Marigold starts for the gardens

 

The miracle of the seed and the soil is not available by affirmation; it is only available by labor.” ~ Jim Rohn

 

sowingseed

I’m not really sure which is more important – the seed or the soil. You really need both to be good in order to grow food rich in vitamins and nutrients. Because you can start seeds indoors much sooner than you can start turning the soil, I decided to focus on seeds first and soil next.

For our purposes, unless you are a seasoned gardener who has successfully started seeds in your own potting mix, use professional potting mix, which you can purchase at a nursery or garden center. I recommend the highest quality potting mix you can find. That way you will avoid failure due to problems with the soil. I will give you a good recipe for your own potting mix, if you are interested, give it a try, but be OK with potential failure.

Remember that potting soil is light and full of air – just exactly what a new seed needs. It also needs to be free of pathogens and disease that would harm your seed.

In This Lesson You Will Learn:

  • Differences in seeds (open pollinated, hybrid, heirloom, GMO, determinate, etc.)
  • Benefits of planting seed as opposed to buying starts
  • Value of a gardening journal
  • About different containers
  • How to soil block
  • How to plant seed individually and  how to broadcast seed
  • Depth to plant seed
  • About light shelves and heating mats
  • How to germinate seeds successfully
  • How to successfully transpot seedlings
  • Hardening off in preparation for planting in the garden

As we are all learners here, experimenting away, I just want to make it really clear that I don’t know everything. I have grown successful gardens for over 30 years and the last five years have been spent growing food for the community to be sold at the Farmer’s Markets or as shares in our CSA Farm. I am a master gardener trained through the extension service. In the last 4 years I have made a huge transition from traditional methods to natural/biodynamic methods of growing.

It has been quite a change for me, yet one I am glad I made. I hope to help you learn some basic principles of successful gardening “the natural way” from seed germination to planting by showing you what has worked for me. I am always seeking for better ways, new ideas, tips and tricks etc. I welcome input and if you have a tip to share, please do so.

I will be teaching natural, biodynamic gardening. If you prefer to use synthetic, commercialized fertilizers, your methods and techniques will be different when it comes to fertilization, the use of herbicides, and pesticides. You will have to decide whether these classes can still be of value to you or not, but you are welcome to participate and share your experiences.

Resources for this lesson can be found in the resource section. They will include:

  • A zone chart – this is necessary in identifying which plants will grow well in your area.
  • An interactive tool that gives you the date to start your seeds indoors.
  • A list of catalogs from all over the country that specialize in organic, non-gmo seeds, heirlooms, open-pollinated, or hybrids. There are also catalogs for trees, strawberries, just tomatoes, and mushrooms as well. You can also purchase mats, shelves, plastic cells and many other things from them.
  • Links to quality companies where you can purchase:
  • Soil blockers
  • Open pollinated “storage” garden seeds
  • Books – our online bookstore will have a large selection of great gardening reads
  • Potting Soil Recipe
  • How to transpot seedlings
  • Hardening off in preparation for planting in the garden

 

Video Lessons

Video One

This video will discuss seed selection, types of containers, sowing seeds, and soil blocking. If you are interested in giving soil blockers a try, you can purchase them at www.johnnyseed.com. Don’t forget about the Seed Starting Calculator available at Johnny’s Seed. We have made it available to you in the member resource section. Whether you’re planting cool season crops or warm weather crops, this interactive tool will let you know when to start your seeds indoors and is specific for your particular area.

There is also a Germination Chart in the resource section that will give you a good idea of how long it takes to germinate specific seeds. This chart is for vegetables. Germinating flowers can take much longer, so keep that in mind.

Video Two

Tessa demonstrates how to plant seed in soil blocks, plastic cells, fiber pots, and broadcast seeding. Remember to cover your seeds during the “germination stage and they do not need light. Seeds need bottom heat for best results, that can beprovided by a warming mat, warm floor, top of refrigerator (they tend to stay warmer than most surfaces) or whatever source you have that gives constant 70 – 75 degree heat. There are some seeds that are exceptions, but this is the general rule. Put them under lights as soon as they break the soil.

Video Three

Transpotting is next. Keep your seedlings moist. It is OK to let them dry out a bit, but watch for any signs of wilting. Bottom watering is best, but you can top water as well.

Don’t allow your seedlings to sit in water. There should be no standing water left 15-20 minutes after watering. Feed the soil your seedlings are in. See “Feeding The Soil” in our resource section. You should only have to feed them once or twice.

Video Four

We had a great visit to Mountain Valley Seeds. I have purchased my seeds there for years and have been pleased with the quality. Gwen was great to take some time to visit with us. They carry vegetables, herbs, sprouting seeds, micro-greens, open-pollinated storage seeds, heirlooms, and some hybrids. I hope you enjoy the visit too. You will find their link on our resource page. A word about the canned storage seeds, if you are already a gardener and want to store the seeds for backup – its a great idea. They still ought to be planted and seeds regathered at some point in time. If you are not a gardener and plan to store them for the sake of having them, they won’t be of much use to you in a time of emergency because you won’t have the knowledge or the healthy garden plot required for success. I suppose you can alway barter or trade them. There is value in that!

Our visit with Grant from West Mountain Wheat was very informative. I want to save that for another lesson though. I think there is enough here to keep you busy. What Grant is doing out at West Mountain could be presented in many of our lessons. I decided not to overwhelm you and we are going to keep this video presentation for our lesson on Food Storage or Making Your Own Bread. So you can look forward to that!

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