Category Archives: Earth Muffin News

Spring Planting 2014

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Last weekend, we got the bulk of our seeds planted.  Our daughter’s awesome preschool teachers saved milk cartons for us for a few weeks – a great big THANK YOU to them!

We used the milk cartons and the seed starting mixture from Walmart.  We fill the cartons with the seed starting dirt, make a whole and put in roughly 3 seeds.  Fill the hole loosely with dirt, water (not too much) and cover with plastic wrap.  Last year I started using big tin foil lasagna pans (also from Walmart) and they work great to keep all the plants contained and generally under our grow lights.   I am not sure how many plants we started yet, but I would estimate it is around 200.

Aerial view of some of the seeds we started:

 

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Planting:

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More planting:

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One week later…signs of life! 🙂

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This year we ordered our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange.  This is in addition to seed that we saved from last year.   I am also ordering seeds from Turtle Tree Seeds, Bountiful Gardens and Horizon Herbs.  We have ordered from them in the past and have been very happy with quality.

I also thought I’d share a few of the varieties that I’m the most excited about:  Black from Tula tomato, Ivory Pear Tomato, Syrian 3 Sided Pepper, Cour di Bue cabbages and Genovese Basil.

 

 

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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;

Baby Chicks!

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We got our baby chicks this past week.  As usual, I’m late…every year I fully intend to order them right after Christmas so we can get all the fun and funky varieties that I want for our kids to show in 4H at the county fair.  And every year I end up ordering them…now.   Saying a little prayer that they are all laying by August for fair… 🙂

My wonderful father in law takes care of the baby chicks for us when we get them, as he has the space and equipment to do it at his farm.  This isn’t as much of a “how to” as it is an “oh how fun!” post…

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The “chicken whisperer”…

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My littlest urban chicken farmer… She named her chick “Minimus”…Sofia the First anyone???

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Excited about his chick (he named it “Big Teensy”)…

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The kids liked this cochin’s fluffy feet…

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We’ve ordered our chickens from Cackle Hatchery every year for the past three years, and we’ve been happy.  They ship well, we get them quickly, and they always send a few extra birds just in case one dies en route (the last couple years we have lost a bird along the way).  I have ordered ducks from them in the past, and this year we intend to get some big old heritage turkeys for the kids to show for 4H…and eventually to put meat on our table.  They have a great variety… my favorites are the rare breeds (my daughter won Overall Poultry Champion at our fair her first year in 4H with a breeding pen of their buff cochins :-)).  This year we did a mix of “practical” birds for egg laying, and rare breeds.

I ordered golden laced cochins and barred rock cochins, which I had not seen before…I’m looking forward to seeing how beautiful they are as they grow!

This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School; The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop; Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Cooking Traditional Foods Traditional Tuesdays;