A garden is a Zen place for me. It's peaceful, gratifying, and rewarding. Fitting all of the tiny seedlings in, while remembering to leave enough room for them to grow to their full potential, and maximizing harvest abundance is a creative challenge. Learning about plants, what they need and how they grow is a secret world that feeds us spiritually while we watch the plants grow, and physically when we plan what to do with the harvest.
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Planting organic vegetables is so good for you in many ways. You become connected to your food source.
Starting garden seeds at home is fun and rewarding. Every year I perfect my method, making adjustments to increase my success rates. I usually have one round of succession plants, meaning I'll plant a second batch of seeds after I move the 1st batch outside to harden off, so they are strong enough to withstand wind and rain. That could include 80 more plants. The 2nd round of seeds could be started in the greenhouse.
When you purchase a packet of seeds, read the packet for planting instructions. They are pretty basic. Some seed companies have fantastic websites, loaded with botany information, to help you have the best garden possible. There's so much to know, from companion planting and different soil types for different plants. A seed selling company wants you to have as much information as possible so your garden is a great success.
I have found that organic potting soil is very helpful in your seed starting success. If you have a good soil mix in your garden, that might make good seed starting soil. You will have to do experiments. I have a nice soil mix of my garden soil, chicken poop compost, food scrap compost, and sand. That's half of my potting soil. The other half is peat moss. It is a light airy mix.
The photo to the right above are my saved lettuce seeds in their dried flower heads. The white wispy part are the dried flower petals. Below the petals is a brown bulb. The seeds are in there. Since the flower heads are fragile, I simply crush them between my fingers and sprinkle them on top of my potting soil mix. You can see the seeds in the center photo above. They are the white specs.
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I have a few different watering techniques, depending on where we are in the gardening cycle.
In the early Spring, I don't water much, since the ground is still wet from the snow melt. When I do water, it can be at any time of day. If it's going to freeze at night, I try to avoid water too much and also avoid getting more delicate leave, like lettuce, wet to avoid frost issues.
In the hot part of late Spring to early Summer, I try to water in the late evening around dusk. This way the plants can drink during the night and grow during the hot steamy day. I will water seeds every day until they germinate, and even water over top of the plants, so the water will sit on leaves, forming little drinking fountains for helpful insects.
In the hottest part of the Summer, I will water in the early morning. I do my best to only water the bottom of the plants, between the bottom leaves and the soil. This will cut down on leave sunburn.
A note on watering tomatoes: If possible, never water the leaves, and only water the base of the stem by the soil, leaving the poisonous green dust in tact to ward off insects.
A note on watering cucumbers, zucchinis, squashes, and melons: I like to try to avoid watering the leaves, when the plants are established to try my best to keep powdery mildew at bay. It is airborne, sop if the leaves are dry during the days, while the mildew is floating by, this cuts down on the possibility of it sticking.
Lettuce and spinach: as much as possible, try to avoid getting the bottom, outer lettuce leaves too wet with mud splatter. The mud splatter will rot the leaves and create brown spots, as it begins to compost.
As the garden cycle moves into late Summer and the days are cooler, I'll go back to evening watering. Also cut back on the amount of water to avoid tomato splits and soggy melon rinds, and soft spots on pumpkins.
In the early Fall, I cut back to watering only when the plants look thirsty. Maybe every few days to once a week. The morning dew will also be much heavier to do the watering for you. Your plants will be big, shading the ground and keep it from drying up quickly.
Seed saving completes the food growing cycle. Some seeds, like tomatoes and peppers are very easy to collect and save, while others require you to keep the plant alive into its 2nd year. Some plants will cross pollenate, yielding lovely food, but seeds not worth planting. Some cross pollenated seeds will yield new varieties. It's a lot to learn if you're a self taught botanist, otherwise know as a gardener.
An easy way to save seeds is to plant only 1 variety of a particular plant. That method makes for a simple garden, especially if you prefer to grow a variety of squashes for example. I saved 2 different kinds of lettuce seeds. I let a few plants flower and go to seed at different times, in an effort to avoid cross pollination. I then planted my 2 lettuce types of saved seeds for micro greens in the indoor Winter garden to see if they in fact did not cross pollenate. If they did I will purchase new seeds for the following year's garden. If they did not cross pollenate, I will add to my lettuce varieties and again let some plants flower and go to seed at different times.
The delicate and gentle seed saving task is fun and fruitful. I find it gives me a great sense of security somehow being connected to something so available and abundant.
Pictured above is a beautiful organic sweet red bell pepper. It is totally ripe when it's color is full and rich. Slice it open and carefully remove the seeds. Place them in a small cup and fill it with drinking water.
Wait 30 minutes. The mature seeds will sink, while the immature seeds float. Pour off the water, along with the immature seeds. Place the mature seeds on a paper towel or smooth cloth napkin. Spread them out and fold the napkin, so the seeds are covered and protected from fruit flies and dust. Wait a few days for them to dry thoroughly. Place the seeds in an envelope, labeled with the seed type and year. Store in a dark dry place until the next planting cycle.
One year I tried micro greens under lights in a warm spot in my basement. The light is a little pink in my indoor garden photos because it's the full spectrum seed light.
Below are the broccoli micro-greens that I started in the basement under grow lights and they sprouted in 3 days
In the photo above, I did broccoli micro greens (from the same seed batch I bought 3 years ago) in my sunny living room, giving them natural light and they still sprouted in 3 days.
I keep a Waterless Hand Soap near my soil mixing station, mounted on a garden fencepost and another one in my garden tool basket. Even though I wear gloves, my hands still get dirty.
Waterless Hand Soap dilute ratio
You have an empty waterless hand soap 2 oz. spray bottle and want to refill it. Make a waterless hand soap refill.
Dilute one bag of Instant Liquid Soap into one quart of liquid soap (32 oz.).
Follow the instructions on the package.
Pour 1/2 of the quart of liquid hand soap (16 oz.) into a one gallon container and fill it SLOWLY with water. This makes 1 gallon of waterless hand soap, aka hand sanitizer replacement and general cleaner.
Refill an empty spray bottle to use on everything. Click here for more uses
This is a cabbage and romaine lettuce bed. There are some broccoli's and kales in there too. The lettuce will be ready to pick 2-3 weeks before the cabbage, so I alternated them. While the cabbages grow, if they give a little shade to the lettuce, that's ok. In between, are tiny lettuce and cabbage seedlings so they will grow and replace the ones I pick.
This fiberglass laundry sink is on the south side of the garden. It has removable legs, so I can change its location from year to year, depending on where we rotate plants, and move things around.
I have a soap dispenser mounted on a fence post filled with Liquid Soap Refill for easy hand washing and vegetable rinsing. I'm considering changing that to a recycled plastic bottle that holds more soap. There's a sponge, and a beautiful head of organic Grosse Blonde Paresseuse lettuce. There is nothing like picking a head of lettuce and washing off the mud splatter outside before bringing it in the kitchen for lunch. This is as fresh as it gets, retaining as much nutrition as possible. It's an energizing gift of the universe.
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Waterless Hand Soap is a great garden friend, to keep your hands clean while you play in the dirt.
Waterless Hand Soap is excellent for the workplace. Clean counter tops over and over without all of the toxic fumes. Wash your hands when you need, clean your cell phone, door handles in public places, computer screens. Excellent for restaurant kitchens and food processing plants. The uses are endless. Treat your employees right with Waterless Hand Soap.
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Let's say you spend $6.00 on a bar of soap and it lasts for 7 days of showers. That's $.84 per shower.
For your next bar of soap, you spend $8.50. That seems like a lot of money, except it lasts for 8 weeks or 56 showers. That's $.15 cents per shower. F.Y.I.: One bar lasts me and Andy 6 weeks of daily showers - 84 showers.
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