I like to use Coconut Coir for seed starting. It's easy to use and less acidic than peat moss. Seeds do not need any fertilizer in the beginning stages so it is best not to use compost or treated soil for seed germination.
Coconut Coir Pellets or 6 Cell Germination trays work well for seed starting. Use garden markers to label the seeds you've planted. I hear from SO many gardeners that they forgot to label or lost their labels and they don't know what they planted! We recently posted 2 video to help you get started
Sowing depth varies, depending on the germination needs of the plant, but generally most seeds are sown at a depth about twice their width. Some seeds require light to germinate and so require sowing on the soil surface. Once depth is determined, sow one to two seeds per pot and mist the soil surface with water so it's evenly moist. Most seeds germinate best at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Watering when the soil surface feels dry is sufficient, but empty any collected water from the drip tray within 30 minutes of irrigation to prevent soggy soil.
Some seedlings may have to be transplanted into larger pots to give them room to grow and develop their root systems. Handle the baby plants gently by their leaves, not stems or roots, and try to keep the tiny rootballs intact as you move plants to their new pots. When watering seeds, I use either a spray bottle to moisten the soil or pour water into the reservoir so the soil wicks up the water. Heavy-handed pouring can displace tiny seeds so it is best to use caution. Kathryn at Little Bits of Heaven homestead mentioned her secret to avoid "dampening off" in her video Starting the Summer Garden & Cheap Seed Organization and it's cinnamon! We use Cinnamon as well and it definitely helps. Check on your plants once a day Harden off your seedlings prior to transplanting outdoors. Not sure how, we have an article Hardening Off Seedlings If you'd like to check out our very first video on seed starting, it's also on our youtube channel
If you have additional questions please give us a call or email
From seed, Perpetual Spinach is usually producing by 50 days. I've had quite a few swiss chard varieties continue to produce for over 9 months so they're well worth the moderate amount of space they use in the garden. Perpetual Spinach is a great container variety as well.
Tip: Soak seeds overnight in water before planting to ensure strong germination.
Plant seeds 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep and 3-6 inches apart. Set out seedlings 8-12 inches apart. Indoors or out, thin newly germinated seedlings with cuticle scissors instead of pulling them out. Chard seed capsules often contain two or more seeds. If more than one germinates snip off all but the strongest sprout at the soil line. Gradually thin direct-sown seedlings to 8-12 inches apart.
Harvest individual leaves from the outer area but be sure to leave the crown intact.
Frequent picking helps to stimulate the production of new leaves. Rinse leaves with cool water immediately, shake off the excess moisture, and store in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Swiss Chard is not only heat tolerant, depending on your area, it is also a cool weather crop. I have had several varieties withstand several days of frost and survive.
Bean, cabbage family, tomato, onion and roses. Don't overlook chard's value as an ornamental plant in flower beds or wherever you have room for it. Don't grow chard near cucurbits, melons, corn or herbs.
Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in moist soil. It is best to sow lettuce or spinach seeds thinly in rows spaced about 1 ft. apart or simply scatter the seeds in blocks. Cover lightly with soil, firm in place and water well. Keep the soil moist until germination. Once the plants have a grown their true leaves, you can begin to thin the plants to about 6" apart.
Start lettuce or spinach indoors or direct seeded in the garden as soon as the soil is workable. Great for container gardens.
Depending on the type of lettuce, harvest outer leaves only or cut down the whole head. Succession planting can dramatically increase yields, especially in smaller areas. Succession planting is when you stagger plantings in the same area throughout the season. Each time a crop is finished you pull it and plant a new one.
Lettuce and spinach are great options for cold frames if you're growing in a cooler climate. Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Lettuce prefers soil that is high in humus, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Alfalfa Meal or Alfalfa Meal Tea works well for Growing Greens.
Spinach can be harvested in the cut and come again method of harvesting lettuce. Cut individual leaves, starting with the older, outer leaves, and letting the young inner leaves remain and continue growing for a later harvest. You can also cut down the whole plant, for a larger harvest.
Lettuce: Does well with beets, broccoli, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, onion, radish and strawberries. It grows happily in the shade under young sunflowers. Dill and lettuce are a perfect pair. Keep lettuce away from cabbage. Cabbage is a deterrent to the growth and flavor of lettuce.
Spinach: Plant with peas and beans as they provide natural shade for the spinach. Gets along with cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, onion, peas, strawberries and fava bean. Plant spinach with squash. It's a good use of space because by the time squash plants start to get big the spinach is ready to bolt.
If you have warmer days and cold nights, consider planting greens in small containers to bring inside at night. Or, plant an indoor windowsill garden to harvest fresh greens such as European Mesclun Mix and Arugula.
RADISH is an excellent Fall crop. It is easy to grow and a quick harvest!
Tomatillo is an often overlooked heirloom variety. Native to Mexico and domesticated by the Aztecs around 800 B.C., the tomatillo is one of our most ancient food bearing plants.
Growing Tomatillo is similar to growing tomatoes but isn't as heavy a feeder as tomatoes.
Select a growing area with full sun exposure and well-drained, moderately rich soil.
The rule of thumb for sowing seeds is to plant the seed twice as deep as it is wide (or twice as deep as the diameter of the seed). Tomatillo seeds are really small, so don’t plant them very deep – they only need to be planted 1/8″ – 1/4″ deep. Grow at least 2 plants at a time, more if you plan to make a bit of salsa.
My personal rule of thumb is to always plant more than you think you'll will need. This will come in handy if you have pest issues such as bugs, birds, squirrels and even cats. If you produce more than you need or use, you can always store for later or share with friends and family.
Similar to growing tomatoes, Tomatillo sprouts roots along the stems, so it does well when planted deep in the soil. Tomatillo plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and about the same in width, so space the plants 3 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Plan to give them support in the form of gardening trellises or tomato cages.
Tomatillo will continue to produce until frost takes over. Although moderately drought-tolerant, tomatillos do best with an inch or so of water per week (more if you live in a very hot climate).
You know a tomatillo is ready to be cut from the plant when the fruit has filled out the husk. Left to ripen further, the fruit will frequently split the husk and turn yellow or purple depending on its genetics.
We hope you have enjoyed yet another informative growing article here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds. If you have additional questions please ask!
Unfortunately, We were not able to post yesterday so today we're sharing our Coconut Coir info for day 10 & 11. Thank you for joining us for another post in our series, Grow Your Own Food in 100 days or less with Mary's Heirloom Seeds
We've mentioned a few times about using coconut coir in the garden so today we;re sharing about the WHY and the HOW. Here's our video we posted yesterday
From Using Coconut Coir in the Garden "Coconut coir growing medium comes from the coconut's fibrous husk (known as coir) that is bound together by lignin (known as pith). After the husk is immersed in water for 6 weeks, the fiber is extracted mechanically, and the pith is left behind as a waste product and stored in heaps to age. Since the pith comes from the fruit, it is quite naturally rich in nutrients. Coconut coir growing mediums are dehydrated and compressed into a compact form for easy handling. With the addition of water, coir expands to an easy to work with growing medium.
The addition of water increases the volume 3 to 9 times, depending on the packaging of products. This process results in a 100% organic, biodegradable growing medium, making it a natural and safe growth medium of choice for growers. 1.5 pounds compressed brick Add water to increase volume 3 to 9 times!" Use Coconut Coir in compost or worm bins About Coconut Coir
-Coir improves soil drainage in the bed while also helping to retain moisture in quick-draining soils. Since coir breaks down slowly, much like peat, it creates air pockets in the soil that allow excess moisture to drain away from plant roots. The coir itself holds onto some moisture so the drainage doesn't occur too quickly and the soil doesn't dry out completely. These dual drainage and retention properties allow coir to improve moisture management in both heavy clay soils and dry, sandy beds.
-Incorrect Temperature. Different seeds have different needs.
-Old Seeds. When properly stored seeds can have a very long shelf life. But the older they get, your germination rate will begin to reduce
-Incorrect Watering. Water in a necessity for all plants. In the germination stage you need to make sure you keep the soil evenly moist. If you water too much, you run the risk of your seeds rotting before they germinate. If you let them dry out, they will either never germinate or die trying!
-Planting Depth/Light. When you plant your seeds pay attention to your planting depth. This is important because if planted too deep you plants could run out of energy before reaching sunlight. Planting too shallow can lead to drying out. Some seeds actually need some light to germinate, so instead of digging them down you just press them into your soil.
MOLD or ROTTING Dampening off, is probably the most common disease when starting seeds. It’s a fungus that can attack the seeds as soon as they germinate or after the seedling has emerged. You will know this is what killed your seedlings when you notice dark spots on the stem right at the soil level and the seedling topples over and withers away.
-Don't over water
-Provide air movement. A small fan will work
-Nutrients: Use a half-strength, organic fertilizer with tiny seedling. Our DIY Kelp Meal Tea is a great option for tiny seedling. You can use this as a foliar feed as well.
OVERCROWDING For coconut coir pellets, plant no more than 2 seeds per pellet for small seeds and only one per pellet for larger seeds. If both seeds germinate, do not pull one out.
Pinch off one of the seedlings at the base to remove. This will give the remaining seedling a chance to survive and thrive.
Once your seedlings are strong and roots start to grow out of the mesh, it's time to transplant them into the garden or into your containers.
Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less. If you have additional questions please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Happy Planting!
We're so excited to be Transplanting Seedlings today into our garden.
Thank you for joining us for Day 8 of our series Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less at Mary's Heirloom Seeds. Today we have a 4x8 raised bed that has already been filled with aged manure and soil. We're transplanting Dakota Black Popcorn, Blue Lake Bush Beans and Yellow Scallop Squash. **Once we finished filming we also planted Genovese basil** Here's our video to get started Transplanting Seedlings Since our seedlings were grown outside 100% of the time, we did not need to harden off before transplanting. If you are transplanting seedlings that were grown indoors, I recommend starting with our article Day 7 Hardening Off Seedlings First, whether you're planting in-ground, in containers or raised beds,water the garden area BEFORE you transplant seedlings. I like to give it a good soaking. Plan out what seedlings you want to transplant and where they're going. When we transplant I use 2 soil amendments, Mountain Flower Root Boost (5-4-2) and Micronized Azomite. Another option would be to feed and Organic Liquid fertilizer or Kelp Tea. We do this to cut down on shock to the plants. For this, I used approximately 1 tablespoon Mountain Flower Root Boost and 2 tablespoons Azomite in each hole before transplanting. Prior to transplanting I did not add fertilizer to the bed. You'll need to adjust your own garden accordingly Gently squeeze the bottom of the cup/container to loosen soil and roots. Do not pull on the stem to remove the seedling from the container. I prefer to tip over in my hand and loosen the seedling from the base of the container If you are transplanting seedlings in Coconut Coir Pellets, do not remove the outer mesh. Transplant the entire pellet into the soil and cover completely. Once you've placed the seedling in the hole, gently cover with soil and water very well.
All of our starter cups and containers are washed and re-used for our next planting. You can use almost any recycled container to start seedlings.
Stay tuned for more info on growing your own food! Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less. If you have additional questions please send an email to email@example.com Happy Planting!
These are the extra Heirloom Corn seedlings that didn't make it into our Mother's Day Garden
So far we have planted heirloom seeds in our raised bed, planned out our garden, watered our seeds and applied cayenne pepper to deter gophers. If you start seeds indoors and plan to transplant seedling into the garden, it is important to harden off your seedlings.
No video today but we have pictures! What does it mean to "Harden Off" seedlings? From our article Hardening Off Seedlings before Transplanting
Hardening off gradually exposes the tender plants to wind, sun and rain and toughens them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so that the leaves lose less water. This helps prevent transplant shock; seedlings that languish, become stunted or die from sudden changes in temperature.
Hardening off times depend on the type of plants you are growing and the temperature and temperature fluctuations. So be flexible when hardening off your seedlings and be prepared to whisk them indoors if there's a late freeze and snow.
If you're growing seedlings indoors, they might have been pampered all winter/spring. Aside from the random cat attack or possibly too much watering, they have been relatively safe compared to the dangers that await them in the great outdoors.
This was taken at one of our school garden volunteer days
How to Harden Off Seedlings
Start by putting your seedlings outside 7-10 days prior to transplanting. In the beginning, give them shelter and plenty of water. You can strengthen stem of indoor seedling by adding a fan while they're indoor. This will help to prepare them for windy days outside.
Start by leaving them outdoors for 3 - 4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1 - 2 hours per day. Bring the plants back indoors, or somewhere warm like a heated garage or porch, each night.
If temperatures remain warm both day and night, the plants should be able to handle the sun all day and stay out at night after about 7 days, Keep an eye out that the soil doesn't dry in their small pots and bake the plants if the weather should suddenly turn warmer.
If you've planted in Cococut Coir pellets, pay extra attention to moisture levels. Coconut coir can dry out faster and might need to be watered daily when outdoors.
If you opt to gradually expose your plants to longer periods of time outdoors, the moving in and out process can be made easier by putting your plants on a wagon or wheelbarrow and simply wheel them into the garage for the night.
Hardening off is an important step is you choose to grow seedlings indoors. It's a bit of work but can be worth it if you want to get a head start on planting if you live in cool/cold climates.
All of my seedling this year are grown outside on a covered patio. That means I don't have to harden them off before transplanting. Unfortunately, we lost a few to earwigs. Fortunately, I planned a head and planted more than I thought I would need so there are extras to make up for any eaten seedlings.
Thank you for joining us for another day of Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less. If you have additional questions please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Happy Planting!
Welcome to Day 5 of our series Grow Your Own Food in 100 Days or Less. WE HAVE GERMINATION!
Actually, we had germination of the Early Scarlet Globe radish on Day 4 (3 days to germinate) but I'm sharing the update today. Here's our video update for the day. Today topic is Basic Nutrient Requirements to Grow Veggies
Basic Nutrient Requirements to Grow Veggies Well-balanced soil in the vegetable garden will contain a mix of several important nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. I call those the basics. However, there are 12 essential nutrients that all plants require to grow. Six of these are needed in larger amounts and are called macronutrients. These include Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Calcium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S). The other six are called micronutrients and they are iron, copper, zinc, boron, manganese and molybdenum. While these are considered minor, there is nothing unimportant about them. From an older post "Feeding Your Plants"
What does each nutrient do?
In addition to other properties, Nitrogen helps plant foliage to grow strong. Phosphorous helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Potassium (Potash) is important for overall plant health.
Liquid Fertilizers are favored by most gardeners, regardless of what they are growing. We use our own DIY Liquid Fertilizer mix.Most liquid fertilizers can be applied as a foliar feeding directly to the leaves, hand applied to secondary roots, and included in the water supply of drip or other irrigation systems. Aside from cost(and it is not that much), liquid fertilizers have almost no downside. They include all the macronutrients and micronutrients needed for good growth. In addition, because they are in a water soluble state, they can easily be absorbed by the plant. Here's our video for our DIY Organic Liquid Fertilizer recipe
What do the Macronutrients do for plants? Nitrogen (N) Nitrogen is the fuel that makes plants go. It’s used to synthesize amino acids, proteins, chlorophyll, nucleic acids, and enzymes. Plants need more nitrogen than any other element. It’s the nutrient we most often have to apply. Compost and manure are "free" ways to add nitrogen to your soil Phosphorus (P) Phosphorus is the nutrient responsible for plant rooting, flowering and fruiting. Bone meal is one form of Phosporus that can be added to your garden soil. Potassium (K) Potassium is important to plant growth and development. Potassium helps: Plants grow faster, Use water better and be more drought resistant, Fight off disease, Grow stronger and even Produce more crops Calcium (Ca) Calcium helps to retain and transport other nutrients by providing strength and structure through its cell walls. Oyster Shell is an easy option to add to your soil to increase calcium Magnesium (Mg) Helps activate plants enzymes and part of chlorophyll and photosynthesis. Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium
Sulfur is essential for the production of protein and chlorophyll.