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    Posted on March 23rd, 2011 Pam No comments

    1. Buy only the seeds that will be planted this year.
     They say gardeners buy three times the seed they need each year. I probably buy five times the amount of seed I actually use. I also save seeds from heirloom vegetables I grow. I try to plant my ‘heirloom’ seeds each year to keep seed fresh, but that doesn’t always happen. 

    2. Know the life expectancy of various garden seeds. 
    Some seeds only have one year of good germination, it is good to know which seeds these are. Below is a list of vegetables and an estimate of their longevity. But remember, how the seeds are handled and cared for will also determine how long a seed will last and still germinate.
    Some recommend putting seeds in a glass jar and placing it in the refrigerator, others say a cold basement shelf will do the trick. I worry about putting seeds in the refrigerator, they might freeze if placed in the coldest part. Did you know the warmest place in a refrigerator is the door? That might be the best place for storing seeds.
    But however seeds are stored, keep them dry, cool and out of direct sunlight. I put all of my seeds in a box or a tub and away from light. I also test them for germination if I want to know if the seeds are still good.  


    1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Years +
    Onions Peppers Carrots Beets Cucumbers
    Parsley Sweet Corn Peas Broccoli Lettuce
        Spinach Cabbage Spinach
        Beans Swiss Chard Radish
    3. Mark seed packets. 
    It is a good idea to mark the seed packets when they are purchased each year. I use a different colored marker every year. Most of the seed packets will have a date, but having the packages color coordinated makes it easier to find the packages that need to be planted before their expiration date. Another thing that might be helpful is to write the last year they should be planted on the packet. 
    It is also good to keep the empty seed packets for future reference, I staple them in my garden journal. I also put other information next to the seed packet, such as, where and when I planted the seeds. 
    4. Take an inventory. 
    It is sometimes helpful to go through seed packets each Spring, before it is time to purchase new seeds. Make a list of the seeds to buy and separate the seeds that need to be planted this year before their expiration date expires. 
    5. More about germination. 
     Some seeds need a certain temperature before they will germinate. It is good to know what those conditions are for each type of seed. Some seeds will germinate at 50 degrees while others like a temperature as high as 85 degrees. Although some seeds will have some germination results at a lower or higher temperature, each seed has an optimum germination temperature. Some need light conditions while others need dark, some need a cold treatment first and some do not. Check the seed packet, some will give that type of information.



    Posted on February 19th, 2011 Pam No comments

    Real live gardening will be starting soon. If this hasn’t been done, now is a good time to check all seeds and take an inventory. Some of the seeds may be too old to plant this year, so test them in a moist paper towel and place the towel in a zip-lock bag. Check them every few days to see if any of the seeds have germinated. If most of them germinate, great, if not, throw them away. Or increase the number of ‘older’ seeds planted. Try writing the percentage of germination on the package, this will help when planting.

    If you have lots of seed packets, an easy way to keep track of all seed types is to group them together and place the groups in their own clear zip-lock bag. I group them this way.
    1. Lettuce, spinach
    2. Watermelon, Cantalope
    3. Squash
    4. Radishes
    5. Broccoli, Cauliflower
    6. Tomatoes
    7. Herbs
    8. Pumpkins
    9. Cucumbers
    10. Peppers

    Here are a few of my seeds in their plastic bags.

    This really helps to find each group quickly, without going through all of your seeds when you are ready to plant from each group. Also, seeds don’t get overlooked when organized this way.


    Posted on January 20th, 2011 Pam No comments

    When planting seeds it is best to speed up the germination (sprouting) process. Sometimes it is best to soak the seeds first. Some seeds have a rough outer shell. To help with germination, try scoring the tough seeds first with a file or sand paper. Then soak the seeds in Accent meat tenderizer overnight in a diluted solution. Use one teaspoon tenderizer to one quart of water. Another tip is to soak them in a thermos of warm water for a couple of days. The tannic acid in hot tea will also soften the outer coating. Some people use hot water when watering their seeds for the first time, claiming they soften the seeds faster.

    My trick is to use a bathtub. Yes a bathtub!! Put four 4-packs upside down in the bottom of the tub. Then place a planted flat on top of the 4-packs. Place each 4-pack under a corner of the flat. Then fill the tub with ‘hot’ water up to just below the flats. Drain and fill the tub with hot water three to four times each day. This creates a humid environment that plants love. You will be surprised how fast seeds will germinate this way. Peppers will germinate in 13-15 days and tomatoes in about 10 days, squash and pumpkins in about five days. I only use this method when I need to speed up the germination of some of my seeds, don’t leave them in the tub too long or they will get leggy from growing too fast.

    Another technique that people use is to soak the seeds in a wet paper towel placed in a zip lock bag. Then plant the seeds after they have sprouted. This is a more time consuming task, but you can plant only the seeds that have germinated and usually don’t need to thin the plants later.

    Before I plant things like squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and cantalope, I soak the seeds in water for about five days. Then plant them in the ground about five per hill, thinning to three plants later.

    Before planting corn, I soak the seeds in a jar of water overnight. I don’t soak pepper, tomato, pea or bean seeds before I plant them.


    Posted on January 17th, 2011 Pam No comments

    As I wrote a few days ago, it is time to plan your vegetable garden. Draw a rough sketch and pencil in were to plant certain vegetables. There are lots of things to consider when planning a garden spot.

    1. Types of vegetables
    2. Space each of the vegetables take.
    3. Sun or shade vegetables
    4. Crop rotation
    5. How much of each vegetable, this alone will take lots of thought.
    6. Thinking about enlarging or moving the garden spot.
    7. Watering access
    8. Plants that like or don’t like each other
    9. Plants that might shade others
    10. Changes from last year and new plants to try
    11. Improvements or experiments for this year.
    12. Consider the direction your garden faces and decide to run the rows east and west or north and south.
    13. Re-planting certain vegetables during the season.
    14. Most important, plant only vegetables your family will eat.
    15. Consider using trellises or stakes to grow your vegetables vertically.

    NOTE: If you don’t have enough room for vegetables that take lots of space, consider buying those vegetables and only plant vegetables that take less space. The four vegetables that take up the most space are: corn, squash, potatoes and pumpkins. Some vegetables that give you the most for the area are: beans, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.

    Think about companion plants, corn, beans and squash compliment each other. The corn supplies a trellis for the beans, the corn shades the squash and the squash provides shade for the roots. I have tried this and it really works. The squash (pumpkins would work too), really love weaving in the corn. NOTE: Wait to plant the beans until the corn is about 16″ tall, so the beans will have a stalk to climb. Peas do will planted in the corn too. They love some shade too. Also, plant the squash out in the sun and let the vines travel into the shade of the corn.

    Now is the time to order catalogs and research online for different and rare seeds. Decide if you want to try to save your own seeds by planting Open Pollinated (Heirlooms), or plant Hybrid seeds. Then you can start to buy the seeds needed for the garden. Don’t wait too long to purchase seeds, the most popular seeds will sell out fast!!

    It seems learning about gardening never ends. There is always something new coming out or something fun to try.

    A garden is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.


    Posted on January 6th, 2011 Pam No comments

    I have tried Italian seeds for the past three years. They are great seeds, the packets have lots of seeds in them. You can try this web site for Italian seeds, www.growitalian.com it has quite a few new and different seeds to try. To learn more about Italian seeds read their news letter.

    I will be trying several more of these seeds this year.
    Most of the pepper and tomato packets have 200 seeds per packet!!!! So check them out.

  • Garden Seed History

    Posted on February 12th, 2010 Pam 1 comment

    The history of garden seeds is very interesting to me. Wheat has been grown since 9,000 BC and wild barley back as far as 23,000 BC.
    Chili peppers have been around since 7500 BC and tomatoes a fairly young plant, only around since about 500 BC.
    Beans, grain and other seeds have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and some were still viable.

    The ‘art’ of saving seeds was very important in past history. People diligently saved seeds and that’s what they lived on.

    Even today, saving seeds is becoming more popular, with more people learning how to grow heirlooms and harvest seeds from year to year.

    According to Wikipedia:
    Wheat has been cultivated domestically at least since 9,000 B.C. and probably earlier. Domesticated Einkorn wheat at Nevalı,northwest of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey—has been dated to 9,000 B.C.
    However evidence for the exploitation of wild barley has been dated to 23,000 B.C. and some say this is also true of pre-domesticated wheat.

    Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. There is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago, and is one of the first cultivated crops in the Americas that is self-pollinating.

    Aztecs and other peoples in the region used the fruit in their cooking; it was being cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas by 500 BC.
    The Spanish also brought the tomato to Europe. It grew easily in Mediterranean climates, and cultivation began in the 1540s.

  • Gardening Tips

    Posted on February 6th, 2010 Pam No comments

    Do you know that seeds breathe?
    They actually take in a small amount of oxygen, and give off carbon dioxide. They are living things in dormancy waiting for moisture and heat or cold to come to life. The seed actually has enough nourishment to feed itself until the roots are large enough to take in additional vitamins and minerals needed for the plant to continue to grow.