Category Archives: Gardening

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.

 

 

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;

Food Dehydrating

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Before we started the GAPS Diet, we got an Excalibur dehydrator – mainly for making yogurt at that point.  Best big ticket kitchen item purchased yet, and I’d do it again except I’d get the 9 tray instead of the 5 tray.  I make jerky, yogurt, dried fruit and veggies, and I also use it to dry nuts after they have been soaked/sprouted.

The booklet that comes with it is very helpful, and when in doubt, I Google.

Anyhow, the garden has been producing well, and I like to buy bulk at the local farmer’s market too for this purpose.  (If you get to know your farmers there, they may be willing to save things for you in bulk at your request!)  I’m not doing a “how to” – you can get all that from the info book that comes with your dehydrator.  More like an “inspirational” to show the positives of this type of food preservation.

I should add that we have recently been on a pineapple and kiwi dehydrating kick (peel/slice each thinly to dry and follow manufacturer’s guide for times/temp).  My kids each picked one for the county fair/4H exhibit, and they were not only unique, they were YUMMY.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve done in the past week.  I also did a bunch of leeks (which dry beautifully), and have green bell peppers drying right now.  These are great for tossing in soups and stews throughout the winter.

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I also do a “greens powder” that is great for smoothies and spaghetti sauce.  I filled my trays with kale (or dandelion greens, turnip greens, whatever you’ve got), dried it thoroughly, stripped the leaves off the tough stems and ran through my coffee grinder until it’s a fine powder.  I am not that creative on my own, but I sincerely cannot remember what blog I saw it on.  Anyhow, it’s not my own creation but I love it.  I just did this one last week.  It doesn’t make alot per batch but a little goes a long way.

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As shown, I store my dried goods in mason jars.  I do put in one or two oxygen absorber packets (available on Amazon).  Because I’ve been drying a little more this summer, I have been thinking of getting some smaller Mylar bags (also available on Amazon) but have not gotten that far yet.  From what I have read, items generally keep a year.  Follow good common sense – if it looks bad or smells, throw it.  Last summer I had some onion that didn’t dry right and it was visibly not ok.  Otherwise, I tend to use these veggies, including the leeks and peppers in soups, chili, etc.   I just throw them in and they rehydrate right in the soup.  Nice to have a little summer in your food year round. 🙂

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