Maximize Your Seed Starting Odds

If you are looking to maximize your seed starting odds, and whoever of us serious gardeners isn’t, they you will be in good hands when you read Melinda Myers article.  Melinda has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.  You probably want to get as early a start as you can in the garden, particularly if you are planting a garden in a cooler climate.  If you want your plants already healthy and growing when you put them into the ground after the danger of frost has passed, then you need to be looking for ways to maximize your seed starting odds.

seedlings photo

Maximize your seed starting odds.
Photo by hardworkinghippy

Get a jump on the growing season by starting your favorite or hard-to-find plants indoors from seeds. . .All you need is a little space, a few supplies and, of course, seeds to get started. . .Purchase, recycle or make your own containers from newspaper. Sanitize used pots by dipping them in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water and then rinsing them with clean water.

Those are the first sentences in the first three paragraphs of Melinda’s article.  There is more information in between those sentences, and she goes into detail regarding how to plant the seeds and into what kind of medium.  Melinda recommends the use of grow lights to give your seedlings a good start.  Here’s a bit of information about when your new plants should be transplanted.

Move overcrowded seedlings to larger containers once they have two sets of true leaves. The first leaves that appear are rather indistinct and are called seed leaves. The next set of leaves look more like the mature plant’s leaves and are called true leaves. Once the next set of true leaves forms, it is time to transplant overcrowded seedlings.

Melinda gives her reader a lot of helpful information in a brief article.  You can read the rest of what she has to say by clicking here or on the link below.  If you’re like me, you’re looking for every advantage to increase your gardening yield, and if you read Melinda’s article, you’ll maximize your seed starting odds.

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Peas On St.Patrick’s Day

If you plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be following an old tradition.  Some people think that it’s just lucky, you know, the Luck of the Irish, to plant peas on St Patrick’s Day. But actually, even though it’s a nice thought that St. Patrick will bless your harvest of peas if you plant them on his feast day, the real reason has nothing to do with St. Patrick himself.  An article written by Master Gardener Ashley Andrews gives the real reason why people who live in her area of the country should plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day.

Photo by garlandcannon

Plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day.
Photo by garlandcannon

Peas should be planted when soil temperatures reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and they thrive in temperatures less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Peas planted in proper soils during cool temperatures have a sweeter flavor than those planted in warm temperatures. In Nevada, these conditions are met in mid-March; a fact easier to remember when linked with Saint Patrick’s Day.

Hope that didn’t burst your bubble if you thought there was some heavenly intervention if you planted peas on St. Patrick’s day.  But even so, St. Patrick’s Day is a good benchmark for planting. So if you’re living in Nevada or are in the same planting zone as is Nevada, you can use the feast of St. Patrick to remind you to get those peas in the ground.  It can also remind you, as a good Irishman or honorary Irishman, you should relax with a cold beer after your planting is done.  Ashley has some  suggestions in her article about planting other cool weather crops besides peas, for instance,

Spinach – Plant only cool season spinach in March and April; warm season varieties will not germinate in cool soil temperatures, nor will they withstand frost. Spinach requires soil rich with organic matter, but it can do well in clay soils too. To extend the spinach harvest, provide filtered shade to lower temperatures before plants begin to bolt or go to seed.

You can read the rest of Ashley’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  If you are interested in planting peas, you will want to take her advice and the advice of generations before her who have planted peas on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Six Tips To Preserving Heirloom Seeds

If you know the importance of heirloom seeds, you’ll want to have the six tips to preserving heirloom seeds foremost in mind when you plant your garden. If you don’t know about heirloom seeds and you are content with hybrid varieties of plants you purchase for planting from the big box stores, you are missing out on a treat. There is nothing like the purity of some of the decades-old, and often centuries-old, heirloom seeds. These seeds will produce the same quality plant one year to the next, so that if a plant’s produce is what you really like, you can have it and year after year if you plant heirloom seeds. You can read six tips to preserving heirloom seeds in an article by Joni Astrup. She first writes about how the Seed Savers Exchange got started in Decorah, Iowa.

Photo by Edsel L

Six tips to preserving heirloom seeds.    Photo by Edsel L

It all started with one little flower – Grandpa Ott’s morning glory, according to Bob Quist of the Oliver Kelley Farm. That seed was handed down from grandfather to granddaughter, and became part of a collection that launched the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. . .The seed savers movement devotes itself to salvaging and preserving seed varieties to protect them from extinction,  Quist said. The movement marks a significant milestone this year with the 40th anniversary of founding of the Seed Savers Exchange.

In her article, after giving her readers some additional information about the Seed Savers Exchange, she writes about what I have titled this blog post.  She gives her readers six tips to preserving heirloom seeds.  Here is one of the six, perhaps one that you might not give much consideration to, but one which is quite important to preserve the heirloom strain.

Watch for cross-pollination: Different varieties of crops of the same species can cross-pollinate, producing offspring with different characteristics than the original variety. To keep a variety “pure,” plant in isolation to minimize the chance of crossing. See the Seed Matters Seed Saving Chart below for isolation distances.

You will have to check Joni’s article by clicking here or on the link below for that chart and to read the rest of her six tips to preserving heirloom seeds.  Her article is worth the read.  And if you don’t know much about heirloom seeds, or you want more information about heirloom seeds, you can click the link below for a good reference.

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Police Give Gardening Advice

Don’t you wish that you lived in an area where police give gardening advice instead of tickets?  Well, not always, but in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, that is what the police do.  Rebecca Gray is a crime reporter for the Evening Times in Glasgow, Scotland, and she has written an article about how the police have given some gardening advice to prevent the theft of garden tools, golf equipment, mowers, etc. from your yard and shed.  The police give gardening advice that relates to yard plantings.

Police give gardening advice--prickly plants protect.

Police give gardening advice–plant prickly shrubs.

Officers said residents can make their home more secure by planting spiky and spiny shrubs. Defensive plants, including Hawthorn, Pyracantha, and even the fearsome sounding Firethorn, could help discourage thieves. . .One police officer told the Evening Times: “It is a bit unconventional for cops to hand out gardening advice.  But if it helps deter thieves, I’m all for it.”

Rebecca reports in the article that the police reminded home owners to make sure their boundary fences were in good repair and preferably were high enough to deter entry of thieves into their properties.  On a visit to France, of the things to me that was strikingly different in Paris from our experience in the US is that home owners had their yards fenced in, and often properties were not visible  from the street level.  Yards in the US mostly flow from one into another.  When our daughter’s French family visited us, one of their questions to us was how do we know where to mow and not mow the lawn at the edges of our property.  We don’t have those kind of boundary fences for the most part in the US unless we have a nasty neighbor, a boundary dispute or a dog we want to keep fenced in.  Something we can put to use, though, is the following.

“Finally never leave tools or ladders lying around the garden. They may be used by a thief to break into your property.” Last month, the Evening Times revealed how brazen thieves are breaking into garden sheds – by dismantling them. Police said well prepared raiders – armed with screwdrivers – remove the doors off huts in an attempt to nick valuable items inside.

You certainly don’t want to leave a ladder outside.  That’s just an open invitation for a thief to enter your home through a second story window.  If you don’t have a security system on your shed, you might want to consider an idea that Rebecca included in her article, which you can ready by clicking here or on the link below.  I won’t tell you what it is, but go over and read Rebecca’s article on how police give gardening advice in Glasgow.

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Don’t Buy Into The Spring Planting Myth

A word to the wise at this time of the year: don’t buy into the spring planting myth. It’s that time of year when all the big box stores are going to parade out their truckloads of plants for gardeners to purchase. Funny, isn’t it how all those plants come in at the same time to those big box stores and gardeners across the country flock to snap them up. It’s as if there is a preordained time when all plants should be put into the ground, regardless of when they bear fruit. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you’re right in there with Bill Finch.  He has written an article advocating that you don’t buy into the spring planting myth.

Home Depot gardening photo

Don’t buy into the spring planting myth.

Photo by J. Chris Vaughan

I’m obliged to warn you that you better start planting, fast. Spring on the Gulf Coast is in full swing and there are quite a few plants -petunias and tomatoes, bell peppers and bush beans -you should get in the ground as fast as you can. But please, let’s not call it “spring planting.” In fact, if you’re going to be a successful gardener anywhere in Alabama, you should avoid spring planting all together.

Bill notes in his article how the idea of spring planting probably originated in the northern cold-weather states, and not in the Gulf Coast states.  With a narrow window for gardening, northern gardeners generally plant everything early in the spring to get the most out of the growing season.  Bill notes that in the warmer climates, things can be planted at different times throughout the year, and smart gardeners are doing just that. In reality, even in the colder climates, things can, and should, be planted at different times of the year, maybe not during the winter, but certainly not just for four months of the year.

But even if you manage to celebrate your Spring Planting in our spring, in late February and March, you’d still be missing one of the key advantages of gardening on the Gulf Coast: Every month here is a new beginning for gardening. And the only way to have a really successful garden of vegetables or annual flowers is to do your spring planting at least four or five times a year. I start my spring planting sometime in August. September may well be my busiest month for spring planting, while I get broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, collards, kale and a host of other vegetables in the ground. Spring planting continues right through fall and winter . . .

Particularly if you are a gardener in one of the more southerly states in the US, you’ll want to read Bill’s article by clicking here or on the link below.  He tells the reader when and what he plants at different times of the year.  If you read Bill’s article in which he writes that you don’t buy into the spring planting myth, you’ll get a new perspective on the planting season, even if you live in a more northerly state, but definitely if you live on the Gulf Coast.

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