About Grunt and Grungy ...

For those of you who don't know about us, a little history to fill you in.

Between the two of us we had over a hundred years of experience gardening. (Now that makes me feel old.) We had gardened in climates that can be described as West Coast Marine, to Sub Arctic wilderness, to flat prairie and finally settled in what we commonly refer to as our little piece of paradise, here in the Creston valley, in south eastern B.C., Canada, located about 10 km. north of the Idaho panhandle and just below Kootenay Lake.
The property lies in a small microclimate that gives us a zone 5/6 Canadian version or 6/7 US version.
We were avid gardeners for years, and about 10 years ago noticed that more and more of the old varieties of vegetables were no longer being offered. Being raised in the generation that thought "if you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem", we decided to start growing heirloom and open pollinated varieties of vegetables (especially tomatoes) and offering the seeds to other gardeners.
Well one thing lead to another and we ended up starting a private seed bank so that our and your grandchildren will be able to have the same tastes that you are having now. This past couple of years we had gone past tomatoes and started seed banking (cold and cool storage) any annual vegetable seed.
If you have questions or would like to contribute to this blog, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Also for those who wish to trade please contact me at the below e-mail address and I will get back to as soon as possible. Thank you.

I am sad to report that Dan McMurray passed away on February 15, 2012 at his home in Wynndel, British Columbia. Dan was 69 years old.

Much of the final years of Dan's journey is chronicled on this blog. He was a man who made a difference to many people, and his family believe that his thoughts in the last years and months of his life, and his work in preserving heritage seeds should remain available.


What I post about ways, methods, and results is based on what I observe in my garden. Your growing conditions may achieve results that differ from mine. I am putting this blog here to offer a site to exchange gardening ideas and methods, and to exchange seeds.
I welcome questions and discussions about anything gardening. The only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask. I will try to find answers for questions that I can't answer, and may post links to sites that have clearer answers than I can come up with.


I do have tomato seeds to offer. The seeds are free, but I ask you to help cover the postage and handling in one form or another.
They can be obtained through trading seeds, or paying for postage at the rate of $2.00 for the first ten varieties or seed packs, and an increase of $1.00 for every ten varieties or seed packs beyond that. Seed packs are approximately 25 seeds each (not counted, just a pinch of seeds). Germination rate usually exceeds that of commercial seed packs. If you have problems with germination, let me know, and I will replace the seeds, either with more of the same variety, or with a variety that I think will give you something similar to what the original variety would have. Please note. I am not a seed company. Iwill only offer seeds from my current trade lists and also if I have lots to spare from previous years. I don't check germination on older seeds, but my experience has been over 80% on five year old seed.

2010 FALL SEED LIST = http://tinyurl.com/4whnxy3 Some seeds from this list may be in limited supply, but I will do my best to fill your request.

Albums containing photos of most of the varieties I have, and other photos that may be of interest, can be found at:
http://www.picasaweb.google.com/tvgrunt, or

When you have made up your list, send me a copy at grungysgarden@gmail.com

Changes ...

The status here has changed substantially, as you can see above. The blog will continue, hopefully with more frequent input than recently.
Seed saving and trading/sharing will also continue. I still want to bank seeds, not just of tomatoes, but I am older than the lead photo on the blog would indicate, and have passed the seed bank on to younger hands.
In the meantime, I will continue to pay it forward, and trade/share seed to all corners of the world, as I did with Val.
This poem, which we both have known since the 1960's gave us much comfort through Val's battle with cancer.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Life comes with no guarantee of quality or quantity. It is up to you to remember to smell the flowers, watch the sunset, hear the birdsong in early morning, and the spring frogs in the evening. What ever happens in your little corner of it, it is still a beautiful world, and you do yourself a great disservice if you fail to see and celebrate what is there.

A little footnote here, that will stay at the top of the blog. I have married again, for the fourth time. Another internet marriage, as Val's and mine was, and just as good, although completely different.
I was also diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2011, and started treatment to cure it in late August 2011.
The blog will carry on, in much the same vein as it always has. I will post mostly garden related articles, but also a few comments on things and life in general.
For a while, I thought Gump had it right = sh*t happens. He's wrong = LIFE happens

I am sad to report that Dan McMurray passed away on February 15, 2012 at his home in Wynndel, British Columbia. Dan was 69 years old. His family wishes his blog to remain for those who wish to read Dans' journey.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seed Saving - Part One

Seed Saving is a large part of many gardener's yearly chores. It probably would be a "chore" for more people if they just realized how easy it really is, for most types of seeds. In this section of our blog, I will be dealing only with those seeds that the average vegetable or flower gardener will encounter, and not those which require special treatment such as water plants. For the ease of understanding, I will refer to the following conditions. 1. when seed is first harvested the germination rate is 95% or higher, and 2. prolonged storage germination rate will remain above 74.9% (this is what several commercial seed companies deem as acceptable for selling).
The first thing to realize is that there are three types of seed storage, room temperature, cool storage and cold storage. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
-Room temperature, which is as the name says, is keeping seeds at room temperature. It is preferable, to keep the seeds in a cool room such as a cold room, or basement or at least a room that can be kept below 70F. This is shortest term for storage and result in a fairly short term viability for most seeds. The advantage here is that there is no need for any special equipment or conditions to maintain your seeds. T
-Cool Storage temperature - this is where seed is stored in the fridge at around 4C. It will prolong seed viability for several times the amount of time that room temperature storage gives. Tomato seeds should remain viable for at least 10 years. Net result - longer storage of viable seeds but offset by the amount of fridge space required.
-Cold Storage temperature - this is the longest storage alternative, where after conditioning seeds are held at about -18C in the deep freeze. They will last a very long time this way, but require more time and expense to prepare and store.

Let us deal with Room Temperature storage. Requirements are a cool area, a storage container of some type, collection containers (ie coin envelopes, baggies, regular envelopes, film canisters, ect., anything that will keep your seeds together and that you can label.)
Always collect your seeds when they are mature enough to grow an offspring. For most plants, this is when the seed has fully formed, the fruiting body is ripe, and there is a distinct change in color in the seeds (often going from green to brown or black). Of course there are exceptions such as tomatoes, where once the gel has fully formed around the seeds and tomato fruit has started to change color, the seeds are viable.
Prepare your seeds, by making sure they are dry, especially if you are using a moisture tight container such as a baggy or film canister. Once they feel dry (an added precaution to help make sure that they are dry enough is to wrap the seeds in a paper towel, which will blot up any excess moisture.), you slip them into you selected collection container which you will label. I would suggest that you include the name of the seed, varietal name if known, date harvested and any special treatment that the seed may need to get it to germinate. Once labelled, and filled just tuck you collection container into your storage container.

Cool Storage - basically the same requirements as Room Temperature Storage, except that you will also need a compartment in you fridge. (I use one of the crisper sections.) This type of storage requires you to make sure that your seeds are dry. If in doubt, dry for a longer period of time or add a drying agent to your container of seeds. A quick common solution is to wrap up table salt into 5 or 6 layers of paper towel, or some dry rice grains done the same way. If you are going to get into seed saving in a larger way, talk to you druggist or florist and see if you can get some desiccant Wrap a very small amount in a paper towel and tuck in with your seeds. Either right in the collection container if using a moisture proof one or in your storage container if using a paper container such as an envelope.

We will go to Cold Storage next time.

REMEMBER : all the methods I have or will discuss are only modifications of other people's methods. Most storage methods have been used in various forms for years, and I can only discuss what we do. If it sounds familiar, it is only our modification of what others have done. If I know the source of information I will direct you to the person or organization which started me down that particular path.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How does our garden go - part 5

I know why this month is named October. It has nothing to do with the Julian calender. The number oct is for eight, and this is the eighth month, garden has been in full swing.

With the peaches done, the pears, both European and Asian, are harvested this month, along with the grapes and apples. The canning kitchen takes on a fruity air, with the prepping and canning of pears, pear and apple butters, and of course juices from all three types of fruit. Most years, Grunt has the fruit press and macerator (a home built machine that "chews" the whole fruits into fine pieces) set up around the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. (Of course, this year with everything being late - we just finished juicing last weekend (Nov 20th).) I have sewed 4 heavy duty bags that fit inside the press and after the fruit has been reduced to a pulpy mass it is scooped into the bags, which are tied shut and dropped into the chamber. Pressure is applied and the wonderfully sweet juice runs out into the collecting plate on the bottom and into waiting pails. Dozens and dozens of prepped jars are waiting in the kitchen, and as each pail is filled it is brought in, the juice is poured into the jars, lidded and processed through a pressure canner. Our neighbour, Alex, who helps Grunt outside at the press takes his juice home and his wife Ruby, pours their juice into washed and rinsed 2 litre plastic milk jugs. They freeze theirs, and when they want "fresh" juice, they merely remove the frozen container into the fridge the day before, allowing it to thaw, and then shake the container. I would do it too, but deep freeze space is limited in our household due to our seed banking passion for storing heirloom and open pollinated seeds. Once the pulp yeilds up it's juice, it is either fed to the chickens or goes into the compost pile. (I think the worms wait all year for juicing time. Go out a week or two later and they have all moved over to where the pulp has started to decay.)
The vegetable garden, has not been neglected. The soil continues to be weeded, the mulch fluffed and turned, and finally the fall amendments added and scratched in. Early in the month the bean poles are lowered and the beans pods are picked and sorted by the degree of of ripeness. Fully ripe pods are set aside for dried beans (some go to our seed bank, some are traded, most are stored and cooked later on). The not quite ripe beans are shelled as soon as possible in the evenings and processed as "shellys" which are canned and used as side dishes during the coming year. The empty vines are removed from their string supports and taken to the bulging compost bin. Can you guess what our evening activities are for a couple of weeks?
One is always amazed how naked the garden appears by Halloween. It is hard to believe how lush everything looked, only 3 months before, when the growth was at it's fullest.
Leaf raking and hauling also occurs in October and into November. As soon as the trees drop about half their leaves, I dig out my trusty leaf rake and start making leaf windrows. Grunt brings up a tarp and rakes them onto it, when it is so full that no more leaves can stay on it, he drags it down to the area where he will be sitting up the shredder/mulcher (near the corn stalks and the "L" of the compost bins). He makes a huge pile of leaves that he covers with a tarp to keep off the rain (or snow). When the last leaf is raked up and transported to the holding area, and the day is nice, the shredder is fired up and all the cornstalks and leaves are reduced to tiny pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch in size, and blown into a pile in the corner, which is covered with a weatherproof tarp. This combination of leaves, corn stalks and hay (when we can get it), will be used for the first mulch on the gardens, come spring planting time.

November - No more growing gardens outside, by mid month, no more soil turning, no more harvesting, no more long days outside (besides it is getting dark early). No more running out to the gardens to harvest fresh vegetables or flowers for the tables. No more hot days or weeks of sunny weather. Seems like November has a lot of "no s". However there are other enjoyable gardening "chores" to do. Now is the time to bag up individual packets of seeds, post trading lists on the forums. purchase bubble envelopes and stamps and let the trading begin in earnest. We must be nearing Christmas. Just about everyday there are envelopes stuffed with packets of seeds, either coming in or going out or both. One quickly learns what the postage is to and from several countries. Incoming seeds, must be catalogued, and filed. Seed bank donations are prepared and put to storage. I often wonder what the mail delivery people think of what is going on. The lady at the post office becomes one of you "bestest" friends. When you walk through the door, a bag of envelope in hands, she just smiles, reaches for the custom declaration stickers and opens the stamp drawer. She knows what you are there for and is quick to help you with the weighing and paper work.

December is a planning month. Next year's varieties lists are drawn up, and gone over. Garden space is alotted for each type of vegetable. Last year's records are gone over, checking for production and problems, and plans are drawn up of what is in line for next years garden. Seed catalogues are checked, both the paper and internet type. Ideas are exchanged by e-mail or snail mail. One has a chance to do some in depth reading of the previous year's posts and collect oodles of new ideas.

This is also the month that "Santa" tucks some of his goodies under each "good" gardener's tree. Maybe it's a subscription to a garden magazine, a new book, or if you have been really, really good, some new gardening gadget.

So now that I have shown you our garden over the year, we wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas and a Great Gardening Season each and every year. Hopefully you will write us and tell us your stories or offer suggestions and or tips.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How does our garden go - part 4

September brings the rush of the closing the growing season as autumn and frosts draw ever nearer. Usually the first week of September finds us harvesting the last of our eating corn crop. What isn't eaten fresh, is cooked and sliced off the cobs, then quick frozen in meal sized packets of real heirloom flavor to be savored over the coming winter and spring months.
On the first Thursday of the month in the afternoon, we set up tables outside and invite all our friends and neighbors to help us with the tomato tasting trials. They are given cards that are number 1-15 and asked to taste pre-cut samples of tomatoes and then rate them, 1-10 and give a comment or two on the taste. We later post a list of which varieties they were and have them circle the numbers if they wish to have seeds from which ever varieties they liked. I find it amazing the different responses that we receive about each variety. Laughter peals out as spouses find that their opposite, rates the same tomato exactly opposite. One will give it an 8 or 9 and the other will place it at 2 or 3. The results are complied and added into the comments that you see when we post our tomato lists for trading.
Nine days after the taste testing, when we are sure that we have adequate sample of all our open pollinated or heirloom tomatoes, we hold what we prefer to call the "Great Tomato Pick Off". Starting at 1 pm, Sunday afternoon the tomato garden is thrown open to anyone who wishes to come and pick the tomatoes. We supply picking pails and the pickers supply containers to take their goodies home. This past summer, 39 people hauled around 2500 pounds out of the patch. After the picking is finished, we supply beverages and the people bring snackers and we set around and catch up on how everyones' gardens have gone over the summer. Would you believe that all those tomatoes were picked in less than 2 1/2 hours?
When the last guest leaves, I clean up the snacking area and Grunt goes down and starts stripping off the side lines to allow the tomato plants to flop over.
Monday morning finds me, pruners in hand and a couple of buckets (one for green and one for ripe tomatoes), back in the patch. I prune off all the branches about 6" above the ground and strip off all the missed tomatoes. The branches are piled into piles that either one of us (who so ever has a couple of minutes to spare) will wheelbarrow up to the cold compost pile. As I finish a section, I go back and pull the roots out, shaking off the dirt and adding them to the growing piles.
While I am working in the 'mater patch, Grunt picks the seed corn cobs, and cuts down the corn stalks, piling them by where the chipper will be set up. The corn plant roots are de-earthed and laid down in the bottom of next year's compost pile. The corn beds are then weeded and the mulch is fluffed to break up any clumps. With a transplant shovel the mulch is turn in to a depth of 12- 13", and the bed is top dressed with the fall amendments. Using a spading fork the corn bed is turned one more time to work the rotting mulch throughout the soil, where over winter it will finish breaking down and provide a deep, humus rich bed for whatever we decide to plant there next year. If it isn't carrots, ( since they don't appreciate unaged compost), we will top dress the corn beds with manure to age over winter and supply additional nutrients.
Each evening after supper the pails of green tomatoes are gently rolled out into cardboard flats and transported into our spare guest room where we maintain a temperature of 55-60F. Once there, they will slowly continue to ripen, providing us with fresh tomatoes, well into February. The ripe tomatoes, minus the few that we eat for meals, are transported to the local food bank and nursing homes. Of the 4000 - 6000 pounds the garden produces, we will eat, or can about 1500 pounds. The rest are eaten by other folk who also appreciate the old fashioned tasting tomatoes. As each row in the tomato patch is cleaned up the branch and root piles are removed to the cool compost bin. It, like Topsy, grows and grows. The bin is 6' X 6" and often by the time we are done it is also over 6' high.
When the corn patches are finished, Grunt bends over the necks of the onions, if need be (as it help speed ripening) and then starts digging a trench in one of the beds to winter store our root crops. As soon as the trench is ready, the potato, carrot and beet harvest begins. They are dug in turn and the beets and carrots lose much of their tops. Then each type of vegetable is stored in its own section of the trench, covered with a very thick coat of mulch, a tarp, a plastic sheet and another tarp to keep the soil from becoming soaked from rains and snows. Doing this provides us "fresh" root vegetables until the following April. Whenever we need the vegetables, Grunt brushes off the snow, lifts the tarp and burrows under the mulch and brings in a pail of mixed potatoes, carrots and beets. Then he carefully recovers the trench to prevent it freezing.
Near the end of September, (or early October, if the weather holds), the squashes and the last of the melons are picked, their plants are ripped out and added to the compost pile. The melons are eaten and the seeds are saved as soon as they are available. The squashes are washed and wiped down with a damp bleach water rag, and then dried and allowed to finish curing their rinds at room temperature, for a couple of weeks. Then they also find their way into the cold room with Grunts assistance.
As soon as the onion tops die back they are harvested and allowed to cure either right on the bed if the weather is nice or under a tarp leanto should rain threaten. A few days there, we rub off the loose onion skins, trim off the roots and tops and bag them in 10-20 pound bags to hang downstairs.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How does our garden go - Part Three

Part three brings you to the tales of July and August.
We're busy, busy, busy, as most gardeners are. There is the seemingly endless cycle of weeding, watering, mulching and training the various types of plants to grow where we want them to be. Thank goodness our 12 year old niece, loves to run the mower and cut the grass. I am sure glad she had decided to spend the summer holidays with us, as it is a tremendous help having a 3rd body to take up the slack.
Providing we have a decent start to the spring, by the end of July the tomatoes are reaching towards the sky, loaded with blossoms and setting fruit like crazy. If we are lucky and have select early varieties, by mid-July, we are occasionally snacking on fresh heirloom tomatoes, with their various combinations of flavors and textures. Ummmm! Chopped up with fresh lettuce, and green onions, a little vinegar and olive oil dressing makes a wonderful change to the diet.

Towards the end of July, while Grunt struggles mightily to keep up to the rampant growth in the garden, my interest diverges somewhat toward the orchard and the commencement of canning. Around the 20th of the month the sweet cherries are ready to go, followed quickly by the early apricots.

August seems to be filled with days that do not have enough hours. The garden still needs it's care and attention, and by mid month is when we start to harvest the tomatoes in bulk. When they come through the door, the seeders are set aside for a few hours while the rest of the tomatoes are processed either as whole, stewed, chunked, or salsa. While these are going through the pressure canner, I slice the seeders in half, squeeze out the seeds in to baggies to ferment (thanks to Dave (American Gardener) for the tip) and then put the rest into a large pot to cook slowly in the oven in preparation for juicing or saucing. It hardly seems like I get one batch done, and Grunt is bringing in some more tasty heirloom/open pollinated tomatoes to do. When the tomato section of the garden gets ahead of my processing, there is a line up of people who are willing to drop in and take extras of my hands. They love the old fashioned vine ripened taste.
And if that isn't enough, the late apricots and early to mid season peaches and early pears, crowd into the processing line up. I try to save an hour or so each day to at least look at the garden and do some of the minor weeding, or mulching chores.
Although we are busy, this is one of my favorite times of the year. Every day brings something new and wonderful outdoors. It is the height of insect activity and the first batch of nestlings are now learning to fly. It seems like you can actually sit (if you had the time) and watch everything grow.
By mid to late August, the first of the melons are ready to harvest, and our diet goes from the usual meat, potatoes and two veggies, to one very high in fruit and vegetables. The heirloom melons and early summer squash are also yielding up their seeds for the seed bank, although they must dry throughly and won't be banked for another month or so. And with a warm summer, the first ears of sweet corn add that wonderful taste and aroma to the kitchen.
Towards the end of the month our "helper", has to return to school, so we cut down watering the lawn, so that it will not need as frequent mowings. This tolerable to us, because by now, the garden beds usually have a nice thick mulch coat that can be as deep as 4 inches.
Near the end if the month it seems like everything wants to be sampled, and picked, and preserved towards the coming winter. No wonder our grandmothers were so busy with all their heirloom vegetables, and they looked forward to the coming fall and winter.
Coming soon - Part 4 September and October........

How does our garden go - Part Two

Part 2 brings us to the months of May and June and a great speed up in outdoor activities. Please excuse the house - you can tell that Martha Stewart doesn't live here. Most days are spent outside, from can see to can't see.

May - May 1st, I do the final sowing of transplants, with the heirloom or open pollinated melons and squash (thanks to a suggestion by Canada Mike) replacing the now emerged beans.
Also during the first week, the final push to finish adding the amendments and turning the soil is finally done, using a garden fork. (We have about 1000 X 3 feet of raised bed, which equals about 3000 square feet of turning to do. Who needs to go to the gym? We also try to cut the grass during this week, as it provides the first layer of mulch (with all the shredded leaves from last year) on the beds, and it is now growing at that "first flush of green" rate.
Once the beds are turned and the lawn has been mowed, (we are hands on gardeners), Grunt sets up the bean poles and pegs down their strings, runs the side lines for the tomato arms, and generally prepares to start transplanting the tomatoes, and peppers. Since May 4th is our supposedly last frost date, we also sow the beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and other direct seeded vegetables at this time. (If we find the time they can also be planted the last week of April.)
Starting May 15, weather permitting, comes the push to do the transplanting. Grunt takes care of the tomatoes and beans and I (Grungy) commence on the Cape Gooseberry, corn, melons, squash, and peppers in that order. Should we have a nice spring we can generally be done with the transplanting by the end of May, although some years find us finishing it in late June.
Did I mention mowing - every week to 10 days the grass has to be mowed and as soon as I finish my share of the transplanting, I start mulching all the beds. It helps hold in the moisture, provides nutrients as it breaks down and slows or eliminates the need for weeding. Did I mention I HATE weeding?
We grow mostly Open Pollinated (O/P) and Heirloom vegetables. It would be totally this way, except I have yet to find a good winter storage onion, that will come close to "Copra". Anyone have suggestions?

June find us finishing the planting and tranplanting schedule, finishing with the onions. We plant them in a thick line and then when they are about 6-8 inches tall, we thin the first line and transplant the spares into 5 more rows, planting them roughly 4 to 5 inches apart both ways.
Mowing and mulching are in full swing now as we are on agricultural irrigation water and everything is watered at least once a week including the lawns. The garden beds themselves, depending on the weather and the plant uptakes can vary from 1 week down to every other day, for about 2 hours. The lawns receive an eight hour soaking if the weather has been dry. All of our irrigation is done with drip lines, including the lawns. It cuts down on water loss, and most of the plants prefer to have the water applied to their roots (this is especially true of tomatoes).
While we are mulching, we also are weeding. Our worst offenders around here are dandelions, creeping charlie, quack or couchgrass and knapweed, with wild chicory and chickweed thrown in for good measure.
By the end of the month, the tomatoes have taken off, and Grunt finds he is filling his days by tucking in branches that pop out of his side lines. We rarely prune our tomatoes, as we want to see what nature will provide as intended, and we aren't into producing the biggest tomato for the fall fair. (And pruning 300+ plants would just add too much to the workload.) Between mowing and mulching and weeding, and greeting guests, I find my days getting quickly filled, and when our heads hit the pillow at night, we know that we have been doing something. Oh the feel and smell of fresh turned earth!

Friday, November 14, 2008

How does our garden go - Part One

Thought I would start this off, by describing how our gardening goes through out the year. This first installment is the months of January to April.

January -
is a preparation month. It starts off by cleaning and sterilizing the starting trays. Then comes the mixing of the potting mix. We use a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, and supplements such as epsom salts, fine bonemeal, superphosphate, and miracle grow. Stir well, add a small amount of snow or rain water to moisten the mix and make it damp. The trays are then filled and stacked awaiting planting. We are also busy filling seed requests and preparing seeds for the seed bank.

February -
continues seed trading, seed bank preparation, and around Valentine's day, Grunt sets up the first germination chambers and starts the lights which provides bottom heat, and warmth to the seeds and seedlings. By the 20th of the month, eggplants, peppers and Cape Gooseberries have found their way into their nice warm dirt beds to begin sprouting. The germination chambers are set up outside where the plants will receive only natural sunlight for growth. By the end of the month, we are done seed banking and the test tubes of precious seeds are in their boxes and having a deep cold sleep in the deepfreeze.

March - begins the real push into planting. By the end of March (usually starting around the 15th - 20th) all of our planned tomatoes are planted and germinating in the chambers. With the snow usually gone, Grunt is getting active in the actual garden, doing the spring preparation work, or making new beds. Meanwhile I am preparing the new trays for beans, corn, ect. to be planted and helping outside in the gardens or doing early pruning and trimmings. During his rather busy days, Grunt will set up our hoop greenhouses, and put out the heaters to start warming them up.

April - Now is the time for transplanting our little sprouts into their "grow bigger" transplant pots and transferring them a tray at a time over to the hoop houses. As the germination chambers empty of peppers, tomatoes, ect., near the the 2oth of the month, corn is planted out into deep paper pots, to get a jump on our cool spring weather. By the end of April, tiny spears of corn are popping through and they move into the line up in the hoop houses to make way for deep paper pots of bean seeds. By the end of April seed exchanging has slowed down and now when we have a spare moment we can start cataloguing our new aquistions.

More about May to August next time .......


Comments are always welcome