Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

seed-catalogueIt has been a wonderful Christmas season here in North Georgia. While many parts of the country are suffering under the weight of major winter storms and frigid winds, we have enjoyed unusually pleasant conditions. In fact, it was 73 degrees on Christmas day.  Today is the 28th and it’s still gorgeous.

After terrible drought that lasted from late spring, we’ve had plenty of rain in December and with the recent warm up, our pastures and lawns are showing signs of life again. It’s such a blessing.

There are many things I love about this time of year, including: eggnog, carols, colored lights, Emmanuel, decking the halls, and getting the mail. Each afternoon I rush to the mailbox in eager anticipation of what the postman has delivered. And most days, among the Christmas cards, seasonal flyers, and bills, is at least one or more catalogs from seed companies around the country. I cherish each one of them, and devour them like a hungry man devours a bologna sandwich.

You see, it’s garden planning season. It’s time to see what’s new and to ensure our tested and true varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers are still available. It’s time to decide what we’re planting, what we’re NOT going to grow this year, and what new things we want to try.

Please, I beg you, don’t wait until April or May and go all impulsive at the garden center. Make your plan now. Order your seeds.  Think it through. If you don’t, I promise, all those colorful plants and seed packets in the centers will mesmerize you into buying all kinds of things you don’t need. After those long winter nights and short days, our resistance is down and the first signs of spring will make us vulnerable to many shiny, colorful, growing things.

Lest I deceive you into thinking I have an iron will and self-discipline of steel, I should disclose that I am as weak as any other man. Even the catalogs have me creating wish lists that would require 40 acres of gardening space.  The photos of delicious looking veggies, beautiful flower assortments, and highly productive trees combined with elaborately written descriptions of the varieties, make my head spin.

Fortunately, I’ve done this long enough, that by the time I’m ready to purchase; I’ve come down from my catalog high and have regained a modicum of reason.

Since I’ve kept notes on what worked and what didn’t from the previous season, I am able to know what I DON’T want, as well as what I do.

If you’re new to gardening, you’ll likely be overwhelmed at all the choices. You think you want to grow green beans, and then you discover dozens of varieties that you have to choose from. Oh and let’s not forget you have to choose, bush, pole, or runner varieties.

And that’s just the beans. Wait till you get to the corn, lettuce or tomatoes.  It’s almost enough to drive you to the frozen food section of your nearest supermarket to fill your cart with frozen vegetables and forget the whole crazy notion of your own edible suburb.

Don’t panic. It gets easier. And in the early days, look for people to help. Ask questions. Read blogs. Watch videos. I am going to do a whole series of short blogs featuring varieties I recommend. Plus, if you go to the contact us section, and join our mailing list, I’ll send you a .pdf of my ’10 Bomb Proof Varieties’ to help guarantee you success.

For now, if you’re not already getting annual seed catalogs, let me give you a few of my favorites. I literally get dozens, but I do MOST of my buying from these places:

Johnny’s Seeds, Totally Tomatoes, Refining Fire Chiles, Buckeye Pepper Company, Victory Seeds (for heirlooms I love this site), and, Burpee. If you are looking for ‘complete’ heirloom variety garden kits, you might check out The Seed Guy.  This is where I bought my ‘Emergency Garden.’ I have one of his packages in my freezer in case of emergency. It’s all heirloom varieties. While it contains many things I won’t grow, the excess is worth it for the great number of things I would turn to in case of ‘Zombie Apocalypse’. There are many other I buy from, and there are a host of honorable seed companies out there,  but these places are where I get the bulk of my seeds and starter plants.  Please feel free to use the comments section and tell us all some of your favorite sources.

In the meantime, Happy New Year. And happy planning.

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vegetables-basketHappy Monday, Y’all.  I want to play a game.  And I’d love as many people as possible to play, so I need your help.  I’m trying to discover the absolutely, positively, without a doubt, dead certain, most popular vegetables on the planet.

Please use the comment button and let me know your favorite veg.  Here are some hints and ground rules:

1. Baked Beans is not an answer.

2. Neither is Fried Chicken.

3. Tomatoes is too broad.  Early Girl Tomatoes, or Beefsteak tomatoes, or Black Krim are more specific and help a lot more.  Same with peppers. Try and be specific.

4. Green beans will work for me, but if you have favorite varieties that’s even better.

5. This poll/survey will last through Thursday of this week.  On Friday I will announce the winner.

6. If we get over 100 comments on the blog, FB and Twitter don’t count (geez, I’m bossy today), I’m going to put all the names into a hat and draw out one of those names.  The name I draw, will receive a packet of seeds of her or his favorite veggie, along with instructions on how to grow them.  I will even help you with questions you have.  I will also agree to grow it in my own garden and take photos of it along the way.


So…I need you to vote. I need your family to vote. I need your friends to vote. I need your in laws to vote. Please, repost or share this with everyone you know. Tweet out the link.  I’d like as many votes as possible.

I’ll play too.  What is Sam’s favorite Vegetable?  If you said, Ghost Peppers, you’d be absolutely…..WRONG!  I do love them.  I love them a lot.  My favorite, though, and there were so many options, is the mighty Sweet Potato. Beauregard, is my favorite variety of them, if you want to be picky.  Sweet potatoes are a super food and can be enjoyed so many ways; Baked, fried, boiled, candied, in pies, in souffles, in soups and stews, as a pudding. The list goes on and on.

Now it’s your turn.  Thanks for playing and spreading the word. This could be fun…or maybe not!



P.S. The gorgeous veggie basket is from http://www.agricorner.com.

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seedlingsAfter a hiatus, I have agreed to resume writing for The American Preppers Network.  I feel very honored to have been asked to participate in this project.  Please do watch for my articles there.  I sent in my first (in a long while) submission this morning.  I called it “Sourcing Seeds, Saving Seeds and Walking the Tightrope, It’s All a Matter of Balance.

I’ll be submitting one article a week for them.  Geez, people, I can hear you laughing from here.  I know, I don’t even manage to submit an article HERE every week.  What can I say?  Even my wife calls me a Wingnut.  Ah, love, sweet love.

Besides that, the only other news to report is that the garden is coming along well, just a little behind because of my post surgical limitations.  I’m starting to catch up now.  Also, the aquaponics systems should be back online next week.  I’ll take some pics of that for your dining pleasure.  We have a litter of American Chinchilla bunnies to go with all the baby pigs and baby goats.  Spring is such a wonderful time on the Homestead.

Brittan has been busy with her flower and kitchen gardens as well as mowing the grass and a little auto maintenance, among other things. Her chiropractor is regularly amazed at her strength and muscle tone. We chuckle about it, but she really is S T R O N G!  And she is a dead shot.  I pity the fool who messes with my woman!

Finally, I’ve coined a new word for where we live.  Technically, we’re somewhere between the suburbs and rural America now.  So I call this neighborhood, ‘Sub Rural’.  I am not changing the name of the blog, though. No way.  No How.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.


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There are days in our lives that we cherish.  Times we wish to recall as we idle away our golden years in a rocking chair with a bottomless glass of iced tea beside us.  Yesterday was not one of those days.  From beginning to end, it was fraught with aggravation, disaster and disappointment.

Let me share a few events.

It was windy here in the burb yesterday morning.  Not outrageous, but March was demonstrating she had no intention of going out like a lamb.  The stiff breeze would make a few of our chores somewhat more difficult, but so be it.

After my morning caffeine hit, I proceeded to water all the seedlings.  I was gratified that most of the ones we’d re-potted after last week’s scorching were still surviving.  A small  number didn’t make it, but on the whole, things could have been worse.

Once the plants had been given their drink, I placed the portable greenhouses (plant stands with plastic covers) in a sunny, south facing spot behind the house and went inside to get ready to head to Carlton Farms in Rockmart to pick up eggs and raw milk.  The trip took a little longer than we expected because we got to chatting with the farmer, and on the way home we remembered we needed to stop at the feed store for dog food.  That stop, too, took longer than expected because we found ourselves pricing poultry supplies and rabbit feed in preparation for our expansion project next month.

By the time we left the feed store, it was lunch time.  We made a stop at Ziglar’s bbq in Acworth and enjoyed a nice pulled pork sandwich.  The Ziglars have added a spicy sauce to their menu that is really tasty.  You needed to know that.

When we finally returned home, we intended to get right to work preparing soil mix for some planting beds.  Due to rain, we are way behind in our garden prep.  As I was carrying in dog food, I heard Brittan shout, “Oh No!” and grab her head.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.


I did.  During our absence, the wind had devastated one of our greenhouses.  Parts of the frame were scattered across the yard and plants were piled and thrown everywhere.  It looked like vandalism.  We were horrified.  So rather than building and filling beds, we spent the next couple hours trying to salvage what we could and re-pot the plants that weren’t ruined.  This is the second killer in 10 days.  This is not our spring.

The next couple days will tell us how many we managed to salvage.

At 3:30 we had a vet appt. for Iris, our Cardigan Corgi.  She has developed a serious hip problem.  One vet says it’s not dysplasia, another thinks it is.  Either way, she is deteriorating.  And she’s barely at mid life.  Surgery is out of the question, it’s just too expensive.  So she is going on a course of pain killers and we are looking into physical therapy.  The prognosis is not bleak, but not good.  And all options have expense attached to them.

Thinking we’d had enough drama for one day, we returned from the vet and went to work planting some cabbages and broccoli.  I pulled the truck around back to unload some soil and bags of compost, etc. and we went to work.  At about 5 p.m. we finally accomplished what we had hoped to be done by lunch time.

Expecting rain, I drove the truck back around to put it in the garage so the dirt and compost wouldn’t get wet while still in the truck.  As a went through the gate, my brakes puffed smoke and vanished.  The brake pedal went to the floor and did nothing.  Nada.  I slowed way down, pumped the brake several times and got just enough power to get turned around and into the garage.  If you’re keeping score, we now have ruined plants, a deteriorating dog, vet bills and a truck that must go into the shop this week for a brake job.  We’re almost done.

After getting the truck into the garage, I was moving Brittan’s car to the spot where the truck usually sits, when I noticed her pointing to the driveway.  I looked and saw a small pool of radiator fluid.  It seems her car has a gasket leak and will need to go to the shop.  I see a $1500 dollar repair bill for a $1000 car.   Mama Mia, what a day.

Fortunately, the day came to a peaceful conclusion.  Today has been quieter.  The biggest pain point today has been……… taxes.  I used to like weekends.

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Just when you think I’m beginning to understand this game, pow, I fumble.

Starting seeds is not new for us, we’ve done it successful for a while now.  This year I made a huge rookie mistake.  I didn’t pay attention.  And I’m paying for it.

Not realizing how fast the new seed mats would work, I didn’t pay attention to the seed trays for the first several days.  The seeds sprouted in about half the expected time and had stretched to reach the light.  Now, all my seedlings are overstretched.  Some I can save, but some will have to be started over.  No one’s fault but mine.  My negligence may cost me up to $50.  We’ll see.  B and I are going to do some transplanting today to see what we can save.  I’ll update later.  Foul on me.

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On the surface, it looks kind of like an electric door mat.  But it’s so much more.  It’s like steroids for seeds, but in a good way.  I’m talking about a simple seedling heat mat.

There is no rocket science involved.  The contraption is basically a flat waterproof heating pad.  You simply set the seed trays on it and let the heat from the pad warm the seed bed.  This is our first year using one and the results are amazing.  Last year my Jolokia peppers took 6 weeks to sprout, this year, 10 days, tops.  We had melons, cukes and squash sprout in two days.  TWO DAYS!   I’m loving it.

There are a variety of manufacturers.  The one we bought is made by ‘Hydrofarm’.  We bought it off Amazon.  The picture here is the small one, but we bought one that holds 4 large (72 section) trays.  You can even spend a couple extra bucks and get a timer to use with them.  I’m cheap.  I just unplug it the old fashioned way.

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B and I spent a couple hours last night catching up on our seed starting.  Besides some new varieties, like the bi-colored Northern Lights tomato and tomatillos, we are starting a few of our squash, cucumber, melon and pumpkin plants inside and will transplant them.  I have no

Northern Lights Tomatoes

idea how well that will work, but the idea is that starting some inside, then planting seeds in the garden as well, should stagger and extend the harvest a bit.  I guess time will tell.

We have chosen all open pollinated varieties this year, with the exception of onions.  Growing onions from seeds was a last minute decisions, so I just picked up a couple packets of Ferry Morris seeds at Home Depot.

Last night we sowed 7 varieties of tomatoes (plus tomatillos), broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, straight neck and patty pan squash, zucchini, marrow, three kinds of cucumber, cantaloupe, two kinds of pumpkin and butternut squash.  We also put in a second batch of peppers.  Peppers seem to be our specialty.

We have a wide selection of lettuces and greens, but we won’t start them inside.  We’ll create some kind of cold frame and get them outside, probably in March.

I truly love planting.  I enjoy harvesting, too.  The only piece I find tiresome is transplanting the seedlings from their trays to grow cups.  That is tedious.  The boredom is offset a little by giving the plants their first feeding of nutrients and watching them take a growth spurt. 

So, the basement is beginning to fill up with tables, seed trays and grow lights.  All is right with the world again.

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