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Gardener Grows Goliath Corn
"Someday this variety might provide the genetic basis for a tremendous silage corn," says Thane Earle, a Whitewater, Wis., gardener whose hobby is collecting rare seeds with the purpose of preserving near extinct varieties for future generations of farmers.
Earle owns seeds from over 160 varieties of corn, giving him one of the largest private collections in the country. He also owns seeds to more than 550 varieties of tomatoes and many other rare plants.
His gigantic 15 to 20-ft. tall corn originated in the Honduras in Central America. It's got a stalk that's as big as a baseball bat and gets 2 to 3 ears.
Earle plants more than 100 corn varieties each year and has had to develop practical methods to keep track of them. To avoid contamination, all plants are hand-pollinated.
"Nearly 80% of all commercial seeds are now hybrids. We're in danger of losing much of our genetic diversity in this country," says Earle, who's a member of Seed Saver's Exchange, headquartered in Decorah, Iowa, which is an organization of gardeners who freely exchange rare seeds in an effort to preserve unusual varieties. (Earle would like to hear from anyone with rare seeds to trade or sell. Contact: Thane Earle, Rt. 2, Box 287, Whitewater, Wis. 53190 ph 414 473-2174).
Seed Saver's Exchange, started by Ken Whealy, publishes catalogues each year that list available rare seeds. Members of the exchange simply exchange small samples of their own rare seeds to get new ones while outsiders pay a small fee for a sample.
Members of Seed Savers are a dedicated lot who get together once a year. "At our meeting last summer there was a garden plot that contained over 370 different varieties of squash, along with many other unusual plant varieties," says Earle.
A yearly membership in Seed Saver's Exchange costs $10.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ken Whealy, Seed Savers Exchange, 203 Rural Ave., Decorah, Iowa 52101.

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #2