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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

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

Seed-Starting 101: Crafting a Seed-Starting Schedule

This is the first post in a six part series on the basics of starting seeds.

From the soft comfort of a fireside rocking chair, your garden holds endless possibilities. You can picture–taste, even–the sweet tang of your certain bushels of tomatoes, the crisp crunch of cucumbers, the melting delicateness of a pile of stir-fried snow peas. All of this dreaming is essential–and at least partly true–but luckily February moves along, and wispy garden dreams must solidify into concrete garden plans if you hope to bring your visions to fruition, so to speak.

There are many garden plans to be made–questions of fencing, fertility, and size, among countless others–but one of the most vital is planning your schedule for starting seeds. Read more

Seeds of Strange: Beckistan invades Kunstlerland!

Are the teabaggers ready to stop throwing tomatoes and start growing tomatoes? Glenn Beck’s latest sponsor, The Survival Seed Bank, is banking on Tea Party paranoia to sell a product it calls the “Full Acre Crisis Garden.” As Stephen Colbert noted on Wednesday, “nothing moves product like the hot stink of fear.”

For $164, you get a vacuum-sealed tube of PVC pipe filled with enough seed “to feed friends and family forever,” because, “in an economic meltdown, non-hybrid seeds could become more valuable than even silver and gold!”

But hang on to your credit card! It turns out that the folks flogging the Full Acre Crisis Garden are nothing but horticultural hucksters, as Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas revealed on Tuesday. 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

Farmers + Fashionistas = Sex and the Country?

My style is more Birkenstock than Birkin bag, so Fashion Week doesn’t do much for me. You know the Shopocalypse has arrived when designers go dumpster diving for shoulder pads in the Dynasty/Dallas dustbin. Padded assets in this Grapes of Graft depression? Dust Bowl duds, à la the Waltons, would be more fitting for the hard times ahead.

But the John Patrick Organic fashion show managed to bypass both eighties excess and seventies scarcity and find fertile ground in “Green Acres,” the sixties spoof starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as neophyte homesteaders. I knew this wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill runway show because (a) it featured a “young farmer bake sale,” and (b) the invite came from Greenhorns director Severine Von Tscharner Fleming. Read more