Thursday, January 12, 2012


This is just a quick post to update the growth of the seedlings. The tomatoes have all sprouted and the cabbages are shooting up like weeds. So, 10 days after planting the seeds, everything is growing fast and strong except the Natal Plums. I'm not sure how long germination is supposed to take for those.  Perhaps they are just slow to pop, or maybeI didn't dry or store the seeds correctly. I'm not ready to give up on them yet though.

Leggy Seedlings
Another thing I have learned about using the paper pots is that I should have used the pot making tool to compress the soil in the pots. I think the soil is too loose. Hopefully, that won't negatively affect the growing of the sprouts. Next time, I will fill the pots with soil, and use the pestle to press the soil down into the pot. Live and learn, that's what this garden is all about.

I will be packing these seedlings and my other straggly plants into a large moving truck and shipping them from    hot and humid Palm Beach Gardens, Florida to the much cooler East Palatka, Florida. I'll keep the seedlings indoors until it warms up enough to transfer them to our Spring garden. Once I get settled up there, I will be starting a lot more veggies from seed, as well as reading up on some gardening and seed saving methods. Stay tuned for the updates on that and a lot more in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sprouting Update!

Just a quick update here: the tomato seeds have all started to sprout. They are teeny tiny, but they are growing. Now all that is left un-sprouted is the Natal Plum. I am wondering if I did not dry out the seeds enough or something. I'll post pics of the seedlings soon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

We Have Sproutage!

I came home from work on Friday night (1/6/12) to find that I had sprouts springing up from most of my newspaper seed pots. The rapini, both cabbages, and leeks all had tiny green shoots poking through the soil. Three days later, I still don't having anything happening in the tomato or Natal Plum pots, but I think they might just be a little behind. The weather has been unseasonably warm lately. There is a high of 78 degrees today. I'm not sure how that is affecting germination, but as always, I'm hoping for the best.

The tomato and pepper plants from last summer are loving the warm temperatures. I kept thinking I needed to tear out the tomato plant and start fresh in spring, but now it is covered in little yellow blossoms. And the pepper plants have been going to town! I have red stuffing peppers and jalapenos growing, and I think some purple beauty peppers are getting ready to form as well. I am going to try to keep these go-getters through the winter so we can enjoy some winter/early spring tomatoes and peppers.

One word of caution on the paper seed pots: they are delicate. I checked on the tray of pots on Saturday morning to find that one of my cats had tramped through there.  One of the pots that got stepped on was split down the side. You can see it in the forefront of the picture. If you have curious critters or small children, this might be something to consider when deciding to use the paper pot method. But I just stood the pots back up, re-shaped them a bit, and everything seems no worse for the wear. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Seed Organization

I can’t be the only one with this problem – Storing and organizing left over seed. I’ve tried several different methods over the last year, none of which were terribly successful. Initially, I taped the seed packets closed and put them in an old school-supplies box. This was adequate until I needed back in those seed packets. Every time I had to cut the tape to re-open the seed packets, the packet itself degraded a little more. Also, there was no organization to the box. When I needed a specific packet, I had to sort through everything in the box to find it.

Next I put the different varieties of seed packets in their own labeled baggies. I had a plastic sandwich bag for all my different tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc. This helped with the organization, but the seed leaked out of the seed packets and soon I had bags of miscellaneous tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.
So here’s my latest attempt:

Seed book
I tri-folded the seed packets and slid them into clear plastic business card holder sheets. Each sheet holds 10 seed packets. I can actually read the seed packets, and so far, I don’t think that any seed has been able to escape the packets. The image above is my test run. I am going to take it on a trip to share with some gardening friends. If the seeds all stay put, I will put my other (20-30) seed packets in the protector sheets and organize it so that each sheet is dedicated to a plant type (i.e.: berries, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, greens, etc.).I also put white ruled paper behind each sheet and plan to catalog planting /germination notes for each seed I plant in 2012. Hopefully this seed catalog/garden diary will be the answer to my seed storage and organization prayers.

If anyone out there has a good method that works for them, I would love to hear about it. I’ll even post it here (with your permission) to share with others.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time to start seeds?

I took up gardening on a small scale last year. I had many failures, but I also learned a lot from the experience. One of the things I decided to do differently this year is to start the seeds sooner. Here, in Florida, we have a very long growing season, and I missed out on growing some of the cooler-weather vegetable varieties because I didn't start the seeds soon enough. Not so in 2012, I vowed.

So despite the temperature dropping at a steeper rate than it has all season, I decided to get a jump on a few of the cool-seasons veggies. Last year I used the Burpee seed-starting trays to start the seeds. The trays worked very well, but I found that it became difficult to find the trays after the first month of Spring. Instead of being dependent on Burpee this year, I purchased a paper seed pot making tool.

Yesterday afternoon, as the cold, windy weather was starting to blow in, I made 18 paper pots out of some newsprint junk mail. Not only is the pot-maker made of wood, and therefore completely recyclable, but it also helps the home gardener recycle some of the paper in her home. It's a win-win! I have also read that these paper pots are better for the growth of the seedling, since it doesn't restrict the roots the way the seed starter mesh soil pods can do.

The act of planting seeds on the coldest day of the year seems like an act of extreme hope. It's hard to believe that those tiny, dry seeds will open and grow into plants that can feed us all season. Therefore, I think it's a perfect way to bless the new year.

My Seed Pots

I sowed seeds for leeks, Nero di Toscana cabbage, Coer De Boeuf Des Vertus cabbage, Black Giant Tomatoes, Rapini Broccoli, and Natal Plums. The Natal Plums are a total experiment. I discovered this plant on an urban foraging class of Green Deane's ( It is a thorny bush type of plant that produces wonderfully scented white blossoms and delicious, sweet/tart flavored, fig-sized "plums" all year long. I picked a dried fruit off of the plant during the class and brought it home with me to harvest the seeds. My fingers are crossed that I can get a couple of these going in my yard. Visions of Natal Plum preserves and dried plums have captured my imagination.

Natal Plum

Everything except the tomatoes and Natal plums are cold-tolerant, so I'm hoping to have them producing before the afternoons get warm. The tomatoes I will keep indoors for as long as possible. I just want to get a few of them started early so that I can get the most out of them all spring and summer long.

If anyone from the South has any advice or recommendations for a newbie just starting to garden in Florida, I would welcome it in the comments of this blog. I scour the internet for helpful tidbits, but most gardening advice doesn't pertain to the extreme South. Thanks for the help, and I'll post an update soon.