Letter Re: Subarus and Heirloom Seeds

I’d like to compliment you on having one of the most informative new blogs I’ve seen. I’ve enjoyed reading it, so far.
I have a couple of things to contribute, one on the subject of gardening, and one on the subject of good cars to have around.

On the car, first, as it’s short: Subaru stations wagons, 4WD drive ones, if older–all new ones are all wheel drive, are fantastic vehicles for rough driving conditions. Their only drawback is that they are not diesel. My Outback has actually done the stuff you always see in Subaru’s commercials–and then gotten on the freeway and done 80 mph–all in a day’s work, no problem. I have even seen it handle rough roads and mud better than a 1-ton dually 4WD diesel truck–no exaggeration! I’ve had more than one Subaru. If you need a car, rather than a truck, for some reason, they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. The one I had before my current one was an early ’80’s model 4WD that had 250,000 miles on it, when I sold it to my neighbor, who then used it to place in the local demo derby 3 times that I know of, winning once. Parts are reasonably cheap & fixing is reasonably easy. Japanese brand, but made in Indiana. (Our other vehicle is a big diesel Dodge, so we have our bases covered.)

On to the gardening. When you are buying seeds for gardening, you want to be sure to buy open-pollinated seeds. These are non-hybrid and often heirloom varieties. You can’t save seeds from the fruit of plants grown from hybrid seed, because you those seeds will not breed true. Open-pollinated seeds will breed true from saved seed, and are, therefore, a far better choice for a preparedness-oriented gardener. There are techniques to be learned for saving seeds, and plenty of how-to info around. Squash, for example, requires hand-pollination if you want your seed to breed true, as all squash breeds cross-pollinate with each other. I have some interesting crosses that “volunteered” in my garden this year! Most sorts of seed will keep a few years, if kept in a cool dry place. My favorite source for open-pollinated seeds is Fedco Seeds, in Maine. They are a co-op, so only do ordering once a year, but their prices and available variety are top-notch!

A little-known vegetable that makes an excellent substitute for potatoes and, if you can’t find it growing wild, is extremely easy to grow, is known as a Sunchoke, or Jerusalem Artichoke. This is actually a species of sunflower with edible roots. You plant them like potatoes, and, after frost, dig the tubers up only as you use them–they don’t keep well out of the ground. I’m thinking they might keep well in a box of dirt in a root cellar, but I haven’t tried this yet. They’re very undemanding as far as watering or garden care is concerned, and extremely tasty fried up with onions! – Mrs. H.J.