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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We need a little help here

We need a little help here, so this is an aside from talking about me and mine = I have a American forum-friend that has sort of painted himself into a corner with his desire to help those who need it. He started to gather seed to send to a seed distribution agency ( Wintersown ) that sends seeds to people in need.(free, private, non-profit), and suddenly found himself with a pallet load of seed (800 lbs). He is unsure how, (and cannot personally afford) to send the seed to the seed agency.

If anyone out there can help with this it would be a boon to him and Wintersown . I will send personal contact information for him to any who contact me about this.

I think someone who tries this hard to pay it forward should get a little help from the rest of us = my own seed money receipts are going there.

On a more personal note again, still no sign of me starting to feel as badly as I am apparently supposed to be feeling. While my energy level could not be described as particularly high, I am having no trouble getting started in the morning, and once in motion, I keep on going. Don't have quite the sustained speed capabilities walking, but still walk faster than most I see around me.

It is likely that my good luck will not hold forever, and that I will, sooner or later, start to feel like the knot hole is getting smaller by the day, but for now, I revel in the level of goodness and life I feel within me.

I will make a full post when I get home for the weekend again, and try to catch up on some of the photos that should be posted.

And the adventure continues.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Four weeks done now.

I think for a while the blog is going to become a bit more like a journal for me and my trip through the medical system, and back to good health. I will keep it garden oriented as much as possible, but I think it is likely going to slide into my current circumstances fairly often.

Last weekend I didn’t quite get to seeding the tomatoes in the greenhouse = a few other things got in the way. We canned another 58 quarts of tomato juice, I picked a few more seed tomatoes, and I picked all of the dried pods off of 6 or 7 varieties of beans.

Speaking of making juice, I think I have created a monster = Shaoling has never had a garden before, and had never done any canning before this year. I introduced her to canning with cherries. Now she wants to make juice out of everything in the garden and orchard.

At least 200 quarts of tomato juice (which is normal for this household anyway). Carrots are next on the list, if I plant enough, and celery, and onions, and all of the other ingredients for a good mixed vegetable juice.

We have already made 30 odd quarts of cherry juice, in addition to the canned cherries.. She wants to make plum juice, and pear juice and apple juice, and if we get a good producing peach tree going, I am sure peaches will be on the list, as well as apricots, if we get a good crop.

I will quite willingly go along with all of it, for the simple reason that walking through the garden with her renews for me the awe and excitement that got me hooked on gardening in the first place. It awakens memories of walking through the garden with my grandparents, at eye level with the hornworms when they were discovered, the explanations of who and what they were and would become if left alone, and why they were not left alone. I used to love running to the nearest free range chicken with one.

I am now walking 2.6 kilometers (1.5 miles) before breakfast, doing the first and last 400 meters (.25 miles) at 180 paces/minute (8.2 kph or 5.1 mph) and slow down to 120 paces a minute (5.5 kph or 3.4 mph) for the rest of the walk). I do the same walk 3 to 6 times a day, depending on how wired I feel, and what else there is to do here. I should have the same energy in the garden!!

Over the weekend I seeded 30+ tomato varieties using chemicals, and got another 20 varieties ready to put chemicals on, then got sidetracked for a bit doing other things = and had to leave them to ferment until next weekend. I will see just how they do, sitting for a week in the greenhouse, with its cool nights, and pass judgement on them when I get home. If they need re-doing, I still have the tomatoes available to do them, if not, then it’s just a matter of cleanup = then I can turn my attention to the other three trays of less ripe tomatoes that are setting int he greenhouse waiting for me to gut them. Cleaned a couple of squash, ripped up the Ethiopian Lentils and hung the bundles to dry under cover, for thashing later, stripped off all of the dry soybean and chickpea pods, and cut the grass int the pathways, some of the orchard, and the yard.

The Bradshaw plums are ripening now = I had forgotten just how good they can be = they are a variety I ate as a kid, and put in the orchard for the memories. Italian prune plums are coming on, apples and pears getting very close = The Asian pears have to be thinned a whole lot more than I have been doing so far = I’m only getting half sized fruit, because I am leaving far too many on the tree.

Time to start getting the spud pit ready for storage use = the carrots are sizing up, most of the spud plants have died back, and this year I will try sticking some of the leeks in the pit as well, just to see how they do. I have a rack in the bottom of the pit that keeps the pails off the ground, and holes drilled in the bottom of the pails to allow ventilation of the contents. Feed bags with fiberglass insulation go over top the buckets, and keep everything from freezing. I have already sprayed the interior of the pit with fixed copper, to eliminate any fungal growth, at least for the first half of the winter.

You can get an idea of what I am talking about from these photos =

I will take some more current photos when I am home again this weekend, and update this post with them.

I’m back at the lodge again, starting another week of radiation treatments. I am no longer taking Prednisone, and it’s two weeks until my next chemo treatments, so no other meds either. This will be the first period that my body will be dealing with everything on its own. I am supposed to be entering the period of my treatments, where I start to feel the effects of the radiation and chemo = so far, nothing much that I notice. I have had no steroids or other meds for 36 hours now, and still feel somewhat wired, where I am supposed to start feeling fatigued. I did try to counter the lack of steroids by drinking my four cups of coffee this morning, and it seems to have done more than that = I felt more wired than I did while drinking coffee and taking the steroids = time will tell I am sure, in the meantime, no more coffee = I could not sit still and felt extremely speedy for about three hours after the last coffee. Tomorrow morning will likely tell the tale about whether I stay energetic and hungry, or start to feel like they say I should.

And the adventure continues.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Drip Irrigation System

For some time, I’ve been meaning to do a proper rundown on my drip system, complete with photos. I am going to start by giving a general description, and linking to some of the photos that I have already posted elsewhere, that reasonably represent what I do. I will try to get into the garden and take some photos to go with this, when I am home this weekend, but I tried to do that last weekend too.

I keep this blog ad free on purpose, but do occasionally plug companies or products that I like and use myself. I have no affiliation with any company I name here, other than being a satisfied customer. I also reserve the right to pan any company that I am dissatisfied with = and they will have to be very deserving of the pan before I will give it.

That being said, I buy my ⅛” micro-tubing from http://www.submatic.com. I have dealt with them since 1980 or 1981, and have always been satisfied with their service.

I make my own punch from a block of wood

and an appropriately sized nail, sharpened to a fine point. End clips are made from pieces of what ever I am using for feeder lines, or garden hoses or what ever comes to hand and will stay in place. If you are covering the drip lines with mulch or anything else, the end clips are not really necessary = they just convert the water to a drip, instead of letting it squirt across the bed (if you are running higher pressure/volume to increase watering, they can squirt quite a ways). The best feeder lines are the black plastic variety, although that can get a bit expensive if you have any amount to purchase. Cheap garden hose will work very well, but usually has the disadvantage of getting stiff after a season or two, and does not hold onto the emitter lines quite as well. If you are not going to be rolling the lines up to move them, garden hoses are a good cheap alternative = if you will want to be able to roll them up every year, spring for the black plastic.

You can make your individual emitter lines what ever length and spacing best suits your needs. If the drip lines are always going to be in the same locations, and the crops are going to be the same or similar every year, you can get very particular with your emitter layout, and reduce your water consumption accordingly. for instance, if you are always planting tomatoes with the same spacing,in the same rows, you could easily put very short emitter lines in exactly the right position, and reduce the amount of micro-tubing and water required. If you are going to be rotating things through the beds, or re-orienting garden areas, you might want to do a more general configuration, with longer and closer spaced emitter lines. I move stuff all over my beds, so I tend to do longer lines, and closer spaced. Since I have no water constraints, I tend to use a bit more, and a bit more frequently than I might otherwise = for me it pays off in larger harvests.

One of the advantages to using the micro-tubing is that it is very easy to clean a plugged emitter (which I seldom have to do) = pull the end cap off, and stick a piece of 16 gauge wire down the emitter line (metal guitar strings are great for this = they are stiff and don’t kink). When you cut your emitter lines, cut them at an angle

so you won’t plug them by pushing them against the far wall of the feeder line. If you make your emitter lines too long, they are going to be difficult to clean, as the wire will want to bend and kink. If you have an emitter in the wrong place, just cut it off at about 1”, and burn the end closed, or just pull off the end cap, and burn the end closed, leaving it in place in case you change your mind again.

I run a header line across the top end of all of my beds, and use the cheapest taps I can find to control the water on each bed (usually water tank taps). Run the largest diameter header line you can, to allow the largest volume possible to your feeder lines, bearing in mind that the first restriction in the line sets the volume for all of the line behind it = ie the tap that regulates your water sets the volume that will flow through the lines downstream from it. If your first tap is ½”, that is what regulates the volume you pass to the rest of the system. This doesn’t necessarily say to put the rest of the lines in at ½”, because you also have to deal with friction in the lines, which can make a difference if you have longer runs. I cobbled my initial header lines out of what ever was available here when I started, so I have a mix of 1”, and ¾” headers, which is all made moot by the fact that all of my taps controlling the beds are ½”. The individual feeder lines on the beds are a mix of ¾” black plastic, ½” black plastic, and ½” and ¾” garden hoses. My beds vary in length from 40’ to 100’, with emitter spacings from 9” to 18”staggered down each side of the feeder line. Emitter line lengths are from 6” to 15”, mostly around 9”. I can adequately water 400 emitters at once, using two hours for watering time. This gives me enough time to water my whole garden in one day (I have two taps and two header systems, with about 1100 feet of bed). If you use water soluble fertilizer (MiracleGro, etc) or lots of well filtered compost, other teas, or molasses,invest in an injection siphon.

It greatly simplifies feeding your garden, and cuts down on waste as well.

Because all of my lines are either plastic, or garden hose, I don't have to worry about winter frost damage. I disconnect the feed line, and open all of the valves and taps in the system, so there is no chance of water getting trapped in anything metal. The worst that might happen is a joint may get forced apart if water gets trapped in it, and it freezes solid.

In addition to the drip irrigation, I hand water new plantings of beans, carrots, onions and similar, two or three times daily, until they are large enough to mulch around. It substantially reduces the losses from stress.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two weeks in

My first week of treatment consisted of 3 chemo sessions, and 4 radiation treatments. I am now in my third week of radiation, with another 3 sessions of chemo next week. Already feeling slight improvements, and so far, no bad side effects, although I know they are coming.

I'm staying in the Rotary Lodge behind Kelowna General Hospital during the week, and driving home Friday nights and back again Sunday evening, or Monday morning, if my first treatment is late enough in the day. It's a 5 hour drive each way, and I will go home every weekend, unless I start to feel too rough to make the drive. I have a mattress in the back of the Montana (all seats pulled to give me ample room), so I can pull over and recoup with a nap if need be.

Total treatment routine for me will be 12 chemo sessions = 3 consecutive days, a two week break then another 3 days, etc. and 33 radiation treatments. I expect things may start to get a bit unpleasant after about week four or five, but I am willing to be disappointed in that respect.

I've been taking Prednisone for a rash since just before the treatments started, and it is keeping my appetite at a higher than usual level, and my weight is staying up with no problem. I am also wired all the time, also due to the Prednisone. I'm walking 10 t0 15 kilometers a day (6 to 10 miles), just to keep the energy under control.

A note on the garden and home front = I have seeding tomatoes picked for almost everything now, and they are waiting in the greenhouse for me to process when I get home this weekend. I will have to do chemical processing for this years seeds = I'm only home for two days, and fermentation takes more than that here, but less than a week, which is when I would be here next to finish them.

I have about 60 varieties that I have to get seed from this year, and some of those will have multiple entries, because they are stabilization grow outs, and have presented more than one good expression. So I am looking at 70 to 80 batches of seed to process. I'm not really rushed on these, thanks to having the greenhouse to hold them in, so I'll split the time I have, and do a day of tomato squishing, and a day of bean picking = they can hang and dry in the greenhouse too.

In the two weekends I have been home, we've processed 46 quarts of tomato juice, and a half dozen quarts of kosher dills. Shaoling picks the tomatoes on Thursday, and cuts them into canning pots and puts them in the oven Friday evening to cook. Saturday morning we start processing the tomatoes into juice, and can them in the pressure cooker through the day. If there is more than one canner load, it goes in the oven Saturday night and gets processed before I leave Sunday afternoon.

It's going to get interesting a bit later, when the pears start wanting to be canned, and the apples are ready for juicing, and we still have tomatoes to process. Storage is going to become a bit of a problem for a while too, when I start bringing the squash in from the field = I have only a slight idea of just how many squash are out there hiding in the leaves. And I believe I have a few watermelon hiding someplace under the tomatoes and squash in the main garden. This weekend is going to full of discoveries, I think.

And the adventure continues.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Personal Update

I think I will start this by quoting something I first wrote in 1998 =

There aint no reboot, rewind, or start game over. This is the only run through you get, so get it right, and do it now, because you have no guarantee the game will continue.

You may feel that this is only the first inning, period, quarter, or half, but I tell you it is the bottom of the ninth, the end of the third, the last kick of the fourth, and the end of the second half, and you have no guarantee of getting off of the bench again.
If you have to play in pain, do it. If you wait for the pain to leave, the final buzzer, bell, or whistle may go before you get back in the game, so don’t wait.

Make the statement you want to make, and play the game as you want to play it. Don’t wait for the rules to change = they won’t, unless you change them yourself.

Lest you think I am saying what I don’’t do, I tell you I am playing the game I chose, and have made my own rules long ago. Things I don’t want to do, I ignore. Face, appearances, respect of others, all of the things that we run our lives by = they are not for my rule book, unless they fit with what I feel my life should be. I do what I do, because I must to be me. The only person whose respect I have to work at keeping, is me. If I do what I can live happily with, I am doing alright. I respect my own value set more than most others, and if I meet mine, I don’t need to worry about meeting those of others.”

I have put off writing this post for several reasons. At first it was because I was not ready to share with the world what was going on with my life yet, as I had not fully absorbed what it meant to me, and how I was going to deal with it. Another reason I did not post, was that I did not have enough information myself yet about anything/everything, and would be unable to answer any of the questions that I knew would come.

Since I now have enough of an information set I think it is time to post what is transpiring.

I was diagnosed with lung cancer in May. To be specific, Type 3A lung cancer. The designation indicates that I have cancer in one lung, it has spread outside the lung to some of the lymph nodes, but not metastasized = I have had a total bone scan, a CT scan of my abdomen and head, and a bronchoscopy with ultrasound and a biopsy thrown in. The lung and nymph nodes are the only locations there is cancer.

The prognosis, based on the statistics for Type 3A, and how I am presenting the symptoms is good. The median survival rate for a diagnosis of Type 3A is 15 months (that is the point at which 50% of those diagnosed will have died). The 5 year survival rate is 23%.

Because of the way I am presenting the symptoms = very good general fitness, still good lung function despite 56 years of smoking (I quit August 23, 2010), no weight loss, and no difficulty swallowing = the oncologist says I will be in the 23%. He also said that he thought he could cure this, not just drive it into remission, and that is the premise he is treating me on.

I know this blog has been badly neglected and very infrequently posted to for some time. I could make excuses about various things happening that made it impossible, but the fact is, life just sort of got in the way, and the garden got looked to first.

I've had my bell rung again with this latest development, and will listen up a little better to what I preach in the above quote.

As a result, the garden is no longer going to be the sole focus of my life. I will still garden in a big way, but it's going to have to fend for itself a lot more than it has in the past. I will expand the variety of things I grow, but reduce the amounts of some of the crops at the same time.

The orchard will see better maintenance, so I don't end up taking 3/4 of the crop off with a pruning that should have been done two years earlier. Thinning will take place on time for a change, watering will be more frequent, and there will be a lot of manure spread around the trees for a change.

The trade offs come in that I will actually go fishing, and do a little travelling for a change. Things that I have shunted aside for most of the past nine years here, in favour of spending more time in the garden, are going to get done again.

It's not that I don't still love gardening = it's just that I have been reminded that I do not have all of the time in the world, and there are still flavours of things out there that I have not sampled.

I will keep you all apprised of what is happening, as it transpires.

Strangely enough, this might also result in a lot more gardening content being posted as well, as there will be more time to do it in (I think).

As with everyone else, I have more facets to my life than gardening and this blog = I have just faced away from them for a bit too long, and will start doing at least a few of them again.

I do ask that you not let this announcement change or shade the way you interact with me. I am still the same guy, and I still plan to be around for a long time. If you think this has me thinking long about my mortality, don't = I just started crossing tomatoes, and am going to be replacing a few fruit trees that have had to be removed.

Life is the great adventure, and no adventure is complete with out days or periods where things do not go as planned, or it would be a very dull adventure.