Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds weeks before you can plant outside in Spring is easy and beneficial because it gives your plants a head start for the growing season. You can use a grow light like I am doing this year or if you have a window that creates a bright position in a warm room then this is perfect too.

What container do you start your seeds in?

This time I have chosen to use peat pots because the seedlings don’t get disturbed as these get planted pot and all straight in the garden area that you have chosen. Other great environmentally friendly and free options are to use egg cartons, egg shells or empty toilet rolls. These too can be planted container and all in the garden or pot of your choice.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8qq9en5cKlk

The above You tube clip is thanks to thriftyfun.com and shows how to recycle toilet rolls for seed starting pots.

What growing medium do you use?

I am using a seed raising mix in my peat pots but you can also make your own. If you want to make your own seed raising medium you can checkout the following link for information on how to do it.

How do you sow the seeds?

Firstly fill your peat pot, toilet roll or whatever your chosen container is with your seed raising mix. Then use a couple of fingers to press down lightly to remove any air pockets in the mix and top up the container again with you seed raising mixture.

Wait, hold on… don’t forget to label your chosen container so you know what you are growing and I also find it useful to add the date of sowing too. Next you need to make a hole the correct depth to plant the seed for the particular plant you have selected. You can check the depth recommendations on the seed packet but what if you have lost it or you were given the seeds. The guide to follow in these cases is no deeper than 2 times the width of the seed. So for lettuce seeds for instance which are very small you basically need to make a very small impression in the dirt and lightly put a bit on top. Sunflower seeds are bigger so need a small hole. Finally spray your sown seeds with water from a spray bottle like a mist. Check daily and mist as required, do not let them dry out completely.

When do you plant outside?

Seedlings must have at least 2 sets of what are known as true leaves. The first leaves you see when the seed sprouts are called cotyledon. Actually they are not really leaves but part of the seed and provide a food source for the seedling until true leaves form and the plant is able to begin photosynthesis.

It is important to make sure if you are in a frost prone area that you ensure the last chance of frost has passed before planting outside. It is also essential to harden off the seedlings before you plant them in your chosen position outdoors. I know, I know, it is so hard to wait; planting outside for me is like being a child on Christmas morning but this is such an important step that the wait is worth it.

How do you harden off seedlings?

This process of hardening off seedlings is vital to ensure they don’t experience stress related to the change in temperature, direct sunlight and wind; we don’t want our precious plants to wither and die before we have had a chance to enjoy them.

To begin the hardening off process start about 7 days before planting outside. In the afternoon choose a sheltered place outside to leave your seedlings for an hour or 2 away from direct sunlight and then bring them back inside.
Repeat this each day leaving them outside an hour longer than the previous day and slowly moving them to a less sheltered position with more direct sunlight as the days move on.

Your seedlings must also become used to being outside at night so this time also needs to be extended until they are outside the entire night. Keep an eye on the weather and if it is going to rain lots or there is going to be frost then bring the seedlings in. Also keep a check on the moisture level and spray as needed.

Planting outside

The day has finally arrived to plant your precious seedlings outside. Chose a cloudy day to help your plant with the transplant shock by not having to deal with a hot sun. Dig a hole about 2 times as big as the root ball of your seedling. Next if you want to add a sprinkle of Epsom salts to the hole and then lightly sprinkle soil over the top before planting. This aids in reducing the shock of transplant and provides plants with a source of magnesium and some other minerals too. Now put the plant in and fill with soil to the base of the plant covering the roots and pressing down firmly with your hands. Lastly water thoroughly and keep a good eye on the new plants over the next few days. Some wilting can be expected in the first day but the new plants should perk up quickly with adequate water. If there is a big dip in temperatures they may need covering and I have found a soft drink bottle with the bottom cut off and placed over the new plant works a treat for this and it is a great way to reuse an item before it gets recycled. Otherwise you can make row covers if needed from clear plastic.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of your seed starting journey and you get a kick out of seeing the seeds sprout and grow, I know I do. The best part is when your vegetable plants grow and produce food that you harvest and eat or your flowers bloom and make you smile. My garden is my happy place, until next time happy gardening. 😀

Foodscaping Our Front Garden: part 2

Nearly finished

We have nearly completed foodscaping our front garden with 6 dwarf fruit trees, 2 raspberry bushes, 2 blackberry bushes and 2 blueberry bushes. We have also included an arbour and planted a red grape vine on one side and we plan on planting a green grape vine on the other but have not been able to find one at our local garden shops.

We have added strawberries and chives because not only are they excellent companion plants but also great edibles to grow in our foodscaped front yard. Perennial spinach has also found a couple of spots as I have discovered recently that I actually like spinach and it can be added to so many dishes. Watch out for some upcoming blogs with homemade recipes to use up all the homegrown spinach.

I have planted many flowers including petunias which are great companion plants because they attract beneficial bugs including bees. I have left some spaces for basil and chamomile which are great companion plants and edibles but I am really keen to make and try my own chamomile tea. Stay tuned for how I go with that and mint tea from my supply growing in the backyard. I have started some seeds indoors getting ready for spring and this includes chamomile, nasturtium and lettuce for the front garden. Basil apparently has to wait until October so a very helpful lady at my local garden shop told me.
Checkout my next blog coming soon about starting seeds inside with and without a grow light and how to harden them off before planting outside in spring. Until then happy gardening. 😀

Never buy Onions again – How to grow onions from discarded onion bottoms

Do you want to learn how you can use the bottom of the onion you cut off when cooking? As an avid gardener the thought of growing something without a cost is very appealing. This post is all about how you can grow an endless supply of onions.

First of all you need to gather the things you need. The follow the steps below.

You will need

  • Onion
  • Knife
  • Container
  • 4 toothpicks
  • Pot of soil or garden area for planting

Steps

  1. Cut about 2cm off the bottom end of the onion (use the rest of the onion in your cooking).
  2. Peel the dry onion skin off the bottom and leave the bottom for about 24 hours for it to dry out.
  3. Insert 4 toothpicks in a cross pattern equally spaced to use to suspend the onion in the water.
  4. Fill the container with water and place the onion bottom so that it sits in the water slightly.
  5. Leave in a light place until there are white roots growing.
  6. Next choose a pot, an area of garden or raised garden bed to temporarily plant the onion bottom.
  7. In the soil make an impression the size of the onion bottom and place the onion in it.
  8. Cover lightly with soil and then water.
  9. When the shoots are about 10cm long above the soil (this May take about 4 weeks) gently dig up the onion bottom.
  10. Gently remove the old onion pieces from the sprouted onion bottom.
  11. Divide the onion bottom by using a knife or scissors so each of the leaf sprouts are separated from each other. They must have both leaves and roots on each piece, if not discard the piece. Each piece you plant will grow in to a full onion.
  12. Plant each piece in the place you have chosen to grow it in. They need a sunny position.
  13. Remember to water regularly (stick your finger in the soil and if it is not moist it is time to water).
  14. Harvest when the leaves have fully bent over and part of the top of the onion is showing.

It will take up to 6 months for the new onions to grow but soon you will have enough onion bottoms growing to never run out of onions again. Each onion you harvest can have the bottom cut off and used to grow more onions. Each onion bottom usually can grow 2 or more onions. In Adelaide we can follow this process of growing onions from onion bottoms all year to never buy an onion again.

How to grow an onion from an onion bottom

After seeing this idea pop up so often in my Pinterest feed I decided I would give it a go. For those of you who don’t know onions take about 6 months to grow to maturity. So after having given this a go and waiting 6 months for the tell tale signs that it was harvesting time you can imagine my disappointment when I dug up my onions to find just roots. There was plenty of green leaves on top above the soil but alas no onion. ☹️
This can’t be right I must have done something wrong. I looked up lots of information about growing onions and growing onions from onion bottoms and low and behold I discovered a few instructions had a step I didn’t do. Now I can try again and show you all the steps and how it all goes. Cross your fingers that the end result is onions and never having to buy them again. Stay tuned by following my blog to find out how to grow onions from onion bottoms.

Foodscaping Our Front Garden

This is after the demolition has begun and still lots of work to go.
Demolition complete!
Blueberries in pots, Alyssum ground cover and yellow Marigolds.
The first fruit tree in the ground, a dwarf peach tree.
Dwarf Mandarin tree on left and dwarf lemon tree on right with Marigolds surrounding both.
Two Raspberry and two Blackberry bushes planted alternatively with chives.
Addition of Mondo Grass and some flowers.

The adventure of creating an attractive front garden that also produced food is a fun and interesting journey. I have spent much time researching especially in regards to companion plants and what not to plant next to each other. Did you know Marigolds are a fantastic flowering annual that should be planted next to all food producing plants for it’s ability to repel bugs that like to eat our food crops. Marigolds also don’t have many problems with disease. Very importantly they attract bees which for us gardeners this is hugely beneficial for pollinating our plants.

You are probably wondering why I have planted chives between my raspberry and blackberry bushes. Well for five reasons actually.

1. For a ground cover crop to suppress the weeds.

2. To repel harmful insects.

3. To attract bees.

4. Their looks – when they flower chives produce beautiful purple flowers.

5. And who could forget the culinary benefits.

With much more of the adventure into foodscaping my front garden to go stay on the look out for upcoming posts.

My Gardening Horrible History

I have been gardening for many years but seriously organic for 2-3 years. I began veggie gardening just as a small hobby at first and enjoyed the small harvest I was able to grow but became frustrated because some plants just didn’t produce anything or bugs got to them first. My husband said he would help me make my garden a bit bigger and move it to a better location in our fairly small backyard as I had proved my dedication. Excellent I thought, we will be growing so much more of our food! However our puppies that were only 6 months and a year old also thought this was a great idea and although we fenced off the garden they got in and trampled and dug up so much. The first time I got straight out there and was able to save many of the new plants and thought it would be alright. My other half fixed the fence and we looked forward to a bountiful harvest, that was until 3 days later when they got in again and this time the destruction was worse. I saved some but not much. We had to rethink this puppy problem…..

Soooo, chicken wire just wouldn’t cut it with our two fur babies. We upgraded to dog proof wire and metal star droppers and the new 1.2 metre high puppy proof fence was born. It worked for weeks until the four legged garden destroyers were left home alone for a whole day. They managed to get underneath the dog proof fence. It was time for dog proof fence 2.0. We bought strong tent pegs and put them around the bottom of the wire so they couldn’t push under. This seemed to work at least for the older of the two pups. Maybe my veggies would finally have a chance to grow? But Pepper (our Alaskan Malumute x Shar-pei x American Staffy) was very determined to harvest my veggies on her own. No lettuce, strawberry or tomato plant was left insight when she stretched the wire in an area that was weak and got in (she couldn’t get out though). My husband was furious and decided that was enough. Off to the hardware store he stormed and came back with concrete rebar panels. Finally my vegetable garden was safe from Pepper and Halley (our American bulldog x American Staffy).

A year on and we have made extensions to the garden (and the dog proof fence) and have changed our very basic compost pile to a two part barrel tumbler. We are trying new plants and using various organic methods to deter harmful bugs and attract beneficial bugs including companion planting.

My garden is my happy place, a place I feel at peace, a place where I can forget about the rest of the world and the horrible Corona Virus pandemic. I am dreaming and planning of things I can do with my harvest like making my own peppermint essential oil from my bountiful supply of mint and using this to make sugar scrubs and soothing foot lotions.

We have a new project that has just begun, our front yard. We haven’t really touched it for 23 years and so we decided to pull everything out and start again with organic and food growing front of mind. See up and coming blog posts for this exciting adventure along with plans to build a deck and extend the backyard veggie garden again (just a bit husband I promise).

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