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Seed-Starting 101: Transplanting and Troubleshooting

This is part six of a six-part series on seed starting. Part one can be read here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Part five is here.

While the forecast calls for a brief return to a wintery chill the next few days, the calendar is progressing headlong into spring, and the earliest daffodils–along with the just-unfurling green buds on the dreaded and omnipresent multiflora rose–are here. Soon, the earth will warm, and your seedlings will eagerly sink their bound roots into the big, living universe of your own garden’s soil. Read more

Seed-Starting 101: Sowing Practices, a How-to

This is part four of a six-part series on seed starting. Part one can be read here. Part two is here. Part three is here.

Once your schedule and protected space are set up, it’s time to actually do the deed: stick seeds in dirt, get ‘em wet, and watch ‘em grow. It’s surprisingly easy to succumb to anxiety when the moment arrives: am I burying the seed deeply enough? Too deeply? Is the soil wet enough? Too wet? Did I plant too many tomatoes? Too few? Here are some simple steps to demystify the process. Read more

Morel Mania: A How-to for Neophyte Morel Hunters

To those of us that forage for wild mushrooms, morels easily are the most enigmatic. Far and away, morels (Morchella species) draw more people into the woods than any other mushroom. In fact, a large percentage of morel hunters will retire their mushroom baskets for the year once the last morel has fired its spores and withered. Read more

Seed-Starting 101: The Quick-and-Easy Cold Frame

This is part three of a six-part series on seed starting. Part one can be read here. Part two is here.

Successful seed-starting takes infrastructure, be it a tricked-out heated glass greenhouse or a fluorescent shop-light setup in your basement. Either extreme–or anywhere in between–can work beautifully. However, in my experience, the solutions that are most likely to be implemented by busy gardeners are those that feel accessible and do-able in occasional spare moments.

This post covers one such solution: a cold frame constructed from easy-to-find, fairly inexpensive materials. Read more

Seed-Starting 101: Starting Seeds Under Protection

This is part 2 of a six-part series on seed starting. Part 1 can be read here.

Starting seeds early, when done right, is one of the most satisfying aspects of gardening. To see young, green shoots perk up through the soil while winter carries on outside is incredibly gratifying. It’s as if spring begins as soon as the first cotyledons (first leaves) pop open. It’s also an essential part of growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and other crops, which otherwise don’t have a long enough season in northern climates to mature much ripe fruit.

For the home gardener lacking a heated greenhouse, there are two main ways to start seeds under protection: indoors or in a cold frame. We’ll take a look at both strategies. Read more

The Radical Necessity of Cooking: Mollie Katzen, Vegetablist

Vegetable expert and bestselling cookbook author Mollie Katzen’s handwritten and illustrated cookbook, The Moosewood Cookbook, (not to mention The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and her cookbooks for children, Pretend Soup and Honest Pretzels) introduced many to the love of cooking. She was inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2007 and her most recent book, Get Cooking, was recently nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals Award. Beloved by many, new to some, Katzen continues her clarion call for taking back our food system one delicious meal at a time. I recently spoke to Mollie about vegetables, the new Good Food Movement, and the radical necessity of cooking. Read more

A Season of Abundance

The dead of winter may seem to be an odd time to declare to be in full flush, but here we are sitting pretty with more eggs than a household of three can handle. After a harrowing seven months in which we lost the majority of our chickens, we have recovered in aces. Quiche anyone?

This past May, we began our urban chicken experiment with three birds purchased from a lady near Petaluma, the egg capital of the world. She had the best variety of rare, heritage breeds around and I wanted “pretty” chickens, not those run-of-the-mill feed store varieties. Hey, don’t judge! I live in a tragically hip city and need to keep up appearances. But seriously, once I was made aware of the splendid array of chicken breeds–the beautiful colors, the crazy assortment of combs, the mohawks, the feathery hats, ones with five toes, ones that laid green eggs, ones with feathers on their feet–I knew I had to get myself some of that backyard eye candy. Read more

Kitchen Table Talks: Urban Homesteading in SF on 1/19

Happy New Year and welcome back for more Kitchen Table Talks, the monthly conversation series about the American food system. Many thanks to all of you who participated in our discussions in 2009 and we look forward to a fruitful and inspiring year of exchanging knowledge and ideas and building community with you. We’re excited to kick off 2010 with a conversation on Urban Homesteading on Tuesday, January 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at our new location in San Francisco’s Mission district at Viracocha, 998 Valencia St. at 21st St.

As the good food movement grows and urban farming heroes like Growing Power’s Will Allen and Oakland’s own Novella Carpenter pave the way, we will explore the surge towards City self-sufficiency, including growing and preserving your own food; raising chickens and goats; keeping bees and worms; composting, installing greywater and rainwater catchment systems; and a whole host of other DIY activities. Read more

Practicing Seedy Politics

Many gardeners are currently pulling up plants and preparing beds for fall. They are laying parts of their garden to rest while their squash lay about, curing in the sun. Some gardeners are already turning their backs on their plots and projecting their green minds through winter and into next spring. But fall is not the time for complacency in the garden. It’s a great time to sneak in some late plantings of lettuce and greens—and it’s the ripest time of year to save some seeds. Read more