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Starting Garden Seeds Indoors

February 10th, 2011


For many gardeners, February is the perfect time to start seeds indoors 2-3 months before your average date of final frost. If your region’s average final frost date is the end of March then February is a great time to get started so your seedlings will have a good 6-8 weeks to prepare for their new home in your garden.

Starting seeds indoors is easy, and you do not need expensive supplies to get a head start on spring gardening. Supplies include: containers that are 2-3 wide and 2-3 inches deep, like a plastic 40 count tray; loose textured potting mix that has soil, vermiculite or perlite and sphagnum peat moss; seeds; popsicle sticks, a waterproof pen; clear plastic bags large enough to go around your container(s); a 15-15-15 soluble fertilizer; and snail bait.

Here’s how to sow spring garden seeds (such as broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, head lettuce, onion, peppers, squash, and tomatoes) indoors:

1. Fill your container with pre-moistened potting mix then level the soil. To moisten soil, simply put potting mix in a large bag and get it wet until it’s just moist.

2. Sow 1-2 seeds in each tray cell. Gently press the seeds into the soil then add a little bit of soil to the top, to cover seeds.

3. Mark your seedling trays by using your waterproof marker on the popsicle sticks, noting the date you planted and variety of seeds.

4. Place the tray inside of a clear plastic bag then tie it shut. If covering the tray with plastic wrap, you will want to make sure that the plastic does not touch the soil surface. Once covered with plastic you will not need to water the soil until your seeds sprout.

5. Set your seed tray in a spot that is evenly warm, such as the top of your refrigerator if you have the room. Do not place your seed tray in an area that is too drafty or too warm.

6. Once the seeds have sprouted remove the plastic and move the seed tray to a sunny south-facing window. If you do not have a window that provides full sun, you may need to purchase lighting equipment. If the region you live in continues to get very cold at night, you will want to move your seed tray away from the window so that the seedlings do not get too cold.

7. Watering your sprouts is easy. You’ll want to check the soil moisture daily by feeling the soil with your finger. If the soil is dry use a spray bottle that contains room temperature water and mist them with a fine spray.

8. 3-4 weeks after seeds are established, add some complete soluble fertilizer to the water. You’ll only need to fertilize once or twice before planting your seedlings into the garden.

9. After 6-8 weeks, you can start hardening off your seedlings by placing the seed tray outside in full sun for 2-3 hours. Bring the seed tray in after the allotted time. As your seedlings start adjusting to the 2-3 hours in full sun start moving them into the shade too for a few hours before bring the seed tray back indoors. You’ll want to follow this process for about two weeks. After the two week hardening process you can leave your seed tray out all day and night, as long as the temperatures are not freezing. This process, of putting your seed tray outdoors then moving them back indoors allows your seedlings to get used to being outdoors and keeps them from going into shock.

10. Once you’re ready to plant the seedlings in your garden you’ll want to: transplant them in the late afternoon when the sun is low; make sure the seedlings are well watered before planting them in the garden; make sure the garden soil is moist; try not to disturb the root ball when transplanting; water the seedlings once planted, to make sure the soil has settled around the root ball; place snail bait around the seedlings; and keep the seedlings moist for the first 4-5 days after transplanting, to make sure they get established. Once established you can water your seedlings when the soil is slightly dry in between watering.

That’s it! Starting seeds indoors gives you a head start on the spring gardening season and is an activity that provides you with great gardening practice (if you’ve never gardened before) and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. We’re excited for the spring garden season, and we hope you are, too. It’s going to be a great year for healthy, homegrown food!

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Guest Blog:Food Shortages Imminent: The BP Oil Spill

July 5th, 2010

Food Shortages Imminent?  Some people say that I’m a fearmonger  (well, Mrs. G. says that sometimes).  The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf has me thinking, though.  Thinking and freaking out.  But, I’m going to try to keep my thinking cap on while I write this blog.  (I said “TRY”  no guarantees.)

First, a heartbreaking picture for anyone that likes to garden:


The oil slick reaching the marshes along the gulf coast.  Not only is the oil going to suffocate the grasses, birds and other larger wildlife that live there, it will also harm all of the teeny little organisms we can’t see in the water.

This picture is just heartbreaking for anyone:


It is a dead brown pelican. There are, probably, lots of those down there now, too.

Next, the Loop Current and the Oil Spill

If it weren’t bad enough that the oil is now all over the place where the oil rig originally exploded, predictions are that it will flow into the loop current, and head all the way up the east coast:


Which, if you believe this picture from NASA, is already happening.


That whitish tail is supposedly the oil, flowing down from the original spill location and into the current.

Eating Oil

Some people will tell you that if you eat food that you don’t grow yourself, you’re eating oil.  That is partially true–for several reasons.

1) Synthetic fertilizers (which is mostly what is used on food that you buy at the grocery), is made from a chemical process that requires energy:  lots and lots of energy.  Right now, most of our ENERGY comes from oil.

2) Food is heavy, and current pricing structures and food supply structures are such that most of the food you buy at the grocery is either a) processed or b) “fresh” but grown very far away from you.  That means it has to be shipped to you, with a lot of energy use, most of it from oil or other fossil fuels.  Right NOW, it is cheaper for people to grow food in centralized locations, and ship it, than it is to grow food locally.

What that means is that, depending upon where you live, if energy dries up, and alternative sources are not developed, you’re going to be out of luck for food–unless you can grow your own.


Most synthetic fertilizers are NOT made from crude oil, like what is leaking in the Gulf.  The way crude oil enters the food chain is through its use as energy for producing the fertilizer and energy to produce and ship the food.  That’s where the term “eating oil” comes from.

This environmental and energy crises is just ONE thing that is happening to us that will disrupt our food supply.  Take steps NOW to protect you and your family.  Stop relying on commercial interests and the government to feed you.  A BIG LOAD OF GOOD the government is doing with the oil spill, huh?

Humble Seed guest blog post by Jerry Greenfield. You can read more from Jerry at:


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