Read our Blog

The Bees of Summer: Who to Look for in Desert Gardens and Wild Spaces

By Bill McGuire, Board Member. Published June 21, 2018.

It's National Pollinator Week, everyone! So, it's time to call out our native bee species. While the Sonoran Desert summer is a challenging time, desert native bees and introduced Western honey bees are alive and well, just like our arid-adapted crop varieties! Ample opportunities for bee viewing in desert gardens and wild spaces thus exist. So, let’s look at the most likely seen bees from the summer’s cast of characters.

Types of Corn

By Laura Neff, Education Assistant. Published June 12, 2018.

Many people know that maize, known more commonly as corn, is one of the most culturally important crops in the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico, but the true diversity of corn as well as its many culinary uses are unknown to many. At Native Seeds/SEARCH we steward 1,900 different accessions of seed, which includes over 500 different accessions of corn, making Zea mays the most represented species in our seed bank collection. Different types of corn - such as sweet, dent, and flour - are defined by their internal kernel structure and the proportions of soft and hard endosperm, or starch, present. These proportions of starches allow different types of corn to have different culinary properties. In this blog, our goal is for you to learn about the structural differences of the kernel in each type of corn as well as the food that each type has inspired.

Pima 60-Day Corn

By Sheryl Joy, Collections Curator. Published June 6, 2018.

It may not be as colorful and photogenic as some, but this corn is truly a star. Among the most unique and important low desert crops in the NS/S collection are accessions of 60-day corn varieties from the Tohono O'odham and Akimel O'odham people. These fast growing, short-stature corn varieties go from planted seed to harvestable green corn in about 60 days when planted in the heat and humidity of the southwestern monsoon season. For comparison, it takes many other varieties of Southwestern corns about 75 or more days to be harvested in the green corn stage. This characteristic is important for arid land crops because much less water is required to produce a crop than many longer season corn varieties.

Tohono O’odham Cowpeas: Growing, Harvesting, and Cooking

Article by Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Education Coordinator. Published May 14, 2018.

As spring turns into summer, gardeners are asking what crops can be planted that will actually survive the impending burning inferno that is Southern Arizona’s summer. At Native Seeds/SEARCH we encourage gardeners not to be afraid of the summer heat but to embrace the arid-adapted varieties of the Native Seeds/SEARCH collection. These varieties are arid-adapted, full-sun loving powerhouses. One of our favorite heat-loving varieties is Tohono O’odham cowpeas. In June and July when other crops seem to go dormant waiting for cooler temperatures, Tohono O’odham cowpeas grow so fast you can almost hear them. The lush growth will help shade the ground and create a cooler microclimate, AND they taste delicious! Immature pods are great raw in salads or sautéed with garlic and butter. As they ripen, the soft peas can be shelled and cooked or the dried pods can be harvested to accumulate for a big pot of cooked peas with a creamy texture and rich flavor.

Trip Report: Supporting Native Farmers

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Education Coordinator and Nicholas Garber, Conservation Program Manager. Published April 27, 2018.

If you are familiar with Native Seeds/SEARCH you are probably aware that we steward a collection of arid-adapted seeds from the Southwest United States and Northwest Mexico in our seed bank in Tucson. Seed banking provides long-term security for agricultural biodiversity. However, is it just one of our core strategies. The work of Native Seeds/SEARCH also focuses on empowering local seed stewardship through education and putting agricultural biodiversity in the hands of regional farmers. After all, what good is the agricultural diversity if no one is growing, eating, and stewarding these crops in their places of origin? Earlier this month we traveled to work with growers at White Mountain Apache and Hopi with these goals in mind.

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