Basswood’s Blog

Miriam started her second year of online school with Blue Sky School on September 5th. For PE she needs to do different physical activities or exercises for so many hours in a week. After she had spent most of the day inside setting up her school area and doing online school work, I came in and told her I found some cool mushrooms I wanted her to come out and take pictures of for me. She was not sure that taking pictures could be counted as PE, but I am calling this exercise photographic yoga. All the pictures on this post were taken by Miriam on her first day of school 2017.

Here on Garden Seed's property, where we live, we encourage as many mushrooms to grow as possible. I believe all life on Earth would die if mushrooms and other fungi were wiped out.  Mushrooms, growing on logs and other decaying things in our gardens and woods, are really working to brake down organic material and building soil in the process.

September 5 and our maples are turning

Plant or Fungi? This grows in the middle of our drive.

Small mushrooms growing on our drive

Little tiny yellow mushroom

Closeup of tiny mushroom

Tall corn from Mexico

In Northern Minnesota on September 5 this is the biggest watermelon we have growing on the vine


We walked from our house down the drive through the woods to our back field looking for mushrooms.


Mushroom growing on old animal bedding collected from the compost dump

Cluster of mushrooms growing by a stump

Closeup of mushrooms by a stump

Fungus growing on the end of a log

Closeup of Fungus growing on the end of a log

Fungi growing on old log

Closeup of fungi on the end of an old log

Mushroom starting to grow. Little sister's feet are in the background.

Little sister and I were still finding mushrooms but Miriam said she was too sore too move after all the different poses she had been striking during this 30 minute photographic yoga activity.


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I encourage my children to enter things in the St Louis County Fair here in Chisholm Minnesota.  This year my girls each won $76 dollars in prize money.   Big sister won Jr Grand Champion in the art division for a scratch art picture she did.  Marietjie won Grand Champion in the agricultural division for our turk turban squash we grew here at Garden Seeds. 

The Fair holds a youth Mr or Mrs Potato Head contest where the kids make a Mr or Mrs Potato Head using vegetables or plants as the features.

This is Marietjie's Mrs Potato Head and child that she won a blue ribbon for.  We grew everything she used to make it except the toothpicks to prop it up.

Miriam won a red ribbon for her Mrs Potato Head in the contest for her age group.

There is a entry category for pictures of St. Louis County Fairs that Miriam wants to enter next year.  She hopes to print one the pictures below and frame it.




Categories : Garden Seeds
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For the month of August Garden Seeds is featuring Irish Seed Savers. Their mission is to preserve Irish heirloom and heritage seeds. Irish Seed Savers Association maintains Ireland’s public seed bank with over 600 varieties of seeds that are not available commercially. Irish Seed Savers also has a project to preserve heritage apple varieties by growing them, in this way they preserve the biodiversity of apple trees in Ireland.
One of Irish Seed Savers Association’s main aims is to raise public awareness about the vulnerability of Irish agricultural biodiversity. They go to schools and community groups and hold workshops. Irish Seed Savers encourages and facilitates liaisons with government departments, universities and gene banks worldwide. As environmental issues and the effects of GMO seeds come more to the forefront in all of our lives, the small efforts of many to save the natural genetic biodiversity of seeds makes a real difference.
Each month Garden Seeds features a heirloom seed company. This month we chose to feature a heirloom seed company from Europe. We chose Irish Seed Savers for several reasons:

  • They contacted us last month to update their information on our site.
  • Our European Heirloom Seed Companies page is the most popular page on our website, after the home page.
  • Last but not least, we at Garden Seeds want to promote organizations that have seed banks and are working to preserve the biodiversity in our heirloom and heritage seeds.

Please see our featured heirloom seed company page for other seed companies we have featured.


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Garden Seeds’ property is on Countryside Lane which is a half mile long deadend road in Balkan Township in Northern Minnesota.  Standing in the road by our garden looking east you see where the road ends at our neighbor’s gate in the picture above.  Looking west you get the picture below.

Most days the only people that drive by are the mail man and the neighbor, so Marietjie rides her bike in the road back and forth between the house and garden.

Picking peas for our supper.

Below Marietjie is sitting in the wood chips beside the squash after gathering the eggs.

This is the rose bush in front of our house.  Yesterday we posted several more pictures of flowers.



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The pictures in this post were taken by Basswoods’ little sister Marietjie.  She is nine years old and loves taking pictures with one of Basswoods’ old cameras.   The picture above is of the entrance to Garden Seeds private drive to the back of our property.

This picture is of our dog Binti and myself.  She used to be brown but now she is 12 years old and she is turning blonde.


On our walk down Garden Seeds’ drive Marietjie stopped to take pictures of the vegetation growing in the woods.

Just before the drive comes to the field we made by clearing the trees last fall there is a ditch filled with water from our last big rain.  This is where Marietjie’s camera battery died.  She was very upset because she wanted to take pictures of our corn patch for me.

This is a picture of Basswoods’ other sister Miriam.  She took the pictures in yesterdays post.



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Basswood is traveling around Europe so that leaves his little sisters to take pictures. He did write today to let me know he was Okay.  He wrote, “K.”

The girls and I went out to Garden Seeds’ gardens to see if we could get pictures of flowers.


Here we are at the garden gate. Our main garden is fenced to keep the chickens and deer out. We hauled several pickup truck loads of wood chips for the paths and walkways.   In between the plants we use leaves for mulch.  We hauled thirty pickup truck loads of leaves last year from the compost dump.  We are not using the tiller in this garden because we believe the earthworms, bacteria, and fungi grow better if not chopped up by the tiller every year.

This is our old faithful Ford pickup. It has 195,000 miles on it but keeps on going. It would just seem weird if I showed up at the compost dump in a new truck to get wood chips and leaves.  During the summer we go almost everyday to get something from the Chisholm city compost dump that is five miles from our house.  The city workers just expect to see us there and they set aside thing that they think we will take.

Here I am by a pile of wood chips near our back corn field,  In the background you can see the area we cleared this spring for next year…  Anyway for the flowers.

Garden pea flowers

Here is a potato patch that is in bloom. The picture below is a closeup of potato flowers.

This is yarrow. It grows as a weed here. We are selective in the weeds we pull. We save plants that we think are good for one reason or another. Yarrow is a medicinal plant. I believe that if we promote enough different flowers we will have healthier bees. Yarrow is considered invasive… but, then so are earthworms here in Northern Minnesota.

This weed with the tall seed stalk that we left growing on the edge of our garden path is plantain.  We leave it so that we can chew the leaves to make a poultice for when we get stung by bees or yellow jackets.  A couple of years Basswood was clearing a trail through the woods with his chainsaw when he got attacked by yellow jackets.  He was stung several times before he could get away.  He was stung once by his eye and It swelled up quickly to the point he could hardly see.  He ran into a tree on his way to the garden to start chewing plantain.  He put the poultice of chewed plantain on his stings and it brought the swelling down and helped some with the pain.

Our favorite weed is the dandelion.  These are the easiest greens for us to grow.  Dandelions are also the first widespread flowers for our honeybees in the spring.


Above is the seed head of a dandelion,  We gathered many seeds this year so that we could have more dandelion flowers for the honeybees next spring..

This is Basswood’s little sister in the Hollyhocks.

Our dark pink Hollyhocks

Our light pink Hollyhocks. We planted one plant four years ago and it is just spreading. Below are our Elderberry bushes on the edge of the garden.

Elderberry flowers with immature berries.

On the back of Garden Seeds’ property Basswood cleared some land last fall where we put our corn patch this spring. We got a couple of pickup loads of dirt and made mounds because we could not till with all the stumps. In the mounds Basswood planted corn, peas, beans, favas, and squash. In this picture you can see a red flower that is growing as a volunteer. (Or some people call it a weed.)

These pictures are of fava plants that are flowering

I will put up more pictures tomorrow.  MarietjIe, who is pictured below to the pictures in tomorrows’ first post.










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I could not sleep this morning worrying about Basswood.  I got up at 4:30 and logged onto Garden Seed’s Facebook account.  Germany and France are several hours ahead, and I figured he would write soon.  I only had to wait twenty minutes before he wrote.  I was so worried about Basswood because the bank froze his card yesterday when he tried to get money out.


I do have the comfort of knowing that he can survive without money if he needs to.  He even has taught me how to stealth camp when needed.  Though when I stealth camp with Basswood we have the van with us.


Basswood wrote that he is in Annecy France.  He hitchhiked from Stuttgart Germany yesterday  He said he was able to get one ride across Switzerland through the Alps.  He checked out the Basel tower in Zurich Switzerland and then walked across into France.  He was finally able to get some money out of his account this morning.


Basswood is hitchhiking to  Carsassonne France for some kind of hippie gathering.  I Googled Carsassonne and hippies and found the Carassonne Festival.  The travel website I found said,  “The Carcassonne Festival is the unmissable event of the summer and in July puts on almost one hundred concerts and shows, including French and international variety shows, theatre, circus, dance, jazz, opera and classical, 80 of which are free, in prestigious venues around the city.”


Basswood has been hitchhiking around the world for enough years that he has friend who invite him to these different hippie events so they can meet up again.  He is planning on going to some kind of gathering in England next month.


Yesterday’s post about US Bank freezing Basswood’s card.



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Basswood has spent the week visiting in Germany. Last night he messaged that he was leaving for France in the morning. This morning he tried to get money at an ATM in Germany and US Bank froze his card. The reason I know this is the bank’s computer called me.  Last week after he left for Germany I went to our local US Bank branch and they put a note in the computer saying that he was going to be traveling in Europe. Well… I guess they have not taught the computer to read yet. I had to call and talk to a human today who apologized and said that the fraud department had not read the note.


Similar thing happened four years ago when Basswood went to Mexico for the first time.  He had gotten a ride into Mexico and had not had time to get money first.  As soon as he tried to get money at an ATM in Mexico… US Bank froze his account.  Back then we did not know that you have to let your bank know when you plan to leave the country.


At the time I was not on his account so the bank would not even talk to me.  He spent four days in Mexico eating what he found growing on the side of the road and sleeping at gas stations.  On the fourth day a semi driver with a machine gun sitting beside him on the seat picked him up and felt sorry for him.  He took him home, fed him, and the next morning took him to the bus station and bought him a ticket to Dallas saying  “Gringo go home.”


Basswood tried to contact me while he was in Mexico those five days, but was unable to because he did not have money and he did not know Spanish.  The federales stopped once while he was hitchhiking.  Basswood said it is hard to learn Spanish when a bunch of guys dressed in black jump out of the back of a truck with machine guns and surround you while hollering at the top of their lungs.   The federales did flag down a car and tell the driver to take Basswood to the next town.


Now today I am anxiously waiting to find out if Basswood made it on the bus to France this morning and is planning on trying to get money there or if he is penniless in Germany still.  Kathy at US bank did assure me that if Basswood tries to get money in Germany or France he will not have anymore trouble today.   (As I am writing this it occurs to me that it is already tomorrow over there…)


Two years ago while he was on a self guided bus trip form Duluth Minnesota to El Salvador the bank froze his card and classified it as a fraudulent card so it could not be reinstated.  They did this even though there was a note saying he was on a trip.  That time I had to Western Union him money each time he needed it for several months until he came home.  US Bank told me it was my fault that time also, because a note is only good for three months. ( I think that Basswood’s five day trip to Mexico is the only foreign trip he has ever taken that lasted less then three months and that was only short because he could not get his money out of the bank.)  Tomorrow’s blog post.


More blog posts about Basswood and his adventures.



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Each month we here at try to promote a Landrace and/or Heirloom Seed Company.  We do not go about this in any scientific way we just pick one that interest us.  If you would like to recommend a seed company to be featured please contact us.

We usually try and blog about our featured Heirloom Seed Company to draw more attention to them, but I have been kind of lazy the last few months.  I am trying to rectify that with this post.


For July we are featuring Seed Freaks which is an heirloom seed company in Tasmania.  They contacted us and included a list of other heirloom seed companies to add to our list. Seed Freaks' seed saving passion stems from their concerns about global and local food security and anticipating that future generations will need to draw on a diverse open-pollinated seed supply.

Red shell Bean


For June we picked Seeds of Diversity.  Their name sums up what we are trying to promote here at Garden Seeds; landrace, adaptive, and heirloom seeds.  Seeds of Diversity's Seed Library is a collection of over 2300 regionally-adapted and rare seed varieties, backing up the work of their member seed savers and Canadian heritage seed companies. Although they don't actively distribute these seeds to the general public, they keep them viable and available for future gardeners and farmers. 


For May we picked Populuxe Seed Bank because their stated goal is to distribute their landrace and heirloom seed varieties to as many people World wide as possible.  I also liked them because they have a list of other seed banks and heirloom seed companies on their site. (I added these websites to our list of seed banks.)

Red speckled beans


Last but not least of the seed organizations I want to mention today is Open Source Seed Initiative which we chose for April. I was really excited to find their website because they are working to not only preserve the genetic diversity in different seeds, they are working to make sure we can share these seeds.  I am working on adding the seed companies in their OSSI Seed Companies Partners list to our list of landrace, heirloom, and non-GMO seed companies.


We encourage you to check our Featured Seed Companies page and learn about the other landrace and heirloom seed companies we have listed. 





Categories : Garden Seeds, Landrace Seeds
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Here is a pod cast that talks about the life in the soil.  There are millions of living things in the soil that are working to help the plants we see above the ground grow.  We can not live without the fungi, bacteria, etc. in the soil.  There is a food web in the soil that consists of the fungi, bacteria, and the roots of plants all working together to feed each other.



Landrace seeds that are grown in an area for years have become adapted to the fungi and bacteria in the soil and have “learned” to grow well with them.


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