Get Ready for Garden Season

Every year in the late summer I swear I’m not going to garden the next season. And every winter around this time I get really excited about the vegetable garden I’m going to have in the spring. It may seem early to even think about gardening but, by the time I order seeds, have them delivered, and get them going strong it will be time to put many things into the garden.

It really is time to get ready for garden season!

When I am wearing out from the work of gardening and preserving my crop I forget that I love being outside in my garden. I need to remind myself about the reasons I have a vegetable garden. And, with the sleet and general cloudiness we’ve had for the last few days the idea of being outside under a warm sun certainly sounds great!

I depend heavily on the vegetable garden for our produce.

Not only do I want to save money but I also want to know I’m getting non-GMO produce. I also want to buy heirloom seeds because I try to save as many seeds as possible from one season so I can plant them the next. Another money saver!

Since I want to feed Mr. Comfortable as well as I can as he recovers I’ve been researching different crops. An example is Amaranth. The seeds are about 13% protein which is higher than most other grains. And I can use the leaves in salads, stir-fry, mix it with spaghetti sauce, and even put it in meatloaf! Amaranth Edible Red Leaf heirloom seeds are my choice for my try-out of Amaranth.

I’m also planning some other new crops:

Artichoke – Ahh, the leaves dipped in clarified butter!
Baby Greens Apple Blossom Swiss chard Blend – The young leaves are great in salads, steamed, added to soups, stews, and lasagna. They even go well in omelets.

If you’ve read my recipes you know I love green beans. Last year I tried bush beans and I think I’m going to go that way again. Mr. C likes them better than pole beans; I think because bush beans aren’t flat. He’s a guy. What can I say? I also want to plant some purple pole beans just because they’re purple!

I’m hoping to expand the garden so I can have a separate area just for herbs. There are so many culinary and medicinal herbs but I just don’t have room right now to grow everything I want. I’ll have to get Pete to help me do the work but first I have to talk Mr. C into letting me “steal” the space from the dogs!

This coming season I’m going to grow a lot more peas. We’ve now eaten all the peas I’d frozen from the garden and it’s only January! And there’s something so calming about shelling peas. Maybe it’s just me but I find it very relaxing.

I grow both hot pepper and bell peppers and I want to try purple bell peppers along with the usual green, red, and yellow. They are purple on the outside with a lime green inside. And don’t worry about your family worrying about purple peppers. They turn green when cooked. And of course I must have my banana peppers!

Even if I have to grow a lot of things (like potatoes) in pots again I’m going to concentrate on root vegetables. Another summer project is fixing up the root cellar! It is my dream not to have to buy potatoes, carrots, or onions because my root cellar is so full of them!

I can’t wait to get my new seeds and start planting because so much requires starting the seeds 8 – 10 weeks before the last frost and some things will be planted directly in the garden even before the last frost! I really need to get moving because, believe it or not, it’s time to get ready for garden season!

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How To for Seeds

I love the Old Farmer’s Almanac. I check it for last frost dates in spring and first frost dates in fall. I’ve found some great gardening tips over the years and this year I discovered some terrific ways to deal with problems many of us have when sowing seeds in the garden. We’re planting our early seeds right now and you can bet I’m going to use these tricks!

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Homemade seed tape – You’ll need toilet paper, flour, and water: Make your planting trench the correct depth for the seeds you’re planting. Roll out enough toilet paper for the length of the row. Cut the toilet paper in half lengthwise. Make a paste of the flour mixed with a bit of water and dab a bit of the flour paste at the correct spacing for the seed. Put two seeds on each dab of flour paste. Fold the paper in half lengthwise and, if you’re not planting immediately, roll the paper up to store. Otherwise just lay the folded paper along the row, cover with the correct amount of soil and water. Paper towels work great for square planting (for example Square Foot Gardening). Just dab, place two seeds, and cover with another square of toilet paper.

Tiny seeds, like carrots, can be mixed with fine, dry sand. Put a pinch of seeds into a couple of tablespoons of sand. Dig the trench to the correct planting depth and sprinkle, by hand, the sand/seed mix into the trench. Cover with soil and water.

Big seeds, like beans and squash, will germinate faster if the outer covering is roughed up a bit. Gently roll the seeds between two pieces of fine sandpaper just until the seed coat begins to come off. Don’t rub too much or you’ll damage the seed. Or you can soak seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours.Parsley seeds benefit from being soaked for 24 hours, then having the water changed and soaked for another 24 hours.

If you’re having trouble seeing your seeds against the dark soil, ensure proper spacing by laying toilet paper in the seed row. The dark seeds will show up against the white paper.

Use row markers so you know where you’ve planted or plant a fast germinating and growing seed along with the slower ones. For example, plant radishes in the same row as parsnips. The radishes germinate in a few days and will be harvested long before the slow growing parsnips.

You can give very slow germinating plants a head start by putting a layer of damp paper towel in a sealable plastic container. Space the seeds on the paper towel and cover with two more layers of damp paper towel. Seal the lid and put the container in a warm spot (65° – 70°F). Check after a few days and, if you see roots starting to sprout, the seeds can be planted. Don’t worry about which side of the seed is up when you plant. The roots will always grow down.