Yesterday was a beautiful day to put seeds in the ground at Adaptive Seeds’ farm! The freshly tilled soil was warmed from the sun, and rain was brewing in the western horizon. This marks the first big field trial of the season. Funded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation, I am exploring the microbial ecology of seeds, in this case, seeds from Cascade Ruby-Gold flint corn that was saved by Adaptive Seeds. To explore the importance of seedborne microbes, I am disinfecting some seeds, and inoculating others with beneficial microbes. Some research questions from this project are:
-If you disinfect the seeds, are you leaving the seedlings more vulnerable to colonization by microbes in the environment? (for better or for worse)
-Does the bacterial inoculation of seeds protect plants from fungal diseases?
Randomized plot design will statistically account for all of the variation in the field
Looking West from Adaptive Seeds farm. Red flags mark the plots where I planted Cascade Ruby-Gold.
It’s corn planting season the the Pacific Northwest! We’ve had a mild spring, so the Cascade Ruby-Gold got an early start in my garden. Here it is about 10 days old. I’m trying a no-till leaf mulch method. I did a heavy leaf mulch over an unruly patch of grass during the winter, so the corn can now feed off of the nutrients of the rotting grass. I planted the seeds with some composted horse manure to give them a lively start. We’ll see how it goes!
I saved some of the batch of seed I planted so I will be able to do a before/after comparison of the microbial communities. I imagine this unconventional method will yield some interesting changes in the microbiome of the course of a growing season.
It’s not too late to register to participate in the research project this year! Register today, and you get your seeds analyzed to determine their microbial communities.