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Posts Tagged ‘organic gardening’

Bean SproutLook what I found poking out of the soil this week!  If your garden still looks like a big pile of lifeless, brown, wet soil, don’t fret!  There is plenty of activity going on beneath the soil–patience, grasshopper.  My guess is this guy is actually a bean that got left unnoticed from last year’s garden, and sprouted all on his own.  (He will have to be moved to join his other bean friends later.  I will wait until the seeds I planted in the area sprout, so I know where they are and don’t disturb them when I dig this guy up.)

We are just about done with indoor seeds, so if you are running out of room on your windowsills, fear not!  Here is what we have left to plant inside:

Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage **
Melons **
Okra
Tomatillo

** If you want to try cabbage or melons from seed, start them in peat pots (or peat pods)–these guys are both tough to transplant, and the peat pots make it easier on the seedling later.

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If you have never bought vegetable seeds before, it can be overwhelming.  You have decided what you want to plant, and you head to the nursery with list in hand, but when you get there, you are confronted by gigantic racks with hundreds of seed packets.  These are usually in alphabetical order, which makes it pretty easy to find the veggie you want, but when you get to the T’s, you discover they have 50 varieties of tomatoes, packaged by 8 different seed companies…  It’s a lot.

I have recommended Botanical Interests for new gardeners because the seed packages contain all of the information you need to get your seeds started.  However, if you are going to the nursery as a rookie gardener, these packages can seem like they are written in a foreign language (oh, wait, that actually is Latin on there!)

Here are some quick little diagrams to help you decipher the mystery…

Seed Packet Front

Front of the Seed Packet (Click for a larger image)

Seed Packet Back

Back of the Seed Packet (Click for a larger image)

I used a tomato seed packet for this particular example, since tomatoes are so popular for home gardening (not to mention delicious!)  Different vegetables will have different info, for example, “indeterminate” applies to tomatoes that produce fruit for a long period of time, but that doesn’t apply to all veggies.  The important things to note for planting all seeds, though, are on the bottom half of the back:

  • How deep to plant seeds.
  • How far apart to plant them.  This is actually under the “Thinning” section on these packets, NOT the “Seed Spacing” section.  I suggest planting your seeds at this distance from the get-go, then there is no thinning later!
  • When and where–how long before the average last frost, and do you start these seeds indoors or out?  (This section will also include any odd germination quirks–if a seed likes to be cold to germinate, or if you should soak it in water for a period before planting.)

Important Note!  When you get home, don’t just rip into these packages–make sure you open them carefully, because the inside is also filled with useful info, a drawing of the sprout (in case you forget to mark your seedlings), harvesting details, further cooking tips, and sometimes even some trivia about the veg.

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