Category Archives: All About Seeds

How to Keep Seedlings Organized

starting seeds indoors

Over the years we have tried a number of methods to keep straight which seed was planted in which tray.

Probably the worst one was when we put a label on top of the tray lid, indicating specifically what was what for each spot. Of course, when we removed the lid to water the seeds, we weren’t sure which way it was supposed to go back on. Doh!

In other years we used plant markers, which we found cumbersome; and with starting a large number of plants, somewhat tedious. We also tried writing the plant name on the cup, but that takes up a lot of room and makes reusing the cups more difficult.

We then went to a layout on the computer, making a diagram of each cell, and labeling the front of the tray. That worked really well, except of course for the tray that got dropped.

So we finally settled on a system that works for us. Each small plastic cup is numbered with permanent marker, likewise that number is on the seed packet. As the seedlings get transplanted into a larger cup, that one is also numbered. The cups are then washed and set aside for next year.

A simple list would be enough to keep track, but we use a spreadsheet because we are also tracking the days to germination, to harvest, etc.

Hopefully we have eliminated all room for human error, or gardener error as the case may be.

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Seeds and the Seasons

The following is a guest post by a lovely woman named Amber from England. Their weather is similar to ours here in the northeast, but much less extreme and with milder winters. We always find it interesting to learn how others garden. Enjoy!

what to plant when

Growing your garden can be so rewarding whether your passion is for pansies or potatoes. However, it’s not just about planting seeds, watering them and waiting for them to grow. Knowing the best time to plant your chosen seeds can have a big impact on how well they grow. Doing the right researching can leave you with a luscious garden that has flowers in bloom all year round.

January offers an array of flowers, salad and herbs to sow. For more colour in your garden why not look at growing Sweet Pea. Sweet Peas not only produce beautiful blooms but also have a gorgeous scent. To add different levels to your garden arrangement why not give them plant supports and create columns of summer colours.

Tip – Annual Sweet Peas give off an incredible fragrance but only last one season while everlasting Sweet Peas return year after year, but with less fragrance than their annual cousins.

For something more edible why not start the year by planting broad beans. They’re a great vegetable to grow and fun to grow with children. Remember when planting them to sow one bean directly 5cm deep and 23cm apart for the best results.

The month of Valentine’s Day where love is in the air is a great month to plant a number of flowers including the Snapdragon, a beautiful plant with an unusual marble effect in an array of colours. Snapdragons are a very hardy plant which makes them great for beginners especially as when the outcome is a plant of sheer beauty. Another great plant for February is Chinese Forget Me Nots, a stunning little blue and white flower. Spinach, radish, aubergine, chilli, cucumber and tomatoes are all great foods to start growing in this month. Don’t forget to support your tomatoes with a sturdy stakes or strings to ensure they grow properly.

As we move into March the question is what flowers can’t you grow? After all the options are almost endless. You can pick from pretty poppies to an array of bloomers from the sunflower family. March is the month to get excited about the colours your garden can display for the rest of the year. If you are looking to involve children a sunflower competition is a great way to get the kids excited about gardening.

While you’re planting all the colours of the rainbow you can also get started on your parsnips, lettuce, beetroot, brussel sprouts, carrots and why not get ready for Halloween by planting your very own pumpkins.

April, the month of fools; but even fools can plant themselves a stunning garden. Dropmore is a striking blue flower which can be frozen into ice cubes to make your summer drinks stand out. Why not grow Borage ‘Blue’ as well, these can be added to drinks to give a cucumber like taste but with a beautiful vibrancy. This is also the time to get your onions, leeks and butternut squash started.

Why not add a little magic to your garden in May by planting ‘Snow Pixie’, a beautiful white flower or ‘Pink Fairy’, Lupin, or why not use May as the month for ‘Falling in Love’ with Papaver rhoeas. Sweetcorn and runner beans are also perfect for planting in May.

Cosmos, ‘Dwarf Sensation White’, are a stunning little flower ideal for planting in June, along with Echinops also known as the ‘Globe Thistle’. Wild Rocket and Artichoke or Artichoke are also all great choices for planting in June and July.

Papaver somniferum or ‘Black Beauty’ is a glamourous deep red poppy while Orlaya grandiflora is a beautiful and delicate white flower. Both are great choices for growing in August.

When it comes to vegetables, August is a great month for planting cucumber, chive, a number of lettuces and spring onion.

As the leaves turn orange in September the Calendula officinalis, ‘Indian Prince’, is the perfect flower to plant as you can enjoy the orange flower in the months to come. Staying on the orange theme the Eschscholzia californica ‘Orange King’, is also a stunning flower ideal for planting during this month.

During the spooky month of Halloween why not plant a Ladybird also known as Papaver commutatum, a beautiful red and black flower. The poached egg plant is also a brilliant and easy plant to enjoy with bright yellow and white flowers which resemble a poached egg.

November and December sees us returning to the same flowers and vegetables of January including Sweet Peas and Broad Beans. It’s especially handy if you’ve kept the seeds from your last successful crop.

Each flower and vegetable is different and needs to be planted and grown in different ways. Some like moist soil while others prefer drier soils, but before worrying about any of that the most important thing to know is when you should break out the garden tools. For more information about plants and seeds have a look around online.

Author Bio: Perrywood is an Essex based garden centre that sells a variety of seeds, plants, tools and furniture. They regularly release guides on how to care for your garden from what to plant to dealing with pests.

This post was printed with permission from the author, no compensation was received, just sharing gardening love. <3

Gardening in a Strange New World

Butterfly weed and Cucamelons

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.

Almost Sci-fi.

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!

8 Things Every Seed Catalog Should Contain

about seed catalogs

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.

2. Pictures.

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?

3 + 4 + 13 Tips for Starting Seeds Indoors

starting seeds indoors

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
Garden on!

You Simply Cannot Buy GMO Seeds, You Can’t!

Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, and the Seeds of the Month Club share the fact they don't sell GMO seeds.

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.

Now That the Ordering of Seeds is Complete…

organizing seeds

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:
Jung’s seeds
Reimer Seeds
Baker Creek
Botanical Interests

And wish us luck!

Buying Seeds at the Supermarket

quinoa and coriander seedlings

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?

New Edibles to Try for 2015

growing new things

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. ;-)

More of What’s New in Gardening for 2015

save money on seeds

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!

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