Mar 08

Listada de Gandia Eggplant

Listada de Gandia eggplant

A gardening friend told us this is the only variety of eggplant he grows anymore. Botanical Interests describes this heirloom as “So pretty, you can grow it in the flower garden. Its thin skin, mild flavor and tender texture ensure you will enjoy every bite!”

They go on to say that the skin is so thin that peeling isn’t required. We didn’t need anymore convincing.

You can see how healthy the plant is. The seed were sown on Feb. 1st, just 5 weeks ago, and germinated in 6 days. We intend to grow this one in the greenhouse, so will have a one month jump-start on the season. We should start getting fruit somewhere around mid-July.

Eggplant is well received in this house. Here are a few recipes you might like.
Can’t wait to try our hands at some more with these!

How to Grow Eggplant

Mar 01

About Starting Seeds Indoors

indoor seed starting

There are probably as many ways to start seeds indoors as there are gardeners. Mandolin suggested we share what we do, in case it might help someone else.

It is pretty basic really. We have metal shelves that just fit over our kitchen propane fireplace. This provides a heat source at no additional cost to us.

We use the smallest plastic solo cups for the seeds. We cut drainage holes in them by turning a whole stack upside down, and using a sharp knife to make slits. Keeping them stacked prevents the cups from collapsing under the weight of the knife.

After putting some seed starting mix into the cup we place the seed on the mix, then add enough mix to make the seed planted at the depth suggested on the seed packet. Water a little, and place in a plastic tray. The trays we use are from a company called Planter’s Pride, and they originally came with seed starting pellets. We prefer the cups though, and the tray holds them in place. The lid has a cutaway on each side to allow for air flow. You can also just prop the lid a bit if you have a different brand.

We cover the plastic tray, then put that on an enamelware tray that sits directly on the fireplace. This buffers the heat perfectly. A cookie sheet would do the same.


As the seedlings emerge and grow, they graduate to larger cups and move up the shelves. Later in the season when we need more room, an additional light is hung over the top shelf. If we want to have more than one tray of starts, we just alternate their places on the shelves or fireplace every few days. When they sprout, again, they move to a higher shelf.

We keep track of what is what by numbering the cups with permanent marker, and keeping a list on the computer.

Easy peasy.
More tips on starting seeds indoors.

Jan 11

The Delightful Sugar Baby Watermelon

fast growing vegetables

Small watermelons can be grown vertically.

Probably the best known of the smaller watermelons, Sugar Baby melons only weigh about 8 pounds or so, making them ideal for smaller gardens. Their vines are short compared to most melons, so growing them vertically is easy to do. Just be sure to support some of the weight of the fruit by placing it in some form of sling, and securing that to the trellis or fence you are growing them up. This helps take some of the stress off the vines.

We save the plastic mesh bags that fruit come in, and our non-gardening friends keep us supplied with the similar bags they buy their onions in. These types are perfect because they allow for plenty of airflow and do not stay wet after a rain.

Sugar Baby watermelons also do not have extensive root systems, which makes them ideal for growing in containers. We started a few seeds at the end of December, and are going to try our hand at growing them indoors. Since their days to maturity are about 80, we hope to see some melon development right around the time spring arrives. Wouldn’t eating some homegrown melon be a wonderful way to kick off the outdoor growing season?

Read about more edibles you can grow indoors.
The basic for growing watermelons, and how to know when to harvest.

Dec 21

11 Edibles to Grow in a Survivalist Garden

edible landscaping

You might look at your garden differently if your very existence depended on it. Of course you would consider balanced nutrition, but you also might look at storage ability and depending on where you live, even growing edibles in disguise.

Here are a few foods to consider if you want to rely more on your garden and less on food companies:

1. Quinoa, a relative of spinach, is grown for its high protein grains. It stores well, can be added to almost any recipe, and you can replant the seeds.

2. Flax is a lovely flowering plant grown for its seed, which is high in fiber and can be used as a substitute for oil and eggs in many recipes. It would blend in well in the landscape and not be seen as a food source by most people.

3. Dry beans most often have a pole growth habit. Their gorgeous flowers also help hide the fact that they are producing a high protein food source. Of course save some to replant.

4. Sweet potatoes look very much like a ground cover. They are related to morning glories and have a lush vine like top growth of beautiful leaves. The tubers themselves store well, can be used to replant, and are highly nutritious. Sweet potatoes are not only a good source of vitamin A, they also have a lot of vitamin C.

5. Unless you are a gardener, you probably wouldn’t recognize a potato growing if you saw one. The russet varieties store the best, and you can replant the following season. What we really like about potatoes besides their ability to store is the versatility of use. May as well keep things interesting.

6. Garlic is said to have some antibiotic properties, can be replanted not long after harvest, and stores well. It takes up very little room yet can make a world of difference in your food.

7. Okay, it would be tough to hide dry corn growing, but if that isn’t an issue we suggest it as a good source for a flour substitute. It stores forever and you can replant the seeds. Just grind for grits, cornmeal, and polenta. If you grow a popping variety, you even have a good snack food.

8. Okra is an easy edible to incorporate into a landscape, just look at the picture above. You can cook it a variety of ways, plus you can dehydrate it to grind and use as a food thickening agent. Be sure to let 1 or 2 pods grow big to save the seeds.

9. Walking onions grow as a perennial scallion type onion with an increased harvest each year. Dry the tops to use throughout the winter months.

10. Hot peppers are a good idea even if you don’t eat them. They can be used to make a pepper spray which works well as a pest deterrent.

11. Tomatoes would also be hard to hide, except that you can actually grow them, as well as other edibles, indoors. Stagger a few plantings of heirloom varieties to have a fresh vitamin C source year round. Lightly brush the flowering plants with your hands or use a tuning fork to help promote pollination.

Hopefully growing your own food never becomes an absolute necessity. Even if you don’t consider yourself a survivalist, it never hurts to be ready, just in case. The worst thing that could happen is you become addicted to growing food.

And that’s a good thing.

Dec 07

14 Faster Growing Edibles

You might call it fast food, these veggies are ready to eat sooner then their relatives. Whether your season is short or you just want to make the most if it, here are a few suggestions.

fast growing vegetables

Small watermelons can be grown vertically.

Vegetable Variety DTM Note
Bean Buff Valentine 50 Bush habit
Bean Contender 50 Bush habit
Broccoli Blue Wind 49 From transplanting
Beets Babybeet 40 Small but good shape
Carrot Mokum 36 Baby carrot or full size at 56 days
Cauliflower Snowcrown 50 Plant spring or fall
Cucumber Unistars 42 Small cocktail type
Eggplant Hansel 55 F1 Purple
Onion Guardsman 50 Bunching or scallion type
Peppers Sweet Ace 50 Green stage
Pumpkin Racer 85 Carving type
Radish D'Avignon 21 Long french type
Tomato Moskvich 60 Good size heirloom
Watermelon Little Baby Flower 70 2-4 lb.

Most of the information was found from Johnny’s Select Seeds and reprinted with their permission. They specialize in farm to market vegetables, so carry a number of seeds that produce quickly. Some listed here are exclusive to them.

Nov 30

10 Varieties of Radish

easy to grow radishes

French Breakfast Radishes, seeds from

One of the fastest growing edibles, radishes can be harvested in as little as three weeks after sprouting. They are often used to mark rows of vegetables that take longer to sprout, like carrots and parsnips.

Relatives of the cole crops, some radishes can be planted towards the end of summer and stored in cold holding. These varieties have a longer time to maturity, or DTM. All other varieties can be planted in early spring and again in the fall, as they do not like hot weather.

Radishes also vary in size, color and flavor. Note all varieties listed here are either heirloom or open pollinated.

Name Color Size DTM Notes
Cherry Belle Red w/ white flesh Small round 21 days Bright color
White Icicle White 4-6" icicle shape 30 Crisp and mild
Formosa White Oval 8-10" long 85-100 Good storage
Purple Plum Purple w/ white flesh Small round 28 days
German Giant Red Baseball size 29 Large size without cracking
Easter Egg Assorted colors small round 28 Fun for kids & adults
Hailstone White Small globe 25 aka White Button
Green Meat Green & white skin with green flesh 10" icicle shape 50 days
Nero Tondo Black w/ white flesh Large round 50 days Good storage
Chinese White Winter Radish White Cylindrical 6-8" 60 days Good storage Daikon

Along with personal experience, we have learned much from gardening websites and seed catalogs. We would like to thank Mike at, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Baker Creek, Victory Seeds, St. Clare Heirloom Seeds, Kitazawa Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. These are all wonderful sources for these radish varieties.