Tag Archives: Gardening

Spring Planting 2014


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:





More planting:


One week later…signs of life! 🙂


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


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.


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


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


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;

Winter Planting Fun


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.




Planting some Black Hungarian hot peppers…


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


And my little lady and her Golden Marconi peppers…


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.


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;