Thursday, March 21, 2013

Seed Swappin' and Such.

It has occurred to me more and more over the years that I really love organic gardening.  Watching tiny heirloom seeds grow into something beautiful and edible is really so mesmerizing.  So this year I've taken up seed swapping with a few people.  For a girl who likes gardening, this is like the best new pen-pal idea I've seen aside from delicious organic recipe exchanges... ! Some of my seeds were purchased, but many I also saved from different heirloom tomato varieties.

(some of my tomatoes growing early last summer, 2012)

Part of what prompts my passion to continue organic gardening on a small scale is seeing how hard organizations like the Organic Consumers Association and Environmental Working Group work to have genetically modified organisms labeled in stores, protect organic consumers' rights, and fight on the side of the organic farmer, just to name a very few things.  It saddens me that the largest parts of these fights involve financial support, which my family just can't give.  In spite of this, I will support them in the best and only way I can-- growing my own organic, non-GMO foods and continuing to purchase as many of these types of items as possible from the grocery store.  

All this to say...  Try growing something of your own.  It really is so easy, and even if you just purchase a packet of organic seeds or pick up a small pot of organic herbs already growing from a local greenhouse or garden center, you'll begin to enjoy reaping goodness tended by your own hand.  And if it doesn't go so well right away, try again with something else later in the season or next year.  Then you can start saving and swapping seeds!  It could be a great hobby or something to which you'd really love to dedicate all of your time and efforts.  Try container gardening with a tomato plant or two.  I really like My Square Foot Garden's ideas...  Or try a raised bed garden using ideas from Grit Magazine or Mother Earth News.  These are great resources full of tips, ideas, garden planning...  The possibilities are really endless.  Use soil mixes, such as the 'recipe' cultivated by Mel Bartholomew, a square-foot gardening guru (his recipe was a no-fail for me last year, having tried it for the first time, and I got great pumpkins and butternut squash using the recipe for my container gardening! I had already started the tomatoes with a different mix of slightly more acidic soil and nitrogen-rich compost, which tomatoes really love). 

For Mel's mix, you'll need the following, calculated by volume according to the size of your plot(s):
  • 1/3 vermiculite
  • 1/3 peat moss
  • 1/3 compost (from as many sources as possible)
And there you have it.  Experiment!  Pick something you'd like to grow.  I always really enjoy growing tomatoes, though if you'd rather start simple, try something like rosemary that doesn't require much attention after you get it started (though it does need good irrigation, but that's something to take into account when planting/potting it, not an ongoing care issue).  

1 comment:

Jill Taylor said...

Hi, Kristen,
I used Mel's Mix in my Square Foot Garden. Haven't had much luck with seeds. I do mostly seedlings. So far this year I have put in early jersey cabbage, butter crunch and romaine lettuce, arugula, carrots (from seed), dill, oregano, thyme, garlic, onions, red potatoes, parsley and cilantro. When it gets warmer I will put in tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil. Fun fun fun!