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Keeping Things Organized

April 11th, 2016

One thing I like to do when I seed flats is to alternate colors of plants. I find that having red lettuces in between green lettuces helps reduce confusion if plants labels ever get mixed up to fall out of the tray.
seeding herbs
I will also plant different varieties of plants in the same tray, as long as they have similar germination times and preferred conditions it works very well to keep things organized. These are things I’ve found that work for me and help me keep things organized.

Do you have any tips that help you keep things organized when starting seeds?

Seeds, Seeds, Seeds

April 6th, 2016

This past weekend I started loads more seeds, I think the total number of soil blocks I made and seeded was 420. Amazingly, I still didn’t get all the ones seeded I wanted to. Once the weather warms up and I get my onions planted outside, I’ll have room under the grow lights for the rest.
starting seeds 2
Typically, I don’t start quite the many, but then I don’t usually grow a ton of flowers from seed. This year I have almost just as many flowers as I do vegetable. Now that I have space for them in the garden, I’m happy to have a few flowers to cut for bouquets. I especially love to have flowers to take when I’m invited to dinner.

Are you adding anything interesting to your garden this year?

Onions, Onions, Onions

February 25th, 2016

I love growing onions, of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I love starting my onions from seed. I love, love, love eating onions.
starting onion seeds 5
onion braids 1
Onion Harvest 2
onions (1)
planning for onions all year long 2
Each year I grow loads of onions, loads. Generally I harvest around 200 lbs of onions to eat throughout the year. That number doesn’t include green onions and leeks. We eat an AMAZING amount of onions. Many years ago, I decided to start growing them from seed myself, both because it saved me money and because you can find so many interesting varieties. In my experience, starting them from seeds makes them store longer. This past week I started 3 flats of onion seeds, I still have 3 more to get going this week. Onions are probably one of my most favorite crops to grow.

Do you grow onions? Have you started them from seed?

Fresh Seed

February 18th, 2016

I’ve blogged about the shelf life of seeds and even made a seed viability chart a few years ago. You can see the shelf life of seed chart here. You may think it’s not important to check seed freshness, store seed in specific ways, or purchase new seed of specific types of vegetables each year. Here’s a great demonstration of the importance of fresh seed:
lettuce seedlings 1
As you can see by this image the seeds on the right hand side had slow or very low germination. This seed was purchased last winter for spring sowing. It germinated beautifully last spring. This year, germination is slow and spotty. Most likely these seeds will still germinate, though they will do so in a few weeks instead of a few days.
lettuce seedlings 2
As you can see on the right hand side of the flat, germination was great with the fresh seed purchased this spring. With garden seed, you don’t know exactly how old the seed is when you get it. Thus, lettuce seed may have a decent shelf life, but the seed you purchase may already be a few years old. It pays to watch germination rates and figure out if your seed supplier is perhaps using not so fresh seed. I have great long-term germination rates when purchasing seed from farm supply business like Johnny’s Selected Seeds and High Mowing Seeds.
Shelf life of seeds
When it doubt about the viability of your seeds, throw them out (or feed it to the chickens like I do). The longer I garden the more I realize the benefits of starting with fresh seed. For me, an extra 10 days under the grow light waiting for slow germination throws off my entire system. I’d much rather spend an extra $4 buying a fresh pack of lettuce seed that will germinate faster, grow faster, and reach harvest stage a week or two early than it is to save seed packets from year to year. If you want ultra fresh seed, save your own lettuce seed. I do this for a few varieties that I love.

How often do you cull old seeds and get fresh?

Growing?

February 16th, 2016

This year I set up the big grow light in my office, that way it’s easy for me to monitor the seedlings. One of our cats, Littles, has decided that the grow light is her new sun lamp.
cat under grow light 1
cat under grow light 2
I’m not sure if she’s trying to keep SAD away or if she’s hoping to grow a little more. Either way, it cracks me up every time I see her.

What’s growing in your seed starting area?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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