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The Importance of Fresh Seed

April 6th, 2017

I’ve talked before about the importance of using fresh seed. Some types of plants, like brassicas and nightshades, maintain seed viability longer than others. Other seeds like alliums barely germinate after a year. Lettuce is supposed to last a few years, but I have found that fresh seed is worth the few extra dollars each year. The length of time it takes for old seed to germinate and grow can mean that you are harvesting your lettuce two or three weeks later than if you had fresh seed. In a short growing season like mine, those 2-3 weeks aren’t worth it. I also find that the time saved under grow lights is another reason to purchase fresh seed each year. If I can move plants outside 2 weeks earlier I can start another flat much earlier.

In order to illustrate this point, I used year old lettuce seed (these seeds were purchased in 2016) and new lettuce seed. The variety that is from last season germinated very quickly last year and grew very vigorously. In fact, it was the first lettuce to produce heads. You can easily pick out which seed is from last year and which ones are from this season. I’ll keep you updated on the growth rate throughout the season.

One of the reasons for the decline in viability can be due to age of seed since we don’t know how old seed is when we buy it. That’s one reason I like buying seeds from Johnny’s Seeds, they do germination tests and put the date of the test and germination rate right on the seed packet. Old seed not only has lower and slower germination rates, but it has less vigor overall. Plants take longer to grow and reach maturity.

Just because seed isn’t fresh doesn’t mean you have to throw it away. Mix all your lettuce and endive seeds together to make a mesclun mix and direct seed that in the garden or under grow lights in the fall/winter. Purchasing and sharing seeds with friends is a great way to be able to have fresh seed every year without increased costs. Truthfully, most seeds stay fresh for a few years, lettuce and alliums are the only two I make certain to purchase fresh every single year. The rest get a few years before they are repurchased.

What seed do you make sure to purchase fresh each year? Have you noticed reduced germination rates and slower plant growth in certain varieties?

Head on over to this post for a seed viability chart I made a few years ago.

A Whirlwind Trip

April 5th, 2017

We’ve been trying to find a weekend when my brother could travel to Ohio to see my mom. Last Thursday evening around 7pm, I got a note from my brother that he finally had a weekend off and was headed up (he lives in GA). I quickly searched for flights and didn’t find any on such short notice. So I made a few last minute arrangements and hopped in the car on Friday evening to drive to Ohio. Mr Chiots and I traveled until midnight, stopped about halfway, then were on the road again at 6 the next morning. Amazingly, we arrived in Ohio at the exact same time as my brother.

This is the first time the entire family has been together in 12 years. My parents were throughly surprised (which is what my brother wanted). We were thankful to be able to make one of my mom’s final wishes come true. We enjoyed lots of great food and lots of laughs during the two days we were together. What a blessing family is!


Friday Favorite: Ice Storms

March 31st, 2017

Even though we often lost power and they cause a host of problems, I love a good ice storm. This past week had a beautiful layer of ice on everything outside.

It was lovely during the day and it was even better at night, especially in the old apple tree out front draped in white lights.

What are you loving this week?

A Favorite Free Item

March 29th, 2017

Many years ago (in fact I think one of the first years I started seeds), I started using an old dish soap container to water my seedlings. I think that this is the still the original container, which means it’s probably 15 years old.

This container waters seedlings like a dream, especially soil block, which can be sensitive to too much water at once. You can drop water onto flats that haven’t terminated yet without worry about washing away seeds. You can also squirt a lot of water at once when you’re bottom watering entire flats of seedlings.

The only down side is that it’s small and needs refilled quite often, but that’s a small price to pay since it’s such a wonderful (and free) tool.

Do you have any items you repurposed for gardening that you’d love to share?

Not Giving Up Yet

March 28th, 2017

Winter is not willing to give up quite yet. This past week we’ve have quite a bit of winter weather. It’s been extremely beautiful though, so I can’t complain. Soon enough the snow will melt and we’ll be in that horrid in between stage where everything is a dull, muddy mess.

Reading & Watching

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.