Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Garden update and More Seed Varieties for 2012!!

I'm so excited I just can't wait another week!  I'll post an official announcement once the seeds are available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  For now, I'll just spill the beans (or Dwarf Pak Choi and Country Gentleman Corn) for those of you in blogger-land.  Hint: Corn is now available!

Tomatoes and Peppers have been my favorite veggies to grow so far.  Radishes and Swiss Chard have been the easiest veggies I've grown so far...Until now!!
Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

A few weeks ago I planted Long Island improved Brussels Sprouts...What a name right?  From seed to transplant they are wonderful.  I have planted a few extra LIiBS over the last few weeks so that I don't have 20 pounds of LIiBSs all at once.

 I am very pleased at the rate of growth from these LIiBS.  They need very little care other than light airy soil and regular watering.  The soil should be moist but not drenched.  They seem to transplant well.

I'll talk about new seed varieties tomorrow!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Growing Radish from Seed

The German Giant is my favorite Radish.  It's not fancy or hard to grow and tastes great at any size.  The Radish may be a cool-weather crop but I continue to have success even in South Florida.
Grow radishes in full sun or partial shade. Plant radishes in loose, well-drained soil. Remove soil lumps, rocks, and roots from radish planting beds. Obstructions can cause roots to grow malformed. Add organic matter to planting beds before sowing radishes. Radishes prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Sow radish seed ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart; thin successful seedlings from 1 to 4 inches apart in wide rows depending upon the variety.

Sow radishes in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before average date of  the last frost in spring. Sow succession crops every 2 weeks in spring and in autumn. Two or more crops can be grown in spring. Radishes require 22 to 70 days to come to harvest. Warm weather can result in small roots. Long days may also cause radishes to flower; plant radishes during the shorter days of spring and autumn. In mild winter regions, grow radishes in late autumn and early winter. Radishes can withstand frost.

Keep radish planting beds moist but not wet. Even, regular watering will result in quick growth. Radishes that receive too little water will become woody tasting. Prepare planting beds with aged compost. Side dress radishes with aged compost at midseason.

Radishes can be grown in containers. Sow radishes in containers at least 6 inches deep. Plant radishes in round containers in concentric circles. Move containers to cool locations if the weather grows warm.

Companion plants: Cucumbers, Lettuce, Nasturtiums, Peas, and Peppers.
Happy Planting!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Growing Onions from Seeds

Currently, the patio seedling garden is home to Red Burgundy Onions and Bulgarian Giant Leeks (among many other things).  I've only harvested 1 Red Burgundy onion so far and that was from my first batch.  This time around I planted more seeds and started them out right! 
Plant onion seeds about 3/8 inch deep and 1/2 inches apart. Rows should be about 15 inches apart. Once seedlings emerge, then to about every 3inches.

Some say it is best to choose a type of onion best suited for your area:  Northern US: Long Day. Southern US: Short Day.
However, others say they grow many types of Onions just fine.  Bunching onions grow well in all regions.

Depending on what type of onion you’re growing, will depend on the sunlight they require. Provide onions with 12 – 16 hours, depending on long day or short day onion.

The best soil for onions has organic material and neutral pH. (If your onions are too strong, the soil may be too acidic.) Onions like well drained soils, and the organic matter in the soil helps. 

Onions like more water initially as they grow. As they mature, onions do not require as much water. Depending on how much rain you get, they may be okay with just rainwater. Just make sure they get some kind of water every 5-7 days.

Mulch will help maintain the right soil moisture level and reduce weeds. Remember, onions don’t like weeds. Weeds and onion, both, compete over the same soil nutrients. When weeding, be careful not to disturb the onion’s root system.

Maturity rates vary with each type of onion from 65 days to 115 days.  Onions should be harvested in the morning, but avoid any morning dew on them. Lay them in row to cure or air dry for a few days. But place them in the shade. The onions can actually sunburn.

Companion Plants:
Growing Carrots around onions will be helpful.

Some plants actually are bad to the health of onion plants. Avoid these plants around onions: beans, peas, and parsley. 

Happy Planting!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review: Grow Great Grub

I have a few books on the table right now and most are garden books.  I'll try to review as many as I can this month.  There are a few I have already read and really enjoyed.

Each book has a link to my Amazon Store.  If you purchase anything using the link I make a small percentage on almost everything (doesn't have to be an item I listed). Every bit helps and is always appreciated!

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food From Small Spaces 
by Gayla Trail

I have really enjoyed reading Gayla Trail books.  This is the second of her books I have read and I'm looking forward to her next book.

When I read about gardening, more importantly growing my own food, I like to see pictures.  Even if you have a large space to garden with this book is very informational and a fun read.  I have a small area for my garden so I have added containers here and there to make more space.  There are so many gardening books out their to choose from.  This book is perfect for the beginner gardener or apartment dweller, really for anyone who like to garden. 

One bonus I found in Grow Great Grub... RECIPES!!!  I found her ideas and exciting recipes refreshing.  What do you do once you have successfully harvested your hard-earned grub...Eat it!

Find more book recommendation at My Bookshelf.

The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Growing Broccoli

I'm not quite sure where I picked up most of this information about Broccoli.  As you will read, Broccoli is a cool weather veggie.  Living in South Florida, I haven't had a chance to grow broccoli.

Calabrese is easier and quicker to grow than other types of broccoli, with only 15 weeks to harvest from planting. Broccoli requires approximately 40 weeks.

For the best results, broccoli should be planted after a crop of peas or beans, as these vegetables leave deposits of nitrogen in the soil, which is much needed by the broccoli for healthy growth and development.
Broccoli is a cool weather crop that generally thrives in cooler temperatures that do not exceed 30°C (86°F). The ideal temperature for cultivating broccoli is between 65 - 75°F.

Broccoli should be planted in an open, sunny or partially shaded area.

Sow broccoli seeds thinly, approximately 1 inch deep in rows that are 2 feet apart. Cover the seeds loosely with soil and water well. The seeds will germinate within about 10 days and then the seedlings can be thinned out to 1 foot apart (for Calabrese).

Calabrese is an extremely fast-growing crop and some varieties will be ready to harvest from anything between 40 - 65 days. If sown in April or May, the broccoli should be ready to harvest from July onwards until November.

Harvest the broccoli when the side florets start to loosen slightly but the main head is still very compact. Cut the Calabrese at the base of the stalk, so that the main head is removed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Last chance Sale items for January ... NEW stuff!!

Mary's Heirloom Seeds announces NEW items:

Education Pack  $44.00
Great variety pack for Homeschoolers, Educators and School Gardens.
This pack contains 16 varieties of seeds.  Each seed pack contains 25 seeds with detailed growing instructions and educational information.
Includes herb, veggie and tomato seeds!!
Veggie Varieties include:  Black Beauty Zucchini, German Giant Radish, Small Sugar Pumpkin, Calabrese Broccoli, National Pickling Cucumber, Little Gem Lettuce, He Shi Ko Bunching Onion, 5 Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard, Pak Choi Cabbage.
Tomato Varieties include:  Beefsteak Tomato and Red Fig Tomato.
Herb Varieties include: Fine Verde Basil,  Dill Vierling, German Chamomile, Oregano and Thyme.
Also includes plant markers and 2 packs of flower seeds.

Mini Education Pack  $22.00
Each seed pack contains 25 seeds with detailed growing instructions and educational information.  This pack contains 8 varieties of seeds.
Little Gem Lettuce, Pak Choi Cabbage, National Pickling Cucumber, Small Sugar Pumpkin, Red Fig Tomato, Fine Verde Basil, German Chamomile and Oregano.
Also includes plant markers and 2 packs of flower seeds.

NEW seeds:
Country Gentleman Sweet Corn and Long Island improved Brussels Sprouts

SALE items:
Peat Pots and Plant markers, NJ Wakefiled Cabbage, National Pickling Cucumber, Cal Wonder Bell Pepper, Ace 55 Tomato and ALL HERB seeds on sale!!!  $19 OFF Planting Guide A-Z for your Kitchen Garden.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Growing Dill

Short and sweet post today: DILL!

Dill is a very easy herb to grow and can be grown indoors or outdoors. 

Dill enjoys full sun, and flourishes in average to fertile soil with good drainage.
Sun can damage dill if it has too much of it. However, you will want sun shining on it at least six hours a day. If you have some moisture in the air this is great. But if you struggle with moisture in the air you will want to mist your dill plant from time to time. 

To plant dill, place seeds over loose soil and cover about a half inch deep.  Keep soil moist but not water-logged.

Much of this information (and more) is available at Easy to grow Herbs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Growing Basil

I am so pleased with my little Basil plants!

Sow seeds outdoors when soil is warm and temperature does not drop below 65°F. Basil can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out. Seeds usually germinate within 7 days of planting.

Seedlings need 6-8 hours of sunlight .  Basil can be grown indoors on a nice sunny ledge or windowsill or outdoors in a sunny spot.

Make successive sowings for continuous summer supplies. Pinch back flower stalks as they appear to keep plants from bolting.  Basil prefers rich well-drained soil.

I have found Easy to grow Herbs very helpful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Purple!!!

Well...Almost purple!  The ugliest Cherokee tomato so far is the first to turn a shade of purple!  I gave a loud hoot outside this morning when I discovered it.  I'm not aloud to "hoot" in the house...I can get pretty excited about these things.

The German Giant Radishes I planted a few weeks ago are starting to take shape.

I've transplanted 2 of the Long Island Brussels Sprouts...One in the ground and one in a container.

There are quite a few large Cherokee tomatoes that are still a very dark green.

Last but certainly not least, below is the mess that I refer to as "The Side Yard Project."

This garden is 100% Organic, non-gmo and grown from heirloom seeds.  I have had many issues from the beginning, mostly keeping the bag bugs from demolishing my plants.  After planting a few flowers and companion plants along the outer edges of the garden the bug problem became almost non-existent.  I still find the occasional tomato hornworm but they're pretty easy to spot if you look close enough.

Happy Planting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Planting more Seeds this Week!

We had another busy weekend and I felt a bit crummy on Sunday.  After work on Saturday I managed an hour of weed-pulling and cleaned up the garden a bit. The new total of Cherokee Purple tomatoes is 25!  A few are just about ready to take off the plant but most are mid-sized or just little babies.

Today I planted a few new varieties of seeds for the garden:
Anaheim Peppers
Amana's Orange Tomatoes
Red Fig Tomatoes
Black Beauty Zucchini
National Pickling Cucumber

I also planted more Swiss Chard, German Giant Radish, Spinach, Cherokee Purple Tomatoes and Purple Top Whiteglobe Turnips.

Whew! Now I need another shelf for the patio or the kitties will have a feast and I'll have no seedlings.  Tomorrow I'll try to plant more herbs.  I'm thinking Oregano, Sage and 2 more Fine Verde Basil.  Maybe I'll plant a couple Dark Purple Opal Basil.

Over the next few days I'll post a few more "growing instructions" for those of you who are just purchasing seeds or just getting started.  If you live in an area that is still cold (or snowy) not to worry, you should be starting a few plant seeds indoors to get ready for spring.

Happy Planting!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More amazing blogs

Another random post today, well maybe not so random.  I am amazing at how many garden...homestead...DIY...crafty...green blogs there are and I haven't even been searching them out.

I'm sharing a few more worth while blogs with you today.

Rhonda in Australia has a very useful blog, Down to Earth.  Last year I started participating in her "On My Mind" series.

Another fun blog you'll find under my blog list is FlowerLady's Musings.  If you like flowers and beautiful things be sure to stop by.

Also listed under my blog list is Food In Jars.  This blog inspired me to actually USE the canning supplies that my hubby bought me.  There is even a section for small batch canning.

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I have.  I know I've sent many a link to friends with useful info from each of these blogs.

Any blogs you'd like to mention?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Garden Update: Where do I begin?

I was speaking with a friend yesterday about the ups and downs of the garden.  She asked me what I had growing at the moment.  My answer, Where do I begin?

The side yard project is home to:
Hungarian Heart and Cherokee Purple Tomatoes,
Black Beauty Eggplants,
Tam Jalapeno,
Cal Wonder Bell,
Pak Choi Cabbage,
5 Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard,
Little Gem Lettuce,
Detroit Dark Red Beets,
Purple Top Whiteglobe Turnips and
German Giant Radishes
Cherokee Purple
Tam Jalapeno
Eggplant blooms

Beets, Chard and Lettuce
I also planted a few Flower seeds: Morning Glory, Daisy, Marigolds, Bachelor Button and Snap Dragon.

AND...I have another crop of plants maturing on the patio.  A few are almost ready to be transplanted.   The patio crop includes:
Long Island improved Brussels Sprouts
Pimiento Pepper
Serrano Pepper
He Shi Ko Bunching Onion
Bulgarian Giant Leeks
Table Queen Bush Squash
more Turnips and Swiss Chard
Echinacea Purpurea
Peppers and Brussels Sprouts
Baby Onions
Baby Squash
Today's post is more of a "show and tell" than a "live and learn."  If you have not yet started your garden or you have never had a garden, check out Seed Starting Basics  Part 1 and Part 2 and the "growing instructions" label on the right side of the blog.

Happy Planting!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Items and Sale items at Mary's Heirloom Seeds

Good Morning!
Today is the start of all new sale items and just in time for the new planting season (depending on where you are planting of course).

New items for 2012 include Job's Tears and Long Island improved Brussels Sprouts.

ALL Herb seeds are on sale for the ENTIRE month of January!!!  Now this is a plus because most people can grow an herb garden on a windowsill in just about every part of the world. 

On Sale trough January 18th:
A-Z Planting Guide for you Kitchen Garden is only $30 and includes Peat Pots with seed purchase.  
This is a total saving of $24.
Beefsteak Tomatoes and National Pickling Cucumber seeds are also on sale.

As always, Standard Shipping is always free within the Continental US.  Express Shipping also available.

For more information or to get on the mailing list, send an email to mary@marysheirloomseeds.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

Random Post!

Good morning!  I have a random post today about a few beautiful blogs I found.  I have notices a few new bloggers checking in lately and I thought I'd give them a mention today.

Denise at Preserving the Simple Life has a very useful blog.  I too am on a sort of journey to live life more simply and sustainably.  And that chocolate cake...what a husband she has!

Dave over at Cimba7200 has been posting wonderful photos and I encourage you to stop by.  I've never been to New Zealand but I almost feel like I'm there when I check out Dave's blog.

Just in case you'd like to imagine yourself on an island, Yvonne at The Happy Hippy has got what you're looking for.  I only just found Yvonne from homegrown.org (where a few of my posts have been re-posted).

Any blogs you've noticed lately that deserve a mention?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What's the Point?

My posts have been all over the place lately!  I don't mean re-posted on different sites (even though that's been going on as well) but the topics may appear a bit random.  I assure you there is a "theme" or purpose to the seemingly indiscriminate posts.

It is very easy to get so wrapped up in your personal finances or environment and forget that we share this planet with billions of other humans and (equally as important) billions of animals, insects and other creatures.  I hate to read the news because it's always bad.  When I stop to think about what humans and animals in other cities and countries are dealing with (even as I write this post) I feel a sense of responsibility.  While I may be only 1 person I can make a difference in my own way.

I don't recycle because I'm afraid of global warming, or whatever the "latest" cause.  I recycle because I'd like to keep my trash out of landfills that are fast taking over precious land.  In future generations, humans and animals will need that land.  I plant extra flowers and am careful not to use harmful chemicals so that bees have a safe place to forage for nectar.  I plant heirloom seeds and encourage everyone I know to do so, because I don't want anyone (humans or bees) to suffer harmful effects of GMOs.

It's all about taking responsibility.  I plan on starting with the little things that in the end, make a big difference.

What will you do?

Friday, January 6, 2012

On my mind...GMO's

"On my mind" is a Friday feature from Down to Earth.  Today's topic in particular has been heavily "on my mind."

What are the effects of eating GMOs?

UNKNOWN!  What?  We (not me but as a society) have managed to put a man on the moon, place satellites in space, created nano-technology (don't even ask) and yet science doesn't have an answer to the long-term effects of GMO food.  It seems like science and scientists are getting ahead of themselves.

According to Live in the Now,  
"There are no human clinical trials of genetically engineered foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that genetic material inserted into GE soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. Even after we stop eating GE foods, we may still have the GE proteins produced continuously inside us."

"The idea of having genetically engineered genes permanently living inside our guts has staggering implications:

  • If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create antibiotic-resistant diseases.
  • Bt toxins (Bacillus thuringiensis) inserted into GM food crops to kill pests are reaching the bloodstreams of 93% of women and 80% of unborn babies because of the consumption of meat, milk, and eggs from livestock fed GE corn. This could turn bacteria in our intestines into pesticide factories.
  • Animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.
 Allergies have already skyrocketed in the US, and with the introduction of GE soy in the UK, soy related allergies rose to 50%. Yet federal agencies turn a blind eye to the dangers of genetic engineering" 

It seems the possibilities are endless.  Some scientists think that eating gmo food could cause cancer.  Have you ever looked at cancer statistics?  Cancer is more prevalent now than ever. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Say NO to GMO!

What the heck is GMO anyway?  A Genetically Modified Organism, according to wikipedia, "is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes."

GMO seeds are genetically modified seeds.  WHAT? They want to do WHAT to my food? 

Natural News has LOTS of useful information:

"The US food supply is riddled with GMOs, and most people are completely unaware of this
There are still no federal, state, or even local requirements that GMOs be labeled. Monsanto and the other biotechnology giants have blocked all attempted efforts at GMO labeling thus far. Many Americans simply have no idea that they even exist. This is, of course, how Monsanto and other purveyors of GMOs have gotten away with converting the vast majority of US staple crops like corn, soy, and canola to GM varieties over the years, and sneaking them into a wide array of conventional, processed foods.

Many people that are aware of GMOs are under the false impression that if "frankencrops" are being used in the food supply, then they must be safe. Such an idea is propagated by the mainstream media and by many in the mainstream scientific circles, but it has no basis in reality, of course.

And this is precisely the point of GMO Awareness Week -- to spread the truth about GMOs to as many people as possible with the hope that, eventually, we will get them properly labeled. Once labeled, millions of Americans will choose to avoid products containing GMOs, and instead choose non-GMO products. In the end, non-GMO and organic will win out because, as many public polls have already shown, the vast majority of Americans are opposed to genetic modification of food (http://www.naturalnews.com/031569_G...)."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)

What is Colony Collapse Disorder?

Wikipedia states "Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006.[1] Colony collapse is significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees." 

According to Florida Dept of Agriculture:
"Colony Collapse Disorder, also known as Fall-Dwindle Disease, is of great concern to beekeepers worldwide. Beekeepers are reporting the sudden loss of adult bees in their colonies – few, if any, adult bees are found in or near the dead colonies. Queen and baby (brood) bees remain in the colonies, but the adults are not returning to provide food, so the colonies collapse or die. Over 22 US states reported significant colony losses in the fall of 2006. Similar reports are coming from Europe as well. Researchers are considering viruses, bacteria, fungi, weather, food loss, and other stresses as possible causes."

For more information, below are a few helpful links.
Vanishing Bees
Scientific American

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Going Green in 2012...It's easy!

Maybe the title should be Greener in 2012.  There are so many "green" products out there but  I'm more interested in DIY "green" projects.  Below are a few items that will save you money and are more eco-friendly.
1. Turn off lights in rooms that are not in use.
2. Stop buying bottled water.  Use a Britta filter (or something like it) and a BPA-free bottle.
3. Make your own soap or detergent. (Instructions to follow)
4. Recycle.  It takes little to no effort to throw bottles and cans into a separate recycle bin.
5.  Grow your own.  If you haven't already started a veggie or herb garden what are you waiting for?
6. Buy locally.  Look for a farmer's market for weekly produce purchases or shop at your local hardware store instead of the big box stores.

Just these six steps will get you started on the right track.  While you're at it, why not look for the little guy.  Shopping online has become the norm these days.  Why not look for a small-business to support instead of always looking for the big-guy-on-the-block.

Just my 2 cents!  Happy greening in 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012


I had a semi-exciting, extremely productive weekend.  I had to work on Saturday (gasp) but only for a few hours.  My hubby and I braved costco, which was a madhouse, and I managed to can my first batch of jelly.  And that was just Saturday!
Apricot Cranberry Jelly

Sunday we took it easy (kinda).  I made a large batch of Lasagna with my mom's instructions.  I would post the recipe but I kinda threw it together. One lasagna is all meat, another meat and veggies and another with just veggies. **Send me an email or leave a comment for instructions** I also made an extra mini veggie lasagna for us to eat right away and the rest went into the freezer.

I harvested a few pieces of Swiss Chard

On Sunday I also learned more about Bees.  I plan on sharing the info within a few days.  Now is the BEST time to start thinking about what to plant next season.  In Florida I plant and transplant in January/February.  In other states it can be more like late February/March.  Whichever your planting date, it's time to start thinking about what to plant next!