How to Grow
24 February 2015, by gj
It kind of just rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?
What it refers to is a veggie, like the cucumber shown above, that does not need pollination to produce fruit. This particular one is called Corinto, an F1 hybrid that we purchased seeds from Johnny’s Select. We chose this one because it will bear a little sooner than some varieties.
Other vegetables available as parthenocarpic hybrids include summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant and watermelon.
This is part of our indoor garden that we have been sharing lately, an attempt to grow more all year. It will be interesting to see if we can keep it inside, or if will just become too much for the spot we have. It will grow well outdoors too, and can even be put in the greenhouse, so it isn’t a real chancy experiment.
The seed germinated for us in just 5 days. Cucumbers aren’t real fond of being transplanted, so we started only one seedling in a small plastic cup so as to not have to thin. Then we watered the plant before carefully transplanting it to a larger cup. We did the same before transplanting into its permanent home. Watering it first, and letting the excess drain off, helps hold the soil around the root system. This makes transplanting less stressful for the plant.
This plant germinated on January 17th, and was in this large pot a month later. It is about 4″ tall now, and still pretty upright. In retrospect, maybe it should have been planted near the outside of the pot, which would have made trellising it easier. So instead, we’ll add a few disposable chopsticks for it to grab onto, and train it towards the tomato cage it will finally be growing up.
Live and learn, right?
The days to maturity on it is 48 days, so we should be seeing something very soon. Upon closer inspection, it looks like something is beginning to form. How exciting!
We’ll keep you updated on the little one’s progress.
Learn more about parthenocarpy here.
Categories: Cucumbers & Gherkins, How to Grow, The Experiments
21 February 2015, by gj
This first generation cherry type hybrid tomato from the University of Florida is considered to the the world’s smallest tomato plant, growing only 6-8″.
It produces itty bitty 1 ounce fruit in about 3 months, and is perfect for a container or hanging basket. It grows well indoors if given enough sunlight, and can provide tomatoes year round. They may be small, but it is the flavor we miss the most in the winter, so decided to give this variety a whirl.
It germinated in 7 days, and even now 4 weeks later it stands at only 1 1/2″ high. We expect to start getting fruit sometime in late April. If the tiny tomatoes are as good as they say, we may start another plant in June for the fall.
Botanical name: Solanum lycopersicon esculentum
Suitable for containers: yes
(Non-sponsored links for your convenience.)
Categories: Tomatoes, Tomatillos & Ground Cherries
17 February 2015, by gj
For those of us who remember life before personal computers, when your phone was attached to the wall and there were only a handful of TV stations and they actually signed off at night, social media is a very strange thing.
The fact that you are reading this, likely many miles away, would have been thought impossible not all that long ago. Yet we see it as a part of our everyday life now, and it has had a great impact. For us, it is pretty positive.
We have been able to make equaintances, fellow gardening enthusiasts, from all over the world.
And so it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek that the Facebook group Gardenaholics Anonymous came about. Recently, it topped 10,000 members and is growing strong.
It’s a well monitored group that does not allow drama, negativity, or anything but helpfulness, pats on shoulders, and support. It’s a support group made up of enablers to be honest.
It is also a lot of gardeners with very big hearts, that do group projects. For many of us, who do not have someone that shares our addiction to gardening, it allows us to work together.
Our first project was a cookbook that raises funds for a wonderful young lady with SMA, the child’s version of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Read more here.
Our second group effort is both fun and helpful to the environment. Many of the members, and their friends outside the group, are growing either milkweed to help the Monarch butterflies, and/or cucamelons aka Mexican Gherkins, just to try something new. We will be sharing pictures from all over the map, and expect it to be a lot of fun.
If you are interested in participating, here is the link:
Gardenaholics Anonymous Group Growing Event 2015
We hope to see you there!
Categories: Addiction, All About Seeds, Gardening
31 January 2015, by gj
There are a mere 12 seed catalogs in our house at the moment, after sharing and recycling the ones we no longer need. Admittedly, some never even get opened. The reason is because we know the way these catalogs are set up.
Looking through a seed catalog should be fun, not work. And although I understand the psychology of wanting the buyer to look at every page, if we can’t easily find what we want, we simply go to a catalog where we will.
So see if you, as a gardener, agree that all catalogs would be better if they contained:
1. An easy to find index.
Yes, we know the first few and last few pages of any catalog are the hot spots for selling. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother putting in an index, or just as bad bury it somewhere in the middle. It is just one page, please add it.
There’s no need to make a photo album, but give your customers something to look at. If it is a conglomeration of this year’s new items, put page numbers on the pictures so we can go look. And for heaven’s sake, label what the picture is of, specifically.
3. Growing information.
This should go without saying. Not every gardener knows that peas can be planted when the weather is cool, but that most beans can’t. One of our favorite catalogs is almost a gardener’s how-to book, it gives such good info and tips.
4. Some order.
While most catalogs are set up by category and in alphabetical order, some look like a child assembled them. Don’t stick flowers in between squash and tomatoes. Maybe it’s a little obsessive, but it is unnerving to read these catalogs, so we don’t. Colored tabs at the top of the page are lovely, and make it easy to know where the veggies end and the herbs and flowers start.
5. Botanical names.
Not everyone uses them, it is true. But there are some of us that would like to know, for example, if one squash may cross pollinate another. It also helps clear any confusion if a plant is known by many common names.
6. A ‘seed only’ shipping option.
When a company charges higher shipping rates for the more you spend, it is a disincentive to purchase. How many gardeners have deleted an item from an order, just to save on shipping? On the other hand, when a company charges one set price no matter how many seed packets you buy, the psychology then is to buy as many as you can. For companies that sell more than just seeds, consider a set fee for orders of seeds only. Take it from a long time gardener, we’ll buy more.
7. Customer bonuses.
Some companies are smart in including a free pack of seeds in every order, that’s nice and usually we give those away. When you think about it, if we wanted it we would have ordered it, right?
It’s not like “Oh shoot! Thank heavens they sent us these lettuce seeds or we would be in big trouble trying to make a salad!”
How about letting us choose from, say, 4 or 5 packs of seeds? Or give a bonus to customers who have been buying from you for a long time. It’s always good to keep your customers happy.
8. The truth.
Please include a straight forward explanation about the differences between genetically engineered, hybrid, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds. You have the attention of one of the most important groups of people when it comes to this subject, please use it responsibly to help clear up the confusion.
So what say you, my fellow gardeners? What else would you like to see in a seed catalog?
Categories: All About Seeds
24 January 2015, by gj
We have posted before about starting seeds indoors, but wanted to add some additional information.
1. Consider pre-germinating.
Some seeds, like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers can take a while to sprout unless they really have sufficient heat. Other seeds, such as beets and sunflowers, have tough seed coats. By pre-starting them before planting, you can save yourself some time and effort.
Simply place the seeds on some paper toweling or paper napkins. Fold the edges over and moisten. Place the paper in a clear plastic container with a lid, or in a Ziploc type bag. Keep in a warm place, checking daily to be sure the paper stays moist.
When you see the seeds have sprouted, just carefully plant them as you normally would have.
2. Or soak them in compost tea.
Just as you give your plants fertilizer when they are growing, giving them some at planting time can really make a difference in how well they do. We recommend Haven Brand Moo Poo Tea because we know it works, and especially because it comes from pasture raised cows that are not eating genetically modified and heavily pesticided corn.
For most seeds you can soak them anywhere from a few hours to overnight. This works best for larger seeds than tiny ones like carrots, which don’t like to be transplanted anyway.
3. Give them some air.
Many gardeners start seeds in lidded containers, whether recycled or purchased domed seed starting kits. These help create a moist environment that will help your seeds sprout. Unfortunately, mold likes the same conditions. Take the lids off or open your containers every so often. If you can, run a fan in the room to circulate the air. Be careful, as this can cause the pots to dry faster. Just water again if needed, and replace the lids, etc. This will help keep mold away and your seeds will be safer.
Read these posts to learn more about starting seeds:
When to Plant Seeds Indoors and Out
4 Problems with Starting Seeds
13 Items to Upcycle for Starting Seeds
Categories: All About Seeds, How to Grow
13 January 2015, by gj
Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, and the Seeds of the Month Club share the fact they don’t sell GMO seeds.
The original plan was to post this in a cute Dr. Seuss related lyric, but this is just too important. So let us just say this:
You can’t buy GMO seeds. Not nowhere, not nohow.
Unless you are a farmer, but farmer’s probably aren’t reading this. Or, if you happen to know an unlucky farmer who plants corn down wind of a Monsanto farm, and is selling seeds… but the chances of that are rare. And just in case, many seed companies check their supply, to be doubly safe.
So, why do seed companies say they sell non-GMO seeds if everyone sells only non-GMO?
For precisely the same reason we post this information, because there is still confusion out there. They want to be sure their customers know what they are selling. The problem is though, that this makes some people think that if some companies say they ‘don’t sell GMO’ then other companies must sell GMO.
But that simply isn’t the case.
Even companies owned by Monsanto do not sell GMO seeds. They just don’t.
The other problem is that there is some confusion between GMO seeds, aka Genetically Engineered by someone with at least a PhD., and a hybrid seed, which both man, breeze and bees can create. I doubt I have ever met a bee, let alone a breeze, with a PhD. Hybrids are not GMO’s as the term is currently used. They are simply a natural cross between 2 plants.
Recently I read someone suggest that a graphed plant was a GMO. FYI, that is when the top of one plant is attached to and grows with the bottom of another. Dwarf fruit tress, a dozen of which we have, are a common example. Not GMO’s, and even if they were, which they aren’t, then you wouldn’t be able to buy them.
So again, please pass this on to your fearful seed buying friends. They can relax for now at least, and buy seeds to their heart’s content without a worry of accidentally buying GMO’s.
And to all the seed companies signing the Safe Seed Pledge and sharing the truth about GMO’s, our sunhats are off to you!
Update 1/16/15 Don’t just take my word for it, read this.
How to really hurt Monsanto.
Categories: All About Seeds
10 January 2015, by gj
Okay, okay… for those that know me well, you can stop laughing.
There is never really an end to ordering seeds it seems, but at least the majority of what we intend to grow has been decided. Some will be successful we hope, some will be failures we’re sure.
But for what it is worth, here’s what we will be working on that is new or is another go at it:
1. Amaranth- for both beauty and seeds.
2. Quinoa – likewise.
3. Micro Tom Tomatoes – Indoor pea sized fresh tomatoes year ’round.
4. Stevia – Yeah, it’s about time.
5. Pixie Grape – Year ’round indoor potted grape plant.
6. Papalo -Hoping the second time’s the charm.
7. Hamburg Root Parsley – likewise.
8. Butterbush Hybrid Winter Squash – Tiny squash plant that can be grown in a container. Do we sense a theme?
9. Apollo Hybrid Brokali – no misspelling here.
10. Veronica Romanesco Cauliflower -Green flower heads.
11. Cheddar Cauliflower – Likewise, but yellowish-orange.
12. Kossak Hybrid and Superschmelz Heirloom Kohlrabi – Let’s compare the two largest kohlrabi varieties side by side.
13. Centennial, Beauregard and Georgia Sweet Potatoes – vs. Homegrown slips from local organic sweet taters.
14. Easter Egg Tree – Really an eggplant not a tree, but hey… fun is fun.
15. Celeriac – Likewise #4.
16. Chicory – ibid.
17. Celery, Giant Red – Because, as you can see, we love different colors.
18. Kajari Melon – Interesting variety now available to the US.
19. Jelly Melon Kiwano – Who can pass up a cucumber described as having lime-jello colored juicy flesh?
20. Celtuce – Really, this exists?
21. Calico Popcorn – Growing corn in pots. This should be interesting.
22. Butterfly weed – As a group effort, Gardenaholics Anonymous is going to do their part to help the Monarch butterflies.
And last, but not least:
23. Winter Squash, Lakota – Because we live in an area previously worked by our indigenous peoples, we strive to grow as many of their heirloom plants as we can; its our small sign of respect.
For more information on these seeds, visit:
And wish us luck!
Categories: All About Seeds
10 January 2015, by gj
Now we’re not talking about buying seeds from the seed display your local grocery store might set up, or even buying open pollinated produce like squash or cantaloupe and saving those seeds. Certainly this isn’t about purchasing roots like ginger and horseradish to grow.
No, this post is a wee bit different.
We’ve talked before about buying dry beans that are packaged for soup, and growing those.
This idea holds trues for a lot of edibles. Here are a few to consider:
- Besides soup beans, look into growing lentils, edaname and chick peas aka garbanzo beans from the packaged ones at the store. Be sure they are not processed, but are simply dry beans; otherwise known as seeds.
- Quinoa that isn’t labeled ‘instant’ or ‘seasoned’ is most likely nothing more than seeds.
- Check out herbs such as Coriander, Mustard and Cumin seeds. Here, just be sure to look at the unit price. We buy in bulk, but if you don’t the price of an herb seed may be higher than a pack of seeds per ounce. Other herb seeds, such as Fenugreek, can be found in bulk online. If you intend to use a lot, check out and compare prices.
- Sunflower seeds, often sold for bird food, are likely untreated seeds that will not only make the birds happy, they can please the gardener as well.
- Peanuts outside the shell are nothing more than seeds. Again, you need to find some that are not roasted. A little hard to find, but they’re out there.
- Pumpkin seeds and the like are usually found roasted as well. If your store has plain, unroasted seeds, you have a gold mine at your fingertips.
- Amaranth is also sold as a grain and usually untreated. Again compare prices, but you are likely going to be able to eat your amaranth and grow it too.
One other thing to keep in mind is that these seeds packed for consumption may be older than what the seed supply stores sell. For the most part, that doesn’t matter.
When you’re at the market, keep your eyes open for things you may just be able to grow. In the picture above, we have germinated coriander seeds sold in the spice section of the market, and red quinoa sold where the rice is carried. The quinoa was what was left in the bag my husband was tossing out.
Not bad, eh?
Categories: All About Seeds
4 January 2015, by gj
America really is the Melting Pot, and nobody knows this better than veggie gardeners.
While many are familiar with numerous Asian veggies as well as those of Europe and our Indigenous peoples, less avail themselves of what the people of India have to offer. Of course, growing conditions are always a consideration. Still there are wonderful flavors to be had by trying some of what this culture enjoys.
Most people unfamiliar with Indian cooking think first of curry, a combination of ingredients often found in Indian dishes. One less familiar ingredient is Fenugreek, also known as mathi, which is a staple in Indian cuisine.
You can use both the leaves, which have a very mild maple taste, and the seeds. The plant has numerous health benefits, find some of those here.
What we enjoyed most was the way it combines its flavor to those in many of the dishes we have tried. Our favorite is Mathi Matter, a combination of cashew butter and peas in a cream sauce with fenugreek and spices. It may sound a bit odd, until you taste it. It is now Mandolin’s favorite way to eat peas.
To grow fenugreek, simply scatter the seeds on soil when the weather is warm. You can presoak them to speed up germination. Cover lightly with more soil, and keep watered. Before too long the sprouts will emerge, and you can begin to harvest.
It can be eaten as a sprout, or allowed to grow larger to harvest the leaves. Thin the sprouts to allow 6 ” for the plants if you are going to continue to grow them. The picture above shows both stages. As a bonus, the plant sprouts pretty little white flowers, the seeds of which are also edible as a tea or spice.
An intercultural experience in your backyard garden?
Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Spacing: 6-8″ for larger plants
Harvest: Sprouts, leaves and seeds
Conditions: Prefers warmth, sun and a well drained soil. No additional fertilizer needed in good soil.
Height: 1-2 ft.
You Can Grow that! is a collaborative effort on the part of a number of gardeners around the world. Each month they write a post specifically to help and encourage everyone to grow something. Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.
Categories: Herbs, You Can Grow That!
23 December 2014, by gj
Part of the fun of gardening is trying new things. In the past we tried growing horseradish from a store bought root, and have been harvesting it now for years.
Last season we planted ginger and turmeric, bringing them outdoors when the weather was warm then back inside to continue their long growing season. The ginger we have now came from that planting, and we can harvest fresh ginger as we need it. The turmeric still has a while to go, but we expect the same result.
Last summer we also grew flax, and although the harvest was minor, the flowers were lovely and we enjoyed the experience enough to do it again. We intend to add quinoa to our grain repertoire, as well as bring back amaranth that we stopped growing only because we didn’t realize it was edible at the time.
We also tried, though unsuccessfully, to grow cardoon. Never let a good failure stop you though, so we’re going to give it another shot.
A few other things we have found are parsley root, which tastes like parsley except that you prepare it more like a carrot or parsnip. Neat. We’re also going to try to push the envelope and plant some Chia seeds. These are really meant for warmer climates, which makes the challenge to grow them in the north all the more fun.
Our Facebook group Gardenaholics Anonymous is going to grow both cucamelons and milkweed as a group project. It should be fun to share what happens in these gardens from around the world. If you would care to join us, just be sure first that milkweed isn’t invasive in your area, and choose a variety that likes your climate.
Of course, there’s always fun to be had trying some new varieties of more familiar edibles, as you can see in the picture above.
So what’s new on your list this year?
We’re always open to new ideas you know, hint hint.
Categories: All About Seeds, How to Grow