Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seeds Have Sprouted

Hello, once again! Thank you for reading. Another week has gone by (and a hectic one it was for our family, I might add), and my starts have progressed rather well. You may recall that at the time of my last entry nothing had yet broken the surface. Well, two days later here is what I found!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gentlemen! Start your seeds!

Hello, there! A week has passed since I started my blog. Because I am experimenting this year, and because of my late start, I chose to start my plants from seeds, rather than purchasing plants that were already established.
I planted them in some starter pellets I had left over from previous years. (Truth be told, I still have a bunch more unused!) For anyone who has never used these pellets, they are a great way to start seeds, as they are small, portable, and individual. They are usually sold as part of a "mini greenhouse" kit in the garden section of most Wal-Mart stores as well as home improvement stores like Lowe's or The Home Depot. These came from a package of 25 pellets, with no greenhouse included. Much cheaper that way. I think I got them last year. I like them because once the plants are ready to "transplant" to their more permanent home, no actual transplanting is necessary. You just dig a hole where you want the plant to go and move it from the greenhouse to the hole. The pellets are a dried potting soil packaged in a thin, biodegradable netting that the roots can easily poke their way through as the plant grows.
When you first get the pellets, they are hard and dry. To use them, you simply put them in the container where you wish to start the seeds and add enough water for the pellets to absorb and grow to full size. Full size is about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). Once the pellets have absorbed the water, which usually takes about 15 minutes, you are ready to plant you seeds. The pellets typically have a small indentation in the top center. I just place my seed in that indentation and cover with some of the surrounding soil.

This is a photo of six pellets in a small plastic container I had around the house. I think I picked up a package of three of these containers at Wal-Mart for under $2.00. When I snapped this picture, I had just poured the water in the container, so they hadn't absorbed the water yet. Some of the water spilled onto the pellets, which accounts for the different coloring you see. 
Once they had reached full size, I planted the seeds. As you can see from this photo, I decided to go with Sweet Basil, Spearmint, and a cherry tomato. (Sorry, honey, but I haven't planted any cucumber, yet. Hopefully, soon.) I planted two of each plant, one seed per pellet. I have never seen any reason to plant multiple seeds per hole, since it only takes one to grow, and almost all the seeds I have ever purchased were viable at the time of purchase.
I chose Sweet Basil because I love the fragrance and the flavor. Basil has a wonderful flavor. I add it to many dishes that I cook, from meat dishes, to soups, to spaghetti. (I make my own spaghetti sauce. Store-bought sauces are NASTY-tasting! Thanks, Mom for teaching me that when I was a kid!) It is also great when you want to make home-made garlic bread. Just place the amount of butter/margarine you need into a bowl, add the desired amount of garlic, and about one quarter to one-half that amount of basil. Basil has a way of making the garlic flavor pop out just right. Mix them up and spread on the bread. Then bake/broil it for a couple minutes and you're ready to eat it!
I purchased this package of Sweet Basil on July 2, the same day I started this blog. The package states that it has a germination period of 5-10 days. I planted my mini-garden on July 4th (Happy Independence Day, for those of us in the U.S.A.) so these should be ready to burst forth any day, now. I checked a few minutes ago, and none of my six plants has broken the surface yet.
I chose Spearmint for the same reasons as Basil (fragrance and flavor), plus the fact that I had a bunch of seeds left over from a previous year. Honestly, I don't expect these to grow, because I don't think they were stored well and are probably not viable anymore. However, this is my experimenting year, so here goes! The package says they have a germination period of 12-14 days, so I probably won't see anything for at least another week. When mixed with other seasonings, mint adds a great flavor to beef and pork dishes. It is also well known for its use as an infusion to make a delicious, relaxing herbal tea.
The cherry tomatoes I picked were all I could find as a substitute for what I was looking for. There is a variety called "Sweet 100's" that my family loves. They have a great flavor and the plant produces lots of fruit when it is kept right. Unfortunately, we couldn't find those this year, so I chose these instead. We'll see how they go. My family likes having fresh tomatoes growing on the vine that we can just pick, clean off and pop into our mouth. They are also great in salads or anything else that calls for tomatoes. I bought this package at the same time that I bought the Basil, so these seeds should be good! The seeds were normally priced at $1.00(USD) per package, but because it is so late in the season, they had been marked down to $0.75. The package says their germination period is 7-10 days, so they should be popping up very soon.
Here is the finished July 4th product. I used some paperclips and 3x5 cards that I had around the house to make the labels. What I really want to use are some popsicle-style sticks. I will probably pick some up today or during this coming week at Hobby Lobby. They sell boxes of them really cheap, and they can be used for lots of different things. I can then replace them, because I don't like having all those cards in the way.
As I said, right now nothing has broken the surface, but I expect that to change before next Saturday, so I will hopefully have some new pics for you. Take care, and let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas. Thanks!

- Jim

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Hi there! Welcome to my new blog. I am starting this blog because I have an interest in gardening and I wish to chronicle my experiences (and whatever "wisdom" I might acquire from them) in a place that is inherently organized, and publicly available. I am not a gardening novice, but neither am I an expert. I have dabbled in it over the course of my life, and now I want to get a bit more serious about it.