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Saturday, April 30, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I like to indulge my pea and bean seeds in a soak before planting them outdoors. In the picture foreground, on the left, is a basic shriveled pea seed. The other seeds, which I soaked for three nights, have plumped to double in size and are starting to sprout. I planted them right after their photo shoot. (Lest you think I am kind of slow in planting peas this season, this is a variety that holds up to summer heat. Phew!)
I soaked the seeds in a dish of warm water overnight. Next day (day 1) I drained the water and placed a wet paper towel directly on top of the seeds in the dish. The aim at this point was to keep the seeds moist but not soggy. I checked the seeds the following two days, wetting the towel when needed. I chose to plant when all had visible roots, on day 3.
Why bother with all this? Well, indoor soaking offers a more controlled environment for germination, removed from the temperature and weather extremes so true of finicky spring. Sprouted seeds also guide your planting patterns. Often times we direct sow more seeds than we think we need, in anticipation that some may not sprout. And then, we end up thinning seedlings that are too crowded. Soaking seeds first gives you more control in the outcome.
Even soaking just a portion of your seeds can help in your garden planning. Say you want to plant 50 bean plants. You soak 10 seeds, and eight swell and start to sprout. That gives you a sample germination rate of 80 percent. So plant 63 seeds. (OK, for all you math fiends out there, it's really 62.5 -- but I dare you to cut a seed in half and still have it sprout!)
Soaking to estimate germination rate is helpful with seeds you're not sure about: those that have been stored in less than ideal conditions, or for a very long time.
In my experience bean seeds are more fragile than peas and can split in half if jostled too much while soaking. They're also quicker to go moldy if left soaking too long. I've learned to plant my soaked bean seeds when just a hint of root starts to show.
What are you tricks for seed sprouting?
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Here is one of my favorite poems that describes the beauty and simplicity of the outdoors. It describes how I feel when I sit outside in the summer, with a growing garden, and the sounds of chickens clucking in the background.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell BerryShare your favorite outdoor garden poem with us in the comments section
Thursday, April 21, 2011
What do you think of this sugar and high fructose corn syrup debate?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
In past articles we have discussed the benefits of companion planting. Companion planting is the practice of sowing plants together in order to increase yields, and to help reduce pests in the garden. In our garden we love to plant tomatoes with marigolds. The marigolds repel pests that are attracted to tomatoes.
I found a good article about companion planting on The University of Florida's extension site. It has a great list of plants and their companions. It also notes which plants don't do well together. Check out the list below. Introduce companion planting into your garden plan this year. It is a natural way to help improve your garden.