Category Archives: DIY Projects

Seed Saving 101

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This really is a “Seed Saving 101” since I’m kind of a rookie too. 🙂   But I’m having some fun with it and thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned…

Last spring we started about 120 plants in the house.   In spite of winter lasting alot longer than I personally would have liked and a subsequent long wait for planting outside, we had great success with these plants overall.  We had very few plants that did not make it, and what we didn’t have room for, we gave away to family and friends.

Last year I saved pie pumpkin and various squash seeds (Delicata and butternut) and had pretty good luck with planting those this year.  I simply cut open the raw pumpkin or squash – as you would for carving – wash off the “meat” from the seeds as well as you can – dry it out on a paper plate until thoroughly dry.   It may take a couple weeks to be totally dry.

I recently got the Suzanne Ashworth book “Seed to Seed” and have branched out a little more into saving seed from brassicas like arugula, radishes, and turnips.  When the plants start to flower, they put up little pods on their stems.  You can either pick these pods for drying, or hang the whole stems to dry out.  Once they are dry, the pods open easily and the little seeds come right out.

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My little helper cleaning the turnip seed pods with me during some quiet moments at our garage sale last weekend…

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The end result (I ended up with way more seeds than this, this picture was taken early on in the process):

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I also saved seeds from both sweet and hot peppers simply by cutting the top off and removing the seeds.  Dry them on a paper plate, remove the seeds from the stem/flesh of the pepper, and store.

I attempted tomatoes….  You put the tomato in a blender with some water, blend, and them keep them in the water for 4-5 days.  There is a gelatinous sac around the tomato seeds that will interfere with germination so that needs to dissolve, which will happen in that 4-5 days.  Strain the water off, wash and dry the seeds on a plate or fine mesh screen and store.  I forgot about mine for about two weeks in the garage…they began to mold and grow maggots.  The smell was atrocious.   It was not pretty.  Lesson learned.  I will try that again when I have more time to deal with them.  Any which way, I wouldn’t recommend doing that process in the house because of the stink.

I got these seed storing envelopes from Amazon.com to store them until next year.

Here are some other good seed saving resources:  here, here, here, and here.  Oh, and here – a good story about the Svalbard, Norway Global Seed Vault.

Happy seed saving! 🙂

This post was shared at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday;

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Winter Planting Fun

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I admit it, I’m a garden addict.  And probably a food addict too – to some extent.  Addicted to fresh greens and other yummies from the garden.  I start chomping at the bit this time of year to get out there and plant…however, the two feet of snow in my backyard are a bit of a hindrance…   Not sure about the rest of you, but I start combing the seed catalogs as soon as they come in late December!  I usually start ordering in early February.   Since alot of plants require anywhere from 6-12 weeks to be ready to transplant outside, this is the perfect time to start some of your plants indoors!

I am no master gardener (although I wish I was!) so this is mainly meant to inspire and not instruct. 🙂  I will tell you what I did, but when in doubt check with another gardener (one more savvy than me) or the internet.  Mother Earth News is an awesome gardening resource, as is Organic Gardening magazine.

Anyhow, many thanks to my daughter’s preschool teachers for saving all of these wonderful milk cartons for us…  I have used peat pots in the past but this seemed like a good reuse/recycling project for us as well.

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Planting some Black Hungarian hot peppers…

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My broccoli man planting Waltham 29, Purple Peacock and Romanesco broccoli… (disregard the snacks in the background, hungry gardeners at work :-))

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And my little lady and her Golden Marconi peppers…

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We used the Jiffy Organic Seed Starting Mix that you can buy at Walmart or most hardware stores.  I added a little Perlite (1 T.) to each carton and mixed well.  We planted the seeds at varying depths.  Since we planted everything from celery and stevia (tiny seeds) to artichokes and ancho peppers (bigger seeds)…I just used my judgment and tried not to overdo it with the dirt covering them.  When in doubt, Google it.

Water thoroughly, and cover as snug as you can with plastic wrap to keep in heat.  I keep mine in old aluminum roasting pans and cake pans so we don’t get water all over the place.  Also, my husband found me this snazzy grow lamp at Menards for around $10-15.  We used shop lights, which from everything I have read have the same effect and are far cheaper.  They should ideally be around 3-4″ from the plant…we need to adjust ours, but you get the jist from the picture.  If it’s too far – the plants will get spindly (which has been my problem every other year – hoping this year is different!)  I plan to fertilize mine with this Neptune’s Harvest organic fertilizer a couple weeks after they germinate.  I have never used it before but have seen lots of good reviews from different sources.

A side note…I got up this morning and in spite of the lights, my pots were really cold in the window.  Since the seeds need heat to germinate, I put them in locations that may have more heat than light right now and am hoping for the best.  Hoping it warms up a little so I can move them back there soon…otherwise we’ll have to find a new locale for the shop lights.

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A few of my favorite seed companies:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (they have the PRETTIEST seed catalog I’ve ever seen!!!)

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply

Bountiful Gardens

Seed Savers Exchange

Turtle Tree Seed

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

All of these companies sell heirloom, non-GMO seed.  I am not sure that they are all solely heirloom – so if that’s what you want you’ll have to check it out if you order.  I believe that they have all signed the Safe Seed Pledge through the Organic Consumers Association.  Turtle Tree Seed and Bountiful Gardens sell biodynamic seed.

Think Spring! 🙂

This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School; The Better Mom’s Mondays Link Up; The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop; Real  Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday; The Tasty Alternative’s Allergy Free Wednesdays;

Growing Citrus Trees (and a couple recipes)

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Today I ventured into new turf…growing citrus! My kids and I planted the Meyer lemon tree that I got for Christmas. I must say that playing in the dirt is wonderful in January! Perhaps this is how I maintain my sanity in the dead of winter…that and obsessing over seed catalogs… Anyhow, they thought it was super cool that we will grow our own lemons. 🙂

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I saw recently (don’t ask me where, but it stuck in my mind) that someone was harvesting 100 lemons over the course of a year from one of these trees. Anyone with experiences with these plants…please comment! I would love to know how they have done.

During the colder months, we will maintain it in the house (hopefully :-)) and once it warms up enough, we will put it out in the yard.

We got this “one year old tree” from Four Winds Growers. I did ask the post office to call me when it came so it wouldn’t sit out in the cold, and it was just perfect when we got it. Fast shipping, great service, beautiful tree. 🙂 If all goes well, I would like to add a lime tree and a blood orange tree to the collection at some point.

They send really good planting instructions along with the tree. One recommendation though…the planting directions call for planting it in a mix of Perlite or cedar chips, with unfertilized soil (1/3 Perlite:2/3 soil). The soil did prove a little challenging to find in January but I was able to find it at a larger Super Walmart. The Perlite was found easily enough at a local hardware store. They also recommend a Vitamin B1 rooting complex for the first few waterings, which I ordered from Star Nursery. I also decided to get a new 5 gallon pot – I didn’t want to contaminate the tree with any possible fungus or disease from a previously used pot. In spite of the fact that my plant has sat in it’s wrappings for the past two weeks, it still looks great and has new growth, as you can see from the picture.

On that note…I figured I would add links to a couple of my favorite recipes involving lemon:
Tom’s Medicine Chest Smoothie (from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen Cookbook – I use varying greens)

Our Nourishing Roots GAPS-friendly lemonade

I have never tried this one but I will be…it has me intrigued! Pickle Me Too’s Preserved Indian Hot Lemons

This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School; Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop; The Better Mom’s Monday’s Link Up; Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday; Cooking Traditional Foods Traditional Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays; GNOWFGLINS Simple Lives Thursday; The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter; Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays;