Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Heirloom Seeds & Seed Starting

It's that time of year! It's almost that time where I clean out my garden window, dust off my mini greenhouse containers, hydrate my little peet pellets and get to planting. We do have a 10' x 10' garden plot in our backyard and I like to grow as many heirloom varieties of vegetables (and flowers sometimes) as I can. The kids know that they can come over, reach on in and eat as much as they'd like. Our green iguana stays outside during the hot summer days and the kids like to toss some garden offerings in for him to dine on, as well.

Over the years, I've learned one thing, I love my seed company. I purchase seeds through Baker Creek Seeds. From their website they say, "Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company's 2009 catalog offers 1275 unique heirloom varieties. We only offer open-pollinated seeds: pure, natural and non-GMO! [Genetically Modified] We offer heirloom seeds from 70 countries, including many that we collected ourselves. Started in 1998 by Jere Gettle, as a means to preserve rare seeds. We are located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri."

On January 31, 2009 I ordered (Eeek! With much excitement!!!)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.
- Old Homestead (Kentucky Wonder Pole)-- Green beans that you'll see below
- Danvers 126 Half Long-- Carrots
- Pink Surprise-- Pink flowers for the butterfly garden
- Evening Sun-- Brownish/burgundy sunflowers for the butterfly garden
- Genovese Basil-- To companion plant with tomatoes
- Bee Balm - Lemon-- for the butterfly garden and the herb garden
- Chives - Common-- for the butterfly garden and the herb garden
- Parsley Brayour-- for the butterfly garden as a host plant and in the herb garden as an edible
- Collards - Georgia Southern (Creole)-- for Spike, our green iguana
- Arkansas Traveler-- A nice, round pink tomato
- Royal Chico-- A paste tomato

Let me take you on a trip from seed starting to picking here at the land of Bailey's Leaf.
The seeds start out in the little pop-up peet pots under the greenhouse. I raise and lower the lid each day to help vent the little grow house. I also place a heating pad underneath on low to help encourage germination. You can see the cord for the heat pad off to the left.

Look! Success!

When they are big enough, my kitchen table becomes a potting table and I transfer all of the plants into these tall plastic cups. I label the outside with Sharpie so we have no surprises of what it is when vegetables develop. And no, I don't punch a hole at the bottom of the cup. By having the plants in these cups, I can see root development and how much water they need.

The flowers I tend to leave in the flats. These are Soapwort and Flax.

This used to be our compost pile. Being a compost pile has its advantages and disadvantages. First, the soil is so much better now after 5 years. The disadvantage? You get a lot of volunteers. (You'll see those later.) The green box? That would be the leftover flower box from my friends house. It used to have her address on it. It's now a lettuce box. We still had the materials for the fencing from when we did a garden plot here once before, so we didn't have to do anything with that. We put some single pickets around the side to keep the soil from washing out of the garden plot. (By the way, the funky red fence is not ours and we cannot paint it. Believe me, I wish that we could.)

Look! Things were growing!

And growing.

This was one of the tomato plants. I can't recall which one.

The Arkansas Traveler. A nice, round pink tomato.

I decided to do Kentucky Wonder beans instead of bush beans. I really didn't have the space for the bushes. I took an extra large tomato cage, did a bit of zig zagging with some twine, cable tied the tines together and voila! I had my own bean growing trellis. Might I add that it worked very well! I'll be doing it again this year.

Speaking of beans, aren't they beautiful? I also planted them along the back section of garden fence. Gosh how I love green beans!

My baby collards. These were for Spike our green iguana. The kids love to pick tomatoes and collards for him. He loves them for it. In fact, when he is outside, he almost begs like a dog for his treats. It's kind of funny!

See! There he is! He's sunning himself. He's a big boy.

Remember how I told you about volunteers? Um, yes. These would be a ton of them. Next year I'm just going to have to do the Dr. Kervorkian and take 'em out. Live and learn.

Here's another regular delight we find in our gardens. We get some pretty healthy yellow garden spiders. Don't worry. They don't want you. They don't want me. They don't want K-. They just want the bugs that my garden has to offer. Since we grow organic, there are many bugs. Just ask all of the Japanese beetles that feel the need to come live here. They de-foliated my purple plum tree in the front yard and love to eat the living daylights out of my Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate. Yep. Nothing goes hungry out in our gardens. The neighbors pond hatched little frogs that moved into our yard. We would go organic anyhow, but we have a butterfly garden in the back and if we used any chemicals, we risk killing the very butterflies that we are trying to attract.

Here is my herb garden. When we moved in, no flower beds were here at all. The limestone went right up to the house. I think that it is much prettier and much more useful now. I have lavender planted under the windows, chives, onions, sage, a few different types of thyme, dill, chamomile, oregano, pineapple sage, and parsley but the butterflies always get to it first and lay their eggs, so we often don't get to eat it as we are trying to let butterflies do their thing instead. We do spread a net overtop to keep the developing catepillars safe.

Happy gardening! It'll be here before we know it! I can't wait!

Edited to add: Look what came in todays mail! Hooray!


ChupieandJ'smama said...

Have you started your seeds? I saved all my containers from last year so I could do some this year. Let me know when I should start and where do you get your peat?

Jamie said...

You have a lizard! I LOVE lizards. We used to have a beardie. I'd love to get a water dragon, but I'm not allowed to have anything else till we have a farm.

I've been debating about doing seeds this year. Everything I started last year died. I've come to the conclusion that I cannot grow anything in the house, but as long as I start it outside it is fine. If I just go buy tomato plants and plant them, they grow and yield a ton. I'm really much better with flowers than veggies and I think that is because my mom always grew flowers but not much of anything else so that is what I learned.

Angie said...

Wow -- I loved watching your garden from seeds to harvest! I haven't done seeds before, although I would like to. I don't have a good spot in the house to do a "greenhouse" with them. (We don't have the best natural light in our house -- at all.)

Rach said...

Okay, YOU are my inspiration! Of course, I don't think your summers get *quite* as icky as ours...;o)

Anonymous said...

You've got me so excited to plan my garden for this year! This will be my 3rd annual garden planting. :) Thanks for the inspiring post!

Amber Star said...

These are pictures from last year's garden, right? Or you live below the equater....aie. I have just put in some onion sets and bought seeds for the garden and greenhouse. I was so freaked out that I was way behind, but know I'm on track...but I do need to get the tomato seeds started like today! Enjoyed your garden a lot. I put in an herb garden next to our driveway. There was a very nice place after the contractors put in the new drive so it became an herb garden and flower garden and some mixed.

Amber Star said...

equator...oh my...can't type today.

Kim @ Forever Wherever said...

I need to order some seeds! We've been wanting to start a garden...again. (We haven't had the best luck in the past!)

Love your iguana. We have one and she's a sweetheart!


Prudent Homemaker said...

Last year, I grew cucumbers like you grew your green beans.

Why don't you grow something in front of that red fence? You could put stakes and a trellis in front of it and grow more beans (or peas, or cucumbers), or you could grow climbing roses on it, or clematis, or another flowering vine.

Or, you could plant a hedge in front of it.

We have cinderblock walls with this around our garden; I have espaliered apples, pears, and grapes on my trellis, and roses on another. Eventually they will be covered with green all summer and fall.

Kelly said...

Is there an advantage to growing your greens in containers? I always struggle with greens, but I think that might do with living in a super hot, super humid area.