Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One Superior Garden Hack for the Impatient Gardener

I admit, I am probably the most impatient gardener alive. I hate waiting. I especially loathe waiting on seedlings to emerge from the soil. Honestly, the wait is sheer torture. It has been my experience that direct seeding into the garden gives me the healthiest, most productive plants. I could just buy plants, but that doesn't always get good results and it doesn't give me the same DIY satisfaction. Nor can I afford to buy as many plants as I want or need in the garden.

I could also start seeds indoors in little pots and grow those little plants into bigger, little plants that need to be transplanted into the garden. But, as you may have inferred from my intentional, run-on sentence, that is a painfully long, drawn-out process which usually results in some plants never getting planted because I just don't get to it before they get all leggy and ugly and useless.

So seeding it is. And waiting is my destiny. But, in a way, I have discovered a way to cheat destiny and speed things up considerably.

Pre-sprout the seeds before you sow them in the garden. Yes, before they go into the garden. Save yourself the agony of the wait.

Pre-Sprout Seeds 

Pre-sprouted seeds save water in the garden.
Mung bean sprouts. Plant pre-sprouted seeds to
save water and time in the garden. 
Pre-sprouting seeds takes the method of soaking seeds before planting one step further. Sprouted seeds have already germinated. They can be planted in the garden with a light covering of soil and lightly watered. While it is important to keep the soil consistently moist, the amount of water needed to get your sprouts established and growing is considerably less than if you were to plant dry seed in the soil and keep it wet enough for germination to occur. If you are an impatient gardener like me, you'll enjoy the added bonus of having plants coming up sooner. We are having great success with mung bean sprouts, sunflowers and carrots.




I am pre-sprouting all of my seeds now. Artichokes, strawberries, cardoons, lettuce, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc. Harder seeds like broccoli, kale, beans, peas, and especially peppers get soaked overnight in Haven's Authentic Manure Tea, drained and left to sprout in a jar in a dark location. Softer seeds like sunflower and squash or cucumbers only need a couple hours in the tea before draining to sprout. Some seeds will sprout within a few hours, others may take a day or two.

As soon as I can see evidence of germination, I sow the seeds directly into the garden, cover lightly with garden soil or compost, water lightly and let them grow.

If you are an impatient gardener, give it a go and see if it works for you. And you're welcome. I'm always here to alleviate any garden anxiety I can.

Happy gardening,

~Julie



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Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Tomato Strategy and Heat-Loving Tomatoes

The tomato - a garden must! 
I am by no means a tomato expert. In fact, the last few years I have failed miserably at growing tomatoes. But I am determined to grow a bumper crop this year. I want tomatoes!

We have tried several of the popular heirloom varieties, with very little success. Black krim, Cherokee, Oxheart and a few other varieties have been a disappointment. About the only tomato that we can always count on is the tried and true cherry. Not that I don't enjoy the tasty little treats, but they aren't really much good for anything other than salads, snacks, or roasted and served with pasta. I want to make sauces and salsa and soup and tomato sandwiches! I need tomato sandwiches!

One of the problems we have here is that it gets so hot in the summer that tomato production shuts down and the plants go into survival mode. Tomato plants don't like it when it gets much warmer than 85 degrees or so. But I have found one determinate variety that may just solve the problem for us. The Floradade tomato is reportedly a heat loving tomato that will continue to produce heavily in temps up to 100 degrees, as well as dry and humid conditions. That is the tomato we need to get us through the summer with a steady supply. You can order Floradade Tomato seed from SeedsNow - click the link at the end of this post and use the coupon code to save 10%.

The other challenge we face with tomatoes in the garden is space. We simply don't have enough space to plant indeterminate varieties. They get too big and take over. While I want a good tomato harvest, tomatoes are not the only thing I want to grow. This year I have decided to go with successive plantings of more compact, determinate varieties such as Roma, Rutgers and the Floradade spread throughout the garden and interplanted with herbs, vegetables and lots of flowers to attract beneficial insects to eat the bad guys.

I hope that my new strategy will prove successful. I don't think I can bear another year without homegrown tomatoes.

Click on the SeedsNow graphic to shop for seeds and get 10% off your order.  Happy gardening.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DIY Hanging Drying Rack

DIY hanging drying rack made with metal bands from an old wine barrel.
Metal bands from a wine barrel repurposed to
create a rustic drying rack. 
Part of the farm plan this year is to grow and produce some really fun and unique herbal products, teas and tisanes. To make that happen, we need drying racks. 


Being the frugal farmer girl that I am, spending money was not an option. I have been hanging onto some metal bands from an old wine barrel for years, knowing one day we would find a good use for them. Yesterday we made the first of three hanging drying racks. We put a screen basket in the bottom of the band. The screen is secured on the inside with a thin metal strip bent to fit inside the band (actually a corner protector for drywall) and a few nuts and bolts. 


DIY hanging drying rack made with metal bands from an old wine barrel.
Repurposed metal bands from
an old wine barrel make
a rustic drying rack for herbs. 
We drilled holes through the sides to attach the chains, and found some metal hooks for hanging herbs. The screen basket in the bottom is perfect for drying smaller leaves, flower petals and peppers. 

That is all there was to it. It was an easy, fun project we did together. And I love the crusty, rusty, rustic functional design. 

There you go! Another example of why you should never throw anything out. 






Happy Gardening - and repurposing,

~Julie


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