Saturday, February 16, 2013

How Do You Seed

 Every year it comes around like an anticipated gift.  The weather gets warmer and you know Spring Gardening is only weeks away.  For most the gardening never ends just because the weather changes.  It only shifts focus.  Indoor, Outdoor, In Ground or Container it all has the same desired result.  I always start my gardening the same way (see Starting a Spring Garden Indoors).  I pull out the seeds weeks before planting time and prepare my starts for planting outdoors.  I always want to make sure I am ready when the weather speaks to me.  Not every plant needs a "start" indoors.  Most are quite productive simply planting in the ground.

But how do you find the seeds you need?  There are many markets available for selling just what you need.  On the other hand why not just save part of one years crops for the next years garden?  I can't think of a single crop that doesn't have it's own built in seeds.  Some we eat (ie Green Beans and Tomatoes), most we clean away and discard (ie: Peppers and Cantaloupe) which is a shame.  Some even grow on the vine (ie: Spinach) I leave a portion of everything from my garden for a new years worth of growth.    It's simple to do and is a sustainable way to keep the crops growing.

Removing seeds for preservation works in several ways depending on the produce.  For those crops with edible seeds, for example okra and green beans,  I usually leave one or two set aside and let them dry out.  Once they are dried I open them down the middle and remove the seeds.  For those plants where the seeds are removed before eating, like peppers and cantaloupe save some seeds and set them aside to dry out.  For root plants just let the roots grow (see Plants That Reproduce With Little Or No Cost) and plant them in the ground.

Maybe this year you want to try growing something new, like a cucumber for example.  You have two options for getting seeds.  Buy a package of seeds from a lawn and garden store.  This can be somewhat of a gamble.  You'll never know what chemicals these seeds have been treated with.  On the other hand you probably wanted to buy a cucumber anyway so why not buy an ORGANIC one and spoon some of the seeds out of the inside.  You won't need many.  Maybe five or six.  Set them aside and let them dry out before planting.

Gardening has been the most sustainable human resource from the beginning.  Once you get started like most you'll probably get hooked.  The easiest and most inexpensive way to keep the planting going is to save your own seeds for planting.  I gaurantee you won't be sorry you did.

10 Do's and Dont's for Compost

I am a very big fan of compost, there is no doubt.  I've written about it previously in The Benefits of Compost  and Keep The Compost Going.  Not only is it the ultimate gift to your gardening, it's also giving back.  Returning to the earth what nutrients have been depleted. It's also an effort to help reduce the overwhelming landfill waste. So, whats the best and worst things you can do for a compost?

My composting started out in our back yard with a chicken wire fence.  It started with basic lawn debris.   Grass clippings, raked leaves, etc.  Than we began reading up on what else could be added to my compost (thanks  I was pretty surprised at the number of items I could keep out of the trash and use to boost my compost.  Every time I would turn the ingredients I could smell how rich the soil was getting.  Than my husband found me a full fledged composter on the side of the road.  It's not important how you compost, only that you do.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Container Pepper

New Peppers growing on my Container Pepper
I love to container garden. Every year when it's time to start clearing out the spring garden for fall planting it's hard to see a seasons worth of crops end.  Container gardening is my way of keeping the planting  going.  My husband decided to carry the craft a little farther by combining our spring crop with the container garden.  If anyone had ever hinted that pepper plants can be kept alive for almost a year, and still produce crops I'd probably have laughed.

My peppers did very well last year.  There became a time when the plant was still healthy.  The blossoms were not appearing any longer.   The crops were not getting any larger.  I figured they had probably ran there course for the year.  I came home from work one day in early fall and my husband had rescued the two remaining spring plants in the garden.  One red pepper, and one jalapeno pepper.

He carefully dug a hole around each plant deep enough to be sure he did not miss any roots.  He used two 10 gallon icing buckets he retrieved from work (for free).  Five drain holes are drilled into the bottom of each bucket.  The lid works perfectly to catch any run off .  The bucket was filled with a 50/50 mixture of potting soil and fresh compost.  The bottom of the bucket was filled abut 12 inches full of soil and the plant set inside.  The bucket was than filled to the top and the soil packet tightly.

I immediately gave both peppers a nice drink of cold, leftover coffee (plants love this).  I was still doubtful that any good would come of this.  I set the plant in a dining room bay window because it has the best direct sun.  I continued to feed the plant and kept a close eye on it hoping for the best.

Before long the remaining peppers began to grow again, and finally ripen.  I'd walk from my kitchen counter to my bay window and pick a pepper directly from the plant for dinner.  That's my kinda shopping!  Now, almost a year after I first planted these peppers in the garden they are still sitting in the bay window and producing new peppers.  My only question now is should I leave it growing where it is, or put it back in the garden when the weather is ready?  Oh well, I'll decide that later.