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Texas legacy Petmecky corn rescued from brink of extinction

Written by Marshall Hinsley.

Rescuing a crop from the brink of extinction, Victory Seed Company is reintroducing a variety corn in 2017, and it has a Texas connection.

With sturdy stalks that grow tall and produce ears that are eight inches long with sixteen to eighteen rows of kernels in varying colors, Petmecky corn is a flint or flour type of corn that can be harvested young and eaten as roasting ears.

Most commonly, though, its ornamental ears are allowed to dry so that the kernels may be ground into cornmeal.

In the past, this grain corn was sustenance to communities in the Texas Hill Country. Victory Seed Company founder Mike Dunton says word about the variety came to him back in 20015 when he was approached by C. B. "Hoppy" Hopkins of Fredericksburg, Texas.

According to Hopkins, German settlers entered the Texas Hill country in the mid 19th Century and signed a treaty with Native Americans in the area in 1847. At about that time, the Comanches gave the corn to the Pe…
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Want to see more pollinators and fewer pest? Leave the land alone says growing body of research

A growing body of research is showing what organic and sustainable growers may already know: the best way to deal with crop pests has nothing to do with pesticides.

In the article posted to the Scientific American blog, Devika Bansal reports on the research findings and farmer experiences that show how undisturbed areas near crop production can boost populations of predatory insects as well as pollinators.


City of Dallas Park and Recreation is Launching a Pollinator Conservation Program

(DALLAS) - The City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department is launching a pollinator conservation program that will help the declining population of essential pollinators, including: bees, butterflies, birds, bats and moths.
The program was developed by the department’s Urban Biologist, Brett Johnson.

“The program will incorporate native, nectar-rich plants that will attract beneficial insects in select areas of our park system,” said Johnson. “We’re going to use our existing wildflower areas to develop a diverse plant community to support a wider range of pollinators with a minimal budget impact.”
Pollinators are needed to sustain a healthy ecosystem. Plant-based foods and other food sources are produced through pollination, providing food for human consumption as well as a diverse species of wildlife. 
Johnson says you too can help in the effort by planting a pollinator garden, complete with colorful, fragrant, native flowers.
“Pollinator gardens are the perfect addition to your yard b…

What can you grow in the winter in Texas?

Many gardeners grow spring, summer and fall veggies but are wholly unaware that Texas is a state with a year-round growing season.

Kale, broccoli, collards greens and carrots are just a few of the veggies you can reap from a cool season garden.

In this article from Edible Dallas Fort Worth, local growers share their knowledge about how they've taken advantage of Texas' cool season to fill their dinner plates throughout the winter months and into early spring, long before tomatoes and summer squash have set fruit.

Sick bees self medicate say researchers

Sick bees in the wild seek out plants with medicinal substances say researchers in a Dartmouth-led study.

Infected with a common intestinal parasite, wild bumble bees native to North America sought out plants with a group of metabolites called iridoid glycosides. In addition to deterring deer from eating plants that contain these substances, iridoid glycosides appear to reduce the number of parasites affecting bees that forage on their nectar, thus in effect treating them for their disease.

The full findings of the study conducted by researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado-Boulder appear in the September edition of the scientific journal, Ecology.

In previous studies in the lab, researchers found that certain plant substances known as alkaloids, glycosides, terpenoids and phenolics, which are poisonous to humans and other animals, significantly reduced the disease load of bumble bees.  They then followed up on their exploration to see if bees foraging in the wil…

Summertime prep means no tilling in the fall

One of the least enjoyable aspects of growing food or flowers is preparing the soil.

To sow seeds or plant out transplants, the labor it takes to dig into the soil and turn it over for a clean start is intense.

Texas farmer Marshall Hinsley is slowly progressing toward never tilling again, and he shares how prepping garden beds in midsummer can ready soil for fall without the hard work.

Read about this simple, no-till technique in this article at Dallas Culture Map.

Texas farmer resorts to pot growing to ease woes over drowned crops

Now that Texas has received two months of almost daily rainfall, Marshall Hinsley's crops on his farm south of Dallas have drowned.

If not for a few experiments with growing crops in several large pots, he'd have nothing to show for his efforts this year.

Hinsley shares his experience with pot-grown tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots and herbs in this article from Dallas Culture Map.