couldn’t get enough? starting seeds part 2

Just put together my Christmas gift to myself–a basic indoor greenhouse kit.  It’s small, but it’s one more step towards year round sustainability.  And so, I’m digging my hands into my seed packet organization box tonight and starting to plan what gets planted tomorrow morning!

Can’t repost part 1 without the follow-up. . .

Ok, wow!  Thanks for all the blog hits on my starting seeds post last night.  You guys got me to thinking, and in hindsight, I realized that I’d left out some other great suggestions and thought I’d put ‘em down tonight.20130107-202126.jpg

    • pick out a good quality seed–I prefer only organic, heirloom, small farm seeds.  It’s part of my commitment to supporting small, local farmers and seeds that are healthy for our bodies.  My personal favorites:  http://www.southernexposure.com/ and http://sowtrueseed.com/
    • don’t go too quickly–enjoy looking over seed catalogs, reading what the seeds have to offer and what will work for your space; even if I’m not ordering from it, I am a sucker for a beautiful seed catalog
    • consider how you will be growing your seeds–containers, raised bed, vertically–that may impact which particular variety you select; for example, I choose more compact plants since my space is so limited
    • also, when selecting seed, think about what you want to eat and cook!  I choose pickling varieties of cucumbers because they stay crisp.  I also love paste and drying tomatoes so that I can make marinara and sundried tomatoes to last me all winter long.
    • a good rule of thumb for covering the seeds–the smaller the seed, the less dirt that needs to cover it
    • while popsicle sticks are cute (and I’ve done my share of popsicle sticks), they don’t work so well with watering or staying put in the mini greenhouses.  I just write on the lid with permanent marker or use sticky notes on the lid
    • make sure that if you are making mini greenhouses like I talked about in the “starting seeds” post that you poke some air holes in it.  You don’t want your seeds to get mildewy or moldy.

no matter how much you want to wear those new gardening gloves, it will be easier to place small seeds in the dirt with your bare fingertips or some sort of little seed gadget that lets seeds out one/a few at a time.  Plus, there’s something that makes me feel young again when I play in the dirt.

 

lessons learned: God’s thoughts on compost

This week, I spent time with my spiritual director.  She talks with me about my journey with the Creator and cultivates the relationship we have through sacred listening.  Her guidance has nurtured me in a way that supports my daily practices to integrate mind, body, and spirit.

What I embrace about my spiritual director is here ability to hear the word or phrase that may capture the next step forward.  After I share for a bit, we will stop and have some moments of quiet, and she’ll say to me, “The word (or picture or feeling) that is coming to me is __________.  Does that have any meaning for you?”  Sometimes, I say “yes,” sometimes, I say “no,” and sometimes, I have the “aha” moment.

Thursday was an “aha” moment.  And it was all about compost.compost turned

When Katie looked at me and noted, “The word that keeps coming to me is ‘compost.’  Does that mean anything to you,” I looked at her and thought God was playing a joke on me.  Seriously.

You see, I was referring back to circumstances from the past and how long it had taken me to work through them and heal.  I joyfully shared with her how in the past month, I had the opportunity to use that experience for the good–how that experience provided me the hindsight to create a different outcome this go round.

And all God could call it was “compost?”  What about “gold star” or “epiphany” or “growth?”

As we sat there, I started thinking about the analogy a bit more, and we talked our way through it.  That’s when the “aha” moment came.  What begins to form compost?  All the muck and yuck and rotting stuff that we throw away.  It gets buggy and wormy before it undergoes the transformation to “black gold”–rich, living organic matter that nourishes plant life.

My director even reminded me that compost isn’t formed in a day.  It takes time and a period of deconstruction of the matter before it can be reconstructed as a healthy, life-giving soil supplement.

And there it was.  My transformation had been captured in one word.  “Compost.”  And boy, was God spot on.

 

 

taking advantage of small spaces in the garden

If you are a front yard farmer like I am or have limited full sun spaces, don’t fret.  I’ve been there, and I’m doing that.  Our little farm has continued to expand a little each year, but this year I am committed to maximizing our produce yields.  I’ve been reading and studying, planning and dreaming so I thought I pass a bit of that along to you too.

  • Go vertical–many veggies and fruits will climb stakes, planks, walls, and fencing.  Growing up instead of out saves ground space for those yummies that can’t climb.black eyed peas trellis
  • Try succession planting–I’ve not been as organized as I’ve wanted to be the last few summers, but after reading up on succession planting, I’m giving it a real go this year.  Taking the time to plan to plant seeds every few weeks can keep the produce coming in regularly.  Once the first round is harvested, you can also replant in that spot as well.
  • Think outside  of the box–once I quit dividing “flower beds” from “produce beds,” I doubled my options for growing space.  Now, my kale provides a great filler around my coneflower and daisies, and my herbs have become neighbors to my veggies.
  • Pair sun with part sun plants–Some climbing veggies, such as cucumbers and beans, can provide shade over tender plants like lettuces that will burn in hot, direct sun.  Creative use of chicken wire, pallets, or bamboo can be functional as well as artistic.
  • Contain ‘em–I’ve actually used food safe pots that I could move into sunny areas so that veggies could get enough light.
  • Tighten up the space–take advantage of the small space by planting items closely together, remembering to leave them enough room that they don’t compete for nutrients

Over the next few weeks, who knows what else I’ll discover.  I’ll be glad to share any other ideas and hope you’ll do the same!