Posts tagged seeds

Guess who’s out of hibernation?!

*Yawn*  What have I missed?  A lot of potential opportunities to post here, for one.  Now, I’m a cold weather person, I tolerate hot and humid days because my tomatoes love them; but let me join millions of people across the country in saying “Go home winter, you’re not welcome here anymore”.  Partly the reason I haven’t posted lately (months??) is that there isn’t much to talk about in the winter, the other reason being it’s hard to write when you’re depressed and cold.  However, the days are getting longer, and I’ve started my tomato and pepper seedlings so there’s something to talk about.  Indoor greenhouse

I’ve rebuilt my “greenhouse” in my basement, and that’s good enough until I can get a real one outside.  I was able to reuse the solo cups from last year, so hooray for frugality.  To start the seeds, as I’ve done in the past, is to put them on the little Jiffy peat tabs in the covered greenhouse tray.  I put the heating mat under that, and while some heat escapes through the bottom, it’s warm enough to germinate the seeds (one rather spry tomato popped up in two days).  If you wanted to, you could cut a thick piece of packing Styrofoam and put it under the heating mat to hold the heat better.  Once the seedlings get bigger, usually when they hit the top of the cover or the roots start poking out of the peat pot, I transfer them to the solo cup to continue growing under the grow lamp.

Let’s see, what else?  I suppose in another post I can talk about my food storage plans and progress.  I’m working on cleaning up a mess of a pantry in the basement.  I can’t seem to get out of Sam’s Club without spending at least $400 and coming home with a 50 lb bag of something….Last time it was sugar, the time before that, flour.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared in the past my organizational goals, so I’ll post them again.  Eventually I’d like to have a good long term storage and short-term rotational plan.  I’m not a crazy end-of-the-world prepper or extreme hoarder, I just believe in the old boy scout motto “Always prepared”.  After losing power for a week after hurricane Irene came up the east coast, I’ve learned that it’s good to have some non-perishable food on hand; candles/oil lamps in the closet; and even a generator if you can afford one.  Non-perishable food isn’t totally necesary if you lose power, since your first priority would be eating yourself through your frig/freezer anyways.  Having a gas range is good, since I’ve never had the gas go out on us.  Things would have to be pretty bad to lose that supply.  Anyways, there are plenty of examples in the recent past where events have shown us the only one you can really rely on is yourself.  I trust the Government to go to war often, fix the roads eventually, and at the very least fund itself and keep the lights on….mostly.  But my blog isn’t about the Government or politics, it’s about growing food and finding peace in your own backyard.  So, here’s my pantry plan, I’ll get there some day, the best way to build up an emergency food supply is gradually, it takes the pressure off the wallet, so to speak.

Shelf_Reliance Jug_Storage_6_months

I’ve already started gathering the jugs, not exactly like the picture though.  I really liked the idea of the handles to make it easy to grab, but after searching for weeks/months I couldn’t find ones I liked.  I found half gallon and gallon sized jugs, but I didn’t like that the plastic was PP (polypropylene or number 5 on the bottom of the jug), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride or number 3), or HDPE (High Density Polyethylene or number 2).  HDPE has BPA and phthalate , and can leach endocrine disruptors (which is basically a fancy way of saying it can mess with your hormones in high enough quantities).  PVC also leaches phthalates , which studies have shown can be bad.  PP is one of the safer plastics to use in long-term storage, but it’s not clear, so it doesn’t look as nice on the shelves.  I know, silly excuse not to use it, but hey, if you don’t mind translucent jugs, go for it.  Eventually I went with PET (or PETE, plastic number 1), it is the type of plastic used in water bottles and soda bottles.  It too can leach chemicals (plastic is basically a bunch of chemicals anyways, somethings bound to breakdown in it eventually), but I’m only using it for dry food, so I figure it’s the best of the 7 plastics.  The safest material of all to use?  Glass, naturally.  Glass doesn’t survive falls or clanking together though, so while I could have used half-gallon or gallon mason jars, I opted for plastic in the end.  Hell, glass is heavy too, I’m a guy, so it wouldn’t be too bad for me, but a gallon of salt in a mason jar would be a heck of a workout bringing upstairs.

Finding PET jugs with the handles proved fruitless, GallonJugI tried 4 different plastic companies and couldn’t find any.  So eventually as I was walking the aisle in Walmart I came across these jugs, and they won by default.  They’re gallon sized, PET plastic, and they have an easy-grip side, so it’s dang close enough.  You can’t buy them online, so you’ll have to troll the aisles over the course of several weeks to get a large supply of them.  At my Walmart they’re $2.97 each, so not too expensive, but considering these things probably cost 30 cents to make (if even that), that’s a pretty hefty profit margin for the Waltons.  I’d love to find their supplier, but since I’m not about to buy a pallet of them (as most plastic suppliers require as I’ve found) and pay the freight for said pallet, I believe I’m getting a deal at Walmart.  Below is what it looks like all happy and full of egg noodles.  I printed out some 2×4″ labels and they fit nicely.  My only complaint is that the way I put the labels on.  As you can see, the label wouldn’t fit on the grippy side, so to look pretty on the shelves, you can’t easily grab the jugs.  But I’ve found it’s not that hard to turn around the jugs to get to the grippy side.  They have little ridges on them too, so it really is easy to pick up.

gallonjug1 gallonjug2

Okay, I tend to get carried away when I finally get around to blogging, so I’ll wrap it up for now.  I’ll be back again soon to post my raised-bed garden expansion plans and more pictures of the seedlings.  I’ll leave you with my recent purchase from Burpee.  I’m going to try growing some lemongrass, lemon balm and spearmint.  I drink a ton of tea in the winter, so I’ll let them grow nice and big this summer to give my tea a nice herbal minty/lemon taste.  New seeds 2015


Leave a comment »

You don’t have to dig deep to find dirt around here

…or in some cases rocks. Even a length of chain.


Yes, it has been a busy weekend for me. I got my makeshift “greenhouse” up and running, did some work in the yard and even some home security and storage improvements mixed in. Where to start? Well, I guess with the dirt.

I decided to look around in my front yard, though “yard” is not really the case yet, since there’s no grass. We bought a new construction home, and since it was completed in the winter, there isn’t any grass growing in the front yet. The builder we went with doesn’t lay down sod, and from what I hear, many builders don’t anymore since it’s too expensive. Poor sod farmers, I bet they’re hurting without builders buying from them. But I’d have to assume they’re doing ok selling less but for more. Supply and demand economics for you.

Anyways, I was walking around and noticed several large rocks lying about, just on or above the surface of the dirt. So I grabbed my handy gardening fork and started digging them up.

…and more of them up

…and more

…and you get the picture.

Well, now you do. Those are just some of the many holes all over my yard now.


Mixed in with 3 5-gallon buckets of rocks? A hunk of wood and a length of chain. Yep, I wonder how that got there?

The big thing about those rocks is that everyone with a yard knows that grass doesn’t grow on rocks. It grows barely on dirt, and then mostly the weeds prefer that. Really nice grass grows best in sweat and money. That’s at least been my experience growing up helping my parents in the yard. Countless hours of labor, bags of fertilizer, and oh yeah…blood. Grass loves it when you hurt yourself trying in vain to make it grow. It loves the carbon dioxide produced from foul curse words that you shout as you cut, stub, gash, mash, and crush various digits and limbs with outdoor tools that were probably invented by a torturer in the middle ages rather than a gardener.

But that task is done. For now. I’m sure there will be plenty more rocks and maybe even a car part or two that I’ll be digging up in the future.

The other task I did this weekend was get my tomato plants started. March is the time to get your tomatoes started indoors, and since I lack a greenhouse, I decided to improvise. A plastic shelf from Walmart and some mini greenhouses should hopefully work nicely. I never have had luck growing plants from seeds, but then again I never had any land to do anything with the plants once they grew, so there wasn’t much point in trying too hard prior to now. I also have a heat mat to keep the little seedlings nice and warm. The varieties I have started are Roma, Big Boy, Beefsteak and cherry. I have some pictures of my fancy-shmacy greenhouse rig down below.



Up next was the home security improvements The security of my family is always the first and foremost concern of mine. That’s why I buy safe cars, install safety devices where ever I can, have an alarm system, and enjoy the 2nd amendment. As such, I also take precautions even though the risk can be small. I always think about what the risk level or chance of something happening is compared with the damage that it could cause. I have an alarm system, but that’s more of a deterrent than a fortification. Since 90% of all breakins happen through the front door, I figured that should be the place I start when thinking about home security. Since all my sliding doors already have bars on them, I didn’t have to worry about that. Most burglars and such don’t like breaking windows, it makes too much noise that is instantly recognizable. However, kicking in a door just sounds like a large “THUD”, and may even go unnoticed altogether. Except if you’re in that house. Most people think that a deadbolt is a security measure to keep your home safe. Not really, it’s there so your doorknob latch won’t be picked by the very simplest of burglars. Plenty of people know that just a half inch screw is the only thing holding that deadbolt plate to the door frame. So I installed a reinforced door frame plate. It literally took about a half hour for the door frame plate, and another half hour for the door reinforcer. If you want to install the frame reinforcer, don’t forget that if your door breaks, there’s no point in strengthening your frame. So there’s really two parts to bracing your front door. The frame and the door itself, always do both. The whole job went pretty smoothly except for the part where I didn’t quite set the frame plate back far enough, so now the door doesn’t seal as well as it did before. I’ll have to fix that soon, since a lot of bought air is now sneaking out the gap in the weatherstripping and the door. At least that’s the only thing that will be sneaking in or out that door. Here are some of the pictures of the completed job. Take note of the picture of the screws. The one on the left is your standard door frame screw, and the one on the right is the reinforced screw that came with the plate. I plan on cleaning up the door frame plate, but since that requires cutting and painting, I think it will have to be on another weekend. I think I need a cold beer and a long movie 🙂


Leave a comment »

The Seeds have arrived!

Well, it’s been a busy few weeks, but unfortunately not in the farming category. I’m happy to report that I FINALLY have internet at home, so I’m hoping my blogging will be more regular. At least from the standpoint that spring is just around the corner, I probably will have more interesting topics to write about.

The only new news for now is that my seeds have arrived from Burpee. I chose them since I have ordered from them in the past, and I received a nifty 20% off coupon in my email. My hope is that someday I’ll have a good enough stock of seeds from the previous season that I won’t need to buy seeds any more, but for now I have to buy them.

For the curious or bored, here is the list of what I bought. I have no idea how much will actually “bear fruit” so to speak, but as I mentioned before, I’m going big this year.

Corn, Golden Bantam
Tomato, Big Boy Hybrid
Tomato, Beefsteak Organic
Tomato, Mortgage Lifter
Squash, winter, Spaghetti
Squash, winter, Waltham Butternut
Squash, summer, Hybrid Zucchini
Squash, summer, Saffron
Squash, Gourd, Luffa
Swiss Chard, Bright Lights
Artichoke, Green Globe
Radish, Perfecto
Sunflower, Super Snack Mix Hybrid
Cantaloupe, Burpee’s Ambrosia Hybrid
Eggplant, Early Midnight Hybrid
Onion, Scallion, Evergreen Long White Bunching
Pumpkin, Early Sweet Sugar Pie
Watermelon Seedless, Big Tasty Hybrid
Lavender, English
Stevia, Sweet Leaf

Now, I hope I didn’t get carried away, but anything that I don’t use can probably wait until next year. I read that properly sealed and frozen seeds should last at least a year, sometimes longer. I would have to worry about germination rates after a while, but since I consider this year, and possibly next as an experiment and only the start to a (hopefully) long-lasting lifestyle of growing my own food…I’m willing to sacrifice a few seeds to learn along the way.

Given my seed bank that I have to start with, I’m considering expanding my garden to a 20’x40’ plot, but that is ENTIRELY dependent on if I can get the tiller working. I was gifted a Mantis tiller and a craftsman rear-tinned rototiller by my grandfather, and that will make working 800 square feet of land a LOT easier. They haven’t been started in over 3 years, so they might need more than just a little routine maintenance. My plan is to make the rows wide enough to send the Mantis through to make weeding less time-consuming. I’ll still have to weed by hand around the plants, but since space isn’t an issue, I can space out the rows more than I would have normally.

If you notice there are some seeds on the list that I didn’t originally plan for, it’s because, well…I got carried away. Yes, the 200 foot pitfall of all new gardeners, I drooled over the Burpee catalog and went a little crazy. The Stevia sounded too fun to pass up, and the green onions seemed like a much needed addition. As for the pumpkin pie and cantaloupe? Well, when you tell your family that you’re growing a garden, they love providing input.
I mean, who wouldn’t?

“You have almost unlimited space to plant and I don’t have to help out? Sure, I have some things I’d like you to plant!”

Yes, well, I did indeed ask my family for requests, so I guess I walked right into that “rake in the yard”.

Lastly, the unfortunate news that with moving in, stretching the budget a little to buy the house, and a multitude of other limitation factors, chickens will not be running around the yard this year. Quite frankly, they won’t ever literally be running around the yard, since I do think the neighbors would have a problem with that. They will be enjoying a chicken run that adjoins The Farm someday, but maybe next year. I know it’s only a few days before March, but given the fact that I’m still unpacking and there’s a ton of things to do inside the house as well as outside, it would be prudent to wait. Fear not, I will tackle the ups and downs of raising chickens in suburbia, just as countless other brave souls have in the past.
We’ll see what this weekend has in store for me, but for now, plan big and dream big all you farmers and gardeners out there. 2013 is going to be a good year, and if not, let it at least be a tasty year.


Leave a comment »