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Keto diet garden.. sesame seeds?

 
pollinator
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I eat a generally ketogenic diet, and I'm an experienced gardener.  I grow a lot of greens and some berries,  and herbs for cooking.   I recently discovered TAHINI!!   YUM.

I ordered some white sesame seeds to grow and they just came today.    I have a very dry corner of my yard, under some silver maples, that not many things like to grow near.   I'm considering trying some there.   Not sure it's enough sun though.  So I'm also going to put in a bed for them on the opposite corner of the yard, near my herb spiral in a sunnier spot.   I'm looking forward to trying them.   I'd love to get enough for one big jar of seeds to store and use.  

I'm hoping I can cut the mature plants with ripe pods and dry them in paper bags, then threshing?  

Any experience growing these in a temperate climate?  Would love to hear.   I can start indoors or in smally greenhouse and then plant out later in the early summer. I know they need heat, and these say 85 days.  
 
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A bit off topic but you mentioned Tajin. Now I sit here with my mouth watering.
Behold, the ultimate keto lunch! Fresh sliced cucumbers with dill and Tajin. Fresh squeezed  lime juice doesn’t hurt either. I always plant dill next to cucumbers so I don’t have to walk far.
Enjoy!
B40BB156-E807-4BA1-B88C-96DA5D2F3CE3.jpeg
cucumbers with dill and tajin spices
 
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Tahini is basically a sesame seed paste... if I remember correctly.   I don't like it myself so never bothered to study recipes.  I like sesame seeds as a seasoning.  Sesame seed is a traditional oil crop so tahini is a very good way to introduce more fat into the diet.  It is very hard to grow a keto diet in a garden.

I think you might be sharing a common misconception that keto and low carb are synonymous.   Low carb and high fat, as you remove calories from carbs you replace them with fat.  Otherwise you're just setting yourself up for failure through a kind of starvation diet.  Add an avocado to those cucumber and then you have a keto meal.

I have been keto for a few years now.   Growing a keto diet in the garden is challenging, I don't even attempt it.  I use a lot of butter and cream in my cooking and don't count carbs from my garden (it helps that I grow more low carb vegetables than starches).  I can always tell when I have cheated too much because I get nearly painfully hungry when I eat too many carbs.  Before I went keto I just thought it was normal to always be hungry no matter how much I ate.
 
Scott Stiller
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Dang Casie, I feel like an idiot. I read that completely wrong. Please enjoy my cucumber recipe anyway! 😂
 
Heather Staas
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Scott I enjoyed your post anyway ;)  
 
Heather Staas
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Casie boy do I get that about the "hungry" feeling.   Until keto I had NO idea what "just hungry" felt like for most people without unstable insulin issues.    In my 30s I could do Atkins and feel really normal,   but the older I get the more I need to control/limit my carb intake to keep it feeling regulated.   In my 40s it was switching to ketogenic lifestyle.  Now,  post-menopause and in my 50s it's leaning more toward carnivore, which is ok with me.     Ultimately what I'd like to do is ONLY eat produce that I grow myself,  when it's available.   I make my own herbal teas,  dry my own spices and seasonings, and have quite a few perennial greens.   What I eat for portions from things like chard, pea shoots, salad greens are a small part of my meals.   The idea of growing my own supplemental fat/oil sources (thus the sesame seed) is so appealing.     I've also got a pending RA diagnosis and the anti-inflammatory benefits that I get from keto is a huge part of managing that disease without health insurance.   Aside from the "STARVING" feeling I can tell when my carbs have strayed too high when my pain and stiffness flares up!    
 
Heather Staas
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If you've never woken up at 2am,   drove to the donut shop in your PJs,  and used your rolled change to buy 6 donuts and then eaten them ALL on the short drive home, like a freakin' junkie,  you probably don't "get it"  lol.   It's not "I feel a little hungry" hungry.   It's I'm going to die/ can't sleep/ can't stop thinking about it "starving" for sugar feeling.  

I've felt like that my WHOLE LIFE,  went to sleep feeling hungry every night as a kid,  despite having had dinner.   Most of our meals were cheap high carb foods.   Keto  changed EVERYTHING for me.  I hate that the whole first half of my life was like that!  
 
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I love sesame seeds too, Heather!  ... but in Massachusetts, ... might be a disappointment to try growing it?  on the other hand, no harm in trying!  Oh man, I love tahini.  and like you said, you know they need heat, and maybe 85 days of hot summer weather would be enough?  That's 2-1/2 months.  
I have tried grinding sesame seeds to make a tahini-like "thing," and they're hard to grind enough to make a paste ... in a machine.  Mortar and pestle would probably be the way to go.  Quick search found this:

"Sesame plants grow in USDA Growing Zones 10 and above. They love full sun and, once established, high temperatures. What they can’t stand are colder temps.
"Anything under 68°F could stunt growth. Below 50°F and the plant will die. ... "
https://morningchores.com/growing-sesame-seeds/

Is there a keto gardening thread?  I've started
lettuce
bok choy
tronchuda kale (might've planted too early, hasn't come up yet)
celeriac
shogoin turnip/radish
Giant LuoBuo daikon radish
parsley root
parsnips (not keto but I was planting roots and decided to plant 'em anyway)
carrot (ditto with parsnips)
oh yeah, and planted an ebay-purchased horseradish root, nothing coming up yet

I've got more stuff but waiting for warmer weather (and I like planting by the moon, so waiting for "above-ground plant" days).  
 
Casie Becker
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I finally planted some sunchokes this year to give me a low carb root. When taste testing it reminded me of the old McDonald's fries (potato with a little extra sweetness).

Sunflowers are another easy oil crop that makes a good spread when ground.  It's on the shelf right next to the tahini.

I grow lots of different greens.  Lettuce is the cultivated green I don't like.   It comes out of garden super bitter.  Even some of the wild greens are sweeter.

Lots of green beans, cucumbers, and zucchini style squash, also.

If I had to survive sole on the garden I don't think I could stay keto. I am just hoping to supplement my vegetables.  I swear I feel healthier eating home grown even when it is the same kind of plant.

We have tomatoes, water melon, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, drying beans and winter varieties of squash growing also. Honestly squash can be challenging for me.  We have squash vine borers and I don't like fussing with covers.  We plant varieties that are more resistant naturally, but even that isn't always enough.  The squash are in my sister's area of the garden this year.  I have not pointed out to her that they're a little crowded because I suspect the moth will thin them for her.  She doesn't know she's testing a new strategy for me.
 
Heather Staas
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Thanks Jenn,  yeah,  growing them here may be a challenge.   I'm considering trying to build them a greenhouse of their own,  but I don't think they like humidity either.   But there might be JUST enough time to grow one harvest of them.   Starting seeds/seedlings on a heat mat maybe?   I mean,  I'm not looking to add a LOT of extra work or expense using energy inputs for a jar of sesame seeds,  but I'm up for the challenge of seeing if it can be done.   I'll post updates!   My seed arrived yesterday.  
 
Jenn Lumpkin
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Heather, regarding whether sesame will grow, I'm remembering when I had tried planting chia seeds (don't remember the variety).  I got plants, but they didn't have enough time to set seed.  So, used up garden space, time and effort, for a whole season, to grow something that was useless.  Because the whole point was not the plant, but the seeds, and there were no seeds.  

I've been wondering if, here in northern Arkansas, I could try moringa;  I'd grown it once, it got about 4 feet tall if I'm remembering correctly, and died when fall hit.  It tastes pretty decent in my opinion, and I've seen some posts on permies about people wintering them over (with quite a lot of "fussing," though, and I'm not good at "fussing.")  (at least, I have to consider is the "fussing" worth the time and trouble rather than just buying moringa powder online?  Kind of the same thing as just buying sesame seeds by the pound! or maybe being able to grow prob'ly a quarter pound with a lot of "fussing;"  is it worth it?)  But in a survival situation, where prices of everything are going up hugely, maybe ... maybe ... but in a survival situation, do you want to be in a "fussing" position?  in my opinion again, is it worth it?  and for me, I'd say ... nope.

Casie, lately every time I try to grow summer squash, they're infested with squash bugs.  I agree about fussing with covers;  plus, bugs are more persistent than me.  The best squash I've found is zuchetta tromboncino, seems to be un-attractive to squash bugs!  (which is huge!) (I don't THINK I've had squash borers, so don't know about those, though).  I bought some seed for that this year for that exact reason.  It's not a particularly sweet squash, either, which from a keto point of view, is a good thing.  
 
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I've tried sesame seeds in zone 9b and only gotten some sad plants, it's just not hot enough. My uncle grew them in 10+ and gets great yields, but if I can't do them here I think an even colder zone might not work either, unfortunately.
 
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Duke Farms in NJ (zone 6) has some information about growing benne or sesame, and a source they refer to for seeds is Monticello which would have had around a zone 7 climate. https://www.dukefarms.org/footer/blog/crop-of-the-week-sesame-seeds/
The best way to go (depending on your elevation and frost free day average there in Western Mass) might be to container garden them to keep them warm and not water logged.
I think finding an heirloom seed variety that has been grown in cooler areas is the best bet for getting some successful plants in your area. However, sunflower seeds might be an easier oil crop bet in your location.
 
Heather Staas
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Lol,  I suck at growing sunflowers and I do not like the harvesting and shelling process for them.   I do grow a few,  and feed them to my rabbits, but I'm not a big fan of eating them either,  even when all the work has been done for me!   Going to check out that link for the seed type though,  cool, thank you!
 
Heather Staas
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Quick update:   I started the white sesame seeds that I had indoors and put the flats on a heating pad on low,  and I also ordered the Monticello seeds that were recommended,  waiting for them to be delivered.    I'll start some of them the same way.   I have tons of seed to play with, there is a lot in a packet,  so this is just round one of experimenting.   We are zone 6b here where I am now, and my yard is very sheltered but sunny,  so we may be more like z7.    Figs that are supposedly hardy to zone 7/8 are doing well in my yard without winter protection...    so we'll see how this goes!   I'll post updates.  
 
Heather Staas
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Well, here we are at the beginning of June.   This bed is half each of two different varieties with pretty much the same results.  They seem to be doing fine.  Some of them are really starting to take off now that it's warming up.   I haven't lost any of the little seedlings I planted in the bed, yet.    I don't really water,  rain only at this point.   I think I've got plenty of time in the year still for them to develop.  
IMG_8008.JPG
Sesame seed plants in a raised bed
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Sesame plants growing in a raised bed
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Sesame seed plants growing in dirt
 
Heather Staas
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Three month update!

My white sesame seed plants are still ahead of my Monticello sesame plants by about 2 weeks.   Most of my plants are all between 5-6 ft tall and loaded with seed pods,  still green and flowering,  not time to harvest yet.  

I also started two patches on my allotment garden, one of each variety, and they are doing well too.   All flowering,  handling the droughty summer, and some have seed pods developed, about a foot shorter than my home patch that was started earlier.  

IMG_9672.JPG
a row of sesame plants
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White sesame flowers
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upright sesame seed pods
 
Heather Staas
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They are now over my 6ft stockade fence and just keep popping out more and more of the seed pods along the stem.  I have no idea how many sesame seeds I'm going to end up with; hopefully we've got enough time for them to start drying.   This is way more than I was expecting!

IMG_9893.JPG
6 foot tall sesame plant full of sesame seeds
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gorgeous green sesame seeds against a fence
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A stalk of green sesame rises above other sesame plants with a wooden fence in the background
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towering sesame plants with white sesame flowers
 
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Heather (et al) -

Did anyone start a "keto garden" thread?  

I do intermittent Keto... at least once a year for 2-4 months... usually at the "natural" time of year (late winter).   What you said here about carb hunger isn't as *big* of an issue for me as you describe but in the obverse, it really fascinated me the first time I did it (6 years ago) how my general hunger became much less acute or visceral...  eating was still "a thing" but never urgent.   I mostly do my annual Keto to reset my metabolism at the end of an (often) Indulgent holiday season... and to remind myself what it feels like to be *not hungry at all* and in particular, not carb-hungry.  

I am also vegetarian (but not vegan) and find it hard to imagine getting enough fat from any garden *I* could grow in my high southwest mountain desert 6b.  

I had a grafted avocado tree producing in my sunroom (2 tiny fruits one year) but I mishandled it 2 years ago and it died.  I now have a 1 year old volunteer that *might* be producing in another 6 years (I get more than a few avocado pits sprouting spontaneously in my worm bin, and the worms *love* avocado pulp and even "nest" inside the shells).  I should probably keep planting/potting them up as they volunteer, they make decent conversational house-plant gifts for avocado lovers, even if they are not likely to produce well ever, much less soon!

I have 2 almond trees making progress (8' and 1.5" trunks) and there is some chance they are cold-hardy enough for "here".  Unfortunately I am somewhat in an area that  has early false-springs (February) and late-freezes (May)... I don' t know how that will work out...   I hadn't even considered sesame as a possibility.  Maybe with proper sunroom starting like you did?  I do love tahini as well as sesame seeds and oil.   Sunflowers are easy here, I have lots of volunteers of various types every year and have "forced" Mammoths by pre-germinating and planting everywhere i know there will be enough water in our otherwise dry climate.   I've never tried harvesting except to hold some heads back to put out for birds in Winter.  I am amongst lots of pinon forested regions and gather pinon nuts but those crops are incredibly variable...   that is my best bet for  significant vegan fat, but require a lot of diligence to find/collect in any given year (very shor window).

Jerusalem artichokes (in the sunflower family?) are definitely not keto-friendly enough for me *during* a keto period but I love them  raw, roasted, boiled, sauteed, souped, and maybe even in cookies... and prefer them over all other starchy roots (such as potatoes).  I tend to run carb lean through the summer in any case, but let my inner bear take over by first snowfall and let the carbs a bear would have eaten during berry season into my diet. They are also stupid-easy for me to grow, thought they *do* seem to like more water than the sky provides here.   Really good mulching and partial shade seem to be one option, also planting near a (leaky) water faucet works pretty well for me.   I thought my chickens had wiped the two patches I had growing entirely out, but just a few days ago in one of my deeper-mulched areas they had been I saw that I had some modest plants scattered throughout.   While the chickens *did* decimate them (including digging out the roots) it appears that they manage to distribute enough (tiny?) root-bits for them to recover.   Or maybe they can propagate by seed (who knew?)

Anyway, glad to hear other keto folks here trying to sort out locovore options also...

 
Heather Staas
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October update for this year's sesame seed experiment!

I've been harvesting the full stalks,  stripping the leaves, and putting the seed stalks in paper bags in my dry shed.   Definitely put them in upside down, lol,  trying to turn them over AFTER they've started to pop open and scatter seed makes a mess and loses some product!   Lesson learned.

Stripping the leaves will make your hands feel VERY moisturized,  got me thinking about plants that produce oils like that.  What are they taking from the soil differently than other types of veg?  

Every time I shake the dry bag I hear tons of seed in the bottom,  too soon to really pull anything out and try to see how much.     Two more "green" bags went into the shed yesterday.

If I end up with a FULL Quart jar of seeds from this year I will be happy with the results, and grow more next year.

I still need to look up drying/storing suggestions.   Do they store air dried?   do they store better dry roasted?   Not sure yet..  
IMG_1196.JPG
rows of green sesame stalks on a table waiting to be dried
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sesame stalks in a paper bag drying upside down to make it easy to collect the sesame seeds
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sesame pods after they have dried for awhile
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dried sesame pods ready to release their sesame seeds
 
Tereza Okava
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Nice looking harvest!!

My uncle used to store his after threshing in kinda-airtight old 3L soda bottles (not roasted) in a cool place. They can go rancid and I know the ones I buy from the store get buggy, so we tried to use them as soon as possible.

As for what they take from the soil. I remember reading that sesame was a good source of calcium (particularly black sesame); I wonder if they require more calcium.
Thanks for the inspiration! I'm planning summer crops right now and I think I will add some black sesame just for fun. Last time I grew it my soil wasn't as good, maybe my results will be better this time.
 
Heather Staas
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Regardless of how much I end up with,  I'm thinking they might be a good starting point for one of my 12 species grown for the 100,000 calories badge bit.  
 
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I just harvested my sesame plant and got about a 2oz mason jar's worth from one plant.

My one sesame plant basically became a tree here in Florida, it has probably double the branches with pods of the photo shown above supported by a main stalk.

I didn't cut it down, I cut the pod branches and it's still growing even though it's an annual. Before I trimmed it, it was probably 7 feet tall. I dried all the leaves and the pods were done mostly by hand because many didn't split open and I wanted to get every last seed.
 
Tereza Okava
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Jeff, what are you going to do with the dried leaves? I've never eaten them dried; fresh, they are common in Korean and Chinese cooking, super nutritious and tasty.
 
Jeff Steez
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This is the top of my single sesame today AFTER already harvesting the entire plant's pods last week. I am not certain how this is supposed to grow, or if it's possible to make it into a perennial... This is the most prolific thing I've ever grown. I didn't have to tend to it once.

To me, the dried leaves remind me of seafood. Probably makes a great seasoning for fish stock or as a fish herb. Still vegan as of tonight since I haven't caught any fish but once I catch my first one I will let you know after I  make some sesame fish...



sesame.jpg
sesame
sesame
 
Heather Staas
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Well,  here is my first collection,  screened twice.    I picked out quite a few small bugs with a q tip,   now I'm sort of wondering about processing/ drying/ etc.   I did take the rest and lightly toast them in a dry frying pan.   It's a learning experiment still.   It's too wet here to dry them in big outdoor piles,  and I'm not sure how I can do open air hanging/drying without losing seeds.. maybe over a bin?   I'm thinking the paper bags are holding too much moisture.   I used more bags and spread out the rest of what I have drying so each bag has fewer in it/ more air flow.  

Other than harvesting seeds for growing,  I have zero experience with food crop seeds.  
IMG_1339.JPG
a bowl of sesame seeds after falling through a screen twice
 
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Really neat project! I have taken some first steps in growing new-to-me seed crops this year (buckwheat, chia, amaranth), and may have to try sesame in the future. We get very few frosts these days, and I suspect I could get away with trying this traditionally hot-climate crop.

Regarding drying seeds: it's really important to get the moisture content down if you want to store them. I have had some excellent seed crops become piles of mycelium because I didn't take care, and that is really disheartening!

Paper bags can work great for drying seed. Even in my area, where the average humidity is in the 80% range year-round, I've had success drying small seeds in paper bags (basil, European flax). The most important thing is airflow. If you don't have a windy place, then you can make one by running a small fan over your seeds for 24-48h. Weigh them before and after to get an idea of how much moisture you're losing. I have also successfully used my solar dehydrator to finish off drying seeds (but take care not to cook them!)

Bugs are potentially another issue. I've had my share of critters, the worst of which were grain weevil and pantry moth, but plenty of other insects are as keen as you are to eat your nutritious seed harvest! Once the seeds are well dry, you can freeze them to kill insect eggs. Do this in an airtight container, or else once you remove it from the freezer, moisture from the air will condense on the seeds and potentially cause mold later on. To ensure insects are killed, freeze for one week, remove to room temperature for three days, and freeze a second time for another week. This will kill most insects, give chance for the frost-tolerant eggs to hatch, and then kill young larvae. I've had a 100% success rate so far with this method on many infested seed and other dried goods I've run across (many products locally come with bugs, so it is necessary!)

Once dry and disinfested, your seeds can be stored in an airtight container if you've gotten them dry enough -- though adding a desiccant packet can help ensure that your seeds for planting don't go mouldy. Otherwise store in a paper envelope and check every 30-60 days for pest activity.

Best of luck, and looking forward to seeing more about your experiments!
 
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I may have missed it in the thread, but can you tell me where you ordered your sesame seeds? None of my usual seed suppliers carry them, and I'd rather not pick a random supplier without hearing that someone had success with them.
 
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I follow a keto diet too. I have been wondering how vegan self-sufficiency could provide fats in my climate (deciduous forest). I tried growing flax, but it didn't produce by far enough seeds as would be needed. Maybe sunflowers? But neither are perennial. I tried planting butternut saplings, but they died. I think butternut trees would be ideal. Maybe walnut?

 
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Sunflowers were a bust for me, they were FILLED with tiny worms in all my seed.   I'm sure it was partly my inexperience and learning curve.   I ended up just giving the whole heads to my rabbits, who didn't care one bit about the worms and ate them anyway.  
 
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Heather Staas wrote:Sunflowers were a bust for me, they were FILLED with tiny worms in all my seed.   I'm sure it was partly my inexperience and learning curve.   I ended up just giving the whole heads to my rabbits, who didn't care one bit about the worms and ate them anyway.  



I'm sorry to hear that! I highly recommend you look at some insect pest management guides for sunflower, as preventing future outbreaks will depend on the identity of the pest insect. There are many creatures who lay eggs on sunflowers while the seed head is still developing -- if you remember what the insects looked like, you might be able to narrow it down. Here is an excellent publication from North Dakota State University. Go right to the "Head and Seed Feeders" section. The control methods they recommend are pesticides, but there's a lot of good information about the appearance and life cycle of each pest.

I'd just like to say you've done the right thing in feeding the whole heads to livestock -- this will kill the pests before they emerge as adults and mean you have fewer potential egg-layers causing you trouble next season. This step (reducing innoculum of pests/diseases) is called "sanitation" and is very, very important in organic agriculture. Best of luck!
 
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Nikki I'm sorry I dropped off and never answered you!   Here are the seeds I used,  both did really well.  
sesame.jpg
[Thumbnail for sesame.jpg]
 
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