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A Sweet Sign of Summer: Rare Watermelons Are Back

By Sheryl Joy, NS/S Seed Distribution Coordinator. Published on April 22, 2015.

From the rich recesses of the NS/S seed vault, we are happy to bring you four watermelon varieties that have not previously been publicly available. If your garden is a good size for summer’s favorite sprawling vine, check out these varieties!

Reviving Jack Beans

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Conservation Program Manager. Published on March, 20, 2015.

Imagine if you could take a time machine and visit an ancient Hohokam agricultural field 1,000 years ago. The crops in that field would contain corn, green-striped cushaw squash, and tepary beans – varieties familiar to contemporary Pima and Tohono O’odham farmers. But you might also find an unusual, yet majestic, bean known today as jack beans (Canavalia ensiformis).

Meet NS/S Supporter Brooke Pickrell

We recently asked our members and supporters to send in their chile stories, and Brooke Pickrell of Ann Arbor, MI, shares her fascinating experience of growing the plants in the middle of Midwest winter (yes, it's possible!).

All About Chiles

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Conservation Program Manager. Published on February, 20, 2015.

Whether it is red or green in New Mexico, spicy jalapenos of Tex-mex recipes, or fiery chiltepines of the borderlands, chiles are synonymous with Southwestern cuisine and central to our culinary identity. Chiles are also a large part of the agricultural economy of our region. The hot summer climate and sandy soils of southern New Mexico and Arizona come together to create a million dollar chile industry. However, you may be surprised to learn that chiles are a relatively recent part of the 4,000 year old Southwestern agricultural history and were not commonly grown or eaten until the last several hundred years.

Pop Science

By Joy Hought, NS/S Research & Education Program Manager and Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Conservation Program Manager. Published on January 23, 2015.

The earliest varieties of maize must certainly have had small kernels as hard as glass.
– Edgar Anderson & Hugh Cutler, Races of Maize

In many ways, popcorn growing in a farmer’s field today is an anachronism: an organism that stubbornly belongs to another time, a time not only centuries past, but millennia. Small, glassy kernels on compact little cobs were the first identifiable domesticants to emerge from corn’s wild ancestor, teosinte (Zea mays ssp. parviglumis) and haven’t changed all that much in 8,000 years. Right here in our own back yard in the Tucson Basin, some of the oldest archeological evidence of corn in North America was found dating to over 4,000 years ago. This ancient corn was similar to the modern caramel brown Chapalote flint corn but was only an inch or two in length with a very thin cob, about the size of your pinky finger. The Chapalote race of maize is still used today for pinole as well as for popping but the last few centuries the variety now produces much larger ears.

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