How to Grow
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: Addiction, all about seeds, How to Grow
18 December 2014, by gj
Now that we are no longer in the restaurant and catering business, Mandolin and I have found we have more time for the things we like to do best; namely gardening, cooking, and playing music.
Our involvement with social media has shown us that there are many people just learning to grow their own food, which of course makes us happy. What makes us sad is the disconnect with our food that we have also seen. A lot of people simply don’t know what to do with what they are growing, or even how it grows. We were surprised a lot ourselves way back when, we understand.
So it seemed a no-brainer to us that we should share what we know on both subjects, which we have been doing here and on our food blog.
We decided to take it a step further, and put this into book form. This way the beginning gardener can have the most important information right at their fingertips. No need to get online and look things up, it’s all in the book.
Included are how to’s for over 40 of the most common veggies, with tips and techniques to help make the whole process more successful.
To that we added more than 100 of our own recipes that focus on what you grow, and numerous pictures to help show you what your veggies and some of the dishes should look like.
This really is a work of heart. I’ll be honest and tell you our royalties for a book sold on Amazon are $1.06. Of course, that does help cover the cost of maintaining the blog, but it isn’t the reason for writing the book.
Y’all are. You, if you are new to gardening and/or cooking, or someone you may know. For that reason we would appreciate it if you would help us spread the word, by sharing this link.
Happy Cooking and Garden On!
~ The Joneses
Direct from the publisher
Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews, How to Grow
9 December 2014, by gj
Here are two different seed suppliers to check out for 2015:
Mike the Gardener
While a lot of seed companies are mailing out eye candy in the form of catalogs, Mike has done something different. He lowered prices.
How perfect is that in today’s economy?
By joining his Seeds of the Month Club, you can receive 4 packs of seeds in the mail for less than $3/month. This is a great way to get started on building a seed supply, and to keep one going. Not to mention how wonderful it is to get seeds when the ground is covered in white.
Mike’s seeds are all either heirloom or open pollinated varieties, so you can save the seeds from what you grow.
We’ve never received a pack we couldn’t use, but if that happens, there is a Facebook group for trading. His website also offers a great deal of information on gardening. You can even sign up to be an affiliate and make a little extra cash.
Johnny’s Select Seeds
Based in Maine and employee owned, Johnny’s offers what we consider to be the most informative catalog we have ever seen. We probably have learned more about gardening over the years from them over any other printed source.
Johnny’s carries both heirloom and hybrid seeds and plants, and they cater more to market growers; so you’ll see many of the 318 new products for 2015 are along those lines. Because of this, they offer a lot of hybrids that are resistant to particular pests, diseases, and weather. These seeds can help insure the success of your garden if you have been having specific issues.
One new seed that caught our eye was this summer squash, don’t think we have ever seen a yellow ball type. The fact that it will turn into a pumpkin if left unattended is neat.
They carry a wonderful selection of flowers and culinary herbs, many new varieties this year to choose from.
We have found both of these companies to have great customer service and wonderful products. Note that we are not compensated in any way to write about them.
Happy garden shopping!
Categories: Addiction, all about seeds
5 December 2014, by gj
So much of the corn being grown in the US is now genetically engineered by crossing it with e. coli, then doused heavily with pesticides.
Although you can find organic alternatives, if you have the room you can grow quite a lot of popcorn. Just 10 plants can yield anywhere from 4000-12000 kernels, in only an area about 12″ x 30″.
Choose a variety that is recommended for popping, here are a few to look at.
Grow like you would sweet corn, just don’t harvest as soon. Let the corn stay on the stalk until the plant starts to die off, or the ears begin to fall over. Leave in the husk to dry for about a week. The longer it dries the easier it is to get the kernels off, simply by pushing on them with your thumb. You can make it even simpler by twisting the cob or breaking it in half.
When the kernels are completely dry, just store in a food grade container.
How you pop it is up to you. It can be done in the microwave, but we prefer the old fashioned stove top method of popping it in just a little oil in a covered pot on med-high heat.
And just to be on the safe side, we also have a really old popcorn popper that can be used over an open flame, back from the days before Jiffy Pop and Monsanto; you know, when corn was just corn.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Click on the logo above to read many more such posts.
Categories: corn, you can grow that
2 December 2014, by gj
And so it begins.
The catalogs are already arriving in the mail, the emails have started to show up as well; the new vegetable varieties for 2015 are here. It is always fun to see what new varieties are available to try, or what is new that a favorite seed company has stocked.
Of course we can’t list everything here, or even all the companies in one post. So for the month of December we will offer some links as well as our personal take on some of what we find.
Then you can go have at it!
A wonderful company that we have purchased from for years. For 2015 they have 50 items new to their line of seeds, including some fairly priced seed tapes.
Eggplant Listada de Gandia is a variety that has been around, but we haven’t tried yet. It was recently recommended to us by fellow GA member David G.
The Cucamelon Mouse Melon is another heirloom seed they are offering, and one we are anxious to try. We have heard some gardeners have a difficult time with this one. If you have tried it, please let us know how you made out.
Be sure to check out their new hybrid Sunstripe Summer Squash. It is a beautiful yellow striped bush variety that produces early. Just lovely.
They also have a nice assortment of seeds for edible sprouts.
The people at rareseeds.com are always on the look out for new heirloom varieties. This year they once again do not disappoint. They have over 300 new items total, it is easier to separate the veggies away from the rest of the new items by using their catalog vs. online.
Pink and purple sweet potatoes, the list goes on.
We were impressed with the Sunrise Bumblebee Tomato for its visual appeal, the Moranga Squash aka Pink Pumpkin, and the huge 1 pound Oxheart Carrot which is great for those with heavier soils.
Don’t even get us started on their selection of Amaranth.
So here are two companies to get you started. Get out your notepad, make a few lists; and the best of luck paring that down.
Been there, bought that.
Categories: Addiction, all about seeds