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Shelf Life of Seeds

January 12th, 2013

As I’ve been sorting through my seed stash, I’ve been pulling out seeds I know are no longer viable. While some seeds may last for a long time (like tomatoes), others start to lose their oomph very quickly. I have found that with onions it’s best to purchase new seeds every other year. In general, fresh seed will have better germination rates than older seed. Tomato seeds seem to be the exception, I have great germination with old tomato seed. Beets do better if they’re only one or two years old. Onions need to be fresh. Here’s a handy guide to download or pin. Here’s the large PDF download of this chart: Shelf Life of Seeds
Shelf life of seeds
If you’re new to gardening it’s especially important to start with fresh seed. You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.

How do you store your seeds? shoebox? fridge? scattered around the house? in the garage?

Neat and Tidy

November 15th, 2012

I’m a big fan of the traditional rowed vegetable garden, perhaps it’s my inner tendency to OCD rearing it’s head. Usually, I try not to be too crazy about spacing, though I do like to use my square foot gardening templates to keep things neat. When you’re doing long rows of vegetables it can be tough to keep those rows straight.

Earlier this fall, I purchased a seed bed preparation rake from Johnny’s Seeds along with the little pieces of tubing for row marking. I must say, I LOVE THIS TOOL. It’s super wide, thus allowing me to prepare a large area very quickly. I also love the little plastic tubes, they can be put on different tines depending on the spacing you want.

This tool makes seeding an entire bed while keeping the lines straight go very quickly. I’m really looking forward to using this in the spring for nice rows of beets, carrots, and lettuce! Although my grandpa always did say, “You can fit more in a crooked row.”

When it comes to the vegetable garden, do you like neat straight rows or do you like things a little more natural?

Friday Favorite: the Hand Hoe

August 3rd, 2012

One day, on a whim, I added a hand hoe to an on-line purchase. I’ve tried all sorts of hand tools in the garden and have been disappointed almost every time. Like my cobra head weeder, most of them are gathering dust.

Little did I know how much I would love this tool and how often I would use it. In fast, it’s probably my most used garden hand tool. Why do I love it so much?

It has a very sharp edge, which I sharpen a few times each season. This edge allows it to cut through tiny seedlings. You can drag the sharp edge and skim the top of the soil cutting off tiny seedlings as you go. If you get them small enough, they won’t come back.

Thanks Maybelline for asking in the comment section about what I use to sharpen my tools. I have used the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker for 17 years for all my sharpening needs from garden tools to kitchen knives.

The pointed tip is great for digging up the entire roots of larger weeds. It can also be used as a small maddox for whacking at tough weeds to get them up. The pointed tip also allows enough precision to weed around plants, even if they’re growing fairly close together.

The shape of this tool makes it much easier on the wrist than a regular trowel. Weeding for a couple hours does not result in any wrist pain or strain. It also provides some much needed leverage when trying to “pop” tenacious weeds from their spots.


This is the tool you will find me using most often in the garden, especially when weeding. I will never be without a hand hoe in my tool shed! I noticed there are a variety of hand hoes on Amazon. One of these days I’ll buy another one or two of these other options for my garden toolbox. Now that Mr Chiots is getting more into gardening he might start making mine scarce.

What’s your favorite gardening hand tool?

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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.

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