Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Soil Blocking

April 7th, 2015

Now that I have more rugged seed trays I started making soil blocks to see how they compare to the other seed starting trays/methods I’ve tried. I’m always excited to try new things, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I’ve tried soil block a few years in the past without much success. This year I finally go the hang of it. I’ve never had my potting soil wet enough.
soilbocks 1
soilbocks 2
The next batch of seed I start I will also seed a plastic tray at the same time with the same variety so I can monitor them throughout the season. Soil block are supposed to produce seedlings that don’t get as much of a shock when transplanted because of the air pruning of the roots. The only way to know for sure is to try both methods at once. I’ll keep you posted on my findings.

Are you doing any fun gardening experiments this year?

Lotsa Lettuce

March 16th, 2015

I’m a sucker for lettuce seeds. When I read through the descriptions and see the beautiful images in the seed catalogs I go a little overboard. I do like a lot of variety in my salad bowl and find that five or six types of lettuce makes for a great salad.
Lettuce seedlings
I have found that lettuce seeds are often best to be purchased fresh each year. I used to keep them for a few years, but germination is so much faster and so many more seeds germinate when the seeds are really fresh. Now all of my leftover seed from the year gets thrown into planters in the fall that get overwintered in the basement. Then I have a nice crop of mesclun for salads in the early winter months.
lettuce 1
On Saturday I started a flat of lettuces & endive, there are 15 varieties in all that were started this go around. There are also three other varieties in planters in the basement…..and I have another 15 that are later season varieties that will replace these when the weather warms up a bit. Then I have another 10-15 varieties that will be grown in the fall/winter. Butterheads are my favorite types of lettuce, with romaine coming in a close second. Leaf lettuce are probably my least favorite. I like a lot of crunch and texture in my lettuce. Endive and other bitter greens are also always in my salad bowl, nothing rounds out sweet greens like a bit a bitterness!

What’s your favorite kind of lettuce to grow?

Welcome Visitors

March 10th, 2015

My guest room has been turned into my seed starting room. Last year I put my big grow light in the basement, which turned out to be way too cold for my seedlings. Our basement is unheated, uninsulated and not very tight. As a result it’s pretty cold down there. Even though the grow light puts off some heat, it wasn’t enough to warm up the space.
grow light 2
grow light 1
So I took over my guest room and turned it into a seed starting room. These guests are more than welcome to stay as long as they’d like!

Where do your seedlings live while they’re indoors? Have you found the perfect spot for them?

PermaNest Trays

March 4th, 2015

I have a love/hate relationship with those black plastic seed starting trays. I’ve been gardening long enough that I’ve used pretty much every type of seed starting tray there is out there. The black plastic trays work the best for me, but I really dislike how cheap they’ve gotten in recent years. I used to be able to use them for 5-7 years, now they barely last one season. After looking at PermaNest trays for a few years, I finally purchased a few this year to give them a try.
permanest 1
I must admit that I was very happy with the quality of them when I opened up the box. The tall domes with sliding vents are a very rigid plastic, the bottom trays are super heavy duty. I have read reviews on the internet with gardeners saying they’ve had them for 20 years.
permanest 2
They have bottom trays, thinner top domes and the very rigid tall domes with vents. They are all very high quality and I can see that they will last me many years to come.
permanest 3
What I’m most happy about is that I will be able to use my soil blocker with them. They are definitely strong enough to stand up to lots of wear and tear. I will no longer have to worry about cracks and holes in the bottom trays and water leaking out all over the place.

What’s your favorite seed starting tool?

It’s Official…

March 2nd, 2015

Well, the 2015 gardening season has officially started at Chiot’s Run. Yesterday I started onion seeds.
seed starting 1
There are eight different types of onions in my trays, each tray is divided in half. This year I’m growing lots of yellows and a few reds.
seed starting 2
I also decided to start two varieties of cold tolerant tomatoes. Typically I don’t bother starting tomatoes early, but our short summers here in Maine have me thinking I’ll start growing a few in containers up against rock walls to see how early I can get a few tomatoes for salads and sandwiches. I chose ‘Stupice’ which has always been a reliable early producer for me along with ‘Glacier’ which is a new variety for me.
seed starting 3
Even though my garden is still sleeping under a very deep blanket of snow, it will be exciting to see the first little sprouts of green coming out of these flats in a few days. Tomorrow I’ll start celery and a flat of cold tolerant lettuces and endives for early spring salads. From this day forward, I’ll be sowing, watering, thinning, transplanting, sowing again, and then hopefully in six weeks planting a few things in the soil.

What are the first seeds you start for your garden?

Also Find Me At
Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


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.