Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The Wyrm" : Another tiny step forward!

If you have been keeping up with our blog lately you know that we are expanding out vermiculture operation and moving it to our 20 X 36' greenhouse and a good friend of ours is graciously giving us a helping hand.

Today Paul brought the second of 15 boxes that will make the future worm bins, so I thought in the interest of progress and inspiration I'd throw up the pics of the as yet to be filled bins! I know, enthralling!

First Fall/Winter Fruit of 2008!

As you can see above and below, the first of the fall 2008 tomato crop is starting to ripen up nicely and right in time for Thanksgiving at that! For those that live locally Tomatoes go on sale Saturday for two dollars a lb! "Eco-Logically" grown, no synthetic fertilizers or sprays, and not grown hydrophonicly but in good old fashioned compost!

E-mail us or give us a call to get yours!
And don't forget our great alpine strawberry plants, will fruit all winter and give you 3 to four years of delicious and unique white strawberries!
or Call: 1-812-967-2073
or stop by:
5604 S. State Rd. 60
Pekin Indiana 47165

Seeds I'm looking for in 2009

Still searching out some new material for the farm and breeding experiments in 2009, if you would like to trade just let me know and we can work something out:

Dry Beans of all types, the more color and wider the culinary use the better
Green Beans/Wax Beans, preferably pole types
Grains of all types but most particularly heritage wheat varieties.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Updated Year 3 Pedigree of Astronomy Domine

Year 3 Pedigree of Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn:

(New information in bold at bottom of post)
Three Year Pedigree of Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn: Notes on parent lines in original two mass crosses as well as selection criteria and explanation of intent and novelty.

Explanation and Intent of development:

Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn is the working name of a “mass cross” breeding and selection for sweet corn which meets a niche demand in Southern Indiana markets for a multi-colored, open pollinated, enhanced nutrition, drought tolerant and genetically diverse sweet corn of special interest to home gardeners, seed savers, and market gardeners looking to fill a niche. The project has evolved over the past year by way of the Hip-Gnosis Seed Development Project to include and inspire home gardeners and plant breeders across the United States and Canada to use the first generational germless from the original mass cross to develop and increase the diversity of regional strains of Astronomy Domine which may later be renamed by participating growers to their own desire.

Multiple lines of colored open pollinated and hybrid sweet corns were planted together in a small eight row block on our small produce farm in Pekin Indiana in the 2007 season. The corns ranged days of maturity from 55-90 days, planting was staggered so as to further facilitate crossing between late maturing, mid maturing, and early maturing varieties leading to a harvest date that was literally all over the map in the late summer and early fall of 2007. No irrigation was performed and the plot was fertilized only with composted chicken manure. Very little earworm damage was noticed and the corn seemed mostly unfazed by the record setting drought of 2007, sans the genetics provided by Ruby Queen hybrid sweet corn (Burpee’s Seeds). CCorn planted early in the season (as early as April 23’d) was somewhat affected by the cool soil emergence; however this provided us with a bit of selection for cool soil emergence issues. Seed was interplanted in bare spots over the next three weeks to further facilitate the crossing of different maturing dates.

Colored corn kernels are of particular interest to us in our breeding experiments due to the high levels of Anthocyanins which free radical scavenging amino acids are thought to be important in both combating and preventing cancers.

This corn also represents progress towards a self sustainable, Open Pollinated sweet corn developed for organic and natural growing systems as well as selected for multiple uses. Fresh Culinary, Dried or made into corn meal, and ornamental uses. Also represents an attempt at developing a “Value Added Seed” line with the added value present in the free amino acids that pericap color imparts. This experiment also represents an attempt at developing defined color traits in the early milk stage of sweet corn for the purpose of attracting market customers and for the added nutrition of the pigmentations of these corn kernels.


“Value Added Seed” - Is a term that I use to describe seed of special interest which contain added traits which set them apart from standard varieties. Particularly traits which make the seed novel and in most cases higher in nutrition than alternative seed.


The following is a listing of the corns included in the original mass cross of 2007 as well as some descriptive notes regarding each variety:

Ruby Queen Hybrid- Sugar Enhanced deep red kernelled hybrid variety introduced by Burpee. Tolerant of Rust and Stewarts Wilt. Not cool soil tolerant but a good source of color and anthocyanins. Color apparent at milk stage.

Blue Jade-Open Pollinated SU variety sourced through . Very diminutive and dwarf variety that is actually acceptable for pot cultures. Short season, developed in the north. Deep blue kernels at maturity, increasing in color as the conversion of starch progresses. Apparently somewhat drought tolerant. Planted throughout the three week period. Color apparent at late milk/early starch stage
Millersburg Red Sweet Corn- Open Pollinated SU variety that was sourced locally in neighboring Orange County Indiana. Large Kernelled late season variety, not as deep red as ruby queen, more subdued earth tone and diluted red color. Large Ears and Tall plants. Color apparent at late milk stage

Millersburg small- Open Pollinated SU Variety, sourced from the same location as above but smaller diminutive plants that mature early, probably the result of inbreeding depression. NEarly identical to above variety. Color apparent at late milk stage

Red 101-Open Pollinated SU variety, sourced from Purdue University. No history was reported other than a possible breeding line from a “corn lab” once located in Clark County Indiana. Late season, large eared and kernelled, deep red cultivars. Tolerant of Stewarts Wilt, cold tolerant seed. Three ears to a stalk. Color apparent at milk stage.

Mushrooms Martian Double Red Sweet Corn- Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced through Sow Organic Seed. Bred by Dr. Alan Kapuler of peace seeds. Purple kernelled mid-season type, high in anthocyanins (reportedly higher than that of blueberries), mid to late season. Pedigree includes “True Platinum”. Color apparent at milk stage

Triple Play- Open Pollinated SU variety from Seeds of Change. Could not locate a history or a breeder. Small plants bear three small ears of SU type corn which matures to shades of blue, yellow, and white. Color apparent at late milk stage

Black Mexican- Open Pollinated SU Variety. Reportedly grown in the New York area by Native Americans, primitive and early form of sweet corn. Small plants which produce ears which turn from white to deep blue. Not nearly as sweet as modern varieties even SU types. Color apparent at starch stage

Black Puckers-Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced from a seed trade. Nearly identical to Black Mexican with slightly different shaped kernels and some crossing with a red variety. No History Provided. Color apparent at starch stage

Country Gentleman-Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced from . Old fashioned white sweet corn. Late maturing, large kernelled and large eared corn, popular with home gardeners. Apparently a parent of popular SU and SE hybrids Silver Queen and Silver King

White 101- Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced through Purdue University. Large plants, very late season, near last to mature. Large ears and huge kernels. Makes a good roasting corn but not so good boiled.

Hopi-Pink Sweet Strain- Open Pollinated SU Variety sourced through a trade. A sweet version of the Hopi-Pink flour corn popular among seed traders and corn collectors. Appeared to suffer some amount of inbreeding depression. Beautiful Pink Kernels of sweet corn. Mid Season type. Color apparent at milk stage.

Hookers Sweet- SU, Open Pollinated type. Grown By Ira Hooker and offered by Seeds of Change. White/yellow kernelled sweet corn of good quality, great for roasting. Color is apparent at late milk stage.

Howling Mob- SU, Open Pollinated type. Old fashioned roasting corn, sweeter than most old roasting ears. Late season, large ears, large kernels. Tolerant of Stewarts wilt.

Black?-SU, Open Pollinated type. Very early season. Sourced locally from a farm stand customer. No history given other than grown in the family for years. Appears to differ from other black types. Color apparent at late milk stage.

Double Standard- SU, Open Pollinated bi-color type. Sourced from abundant life seed foundation. Could find no history or pedigree or breeder.

Washington County Orange- SU, Open Pollinated type. Gifted to me by an elderly farming couple years ago. Apparently a selection of a mutant field corn plant from back in the 50’s. Grown for generations by the same family. Mid-Season. Yellow Kernels turn orange-ish red at late milk stage.

Silver King- SE, Hybrid Type. Great tasting and high yielding modern white hybrid.

Golden Bantam- SU, Open Pollinated type. Popular with home gardeners, originally introduced by Burpee’s Seeds man. Plump golden kernels. Mid season type.

Ashworth- SU, Open Pollinated type. Early season sweet corn developed by Fred Ashworth originally supposedly named “rat selected”. Great early season type.

Pastel Colors-SU, Open Pollinated type. Gifted to me by an Appalachian friend in Manchester KY, represents work with segregating crosses of flint types and sweet types. Mixed seed stock from various selections. Late season, large ear types. Colors present in milk stage.

Festival Multicolor-SE/SU types. Developed by Ken Ettlinger of The Long Island Seed Project.

Four other unnamed segregates were also massed into the field. These segregates represented my earliest attempts at sweet corn breeding and were comprised of various crosses of the above.

I feel that it is important for the reader to know that each of the varieties listed above in the cross are also being maintained in their pure state in our living seed bank at Hip-Gnosis Seed Development to preserve their cultural heritage and genetic diversity. Some are being further refined for possible future release. Of particular interest is the Pastel Color line for further development and release.

Seed was selected from the most productive, drought tolerant, healthy, and interesting plants and bulked together for distribution and planting in 2008.

Several new seed stocks have since been added to the mix to further integrate positive traits which we will begin selecting for after this seasons new mass cross. The seed stocks added to the mix include:

Rainbow Inca-SU, Open Pollinated Type. Developed by Dr. Alan Kapular from a mix of southwestern and heirloom sweet corns as well as a large eared, white Chokelo variety from Peru.

Painted Hills-SU, Open Pollinated Type. Developed by Dr. Alan Kapular from a cross of breeder Dave Christianson’s flint corn “Painted Mountain” crossed to Ashworth. Nice diversity of colors, very genetically diverse, large kernelled type.

Cocopah-SU, Open Pollinated Type. Obtained from Native Seeds/SEARCH. A southwestern Native American variety of primitive sweet corn in a wide rainbow of colors.

Anasazi: 85 days. A very diverse strain that has 5 to 7 foot stalks, with 8 to 12+ rows of multi-colored kernels.

Future Development:

This year we will have two selections of Astronomy Domine that we will work with. The first will be the original stock with the added genetics mentioned above in a new mass cross. The selection criteria will as always range a wide array of positive traits including cool soil germination and emergence, tolerance to disease, lodging resistance, drought tolerance, and taste, coloration in milk stage, pest tolerance, and taste.

This corn could be widely selected and allowed to re-hybridize every season or diverse selections could be made and selected for uniformity. The idea here is to basically develop an excellent open pollinated corn for organic systems which also incorporates enhanced nutrition and fills a niche market, while also striving to develop possibly the most genetically diverse sweet corn ever introduced.

The second selection of Astronomy Domine will include the original stock and the added genetics mentioned above inter cropped with a white SE type sweet corn, most likely Silver King. The Silver King will be planted in alternating rows and detasslled. This should lead to the large ears and large kernels of Silver King in the array of colors of Astronomy Domine while maintaining the SE genetics for enhanced sugar. The corn from the mother Silver King plants will be used for the fresh market and seed will also be bulked into seed saved from the 2008 crop for future development.

I can and do forsee future crosses planted in mass for years to come with this project, corns only benefit from hybridization and as long as I can keep introducing new genetics to the mix, particularly those of colored genes I will probably do so.

Much of my work with this corn experiment was inspired by Dave Christianson who has spent thirty plus years breeding his Painted Mountain Flint corn.

I will update this pedigree and research as the growing season in 2008 and selection work begins.

Updated: Two new accessions added to second year pedigree. Martian Jewels and Martian Jewels selected for Pink and Gold. Both from Alan Kapulars Peace Seeds by way of Homegrown Member Pugs.

Update for Year 3: Recently I had the distinct pleasure of opening my mailbox to find the first returned seed sample from Johno. John made some very nice selections and already there is a clear difference in strains. Our selection is much darker in color than Johns selections and the seeds of our strain are a bit smaller, this selection has now been added back to the F-3 seed from this year for integration. A number of new accessions have also been added to the list via ARS GRIN:

Nueta Sweet Corn-Yelow-no information currently

Millersburg Red Sweet #2-Red sweet corn apparently from Millersburg New York.

Aunt Mary's Sweet Corn-White corn from Wisconsin. No further information

Sweet Corn (Indian)-another multi-color selection, from Colorado, no further information available.

2009 will see yet another in a succession of mass crossing of even more genetic diversity into the Astronomy Domine line. 2010, stabilization will become the focus of this experiment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And yet another new idea concerning Terra Preta!

I was replying to a post over at Patricks Bifurcated Carrots blog about his response to my Terra Preta blogs and decided I should probably post part of the relevant text here for others with an interest in this ancient technology to see:

Basically my new idea is; why bring the worms to the charcoal when you can bring the charcoal to the worms. In other words I will create my charcoal, soak it in a nutrient solution and then apply it to my worm bins in the new and improved worm house I recently blogged about. In this way the charcoal (which will be buried in the 36″ deep bins) will be able to absorb nutrients from the worm castings/compost and will also be inoculated by the beneficial soil microbes. Of course this will be applied in a two layer hill system as described in my original blog and will still entice the local endemic earthworm populations as well as the local endemic soil micro-organisms to come check things out but then there will be less waiting as the majority of the nutrients will be laying in wait for use by plants, as the nutrients escape the worm castings they will be caught up by the charcoal (which is slowly releasing the nutrient it was soaked in as well as the worm casting/raw compost nutrients), In such a way I will have created a time released version of worm castings/compost and implemented a very simplified form of Terra Preta on my farm.

I genuinely think I might be onto something with this. After all the heating of "the Wyrm" house will produce the needed bi-product of charcoal to place in the bins making it a one stop process in the digestive section of the new worm house!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More discusion re: the new wormery!

Sunday I had my second meeting with Mr. Paul Schellenburger of New Albany. As you may remember from my previous post regarding the new wormery, Mr. Schellenburger is a veteran of vermiculture and at the top of the list of local and probably national experts regarding vermiculture. This time my fiance Kim Ratts was also on hand for the meeting of minds and we discussed many things about the new wormery, most notably Mr. Schellenburger (a much more organized man than I) had taken the time and had the foresight to draw out some blueprints of different layouts that the new wormery could be based upon, he also brought us the first of our new worm bedding boxes.

We finally decided upon a particular design using a set of 15 38" X 38" X 38" plastic lined wooden boxes, leaving plenty of room for sorting tables, our home made harvester, a green composting/pre-feeding box and room for the stove and dry heating wood supply. We also discussed the layout and feeding procedures of the boxes themselves which will be lined with black plastic and equiped for harvesting compost tea (bear in mind that this is not worm tea, just raw compost tea, mostly for inoculating new compost heaps and soil). The boxes are very nice large wooden boxes and will last for years, I am very excited about the layout which will make harvesting, feeding, and manual labor much easier.

The harvesting and sequential feeding system will be based on feeding/inoculating sets of three boxes two weeks ahead of starting the next set of three, to be repeated every two weeks, once you finish the last set of boxes you start over from the beginning, using the top six inches of worms and compost from the previous set of three to start the next three boxes, this sequential harvesting works out very well as I have calculated volume of the boxes (in sets of three) to match exactly the dimensions of one load of my manure spreader!

While we were discussing where we should locate the green compost box (necessary for keeping feed the same temp as the worm bins themselves, lessening shocks to the system) I pointed out that my loading area (the area with the largest space for unfinished compost) was at the front of the building while the back of the building is reserved for wood loading and has a space perfect to back the tractor and the manure spreader into for loading. It occurred to me that in this concept the greenhouse (roughly the shape of a worm) was now being considered a super-organism all it's own, complete with a mouth (front door) for unfinished material loading and a tail (back door) with a posterior for finished material unloading, as well as a middle section for worm consumption or a "digestive tract" if you will, as such I quickly dubbed the new project and subsequent wormery, "The Wyrm" (sic). By Feb. we should have all 15 boxes and the greenhouse retrofitted for worm growing. I will see if soon I can't get the blueprints online and also take some pics of the work as we go.

The first shared selection of our Astronomy Domine Project makes it back home!

Howdy again folks, just another quick blog for tonight. If you have been following our blog here for a while or have read the Homegrown Goodness message board over the past couple of years then you will have already have read about our Astronomy Domine sweet corn project. In short the project is one of the first Hip-Gnosis Seed Development co-operative projects. A couple years back I mixed a number of accessions of sweet corn together, both hybrid and heirloom, mostly of colors not commonly found in sweet corn. The first material released (fall of 2007) was made up of a cross of over 30 varieties, some common, some rare, some nearly extinct. This material was distributed all over the world to interested growers in the form of F2 seed giving everyone to make selections that would be adapted to their own micro-climate and geographical conditions. Selections for early season and cool soil tolerance were encouraged while the main goal of the corn experiment (other than being the sweet corn with the largest family tree) was to select for vivid colors which are usually an expression of the anti-cancer fighting phytochemical anthocyanin. John Grahm (Johno on the message board, look in the links section for his excellent blog) showed a very early optimism for this project and as such was a recipient of the F2, very genetically diverse material. On Saturday I received back from him a F3 generation sample of his work with Astronomy Domine (which will be crossed back to my parent stock). Immediately I noticed many differences, for one was kernel size which could be explained away by my low fertility trials with A.D. this year (clay soil, amended only with cow manure). However a secondary difference immediately made itself notable in the color of the kernels themselves, while my selection seems to be leaning to darker, more vivid traits, Johno's selection seems to be towards a more traditional range of antique/natural and even slightly pastel colors. Very cool indeed.

In the picture above you can see the difference for yourself, the corn on the right is my F3 sample while that on the left is John's F3 sample. Things will become really interesting from here, I hold on to hope that others who received the seed will also send back small samples. For an expanded look at the family tree of Astronomy check out the blog archives here on the site. I will now have add new Gatersleben and GRIN accessions as well as John's Astronomy Domine Remix to the list for next season. I am a very happy father.

Expanding my ideas and horizons concerning Terra Preta

Above you can see one of the buckets of newly produced char as a byproduct of our heating the two greenhouses. I'll leave it up to your imagination to figure out which high nitrogen all natural ingredient will be used to amend the finished product.

As you can read in a post from a couple days back that I posted concerning Terra Preta and Bio-Char I have decided to write down and expand upon some of the ideas I have regarding this valuable ancient technology.
(repost from
Don't be too quick to think scientists and organic proponets know exactly what the natives were doing yet, no one has been able to recreate Terra Preta and where I think they miss the point is by not trying to fully understand how it is done (minus anthropologist and archaeologist who are working to figure it out), the bio-char folks simply took the simplest part of the method, the slow release of fertilizer element, and tried to make that into a soil science of it's own, one that in my eyes is mostly doomed to fail for anything other than sequestering carbon. Not that I don't believe that Sequestering Carbon is an important reason to explore this technology because it most certainly is, but if it's done on a commercial scale and garnering commercial profit it will be out of the reach of most ordinary people in the first place.

Here are a few theories I have thrown out myself:

-Accidental development of initial Terra preta by early natives. Using manure and slow burning plant material to fire pots which busted, successive generations of natives continued this tradition in the same area (large pot making industry?) sometimes pots would bust, fires are always built on top of old burn sites using old charcoal as smoldering material, activating a new layer of charcoal. Over time beneficial agricultural practices were developed by accident and happenstance. This would explain the presence of so many pottery shards, activated charcoal, and the manure for OM.

-Layering strata to draw in microbes and worms. Probably still by happenstance originally, un-needed material is dumped in trash pits, natives notice microbial and worm activity expanding and enriching soil, they then start to layer materials in such a way that will entice microbial life and endemic earthworm populations to inhabit and work the strata. The pot shards serve as a tilth mechanism? What are the pots made of? If they are terra cotta or ceramic then they are porous, will hold water and nutrients just about as well as charcoal?

-Perhaps expanding upon this theory we take the next step. Explaining the presence of large unbroken pots in the Terra Preta, we can look at them as a form of formulated sacrifice. Sacrificing a pot for fertility but in this case maybe there is more to that! Could it be that my second theory is right but instead in this case, they were brewing soil inoculate (beneficial microbes? plant tea?) in pots which could then be sacrificed to the terra preta earth as fertility? They could be broken on or in the soil (working as a aerator with bits of tile and ceramic pot) or buried whole to leach out over time? Either way someone was putting a lot of work into these pots, some appear to be in relatively good condition, this to me could show evidence of sacrifice for fertility.

These are just some of the ideas that I have. Either way in the next few years I will be experimenting with these theories and watching the understanding of Terra Preta technology (notice I didn't say bio-char for a reason) expand and then becoming disseminated as it should be to the general public.

I definitely encourage all interested to experiment, particularly if the charcoal can be produced or obtained as a byproduct of other necessary activities (wood heating and so on).

A quick plug for my friend at!

If your a new or experienced gardener and you've not heard of and the wintersown method then you should definetly check out Trudi is a good friend of mine and has done much to help expand upon the ideas of many early gardeners in sowing seeds in cool weather and letting them decide when to germinate on their own. Trudi runs a knoledgeable and terrific service for the public and is also responisible for distributing seed samples free of charge for winter sowing purposes to folks all over the world. Last year we donated some sample of our seed to her for distribution including our now infamous Robert Johnson Delta White Burley Tobacco, Trudi sent seeds for this variety all over the world and everyone I have heard back from had only good things to say about our tobacco and the wintersown service. This year I'm donating seed of several varieties to Trudi again and once again all over the world folks will give winter sowing a chance and realize and reap the benefits.

Please be sure to check them out and spread the word!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Terra Preta and the new "Eco-Logical" reinterpritation.

Terra Preta and the new "Eco-Logical" reinterpritation.
-Alan Reed Bishop/Hip-Gnosis Seed Development/Homegrown Goodness

Amongst the most important historical, anthropological, archiological, and agriculture discoveries of recent times is the study of Terra Preta (or Dark Soil), a type of soil discovered in the Amazonian River Delta area.

This soil has been an enigma in and off itself for centuries and is only now becoming well known and understood (to an extent). The soil seems to be man made with agricultural purposes in mind making us rethink just exactly what natural and pristine conditions are (man made evolutionary ideas, agricultural alchemy) in a place as isolated and as previously thought (due to poor and thin soils) uninhabitable as the Amazoinian basin. There is no doubt that there were large and herto undiscovered, agriculturally advanced, civilizations just as described by Francisco de Orellana (could the golden city of El Dorado actually exist? After all if you don't have to worry about feeding yourself you do have time to work on other projects! Could these high population levels and advanced agriculture have led to advanced civilization altogether? Atlantis?).

Apparently no one has yet to exactly discover, unravel, or truly understand how Terra Preta was made. We do know that it is a stable soil, more stable than any soil on earth, and that it does self replicate (living inert material? Indeed!). 1,000 years after it was deposited it is still just as fertile and active as ever, only needing to lie fallow for six months at a time (if at all, one farmer described farming the same plot for 40 years without break!).

Anyhow, there seem to be modern organic growers that are experimenting with bio-char (a fancy term for charcoal) and I have spent a good deal of my day researching all of this and providing links, currently my brain is formulating ideas about how this could work on a small farm like Bishop's Homegrown, I already have a good idea on how to create the active carbon charcoal I would need to start the process. 2009 will see trials with these methods on the small scale, I presume success, in which case the trials will grow into the large scale and eventually a soil amending traditional practice.

P.S. I have done some thinking upon this method today and I think I have a decent grasp on just exactly what is going on in the Terra Preta soil, I will be updating shortly with more information. I also did some rough calculations on the amount of land in the Amazoinia Basin that was converted to Terra Preta, it is mind blowing to say the least, roughly 63,031.5 square miles at a six foot depth of land was developed in this way, with bio-intensive type methods the poupulation support could have been stagering to say the least!

What follows are some of what I found on the net, the first is from NatGeo and I highly reccomend watching the replay of the program for more info:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Say no to the cow tax and pass this on to all interested in agriculture.

Welcom to new AMERIKA, where your freedoms are going away, permanently. Once again our government is stepping on the family farm with their proposed "Cow Tax" that would affect over a million small farms and wipe them out of existence. As we all know, it will start with cows, corn (500 acres or more), and hogs and will eventually extend to include everything else including chickens, wood burning stoves and so on. I encourage you to read the article below and then visit and sign on to fight this thing. These assholes can't have our farms and take our livleyhoods we will fight them.

EPA Proposes "Cow Tax"

The Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on whether it is appropriate to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from automobiles under the Clean Air Act. In order to regulate automobile emissions, the EPA would first have to make a finding that all greenhouse gases endanger public health and safety and should be classified as a "pollutant."

Essentially, the EPA is ruling on whether or not GHG emissions should be classified as endangering public safety. If that finding is made, all GHGs including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide would have to be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

The problem with this approach is that once an endangerment finding is made, other provisions of the Clean Air Act are automatically triggered, creating much broader, costly regulation of other sectors of the economy, including agriculture.


Once an endangerment finding is made, Title V of the Clean Air Act requires that any entity with the potential to emit more than 100 tons per year of a regulated pollutant must obtain a permit in order to continue to operate.

For previously regulated pollutants, a threshold of 100 tons meant that only the largest of emitters were required to be permitted. For greenhouse gases, the situation is much different. Not only would power plants and factories, but also many office and apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, large churches and even large homes would be regulated. Literally hundreds of thousands of entities would be required to obtain permits.

The vast majority of livestock operations would easily meet the 100 ton threshold and fall under regulation. In fact, USDA has stated that any operation with more than 25 dairy cows, or 50 beef cattle would have to obtain permits. According to USDA statistics, this would cover about 99 percent of dairy production and over 90 percent of beef production in the United States.

As the proposal stands today, the permit fees would equate to a "tax" of $175 per dairy cow and $87.50 per beef cow.

Greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act would not only adversely impact livestock producers but all farmers. Crop production emits nitrous oxide from fertilizer and methane from rice production, and fields that emit 100 tons of carbon would also be subject to permitting requirements as well. Any Florida farm with 500 acres of corn, 250 acres of soybeans, 350 acres of potatoes or only 35 acres of rice would be forced to obtain Clean Air Act permits.

Emissions from farm machinery and energy used in production might also be added. Regulation of other economic sectors will result in increased fuel, fertilizer and energy costs for all farmers and ranchers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wish you could eat fresh strawberries all winter long?

Well, now you can!

If you live local to Pekin Indiana don't miss out on our potted alpine strawberry plant sale. These strawberry plants are selected from our own stock of mixed varieties of white alpine strawberries. If you aren't familiar with alpine strawberries they are a small ancient variety, modern strawberries were bred from a cross between these lovely little berries and their larger cousin, a white variety from the Andean mountain region. Alpine strawberries are known for their terrific flavor and fragrance and the white varieties are the best of the best, having a much sweeter and less tart taste than modern garden strawberries. These plants have been "Eco-Logically" grown in our greenhouses over the past couple of months, fertilized only with organic worm castings, and have proven themselves many times over. They are housed in five gallon nursery pots (about 3/8 the size of a five gallon bucket) and are healthy and happy! They are blooming and they will continue to bloom all winter as long as they are kept warm and are able to get a minimal amount of sunlight. With a regular fertilization routine these berries will produce an amazing amount and will provide your family with a fresh, organic, healthy snack all winter long. Of course if you ever have questions about them you can give us a call and we will be glad to help you. In the spring the plants can be busted up into sections and will probably yield from 10-20 alpine strawberry plants for your garden or further potting up.

If you interested give us a call, drop us an e-mail, or just stop by the farm.

Bishop's Homegrown/Alan Bishop
phone - 1-812-967-2073
e-mail -
address: 5604 S. state Rd 60 Pekin IN 47165

Plants are $10 a pot. Give us a call soon, these will go quickly.

Thinking about '09 and looking over new catalouges.

Well, it's definitely that time of the year again. You know that whole "Santa is making his list and checking it twice sort of thing....yeah, I'm not talking about Christmas (though I am the town of New Pekin's official Santa Clause), instead I'm talking about that time of the year that somehow manages to arrive earlier and earlier every year, that time when I once again find myself staring at seed catalogs and making a list of what I want and what I need and breaking myself up over the compromise between the two.

Most of the seed I'll need for the farm I already have, there are a few gaps, and most certainly breeding and trialing will continue, there are many new cultivars from Hip-Gnosis Seed Development in the pipeline, but most of them are all a few years out from any type of stabilization that will make them a reliable market garden crop, then again those that I have stabilized so far give me hope for what the future holds.

Most of what I'll need for next year I can usually get in trades. I'm pretty much finished with my Tomato collecting and trialing, though there is a new one on the list for next year that is O.P., a large, red, productive beefsteak from Val and Grungy on the Homegrown Goodness messageboard (check the links to their picassa album and new blog in the "what's growin' on around the web" section of this site) called Guido. Those who grew it this past year say it is terrific and one of the market farmers on our site sang highly of it's praises.

Maybe some of you out there have some seeds I might be interested in? Want to do some trading?

In general here are a few things I am looking for:

Large bell peppers of various colors
Greasy Beans, preferably pole types
Soup Beans of all colors and stripes, preferably pole types
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower and other brassica crops of this type
Grains, particularly wheat and millet, quinoa, amaranth
Flowers of various types.

Things are going well in the greenhouse and I will have some tomatoes coming in next week which is great cause I definitely need to put some cash in my pocket, I'll try to get some pictures of the tomatoes as they ripen.

I'm also selling some alpine strawberry plants locally. These are mixes of white alpine strawberries, as long as you keep them warm and give them a little sunlight they will bloom and produce all winter long, next spring you can bust them up and make 10-15 seperate plants out of them, they are in five gallon nursery containers and have been grown and fertilized "eco-logically". I'll probably make a post about this in a little while, a little self promotion for Bishop's Homegrown couldn't possibly hurt the blog any I wouldn't think!

I'll be posting some new blogs over the next few days and spending my spare time over at our Homegrown Goodness Message board over at If you have never been there, come check it out, make some friends, trade some seeds, share some knowledge, help be the solution to the closed minded gardening forums out there, we are really pioneering something great on this little site and I am very proud of it!

The Future Of Food Documentary

For those of you out there interested in Genetically Modified food awareness I highly suggest that you check out this documentary, I spent part of my morning watching a good portion of it and I now find myself unable to reconcile any use of GMO's by anyone at anytime in the future. I encourage everyone to check this out, what follows is part one, if you enjoy it go search for it on I believe there
are 9 parts total, very well worth watching friends!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Equal But Opposite

I suppose it was only a matter of time, I mean, I knew us organic gardening geeks were also computer literate passionate bloggers, little did I know that apparently we are all also apparently ignorant, uninformed fear mongers as well, at least according to one or two sites floating around the net written by supporters of Genetically Modified Feed and Seed. In the interest of fairness you might have noticed that I added a link to one of these blogs in our links section and that on their blog you can find links to other blogs, blogs which I have replied to once or twice here and there and will probably still occasionally reply to.

Now, I know both organic gardeners and GMO activists are guilty of spewing rhetoric, however I also know to research anything and everything that I believe and or stand against, I also know not to open my mouth and spout out half truths, rhetoric, or whole lies. I Am, as I have said before (coded language much, very few will get this). What bothers me the most about these new GMO positive blogs is their absolute refusal to believe that Organic gardening and conventional plant breeding can feed the people of the world and nourish the malnourished of the world without the help of their "miracle seeds", oh and don't try to argue with them, because paraphrasing the owner of said and linked blog above, your either uneducated or ignorant, take your choice because GMO's have produced no negative consequences or reactions, not even allergic reactions (Starlink corn anyone?). But I'm not going to use this blog to completely slam them, what I am going to do is send a message to them; do not misinterpret what we are saying about GMO's, feel free to read my blog here about GMO blue tomatoes if you want to understand my stance on GMO's and many others, but realize, just because you can doesn't mean you should and for every one person you try to indoctrinate with your rhetoric, there will be someone out there just as educated as you are who will be more than willing to be the voice of reason.

Composting as alchemy (thermophilic composting systems, the advantages, and how they apply to vermicomposting)

It's funny sometimes, the way that my career in agriculture mirrors what I learned about music. The very best ideas are not original but stolen, great artists steal while the mediocre only borrow! Of course just like in music everybody has their idea about what "works" and what doesn't "work", most of the time you've just got to develop your own unique modifications and apply them to well known theories and systems and then your on to something that sets you apart from others.

Not too long ago I had shunned the idea of creating a thermophilic composting system here on the farm, it just sounded like to much work and it seemed like every time I read an in depth article on composting I needed to have a masters degree in chemistry to understand the what's and how to's of composting. I often find that is indeed the problem in the Organic Gardening, Plant Breeding, and Sustainable Agriculture world of the Internet, people over speak and the reader misses a lot or is led to believe that a simple issue is impossibly difficult to master. I myself never pursued a college education, I'm sure at times that probably reflects in my writing or dictation skill, perhaps even in my farming skills, but I cam to the realization as a teenager that my view of the world and mainstream societies view of the world were two separate entities, I found myself saying a lot that 90% of the skills I needed to know in life I had already learned from my grandparents and that indeed when put to use in a practical system that they could and would create a career for me, so far that's worked out pretty well, even if the occasional snob would look down on me.

Anyhow, back to the composting. I have been vermicomposting now for three years and the results have been terrific, we have had a few late blight outbreaks here and there, most particularly from not being nearly careful enough about what we add to the worm bins, but for the most part all has gone well, of course with the exception of the 8,000 vegetable seeds that seem to sprout every time I use my compost in the garden or the greenhouse. Are you aware just how invasive tomato plants are? I am fully aware of this myself now, thanks in part to my cold composting vermiculture operation.

With late blight and unwanted seed germination problems in mind I set out to research systems of thermophilic (hot) composting that could at least kill a large percentage of plant and animal pathogens as well as active living seeds in my compost bins in order to yield a much better quality organic material. What I found out is that in more than one way, composting is much like Alchemy. Your changing one, presumably worthless material into another high value material, but that the process is very little understood and even less well explained to potential explorers of self sufficient gardening.

I basically set out to find a number of wooden pallets in order to make some compost corals, living in a rural area with a ton of hardware as well as feed and seed stores this was no problem whatsoever, each of my new composting corrals had to have three walls, a gate, and a floor, of course they were to be connected together (using wood screws) in series of threes so I didn't need one pallet for each and every wall since once the middle box was done, you had the inside wall for each of the outside two boxes already in place. I choose pallets because they were free and because they allow the necessary airflow needed for aerobic composting will also allowing material to be held into a confined space with minimum spillage. We also place a pallet on the ground for a floor in order to raise the compost off of the ground (these are outside where rain can absorb so they are also covered with pieces of sheet metal weighted down with rebar to deflect rain) and to also allow the necessary airflow.

Thus far the system has worked out well for us, we really haven't formulated a real "compost recipe" if you will as we are still experimenting with materials, mixing, layering, and with the amount of water needed without making the pile "wet", if you will. Among the success that we have had so far is composting the bedding/manure from the chicken coop and yards along with waste produce, plant trimmings, and table scraps. We also use worm castings to inoculate the pile with the necessary bacteria and thermites to break the material down (though you can use soil, whatever you do, don't pay for compost incubator, all you need is in good garden soil, about a hand full of it will more than do. I also managed to come across another infinitely valuable resource for creating compost, a friend who runs a convenience store has been buying day old bread as a special item for his store, of course he can't sell it all until it is no longer acceptable for consumption, as such I pick up the bread from him and use it to feed the chickens and what I term The Compost Monster (the compost corrals that were aforementioned). This week alone we have composted close to five hundred (yes, that is 500) loaves of bread.

Currently our basic composting program consists of mixing Green (nitrogen based) materials with Brown (carbon base materials) at a one to two/three ratio, adding enough water to make moist (like a rung out sponge), in the middle of the pile we add our inoculate (worm castings, soil), we then allow the compost to set for two weeks (it will be up to temperature in a day or so, we check with a soil thermometer and often find the temp at 120 degrees Fahrenheit) after two weeks we flip the compost from one bin to the next using a pitch fork, add a bit more water (if needed, if material is wet we mix in more brown and dry material) and allow the material to once again heat, after two weeks we flip one more time into another bin (usually back to the original) allow to set for two more weeks and then we feed it to the red wiggler worms.

When I first started raising worms I was often told not to use chicken manure for feed or bedding because of the acidity/pH issue, however after composting and with a liberal spreading of dolomite lime, this does not appear to be an issue whatsoever.

Currently we have harvested four corrals full of material and added them to the worms to finish off the composting and fortification of the material, as I write all 9 of our corrals are empty, waiting for Monday of next week when they will be re-filled with a fresh mix of organic cow manure (from our neighbor) and bedding straw (12-14 tons of manure/straw), hopefully this compost will be the first batch to be fed to the worms in the soon to come, previously described, and much larger wormery.

I will be updating this blog from time to time with more Composting as Alchemy blogs.

Better, Faster, More Worms!

I've been giving some thought recently to expanding upon the Vermiculture operation here on the farm, really
the basic premise is that I need a larger area and a much larger volume of red worms to produce the amount of compost that I need to provide the soil fertility I desire for a bio-intensive farming regime here at Bishop's Homegrown. I have been throwing the idea around for a couple of months now and have decided to continue towards this work.

I will have to give up one greenhouse in order to create this worm haven, but that is a small sacrifice when you consider the amount of fertility I can create for the farm as well as consider the amount of incoming money from the sales of local fishing worms and also excess compost sales. This will also free up the former worm house to be made into a full time chicken laying house, accompanying another 100 or so chickens and allowing me to use the old chicken coop for some new Turkeys. All good things!

Over the weekend I was privileged to have met a new friend by the name of Paul Schellenburger of New Albany Indiana. Paul has been featured on the local radio gardening program "HomeGrown" with hosts Jeanine Wishie and Bob Hill on Lousiville KY's NPR station WFPL. Paul has been raising red worms for 18 years and has worked with the Louisville KY not for profit organization, Tuning New Grounds, a project based on sustainable organic soil creation using recycled waste coffee grounds and and other organic products from around Louisville by way of vermicomposting.

Paul and I had a meeting of minds on Sunday, exchanging ideas and taking a tour of Bishop's Homegrown, we also traded compostable materials (sounds strange, but then 90% of Eco-Logical/Organic farming is talking about manure and what we can use to make good manure). I ran my worm house idea past Paul who was all for it and is hard at work helping me scrounge materials to put the new house into motion. All in all it's a very easy conversion of the greenhouse, basically just sliding a heavy duty black tarp over the frame and under the plastic, we will have to set up the inside for constant harvesting and moving of raw materials and worm castings, which is no big deal, and I also have to find containers for the worms

Raw material for worm feed and bedding is no problem at all to come across considering the amount of produce and other organic matter that has to be pulled from the local stores when it doesn't sell, composted chicken manure/bedding, composted cow manure from the neighboring cattle operation, and a friend with well over 5 acres of rotten sawdust he is more than willing to deliver by the dump truck load for $20.

The nice thing about converting the greenhouse to a wormery is that it is already climate controlled, heated with a wood stove and cooled with fans, I plan to experiment with optimum temperatures of worm growth, reproduction, and consumption of compostable materials to find what works the best, I anticipate the heat of summer may provide some challenges but nothing that I can't in time work out to work in my favor.

I believe the benefits of this will outweigh having to give up growing room in one greenhouse and I will never have to look at purchasing any form of fertilizer again in the future. I have slowly come to the realization that I am about to accomplish having a hand in all of the multitude of my agriculture interest that I wanted to work with (honey bees, organic gardening, plant breeding, worm ranching, seed saving, wild crafting, raising chickens ext.) I just need to find a balance between all of my systems, this expansion will allow me to further balance my systems of agriculture here on this farm, bringing Bishop's Homegrown even more into the line with our "Eco-Logically" grown philosophy. Given that I have scaled down plant sales for 2009 sacrificing one greenhouse of plant space for one greenhouse full of farm fertility seems the way to go.

Right now the set up will be based on a couple of bulk worm bins or breeding bins if you will (concrete block bins, three teirs high as pictured above as well as some 48" X 48" x 48" wooden bins and a plethora of 55 gallon plastic barrel bins cut in half longways and used to process smaller amounts of material quicker, my home made worm harvester will have casters added to it in order to maneuver it around the wormery and over top of the beds in order to harvest with ease, the back wood yard area of the greenhouse will be expanded to accommodate finished material to be moved with the front end loader into the used manure spreader I recently bought. The front yard is flat enough and large enough to accommodate several tons of fresh compostable material to be hauled in with a wheelbarrow and fed a few inches at a time to each bed once a week.

Brooding Chicks, Hatching Keets, and in general going a little poultry crazy!

I guess we've gone a bit poultry crazy here on the farm. I just recently bought a new Hovabator Genesis 1588 incubator to use as a primary incubator (using my Little Giant as a back up and hatcher for the last three days of egg incubation). Currently we've got 18 guinea eggs in the incubator currently on day 18 of 28 (Guineas have a longer incubation period than chickens which are 21 days from setting to hatch), candling has revealed healthy and somewhat active embryo's inside the eggs, so that is definitely something to be happy about (particularly considering this is my first hatch ever and I have been mostly pessimistic about the process so far considering the more than touchy controls of the Little Giant Incubator which I will never recommend to anyone).

Today I got my order of non-show or "mutt" type Ameracaunas or Easter Egger chickens if you will from Ideal poultry. I ordered 14 and they sent 18, not a one died in shipment and so far they are doing well in my hastily thrown together brooder. It's basically an antique oblong washtub, some paper towels for bedding, a water dish, a feeder, and then covered over with 1/4 inch hardware cloth held down with two scrap sections of wood. The light is held above the brooder via an old boom mic stand from my previous life as a musician. Worked out pretty well if I do say so myself. Right now their in the house, but in a week or two after their temperature requirements no longer have to be so stringent I will move them to the spare room that is built on to the porch. I certainly can't wait now for the Guinea Keets to hatch out. Next up, Turkeys, but that's a blog for next spring.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Musical Mayhem Blog Number One

As you may have noticed by reading through my list of available seed developed by Hip-Gnosis Seed Development there is an oft re occurring theme of musically inspired names. Everyone gets inspiration from somewhere, as a sometimes musician and a formerly full time musician I find that my inspiration is often taken from the world of music (though also history), as such I tend to name cultivars after songs which have inspired me in my work. I thought Musical Mayhem would be a nifty little interaction to have on my blog to post some videos via the uber addictive youtube in order to display what has inspired my previous work, what is inspiring now, and what will be inspiring in my upcoming work, as such, once a week, or more, possibly less (have I mentioned I am a lazy blogger?) I will post a Musical Mayhem blog where I shall exhibit the enthralling world of my eclectic musical taste with embedded youtube videos occasionally followed by cultivars I have named after said music or artist and or my thoughts on that particular song.

With that out of the way, shall we start:
Buddy Holly-Everyday: Though I have yet to name anything in honor of Buddy Holly, the day is coming, I find him to be an under appreciated musician who should be considered every bit on the scale of Elvis (have I mentioned I can't stand Elvis), Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison and so on. This song in particular is one of the stranger entries in 50's rock, though the song is sweet and gives off a "lovey dovey" feeling of happiness you must admit that there is something inherently creepy (in a horror movie sort of way) about the hart on sleeve delivery in the singing and accompanying instrumentation. Very Cool!

Nine Inch Nails: The Perfect Drug
As an impressionable and pissed at the world teenager I cannot describe the effect which Nine Inch Nails music had on me, what I can however say is that this video cued my curiosity in the terrific artwork of Mr. Edward Gorey it is base upon and also gave me my first glimpse of the oft vaunted "le fee Verte" or Absinthe, I later named one of my unique green when ripe tomatoes as well as a green cotton after this drink of artists. Nowadays Absinthe is available here in the United States but I must admit, it's just not quite the same as having a vintage and quality absinthe of European heritage, I prefer much the french varieties being lighter on the licorice-esque anise flavors. The very end of this song, the melancholy vocal, bass, and drum part, still strikes me as one of the most somber and yet beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard and looking back I would have much rather had a song based on this premise to ease my social anxiety at the time. I'm a dork, what can I say.

Continuing on with the musical links to my breeding work involving Nine Inch Nails, that lovely little tomato called La Mer (noire) is basically named after this:

A Perfect Circle - The Hollow
I suppose I should then show connection between La Mer and her sister line Mer De Nomes. Maynard James Keenan has always been one of my favorite singers, an intelligent, influential, and humorous man his work in Tool literally opened my third eye in my teenage years. When his new band A Perfect Circle came around, I instantly fell in love, as a guitarist I find band leader Billy Howerdales work at the axe particularly inspiring and his new project Ashes Divide will be the subject of a subsequent Musical Mayhem Blog. This is my favorite song off of their debut album Mer De Nomes.

Pink Floyd - Astronomy Domine
Often times people are surprised by my taste for early Pink Floyd and the Syd Barrett solo albums that followed. I don't know how I found Syd, but I think his music was always there waiting for me, a kindred spirit of sorts. My father was always a big Pink Floyd fan, but not the Pink Floyd that I loved and later discovered, My fathers Pink Floyd experience started at Dark Side and Ended with The Wall. My experience started with Piper at the gates of dawn and ended with A saucer full of secrets and continued into the subsequent Barret albums The Madcap Laughs, Barrett, and the out takes album Opal. The two albums after Roger Waters departure do deserve merit, they just can't properly be called Pink Floyd, but then again my sentiments lay with David Bowie who once said "After Syd was gone there was no Pink Floyd to me."

The White Stripes - Death Letter (Son House Cover)
For those of you living in a cave for the past six years that don't know who Jack White/The White Stripes are, you need to check them out, now. I know, I know what every musician out there will say, "the white stripes are just a trend", but I think you miss the point by saying that really, Mr. White is continuing in a long tradition of terrific musicians expanding upon the work of great blues, rock, psychedelic, and yes even traditional country music. The only people I know of who will say otherwise, regardless of if they like the music or not, are those who in all reality are jealous of what integrity Jack has brought back to real music and his ability to re-introduce old music to young audiences. Here Jack breaks out the blues of Son House and dusts it off for the youth of today. Yes indeed this is where the Jack White Tomato got it's name:

three more for today shall suffice:

Robert Johnson-Hell hound on my Trail: there is nothing more I can say about this that hasn't been said before. You want real music, music with soul, music with experience, this is absolutely it. You may not enjoy Robert Johnson but you must respect and appreciate.

Hank Williams III-Cocaine Blues (Johnny Cash Cover)
In the world of Outlaw/Rockabilly/and traditional country it is hard to find anyone who has not pandered to the Pop Country sensibilities of everyone in America who thinks that they are country regardless of weather or not they know what it's like to fall on hard times or to list "shit shoveling" as part of their job description. Yes I fear that the Outlaws are no more, that is with the exception of Hank Williams III, the grandson of that patriarch of country music and the son of the sellout con man known as Hank II. Something about Hank III brings out my inner "Cracker" (did I mention I'm not very PC?)

Bill Hicks: What is the point to life
Last, but most certainly not least, the late great comedian Bill Hicks. A man responsible for the opening of third eyes all over the world. Bill was a loving sole despite his sometimes harsh comedy, I've always felt that Bill wasn't a comedian haunted by his own demons, but a man who was haunted more by the demons and dark and dank closets of the world at large. Bill sometimes used a lot of demeaning words and a lot of anger in his act but in a world more worried about American Gladiators than the declining state of the human condition around them sometimes there is only one way to reach the world which is through shock and awe. Bill died young of pancreatic cancer and many argue that Dennis Leary stole many of Hicks Ideas (I for one agree) an old inside joke with the comedians of the time was: Do you know why guys like Bill Hicks die and no talent hacks like Dennis Leary make it huge, because there is no cure for cancer. Learry later named an album after this joke that was very similar to material Bill had been performing in the years leading up to his untimely death. In another time Bill may have been considered a profit considering that 14 years after his death his comedy is still relevant to the issues at hand:

Well, I hope you all enjoy musical mayhem, there will be much more to come!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lots of stuff going on.......sometimes winter is much needed!

At least in the realm of the internet. Sometimes we all need a break to keep up with our online duties (right, duties my ass, this is a privelege that I love!)

Anyhow, as stated earlier here this blog will be updated much more often this winter and defintely next spring. I have made my self a solemn promise to better document my means, methods, and ways in all of my ventures, I think it is important both for myself and for those who like to read gardening blogs on rainy days, of course there is the off chance that someone who can ignore my constant lack of grammatical skills and misspellings might be able to glean something useful from what I write, or at least find my work interesting; one can hope.

The elections were today, as Forrest Gump would say; "That's all I've got to say about that." I'm out regardless of outcome.

You might notice that there will be a lot of new links to other blogs and sites of interest around the net on the right side of your screen, please feel free to check those out, I highly encourage it. Many of the links are to blogs owned by members of our message boards at When I talked to my good friend Michael the other day we both agreed, it seems like it is finally taking off and reaching critical mass and it looks as though we are creating a terrific alternative to the everyday gardening web-sites. I love that there is very little drama there and everyone can behave as an adult, it makes moderation very easy.

Hey, don't forget that if you live around Washington County Indiana you can stop by or call the farm anytime and order fresh winter produce all through those dreary cold, dark, damp months, something about eating greens, tomatoes, and strawberries in the winter just makes it seem like the sun shines a little more. 1-812-967-2073 or (scroll down for more information) Please pass this info on to local residents.

I'm planning on doing a bit of writing once this last bit of Indian Summer is over (freaking 70 degrees in Southern Indian in November is awesome), among the topics I will cover are "Composting as Alchemy 101", Jeffersonian Alpine Strawberries, Experiments in Fowl Husbandry and many more!

Don't forget, you can still request our unique Hip-Gnosis Seed Development seeds, just scroll down a few posts and you will see the offers. I'll soon be doing some work to including adding my archived articles along with a collection of articles that I have written for the Lost River Market and Deli over the past year, and other relevant information (like a complete seed list, descriptions, and pictures).

Damn it man! Sometimes I'm just lazy!

Your Friend,
Alan Reed Bishop

Independent plant breeders and their importance in the 21'st century

I was responding to a post about our little blog over at Patrick's blog ( when I realized that my response might make for an interesting blog of my own, so as follows is my copy and paste blog entry (with minor corrections):

I think we are on the verge of some great things in the sphere of agriculture and plant breeding on an independent and self-sustainable level considering the number of breeders showing up recently on our message boards ( It was only a couple of years ago that the majority of all conversations held on gardening web-sites based on organic/eco-logically grown practices were based on only open pollinated/heirloom seeds and their conservation and it seemed like any talk of breeding work using these varieties or commonly available hybrids was heresy condemned by forum arguments and the general shunning of plant breeders, little did people realize that the seed planted by folks like Alan Kapuler, Ken Etlinger, Frank Moreton and Tom Wagner had already began to sprout and take root and suddenly experienced heirloom gardeners were becoming interested in plant genetics and alternatives to the available heirlooms.

Looking back I suppose it was only a matter of time as the general problem within the heirloom seed movement was that there was a growing contingency of what I call “seed snobs”, that is to say completists whom thought they could grow any heirloom seed anywhere and it would be better than anything on the market, OP or not, that was considered new and possibly trendy.

The problem with that line of thinking is as we all know Heirlooms are adapted to specific climatic and micro-climatic conditions and have been adapted to those conditions for generations, this is something that can not be changed with only a year or two of work regardless of experience, this of course led to any number of disasters with both experienced gardeners trying heirlooms for the first time and new gardeners giving them a go in their earliest attempts at food production and this is not to mentioned the experienced heirloom gardener who thinks he can pull of that miracle of growing a crop from the high dessert in the humid Ohio Valley (lesson learned), something that just can’t be done with much measured success from my experiences.

I think this more than anything has opened gardeners up to looking for local heirloom seeds and regional ones and then looking to independent plant breeders for segregating and unstable genetic material and the direction to make selections from this material that is young enough in the Filial chain for them to make educated decisions in selection criteria in creating their own variety or strain adapted to their area. In this way gardeners can fill in the gaps in their locally sourced heirloom seeds, create an alternative to what’s available, and generally create the “Wow” factor in not only their neighbors but even in experienced heirloom gardeners.

Of course this isn’t discounting the work being done with alternative crops such as Quinoa, Amaranth, Yacon, and Oca by new up and coming independent plant breeders, it is often us who first find an interest in these crops (by way of the previous generation of independent plant breeders/seed savers) and then introduce them to the wider heirloom growing audiences. We set very good examples I think.

In the near future I look for this to be the next big gardening movement, thanks in part to Carol Deppes book, "breed your own vegetable varieties", which changed the perceptions of heirloom gardeners in response to plant breeders, I think we will see many more backyard plant breeders coming up with unique innovations, a very good example of this is Ken Allen and his Tetra Baby watermelon which Michel Lachaume (Canada Mike) turned me on to this previous season, be sure to look it up as it is a very interesting work of “art”.

A few years down the line I don't see it as impossible to find listings of one variety of seed followed by their "strain" identification including various selection criteria and what region that the source material was selected in and from whence the original mixed genetics came from. A database of varieties and their various alternative strains if you will, this will give gardeners a better grasp on selecting new material that is adapted to their location already. I foresee how this can open many doors for the independent plant breeder.

All in all the new wave and old wave of independent plant breeders are responsible for some very terrific things in regards to plant breeding, we are the future of gardening really, particularly when it comes to “Functional Foods” or as I call them “Value Added” seeds and their continued adaptations to local climates.

-Alan Reed Bishop

Seed Network Proposal

Over at my good friend (and fellow member of Homegrown Goodness's blog site he is proposing an interesting and much needed blogger seed network. He explains it much better than I ever could, so instead of trying, I'll quote some relevant text and drop a link to his site, please check it out, join if you have something to offer, and give a helping hand to a cause that is worthy.

lifted from/relevant link:

Seed Network

Email address for orders or questions:

This is my Blogger Seed Network page. Feel free to use it as a template for your own if you wish.

See the bottom of this page for the seeds I’m offering!

I’ve written before about why a Seed Network is so important.

Everyone on this list has their own policies for distribution of their seeds, but have one important thing in common. They are all motivated to get their seeds out into other people’s gardens!

Generally people here offer seeds for trade; either for other seeds, for something else you might both agree on, or for small amounts of money. There are enough of us sending seeds and other things back and forth, that we can also handle a lot of local currencies as well. For example I am happy to handle US$ and all major (west/north, maybe Swiss) European currencies. I also have agreements with several other people offering to exchange small amounts of local currencies if necessary to facilitate trades, let me know if I can help out with this. I only accept paper currency, no coins please.

This is a worldwide effort! It’s open to everyone to participate who accepts the basic principles outlined here.

If you don’t have anything to trade, and have a local currency that is not widely accepted, most people below are also willing to send out reasonable numbers of seeds for free. In fact a few people are willing to send seeds out free to anyone who asks.

These seeds are for everyone!

You don’t need to have a blog to request seeds. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener, or have any seeds yourself to offer. Most people below will send seeds anywhere in the world. If you are interested in growing anything listed here, just ask!

If you have seeds to share under similar terms outlined above, get in touch! If you have a blog or another place on the Internet offering seeds, let me know and I will add a link to you to this list. If you don’t have any place on the Internet to list your seeds, get in touch with your seed list, contact information and policies regarding payments and where you will send to, and I will post it here on this blog and forward requests to you.

Please note this is primarily a network for gardeners to share their own seeds, saved from their own gardens. In any event no unstable commercial F1 hybrids. If you are a plant breeder or have been selecting for traits in your own garden, this is a great place to offer your seeds! Unstable varieties, F1s or genetic mixes are considered, as long as you are clear about what they are and someone growing them can expect, and they must be useful and interesting to the average gardener.

A few small or up and coming seed companies have expressed an interest in participating. This is also very much welcome if done under the terms outlined here, and I will be adding links to these as they come forward.

Think in terms of offering your favorite and best quality seeds.

Anyone who wishes to offer commercial F1 hybrids (seeds from purchased packets or store bought produce), suspected commercial F1 hybrids or the seeds saved from plants grown from these seeds should do this elsewhere on the Internet and not make reference to this seed network. Members of this seed network are encouraged not to link to people who try to offer these seeds, and to make these people known to others on the network through private communication. Most of us know what these seeds look and sound like! The only exception to this may be people who have selected over a number of generations and stabilized an F1 hybrid. If you don’t know what this means, your commercial F1 seeds are not welcome here.

In addition if you encounter quality problems with seeds, you should first address this with the person offering the seeds and try to help them solve the problem, but if necessary we should work together to make sure any persistent quality problems are identified as such.

People in this network should be choosy who they link to! Promote quality together with your own friends and personal contacts.

If you have a blog, please use it to publicize this network! Please pretend you are the organizer of the network from the point of view of explaining it and making sure all the information necessary to find other members is on your blog. If this blog disappears tomorrow, make sure the idea of a seed network can go on!

Please consider offering some seeds in this way, even if you only have one or two varieties to offer.

If you have a blog, and obtain seeds from this network, make sure to post about your experiences.

This page is licensed under Creative Commons, that means you are free to copy it for non-commercial purposes as long as your mention the source and provide a link back to this blog. Feel free to copy any part of this page in this way. With reference to this page only, you are also free to make derivative works and modify it according to your own needs.