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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Soil Preparation - Part 1

Okay, now you have your seeds, you potting mix, your pots, you have successfully started your little sprouts, and the snow is finally gone. You are excited. Finally your going to grow a vegetable garden. Yippee! Then you look out the kitchen window and discover a yard full of nothing but grass. Bummer. But don't get in the dumps. You still can plant that first garden and things will only get better from this year on.

First select a site that gets at least 6 or more hours of sunlight with in reasonable distance of your taps. Lay out where you want you rows to go and how long. I would suggest 10 to 3o feet as a reasonable row size. You will want to be able to plant enough of any type of vegetable to feed your family. This first year will be the hardest, especially if you are doing it by hand rather than having a rototiller do the initial turn over. If you have access to either a person with a tractor/rototiller (the easiest way to start) or even a heavier duty garden rototiller, then I would suggest that you work your soil completely with it and eliminate the steps that follow. If you are starting from scratch with a lawn or pasture, try and have the garden worked at least two times before planting season, about 10 days to 2 weeks apart. This will help destroy the grass and weed roots and give you a much "cleaner" soil to work with.

But getting back to the old fashioned hand turning method. As soon as the snow goes, cover your garden area with a couple of layers of cardboard, weighted down as it will help start killing off the lawn grass and weeds. Now mark out where your rows will be. Work the garden one row at a time. Lift off the cardboard about 2 feet wide for the full length of the row. Take a sharp spade and slice the grass along each edge between the cardboard layers, then cut length wise two more times so that the slices are about 6" wide. Go back and cut these slice horizontally every foot. Starting at one end of the row, lift the sod out and beat off most the soil back into the garden row. Take the turf and stack some place out of the way, upside down. Continue doing this until you have a row 2 feet wide the full length of your garden. Now get out your spading fork and break up the soil well, removing rocks and other non soil components. Sprinkle a handful of general all purpose slow release fertilizer, a couple of handfuls of epsom salts (magnesium and phosphate) and a couple of handfuls of bone meal for every 20' feet of row. Remix the soil in each bed. Now move the cardboard back another 6 inches on each side, slice and cross slice. This time you turn the sod upside down right back on the edge of your row. Pull the cardboard back over the turned over sod and mulch well (3-6") with lawn clippings and or chopped up leaves. Moisten the whole area well. Leave 3 feet between each turned over area. You can mulch these strips with lawn clippings, leaves, even sawdust. This summer, these will be your pathways. In the fall after harvest, if you have the time, You can do your pathways the same way as you did your original beds. If you are into raised beds, like we are you can shovel your new pathway beds up onto your existing new beds, take your fork and work the two layers together.

Now getting back to the turf that you have stacked up in some out of the way place. Sprinkle a couple hand of high nitrogen fertilizer over the top of the stack. Wet it well, cover with cardboard, so light can not penetrate the covering and cover with a tarp. Occasionally check to see that it is still moist (not soggy) and recover. In a year or two you will have some lovely soil which you can return to your garden beds.

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