May 16, 2012

Grandma's Secret Weapons: Protecting Your Peas

I was looking over my past Grandma's Secret Weapons posts and they really are the most useful tips, Grandma knows what she's talking about.

I love growing peas, I'm drooling just looking at this picture:

I usually plant twice as many pea's as I have room for, as something always munches on the base of my peas and many times, kills the plant. Slugs? Who knows. I have never found the culprit.

Grandma's secret weapon (drum roll)....

Cut up toilet paper rolls around the base. Works like a charm! Pin It

May 8, 2012

Artificial Light for Indoor Plants

Are some of your plants indoors while you wait for temperatures to rise? Try adding an artificial lighti, which can help prepare your plant for the garden.

It's a common misconception that "grow lights" are expensive and take up too much space. I recommend purchasing a shop light, which you can find at a hardware store for about $9.

The bulbs can be more expensive. Here are the kind I recommend.

 Here are some tips on using a shop light to grow your vegetables indoors:
  • Place the shop light so it is about 3 inches above the plant (adjust the light as the plant grows)
  • Purchase a timer so the light goes on and off on its own. Mine is set to run from 6 am to 6 pm.
  • Your shop light won't be enough to grow a healthy plant,  set your plant in a south facing window, as close to the window as possible. 
  • The combination of the heat from the light and the sun through the window, can scorch your plant. Try placing an oscillating fan near your plant to keep it cool. This will also keep away bugs and toughen up your plant. 

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March 23, 2012

The Basics: Starting Seeds Indoor

There are some obstacles you can run into when starting seeds indoors. From root rot and bugs, to seeds never sprouting at all. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

1. Containers:
  • Containers should have very good drainage. Poke additional holes in your container if you aren't sure.
  • Transplanting: are you able to transplant the starts into your garden without disrupting the roots on your plant? 
  • Material: do not use anything that has been treated, such as stained wood or treated metal. Try using old plastic bottles, milk cartons, tofu containers, or egg cartons. 
  • Make sure to disinfect containers that have had plants in them before. I rinse any old pots or containers with a watered down bleach solution. 
2. Heat:
  • Seeds need an average of 65-75 degrees to germinate (this is soil temperature).
  • Heat from the bottom works the best.
  • If your seeds are taking a long time to sprout, one reason may be the soil temperature.
  • You can purchase a heat mat for seeds, they are a little expensive but I find worth the $20. Other options: place near your heater, place under a lamp, on top of an appliance such as a dryer or refrigerator. Once the seeds sprout you can move the seeds to a more "discrete" location.
These shop lights are perfect for keeping the soil warm and providing extra light. I purchased mine for $7 at a hardware store.
3. Humidity:
  • Your seeds need humidity to germinate quickly.
  • Light is not necessary at this point, so don't be concerned that you are blocking the light with your cover. Try plastic grocery bags, storage lids, sandwich bags, plastic bins, you could even use a glass baking dish upside down. 
  • Make sure your humidity cover is a few inches off the dirt to allow the seed to sprout. 
  • Once the seed sprouts, remove the "humidity" cover.
4. Air flow:
  • Find/buy a small fan and set it to oscillate (on low) across your starts.
  • This will help prevent bugs and root rot.
  • The "wind" blowing across the start will also make your starts stronger, preparing them to be transplanted outside.
5. Water
  • I recommend watering your indoor starts from the bottom. You will avoid drowning your seeds and plants this way.
  • Make sure that your soil stays damp. A big mistake is either over or under watering during the early stages of the seeds development. Once the plant is more established it will be more forgiving. 
6. Soil selection:
  • I do not recommend using standard potting soil as you can run into some problems with this (bacteria, and large particles in the soil can cause the problems).
  • Search for dirt that says it is for starting seeds. 
7. Light:
  • You'll need to get your plants some Vitamin D (and if you are in Seattle, maybe you need some too).
  • Your seedlings do not actually need sunlight until they have developed their "true leaves" (the second pair of leaves that grow) which are the leaves that are able to do photosynthesis. That means you have a few weeks to figure out how you are going to provide your seeds with enough light.
  • I do recommend a grow light, which sounds scary, but I will cover this in another post. 

Phew. Lots of typing and not many photos. But hopefully useful. 

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March 15, 2012

Starting Seeds

It's March! Spring is just around the corner and it's time to start those seeds!

Why should you start seeds indoors?

1. When you have a short growing season like we do here in Seattle, it's necessary to give your plants a head start to have a full, successful garden. If you wait until May, which is the time when it is safe to start your garden, it's too late for many of your veggies to amount to anything before the season is over.
2. There is something extremely satisfying about planting seeds, nurturing it into a full plant, and then consuming it.
3. It's easier than you think. I promise. I'll share all my tips with you.

Here are some seeds that you could start in preparation for transplanting later this spring:

1. Peas (once these sprout I will move them to the garden early on). Many people say not to start these indoors but I disagree, it's always worked out for me.
2. Letteuce, spinach, arugula
3. Chard and Kale
4. Broccoli, cauliflower
5. Herbs
6. Tomatoes (these will stay inside your house a little longer than the rest so you will need a grow light if you want to plant these now)
7. Onions
8. Leeks

Seeds you should only directly plant in your garden:
1. Carrots
2. Radishes
4. Beets

Happy Spring! Pin It

February 8, 2012

Fresh Vegetable Delivery-Full Circle Farms

Since I started to grow my own food, I simply cannot stand the taste of vegetables that are not fresh! Don't you agree? How can you even compare the taste between recently picked lettuce and lettuce that has been genetically modified to have a longer shelf life?

I try my best to grow herbs and lettuce throughout the year but as you may know, it's hard!

To compensate, I use a company called Full Circle Farms for fresh fruit and vegetable deliveries and I absolutely love it.

Not only do you receive non-GMO, organic fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to your door step, but you also are supporting sustainable farms.

I have tried several companies in the past and I would recommend Full Circle Farms if you are in Seattle, Spokane, Boise, Anchorage, or Coeur d'alene

You can customize your delivery and I have found the selection to be fantastic!

It's worth the money just to have them deliver! Pin It

February 5, 2012

Growing an Almond Tree

Hopefully, you haven't been holding your breath since my last post.

This winter, I have been attempting to grow various plants indoors and finally have some success to share with you! My attempt to grow an almond tree from seed has worked!
 I could not get a picture without Mason in it, he loves to smell my plants!

How to grow an almond tree from seed:

1. Go to your local grocery store and search for almonds that are raw, not processed in any way and are still in their shell.

2. Place damp peat moss into a plastic bag along with your almond seeds. Make sure to check the moss every so often to be sure it hasn't dried out.

3. Place the into your refriderator for 4-6 weeks.

4. Remove them from the bag and crack open the shells to expose the seeds.
(I have read two different opinions here; one leave the seed in the shell which is what I did. Or completely remove the shell)

5. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep. As it grows you may want to add more dirt to help stabilize the base.

Why refrigerate the seeds? Seeds have different needs for what allows them to germinate and sprout. Almonds fall into the category of seeds that need to be stratified. This mimics the natural process for the seed after it has fallen from the tree and lies on the ground covered by leaves over the winter.

Things to know about growing an almond tree:
  • Almond tree's grow very quickly. Make sure you keep up on fertilizing. 
  • If you keep your tree in a pot, you may want to place it outside in the summer months and bring it in during the winter. Just be sure you place the plant in a cooler area of your house during the winter to mimic its natural environment.
  • Almond trees need to be in dirt that drains well. Adding a tiny bit of sand or peat moss to your soil can help with this. 
  • Make sure the tree has quite a bit of light.
I have had a difficult time finding information on keeping an almond tree growing a a gloomy city. I guess the odds are against me of keeping this thing going!

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November 8, 2011

Growing Experiments

It's about to get really interesting here at It's that time of year, when I try to grow just about anything to see if I can do it. What's on my list you ask?


Oh, the usual:
  • Persimmons
  • Lemon Grass
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Tamatillo
  • Meyer Lemon
Meyer Lemon

 Stay tuned later this week for my planting techniques!
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