Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seed inventory

Wow I spent the better part of the afternoon doing a complete inventory of all the different types of fruit and vegetables seeds I have collected this past year. I think it was well past due since I found I had multiple copies of many types of seeds. Recently a couple stores in my area had those seed deals where you get 10 packs for $1. Well I have to admit, I just could not pass them up. I didn't think I had any zucchini so I bought one. I then went back a couple weeks later and forgot I bought zucchini and purchased another one. Today when I did my inventory I found out I now have 5 packs. Now who really needs 5 packs of zucchini? My neighbors will be locking their doors and closing the blinds if I grew that much zucchini and tried to give it away!

To make matters worse, the plants are beginning to arrive in the nurseries. I know I would not be tempted but how do I keep my car from driving me to the store? I have no control over my car when it sees the nurseries and it makes me go there! Do you suppose there is some kind of auto pilot on them that makes gardeners stop in whenever they pass by whether they need seeds or plants or not? I tell you it's a conspiracy!

Looks like I will pack up a large envelope and send it off the Need4Seed soon. Kim

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring crops started

I am probably a bit early but I had this intense need to get a few things planted for my spring garden. I am hoping to push the envelope a bit by putting the spring crops into a hoop house over my existing raised bed. My plan is to have them outside in early April. At the same time, I also plan on direct seeding my lettuce and other leafy crops...hope it works as I would love to be able to at least pick a few fresh greens by the end of April.

I was very fortunate that I received some seeds for foods I have never tried before from some great people on the Garden Web site. I am in a birthday swap and listed what I wanted to try and many people sent me seeds for those foods plus others. So far it has been a great experience. Last year I was very successful growing broccoli as transplants and just planted 9 for this year. My cauliflower grew well into the seedling stage and then nothing...a tiny foul tasting head. Since cauliflower is one of my very favorite vegetables, I decided to give it another try this year and started 6. I also started 3 mammoth red rock cabbages...I have never grown cabbage before so this is new for me. The other things I started today are things I have never tasted...I am trying to expand my horizons among the vegetable foods I have not only grown but at least tasted! Today I also started pak choi, leeks, chard and kale. I have eaten bak choi before and am pretty sure I will like the pak choi so 6 of those were started. As for the leeks, chard and kale I started 2 of each...if I like them well enough they will be grown again in the fall garden.

I'll update later as things begin to germinate. Soon I will also be starting my must have plants such as tomatoes...mmmmmm...tomatoes. Sorry I kinda got lost there for a minute as I am a tomato nut and cannot wait to taste another tomato again...I simply won't eat them unless fresh from the garden. MMMM, dreaming of tomatoes...Kim

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Simple sprouter

I have a desire for fresh grown vegetables throughout the winter months. I have been very successful with my indoor lettuce but wanted to add something a little different for flavor and nutrition. I found a sprouter at a local store but was shocked at the price of $9.99. The sprouter consisted of a jar and a lid with holes. I knew I could make one of these for next to nothing.

The supplies were simple:

canning jar
lid ring
plastic canvas

The plastic canvas I purchased at Michael's (a crafting store) for $.79. This was actually the most expensive piece because I purchased the one known as 14 aida which has the smallest holes. I needed the smaller holes for alfalfa sprouts. The larger mesh which costs .39 will do for just about any other seed you may want to try.

In order to make your own sprouter, you place the ring on the plastic canvas, trace around the ring with the pen, and cut just inside the line. It's that simple. To use your new sprouter, you place 1-2 tablespoons of the seeds you would like to sprout into the jar. Now add enough water to cover. (Note: Since I have city water I like to let a pitcher of water sit out on the cupboard to let excess chlorine dissipate.)
Place the plastic canvas top on the jar and screw on the lid ring. Gently swirl the seeds/sprouts and turn the jar upside down to drain. Allow to drain completely upside down for about 5 minutes. Place the sprouts in a warm dark place such as your pantry.

In just a few short days, you will be enjoying fresh sprouts! You can add them to salads, wraps, sandwiches or stir fry. Since my husband claims he is not a sprout eater, I chop them and put them into things such as meatloaf and meatballs...he'll never know I added a little extra nutrtion to things he eats.

In the next post, I will show you how to make a sprouter absolutely free from things you probably already have around the house. It also makes a great recycling project so don't forget to come back next time to My Little Corner of the World. Kim

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Simple propagation chamber

I am in a swap for cuttings and I decided to learn how to get them started. I made a simple propagation chamber from common items you can find in any home center. The total cost was fairly inexpensive because just about everything can be used over and over. (I would recommend not reusing the seed starting mix to keep fungus and other diseases to a minimum. You can simply put the used mix into your composter or garden. I used less than 1/4 bag.)

clear plastic box with lid $2.37
unglazed terracotta pot .87
small amount plumbers putty
soil less seed starting mix $3.47
rooting hormone $5.19
spray bottle $1.19

The first step is to place the plumbers putty or silicone into the hole in the bottom of the pot. This will allow the pot to hold water. It is important to use an unglazed pot for this part of the process so that water will slowly seep through it which keeps the growing medium moist.

Place the plugged pot into the bottom of the clear container. Begin to put the seed starting mix into the container in increments of about 1/2 inch and spritz well with the spray bottle. This helps moisten the medium evenly. Continue to fill and spritz until the box is about half full and pat down lightly. Your propagation chamber is now ready to use.

Now the fun begins! One of the easiest plants I have found to propagate is the geranium. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been taking cuttings from a plant I got from my late grandmother. The process is simple. Take the desired cutting. Dip in rain water, well water or other untreated water or you can allow tap water to sit out uncovered overnight. Place a small amount of the rooting hormone onto a disposable plate (this keeps the contents of the bottle clean and dry) and dip the cut, moistened end of the plant into the hormone.

Using your finger or pencil make a small hole into the seed starting mix in your propagator. Carefully place the cutting into the hole so as not to wipe off the rooting hormone. Use your fingers to snug the cutting into place.

Continue placing in the desired cuttings until the chamber is full. You can get quite a few cuttings into each chamber. The one pictured here has several cuttings of golden euonymous, native plum, nanking bush cherries, Manchurian bush apricot, and 4 colors of geraniums. I am not sure if everything will root, but half the fun is in the learning process. The last step before putting on the lid and placing the propagator in filtered light is to fill the pot with rain water.

Every couple days remove the lid to allow for fresh air to circulate. Check to see that the seed starting mix is still moist. If necessary, re wet the growing medium using the spray bottle. After spraying, allow any leaves on the cuttings to dry before placing the lid back on.

In a couple weeks your little starts should begin to develop roots...some will take longer than others. To tell if the plants have roots, gently give them a little tug. If you feel resistance, your little plants probably have roots. You can now remove them from the propagator and plant into individual pots.

The best part is in sharing your little starts with friends. Come on back to My Little Corner of the World in a couple weeks for updates. Kim

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lettuce update

Our lettuce is growing very well under the inexpensive light set up I have in the basement. Here is a picture of my granddaughter holding some of our bounty. Remember we have been eating off these greens up to 4 times a week. We simply pinch off enough leaves for a small salad or some for a sandwich. We now have added alfalfa sprouts as well as the mung and adzuki beans. I think this has been so successful that next year I will double or triple the grow lights so we will be able to have a small salad a night.
Time to pick the lettuce, happy eating. Kim & Jordan

Friday, February 6, 2009

Worm bin

OK so you may think I am truly crazy but, when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday next week I knew it would be the perfect time to ask. I told him I wanted a worm bin for the basement. Now as you may have guessed by now, my husband really is not all that interested in my gardening adventures (except when he is munching down on fresh, homegrown vegetables). Oh don't get me wrong. He loves me and puts up with some of my crazy ideas but, he really objected to me wanting a worm bin. Well because this is all I wanted for my birthday, he just kinda rolled his eyes and gave into my crazy desire to have worms at pets.

Making a worm bin is actually pretty easy. The first step is to get a container to hold the worms. The one I purchased is pretty nice and it is made from 99% recycled plastic. The cost was just over $5 including tax. The first thing I did in preparing the container was to drill lots of small holes in the bottom.

The next step is to drill some holes around the top to allow for proper air circulation. I used a 3/4" spade bit to drill all away around the top of the container. The worms need the ventilation to allow excess moisture and heat escape.

Place some cardboard in the bottom to keep the holes clear and to absorb excess moisture. The worms also enjoy snacking on the cardboard itself!

Now fill the bin with damp torn up newspapers. (Note: the ones in the picture are probably a little too wet so I later mixed in some dry strips.) The worms will eventually turn the newspaper and cardboard into castings or as my husband deems, "worm crap".

The last step is to add the worms. The only other thing to do is to feed the worms sparingly until it is determined just how much they will eat in a few days. If you overfeed the worms, the bin may develop and odor and this is something I cannot let happen less they be banished outside! Oh yeah, don't forget to put something underneath the bin to catch any liquids that may develop and drain out. This is the best stuff for nourishing your young seedlings.

I'll post updates as the worms turn my scraps into lovely, usable castings so don't forget to come see me again in My Little Corner of the World. Kim

Monday, February 2, 2009


Oh boy! It looks like I got myself into some heavy duty swapping. I joined a round robin swap on Garden Web which looks like a lot of fun. We are trading cuttings from plants we have for ones our traders have. I need to do some research on propagating the items I have offered as well as those I am going to receive. Even if none of the items survive my first attempts at propagation, I am sure I will learn a lot. I'll have to let you all know how things turn out.

Time to do some research! See you next time. Kim

p.s. am doing that research and found a great tip to pass along...when taking a cutting make a straight cut on the top and a diagonal cut on the root end. This way you can keep them in proper orientation to grow!