@Native Seeds/SEARCH

5 Articles


26 December, 2018 at 04:24 PM


By Nicholas Garber, Conservation Program Manager. Published December 21, 2018.

Our Adopt-A-Crop campaign depends on our members and donors to help us cover the costs of identifying at-risk accessions; planting, growing, harvesting, and then processing seed; and preparing new long-term samples for the future of selected irreplaceable plants. For this year’s tepary bean Adopt-A-Crop, we deepened our commitment to the future of this perfect plant by partnering with farmers to grow the beans in their fields and in or near the seeds’ communities of origin. We see an agricultural future where the seeds in this collection are once again grown in fields and served at meals, and the work with farmers this season helped us to see what success really looks like even when harvests fail.

Our expanding garden at the Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center in Tucson was home to the Pima Beige and Brown tepary beans. Like so much of the collection, these beans have been grown in rhythm with the natural cycles of the desert... Continue Reading

Connecting with Dimeglio Arugula

26 December, 2018 at 04:46 PM


By Liz Fairchild, Seed Distribution Coordinator. Published December 5, 2018.

Some days, our work at NS/S is mundane: data entry, weeding, grantwriting. Other days, we are viscerally reminded that what we do touches deep into the past, and can rekindle connections with those long gone, whose work and effort we may have forgotten –or never known. I have a story about one of these connections.

Last spring, Collections Curator Sheryl Joy brought some unaccessioned arugula seeds out of the freezer (“unaccessioned” means a seed was originally collected and put in the seed bank but has yet to be grown and formally catalogued.). The arugula seeds were set aside in a moment of more pressing work, and when brought to light again in August, I saw that they were accompanied in their ziplock bag with a note. The note said that this arugula had been grown here in Tucson since the 60s, and had been “in the family for centuries”- signed “J.D. DiMeglio, 1997”. I felt a shiver of recognition.

I had taken a Smartscape horticultural workshop through Pima County back in 1998,... Continue Reading

How to save your tomato seeds

26 December, 2018 at 04:55 PM


By Laura Neff, NS/S Education Assistant. Published October 12, 2018.

Tomatoes are not only one of the most popular garden veggies to grow, but the experience of saving their seeds is a unique one that won’t soon to be forgotten. The whole production is a tactile and olfactory wonder. These tasty nightshades are “double dippers”. This means that your beautiful piece of fruit is edible at the same time its seeds are mature and ready to be harvested and saved (as a contrast, consider lettuce: in order to harvest its seed you have to let the plant mature to the point where the leaves are quite bitter and to some, less palatable.).

Tomato seeds are cleaned and saved through a process of fermentation. This mimics the natural rotting that occurs in nature and removes the germination inhibitors within the gelatinous sheath that covers seeds while in the fruit.

What you need:

  • water
  • mason jar with lid (pint size is usually sufficient for a home garden)
  • paper plate or coffee filter
  • Continue Reading
  • News from the Field: Adopt-A-Crop 2018 Update

    29 December, 2018 at 11:26 AM


    By Nicholas Garber, Conservation Program Manager. Published July 30, 2018.

    With summer obviously in full swing in Tucson, this seems like a perfect time for an update on our Adopt-a-Crop tepary beans! These low-desert survivors thrive in the monsoon season and show that the monsoons are a season of abundance, which can reward working hot, muggy mornings with cooling greenery and nutritious, fresh foods.

    First up is news from the Conservation Center garden where we planted Pima Beige and Brown tepary beans at our Día de San Juan breakfast. Thanks so much to the 40+ members who joined us to plant our waffle beds with beans and Día de San Juan corn, another traditional Tohono O’odham variety. These desert natives greeted the monsoons with shoots emerging 3 days after planting! Our beans are flourishing as they cool and infuse our soils with nitrogen to the benefit of every crop that will follow. If you have avoided planting in this monsoon season before, please stop by the center during the week for a visit to see how planting the right plant in the right place and at the right time is... Continue Reading


    21 January, 2019 at 12:58 PM

    By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Educator. Published July 22, 2018.

    In the desert Southwest, much of our attention is focused on water. When we tell people from outside the region that our annual rainfall ranges between 6-10 inches we are met with looks of disbelief. Annual rainfall in my hometown in Nebraska is three times that amount, not to mention the moisture from snow. As aridlands gardeners and farmers it is our responsibility to use our limited water wisely – both for the health and wellness of the crops but also for environmental conservation. Not to mention the benefits to your monthly water bill. Following a few simple tips will use water wisely in your garden.


    Gardening does not have one-size fits all solutions. We have very different seasons in the Southwest compared to other parts of the country, and across the Southwest region there are drastic differences in dates of first frost, timing of summer rains, and temperature ranges. Following a local gardening calendar is key. The local extension office is a good place to start, and NS/S has a planting calendar for low elevation areas of Arizona. In central and... Continue Reading