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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seed Starting Tips #4 - Starting mix

You've got the seeds, the pots and now what to use for potting mediums. I generally make up two slightly different potting mixes.
The first is used for starting small seeds that I will be transplanting into individual larger pots. I use a large tub for mixing my starting mixtures in, so this will be in gallon (4L) measures.
4 parts peatmoss (4 gallons)
2 parts perlite (2 gallons)
1 part fine vermiculite (1 gallon)
2 Tablespoons of all purpose fertilizer (I use Miracle-Grow 20-20-20)
2 Tablespoons superphosphate
1/4 cup of lime
Mix it well and then add a gallon of warm, preferably rain or snow water or tap water that has sat overnight to get rid of the chlorine. Turn it over and over again until the moisture is evenly distributed through out the mixture, and the put in planting containers.

The second mix is for transplanting seedling after they have their first set of true leaves, or for very large seeds that are planted individually into pots such as beans, peas or corn.

Take 1/2 of the previous starting mixture and add the following:
3 gallons peat moss
1 gallon perlite
1/4 cup of lime
2 Tablespoons all purpose fertilizer
2 Tablespoons superphosphate

Again add 1 gallon of warm water, mix throughly and put in planting containers.

Happy puddling and gardening.

Seed Starting Tips # 3 - need more pots?

It's getting that time, when the fingers are itching to get into the soil. You have gone through all your starting containers, drew up your list of what you want to grow and discovered that you have more seeds that will need to be started indoors, than you have starting pots. What to do? Spend a small fortune buy more seed starting pots or kits? Or would you prefer a cheap source of pots that you can make while you sit in front of the TV in the evening, or convince the kids that this will be a really great craft project. And most of all you have the necessary equipment just laying around. You will need a ruler, a pair of scissors, a pencil, some old newspapers (make sure that they have vegetable oil printing - most black and white are this way today in North America), a cylindrical object that is about the same diameter as the transplant pot you want and at least 1 and 1/4 the height of the finished pot, and some masking or scotch tape.

Measure the diameter of your form (the cylindrical object). Say for example it is 1 1/2" wide. Figure how tall you want your pot to be. For example 3" tall. Then take your ruler and measure your newspaper in strips that are 4" wide. (3" (pot height) + 3/4" (1/2 the diameter of the form) + 1/4 of an inch for overlap. Cut the newspaper into strips and then roll the strips around the form 2 1/2 times. This will give you the length of strip that you will need for each pot. Cut as many strips as you want pots.

I mark the height of the pot on the form with a permanent marking pen, so that it is easy to know exactly how high up the form I need to put the top of the paper strip.

Take your strip, wrap it two and a half times around the form. Tape (just a short piece) the edge closed so it will hold while you are doing the next steps.

Go around the bottom of the strip of paper folding it in towards the center. It will overlap and this is what you want. When you have all of it folded in, take another small piece of tape and secure it closed. Slide the new "pot" off the form. And volia - a new pot. If you only need the pots for a short time say 2 weeks you can now put them in your tray and fill with dirt. If however you are planting something like tomatoes which may be in the pot for up to 6 weeks, take an old baggie (I find that sandswich baggies slashed across the bottom to let water flow freely in and out), slip your pot into it and fill with dirt. Paper pots will allow roots to grow through the edges and into the next pot if you do not have a barrier. You could also uses a column of plastic wrap secured with tape or a rubber band to form the barrier.

Fill you watering or insert tray with dirt filled pots, plant your seeds or seedlings, water well, and often as necessary, and happy gardening.

When it comes time to transplant out,remove the plastic barrier and tear off the very top of the pot so that no paper is above the surface of the soil. It should tear off fairly easy at the soil line. You want to do this, so that the paper will not act as a wick and draw the moisture away from you plant's roots. And transplant right away so everything stays nice and moist.

I find that it is easy to make pots up to 3 1/2" in diameter and and as small as 1". They can range from 2 1/2" to 6" tall, which will give you a lot of options for whatever types of seeds you want to start. For example squash or melon seeds, I would use the 3 1/2" wide by 2 1/2" tall pots. On the other hand, corn and beans which have long roots, probably would be started in a 1 1/2" wide by 6" tall pot. Just consider the root structures of your plants, how long they will be in the pots, and the ease of transplanting. Remember you transplant the plants, pots and all.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tips From Fellow Gardeners #3

Johno of Bishops Homegrown bring today's tip.

"For those starting tomatoes a little early, fertilizing with fish emulsion and keeping the lights on for 16+ hours a day helps keep them in the vegetative phase until transplanting."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seed Starting Tips #2

Soon it will be time to start your seeds indoors or your heated greenhouse or germination chamber.
Peppers should be started 8 - 10 weeks before transplant time with bottom heat of 75-80F
Eggplant should be started 8 -10 weeks before transplant time with bottom heat of 70 - 75F
Tomatoes and Cape Gooseberries should be started 6 - 8 weeks before transplant time with bottom heat of 70 - 75F
Squash can be started as much as 4 weeks early if planted in a container that will decompose in your soil or if you are extremely careful not to disturb the roots while transplanting. Good temperature for bottom heat is 65-75F
Corn can be started in deep plug pots about 2 weeks before transplanting.
Beans and Peas started 1-2 weeks before in paper pots (which will break down once they are buried in garden soil.
Cold crops such as cabbages and kale can be started as much as 12 weeks before transplant time, but only require normal household temperatures to germinate.
Please remember that once you seedlings germinate that they must have good light and continued warm while they are growing. About 2-3 weeks before transplanting out,( and I would suggest 2 weeks after your last expected frost date,) start "hardening " your seedlings off by slowly lowering the temperature, and on sunny days put them in light shade (or set them outside in the early morning and again in the later afternoon, avoiding the brightest sun between 11AM and 1 PM) and exposing them to your normal gardening conditions. Gradually expose them to more sunlight everyday.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seed starting tips

Soon it will be seed starting time, and today's tip is about pre-germination of your seeds.

What you will need is seeds, plastic ziplock type lunch baggies, paper napkins or coffee filters (you could use paper towels but seedling roots have a bad tendency intermesh in fibers). Open and layer you paper flat. Sprinkle the seeds lightly over the 1/2 of the surface, carefuly fold over once or twice, spray or sprinkle with water to moisten the paper and slip into the baggie. Stand on its end or hang vertically in a warm place. Check baggie / paper daily and as the seeds germinate, transplant into soil medium. This will allow you to get a great start and only grow viable seed. Happy growing.

The above method also is a great way for germination testing. Use anywhere from 10-100 seeds (depending on how detailed you want your precentages).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tips From Fellow Gardeners #1

First tip comes from Lavandulagirl from Bishops Homegrown site.

I wanted a system that I could contain, but still get a good amount of compost out of. I came up with a way of doing it that worked really well for me. I start with 3 large rubbermaid garbage cans (The largest ones available at the hardware store). I drill holes in the can, with a 3/4" drill bit, until the can will definitely drain well. (The bottom will need holes, too.) Once that is done, I place them where I want to keep the compost. I begin filling the first can with compostable items, up to about 2/3 of the way to the top, trying to layer "browns" and "greens" as much as possible. Once I reach that level, I upend that can into the second one. This effectively turns the compost, while keeping it contained. I add a mix of greens and browns (generally grass clippings and dead leaves) and close the can. Then I start adding things to the first can again. When the 2nd, full can has sat for a few weeks, I water the composting material thoroughly. (This can be done with rain water, if your climate allows) and turn it into the last can, again mixing it up. The first can will then be turned into the 2nd can again. The items in the last can are then used to layer with raw items going into the first can. By mixing between the 3 cans like this, you can have compost ready in less than 2 months.

Now, keep in mind that I am using black cans, and have lived in relatively hot areas of the country while utilizing this method. Therefore, the compost runs pretty hot, generally about 155 fahrenheit. Of course, there is some spillage when you're turning the cans out, but generally, this method gives you usable compost in less than 2 months, and only takes up the space of 3 garbage cans. It's a really efficient way of containing the compost in a small space.

Tips From Fellow Gardeners

I just thought I would introduce a new area on this blog. It is called Tips From Fellow Gardeners. Here we will posting ideas and tips from ourselves and other gardeners who would care to share some of their wealth of knowledge and practical ideas.

If you have any tips or ideas, that you are willing to share please send them to me in an e-mail to grungysgarden@gmail.com, giving your idea and how you would like to be acknowledge as the supplier of the tip.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hope you had a great holiday season

Hi Everyone,
We hope that you had a great holiday season and are now ready to look forward to the NEW YEAR. If you have notice that this blog site has been idle the past couple of weeks, my apologies. Our holiday guests, although very welcome and enjoyed, unfortunately and quite unintentionally added a not so nice surprise gift to the mix.
We are just now starting to surface from the battle of a head/chest colds.

My Mama always said look for the silver lining, cause things always could be worse. So here's my take on it. I suppose it could have been worse, one of the guest could have also brought the stomach flu with them. Now that would have been an unpleasant site.

Has everyone started to dig out from the weather yet? We manage to collect about 20 inches of really wet stuff over the holidays and now we are getting rain to make it even wetter. Thank goodness for the snowblower which kept most of the snow off the need areas such as driveway and paths. I personally think we should see if we can't vote for Mother Nature to consider winter over and spring due to start any day now.

Starting tomorrow back to gardening topics - cheers, Grungy