Been a while since I posted. Things have been really busy. We are in Dallas for a few days working vendor days for the Calloways Nursery stores. We are showing off some of our new stuff that we have in the works for this spring. We work up this morning to a surprise snow storm that blew through. All the weather people here in DFW were surprised. Traffic was awful to horrendous but we didn’t have to be at our appointment until 10am so we missed all the bad traffic. We got to meet a lot of great folks from all the stores and also got to see some old friends. Tomorrow we get to meet more people from all the stores.
Heading to bed now. Check back tomorrow for more pics. I should have time to post of the way home. I will show you some of the new stuff you all can look forward to.
I love finding new, exciting and EASY ways to help an ailing plant or garden. Easy ‘medicine’ for my plants is a big thing for me. If it takes a lot of work, I’m probably just going to let that plant die and buy a new one. (Shhh…don’t tell Jason that. As far as he’s concerned, I have a green thumb got it?) But I never dreamed that my plants might actually benefit from real medicine, like say Aspirin.
Yes, that little white pill we all know so well that’s been curing headaches for as long as any of us can remember, helps keep heart attacks at bay, and is rumored to reduce your risk of cancer is actually good for healing your plant’s ailments too. Who knew? According to Avant Gardener mixing 1.5 uncoated Aspirin tablets with 2 Gallons of water can bring your sick little plant back to life. Here’s how it works.
Aspirin is Salicylic Acid derived from the Willow Family. Stressed plants naturally produce Salicylic Acid in an attempt to heal themselves. Unfortunately, sometimes their efforts are too slow to save them in time. Adding Aspirin to the plant can help to speed up the healing process and save the plant. In various studies, treated plants grew faster and were able to fight off pests and diseases better than untreated plants. Aspirin treated plants also showed an increase of production in fruits, herbs, and veggies. Martha McBurney, the master gardener that first tested the effects of Aspirin Water on plants at The University of Rhode Island even treated their seeds with Aspirin and reported 100% germination. You can even add an Aspirin to your vase of fresh cut flowers to keep your flowers fresher longer. I don’t think I will ever look at Aspirin quite the same way again.
I haven’t read any studies yet on whether eating fruits and vegetables treated with Aspirin Water can help deter headaches, but I figure it probably couldn’t hurt to try.
For more info on how Aspirin can help your garden, visit PlanTea.
Minty Fresh doesn’t have to refer to just your toothpaste anymore. Now you can catch a breath of minty fresh air in your garden too. Mint is a hardy perennial that is determined to grow. Some sites will say if you are notorious for killing every plant you touch, then mint is just the plant for you. And it’s just as happy in a pot as it is in the garden making it a happy addition to even the smallest of patios. Add in the fact that a lot of mints are natural pest deterrents and Mint quickly moves to the top of the planting line.
A Seasoned Mint Planter will warn you that even though Mint is easy to grow, it’s also a bit of a bully. Mint spreads and can prove a tough competitor for any other plants you happen to plant it next to. So if you want to plant your Mint in your garden or landscape, remember to create a barrier to keep your mint under control. You can do this by either digging a large hole and then lining it with plastic (be sure to add drainage holes) or you can dig a large hole and place a large plastic container (again, don’t forget the drainage holes) inside the hole, fill with dirt and then plant the Mint inside the container. Be sure to follow the instructions on the plant’s tag for proper spacing, sun requirements, and watering.
Harvesting Mint is just as easy as growing it. Simply pinch off the stems for fresh mint leaves to use in tea, recipes, or even a mixed Mint bowl of potpourri. Parks Brothers carries a wide selection of Mint including Apple Mint, Chocolate Mint, Orange Mint, Peppermint, and Spearmint!
For some unique ways to use Mint in your day to day life, check out this page on Health.com! I’m thinking their recipe for Mint Shampoo is something I have just got to try Minty Fresh Hair? Oh yeah, I could handle that!
If you’re like me, when you saw the first hint of Spring, the first thing you thought of was how much you really want a tomato. But not just any tomato, a homegrown tomato from your very own garden. Which of course can only mean it’s time to start getting your garden spot ready for tomato plants. This is a yearly tradition for me. Craving a tomato and preparing the garden.
It’s a lot of work. You have to dig. You have to weed. You have to break up big clumps of dirt. You have to remove all the rocks that mysteriously showed up over the winter. And then you have to re-remove all the rocks after your faithful dog retrieves said rocks and returns them to your garden. Oh and you have to replenish your soil to replace the nutrients your veggies borrowed from the ground last year. Wait, what?
That’s right. Every year the vegetables you plant borrow essential nutrients from your soil to grow and produce those wonderful fruits and veggies you love so much. And it’s up to you to put those nutrients back so the vegetable plants you plant this year can produce quality veggies again. Failure to do so can leave you with a less than bountiful harvest this growing season.
There are several ways to replenish your soil’s nutrients. Our best recommendation is to take a sample of your soil to your County Extension Office to be tested. They can tell you EXACTLY what your soil needs and what you should add for optimum growing results. But if you’re like me, you won’t go that route. I’m the type that always asks for directions, and then goes in a completely different route. So if you are like me, here are some alternatives.
1. Use Osomocote or a Time Released Fertilizer. Be sure to work the fertilizer into your soil and follow the instructions on the label exactly.
2. Add Compost, Manure, or Worm Castings. Compost and manure work better when added in the Fall and allowed to winter over, but you can add it now as long as you work it into your soil very well and they are well decomposed. If it is not decomposed enough, it will actually rob your plants of nitrogen to finish the decomposing process. And your plants NEED that nitrogen, so make sure it’s well decomposed.
3. Add Miracle Grow or a Water Soluble Fertilizer. Again, be sure to work it into the soil and don’t over fertilize. Follow the instructions on the label and only fertilize once every week or every two weeks.
4. Pray for Snow. According to Jason Parks and a few websites online, Snow is the ‘Poor Man’s Fertilizer’. Not only does Snow saturate your garden with lots of life giving water, it also saturates your garden with a ton of nitrogen which is an essential nutrient for your plant’s growth. (Personally, I’m putting my foot down at praying for Snow. But Jason swears it works. I’m skipping manure too, because it’s gross and it smells bad. But that’s just me.)