About Grunt and Grungy ...

For those of you who don't know about us, a little history to fill you in.

Between the two of us we had over a hundred years of experience gardening. (Now that makes me feel old.) We had gardened in climates that can be described as West Coast Marine, to Sub Arctic wilderness, to flat prairie and finally settled in what we commonly refer to as our little piece of paradise, here in the Creston valley, in south eastern B.C., Canada, located about 10 km. north of the Idaho panhandle and just below Kootenay Lake.
The property lies in a small microclimate that gives us a zone 5/6 Canadian version or 6/7 US version.
We were avid gardeners for years, and about 10 years ago noticed that more and more of the old varieties of vegetables were no longer being offered. Being raised in the generation that thought "if you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem", we decided to start growing heirloom and open pollinated varieties of vegetables (especially tomatoes) and offering the seeds to other gardeners.
Well one thing lead to another and we ended up starting a private seed bank so that our and your grandchildren will be able to have the same tastes that you are having now. This past couple of years we had gone past tomatoes and started seed banking (cold and cool storage) any annual vegetable seed.
If you have questions or would like to contribute to this blog, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Also for those who wish to trade please contact me at the below e-mail address and I will get back to as soon as possible. Thank you.

I am sad to report that Dan McMurray passed away on February 15, 2012 at his home in Wynndel, British Columbia. Dan was 69 years old.

Much of the final years of Dan's journey is chronicled on this blog. He was a man who made a difference to many people, and his family believe that his thoughts in the last years and months of his life, and his work in preserving heritage seeds should remain available.


What I post about ways, methods, and results is based on what I observe in my garden. Your growing conditions may achieve results that differ from mine. I am putting this blog here to offer a site to exchange gardening ideas and methods, and to exchange seeds.
I welcome questions and discussions about anything gardening. The only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask. I will try to find answers for questions that I can't answer, and may post links to sites that have clearer answers than I can come up with.


I do have tomato seeds to offer. The seeds are free, but I ask you to help cover the postage and handling in one form or another.
They can be obtained through trading seeds, or paying for postage at the rate of $2.00 for the first ten varieties or seed packs, and an increase of $1.00 for every ten varieties or seed packs beyond that. Seed packs are approximately 25 seeds each (not counted, just a pinch of seeds). Germination rate usually exceeds that of commercial seed packs. If you have problems with germination, let me know, and I will replace the seeds, either with more of the same variety, or with a variety that I think will give you something similar to what the original variety would have. Please note. I am not a seed company. Iwill only offer seeds from my current trade lists and also if I have lots to spare from previous years. I don't check germination on older seeds, but my experience has been over 80% on five year old seed.

2010 FALL SEED LIST = http://tinyurl.com/4whnxy3 Some seeds from this list may be in limited supply, but I will do my best to fill your request.

Albums containing photos of most of the varieties I have, and other photos that may be of interest, can be found at:
http://www.picasaweb.google.com/tvgrunt, or

When you have made up your list, send me a copy at grungysgarden@gmail.com

Changes ...

The status here has changed substantially, as you can see above. The blog will continue, hopefully with more frequent input than recently.
Seed saving and trading/sharing will also continue. I still want to bank seeds, not just of tomatoes, but I am older than the lead photo on the blog would indicate, and have passed the seed bank on to younger hands.
In the meantime, I will continue to pay it forward, and trade/share seed to all corners of the world, as I did with Val.
This poem, which we both have known since the 1960's gave us much comfort through Val's battle with cancer.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Life comes with no guarantee of quality or quantity. It is up to you to remember to smell the flowers, watch the sunset, hear the birdsong in early morning, and the spring frogs in the evening. What ever happens in your little corner of it, it is still a beautiful world, and you do yourself a great disservice if you fail to see and celebrate what is there.

A little footnote here, that will stay at the top of the blog. I have married again, for the fourth time. Another internet marriage, as Val's and mine was, and just as good, although completely different.
I was also diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2011, and started treatment to cure it in late August 2011.
The blog will carry on, in much the same vein as it always has. I will post mostly garden related articles, but also a few comments on things and life in general.
For a while, I thought Gump had it right = sh*t happens. He's wrong = LIFE happens

I am sad to report that Dan McMurray passed away on February 15, 2012 at his home in Wynndel, British Columbia. Dan was 69 years old. His family wishes his blog to remain for those who wish to read Dans' journey.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saving Seeds - Part Seven - Squashes, Melons.& Cucumbers

Squashes, melons, and cucumbers are commonly know as the flirts in the gardening world. They have a bad tendency to cross easily with other members of their own "families". Thank goodness it is also just as easy to prevent them from doing so. It is only a matter of carefully paying attention to you plants and watching for the female flowers to start to appear. You can tell the female flowers, by the little bulb like structure at the base of the blossom.
There are basically two methods for preventing cross pollination. The first is to bag both the female and male blossoms, and when they are both ready, quickly pick the male blossom, go to the female blossom and unbag both. Rub the pollen off the male flower unto the pistil of the female blossom, discard the male blossom, and rebag the female blossom until the flower withers and drops loose. Then you can remove the tulle bag and mark the growing fruit, for harvesting. If fertilization occurs and you are successful the bulb will start growing and become which ever fruit you have desired. Unsuccessful pollination will be indicated by the bulb (very immature fruit), turning yellow and eventually dropping off the vine.
The second method is to use tape. (I prefer the 30 day masking tape as it isn't quite as sticky and therefore allows me easier peeling while I work.) When you notice the female blossoms first appearing gently tape the upper end of the blossom closed and tape several male blossoms (again at the tip, to prevent the blossom from opening and allowing pollinators access to the flower) at the same time. When the female is ready, and this take a little while watching to see the differences in stages of blossom developement, again you remove the male flower, then go to you female flower and untape both. Do your fertilizing, and retape. Make sure you mark the fruitlet so that you know which one to pick for seeds. A large wide rubber band slipped over the fertilized blossom is probably on of the easiest to use and will not cut off circulation of nutrients to your fruit.
It probably seems redundant to prevent both blossoms types from being visited by bees or other insects, but you don't want to risk having stray pollen mixed with the pollen you wish to use for your cross. And bees, especially bumblebees and solitary bees love collecting pollen from the large yellow/orange blossoms. Lots of pollen and larger bloosoms (easy access), seem to intice the bees to the blossoms.
In a few weeks to a few months you squash or melon or cucumber will be ready for harvesting. Allow them to mature on the vine as long as possible and get fully ripe or in the case of melons, summer squash and cucumbers actually over ripe. Then harvest your fruit.
With melons, cucumbers and summer squash, split your fruit in half and scrap out your seeds into a large enough container that you can add a little water. Avoid as much flesh as you can while you are doing this. When you have harvested your seeds, add enough water that the goop can float about inch and a half to two inches above the bottom of your container. Allow the seeds to ferment 1-3 days at room temperature, stirring 3 or 4 times daily until the mature seeds start dropping to the bottom of the container. (Old canning sealer work wonderfully as you can see this happening.) The stir vigorously to release all the seeds from the goop, allow the mixture to rest for a half hour so the goop will float and then scrap it off and rinse your seeds a few times to ensure they are clean. Spread out on styrofoam plates and allow to dry completely. Then bag and label your fresh seeds.
Winter squash is handle slightly different, because they should be picked and stored at room temperature for a minimum of 2 weeks and preferably 6 weeks before you process them, to allow the rinds to cure. They also have the advantage that you can scrap out the seed cavity and then process the flesh for delicious dishes. When I scrap out the seed cavity, I manually go through the pulp and select only the plump full seeds with whatever flesh clings to them, and then ferment those seeds. Again you wash, dry. bag and label the clean seeds.


  1. Great post friend! I find that short of biennial seed producers that squash, cukes, melons, and watermelons confuse beginning seed savers more than most other crops, this was a very informative post and I think many people will learn a lot from it.

    I'm so glad to see you blogging and putting useful information out there!

  2. You have a lot of great info on here! Also, I can see my parent's house in your photo. I'll have to stop by and see all your tomatoes sometime.

  3. Thanks. How many squash would you consider enough to prevent inbreeding in any one generation? I would like to save some seed but it sounds space consuming.

    That was very informative especially the tip about 30 day tape!

  4. Hanna: Drop by anytime in the spring or summer. We'll be out in the garden someplace, until dark.
    OG: At least 3 seeds per hill, preferably from different sources. Try and hand pollinate from vine to vine, and save fruit from each of the crosses. It is possible to interplant squash in your tomato rows, if you train the squash vines down either side of the tomatoes. This has the added bonus of shading the tomato roots, and keeping them cooler. You can crop the vine tips once you have the fruitset you want. Here's what training the vines down the side results in http://lh4.ggpht.com/_aKlVwuyZNvk/SSKXXEIZjuI/AAAAAAAAFA4/jTzSbeT4B54/s144/STUPICE%20X1%20BEST%2018%202008_09100382.JPG
    Failing to get all of the leads trained down the sides results in http://lh6.ggpht.com/_aKlVwuyZNvk/SSKXaZ-2PpI/AAAAAAAAFBA/z_BHq9IKAH4/s144/STUPICE%20X1%20BEST%2019%202008_09100384.JPG
    Dan (Grunt)

  5. Sorry, picked the wrong links. Here they are in shorter form and larger format: