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Messages - Ellendra

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Plant Breeding / Re: Schwarzenberen
« on: 2019-08-16, 07:56:59 AM »
Sounds like an interesting project, though quite surprising to me, given that I grew up being taught these were poisonous (they are an occasional weed around here). As such I would personally be wary, though some of the wild ancestors of even our most commercially important nightshades (and modern ones even on occasion) reportedly can cause toxicity in humans as well, and have just been bred not to.

There's a lot of confusion between Solanum nigrum and Atropa belladonna. Some botanical texts, usually older ones, even consider them the same plant. It doesn't help that they're both called "Black Nightshade".

The berries of Solanum nigrum are edible. I think they taste better cooked, but that's a personal preference. Supposedly the very young leaves can be rendered edible if cooked in several changes of water, but I've never tried that.

Atropa belladonna is too poisonous to meddle with.

(I once wrote a Sherlock Holmes fanfiction, where a woman faked her own suicide using Solanum nigrum berries, because she knew the person watching her couldn't tell them from Atropa belladonna.)

Plant Breeding / Re: Watermelon Landrace (project)
« on: 2019-08-15, 06:26:34 AM »
I wonder if "Art Combe's Ancient" watermelon might be a good addition to that mix? Its descended from seeds found in a cave in Arizona. Supposedly it can be grown in desert regions with little or no irrigation.

Community & Forum Building / Re: The business of seed growing
« on: 2019-08-10, 10:24:09 PM »
I know this is an old thread, but it caught my eye and made me want to join the forum.

I'm a contract seed grower. Most of my experience has been with Baker Creek, although I do occasionally take on contracts from individuals or other smaller companies. I have to say, its really exciting getting those little surprise packages from them every spring! Almost as exciting as the fact that they're paying me to play in the dirt :)

I agree that teaching is probably your best bet for a steady income, but if you decide you have time for a small growing contract, you can still make a little extra that way.

The easiest way to get started is to email your favorite seed company and ask if they could use another grower. Each company will have a different pay scale and may have additional requirements, but they can send you that information. Include a few brief details about your gardening experience in your initial email. Treat it like a cover letter. They'll tell you what to do from there.

You don't need to have a huge garden. Some varieties don't need much space. Culinary herbs, for instance. There are enough varieties of Basil in most seed catalogs that they don't need much of any particular one, so a tiny backyard garden might be enough. Being able to isolate them so they don't cross-pollinate is very important, though.

About the contracts: The amount of seed you promise to deliver isn't so much a minimum as a maximum. It's a legal way of calling "dibs". If the contract says you'll deliver 10 pounds of seed at $X per pound, there's no shame in only being able to deliver 5 pounds. They'll still pay $X per pound for whatever you were able to deliver, and they won't hold the shortage against you.

If, on the other hand, you produce 15 pounds, the company is not obligated to buy the extra. They usually are willing to, but its negotiated separately. Baker Creek, for example, usually pays 1/2 of $X for any seed beyond what was stated in the contract, although if they expect a high demand they'll sometimes pay full price. But I'm not required to sell the extra to them, I can keep it or sell to another buyer.

What you can't do is produce 10 pounds, then refuse to deliver it because someone else offered you more. That would be a breach of contract.

I hope that helps paint a clearer picture. I'd be happy to answer any questions anybody has about the job.

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