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.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tips From Fellow Gardeners #4

We interrupt our regular programming to bring a tip from a fellow gardener, Mike Hannon, who you can visit at:


Growing peppers in a northern garden

My wife and I always have luck growing pepper plants even though our springs are cold, and summers can be hot and dry. Neither of which is conducive to growing peppers as they prefer a warm humid environment. Here are a few tips for growing peppers in a northern garden.

Peppers like acidic soil much the same as tomatoes and lightly limed soil with adequate moisture and a pH around 6.0 - 6.5 will help prevent blossom end rot. We don't use lime but instead are always incorporating finely crushed egg shell powder into our compost since we have chickens. After digging moderate amounts of compost into the soil the peppers are planted deeply, all the way up to their first set of leaves, since peppers are shallow rooted and sensitive to moisture fluctuations. They are set about 15 - 18 inches apart well after the last frost date when the soil has warmed and before the first flowers develop. You want the peppers leaves to just touch when fully grown. We find that those little cages that don't really work for tomatoes are perfect for holding peppers and eggplants.

The peppers are mulched with grass or straw around mid June when the soil has warmed. If using straw we are careful to cover the straw with a thin layer of dirt as it can burn the leaves when sunlight reflects off of it. Peppers need humidity, so keeping the mulch damp is important, we use an overhead water system for the our gardens but always walk the garden and deep water everything a couple times a week during the hottest part of summer. Dark colored rocks and bricks placed around the peppers absorb heat from the sun and help to keep plants warm at night and extend the growing season. We use red bricks from an old walkway, but have noticed that dark rocks seem to hold the heat longer.

When the peppers are off to a good start we give them a little fertilizer in the way of compost tea 2 or 3 times during the summer. Be careful not to go overboard on the plant food though as it stimulates vegetative growth and excessive growth can delay fruit production.

Peppers are picked as soon as they are ready so that the plant can put it's energy into growing the rest of the fruit. Although some of ours do not fully ripen on the plant most will change color if stored in a warm, dry, shady area. One can also pull the whole plant and hang it upside down until the fruit is needed. You may wish to trim all the leaves off first as they will fall off a couple days after the plants are suspended.

Another trick to make peppers last into winter is to carefully pot the ones with the most fruit up and bring them into a warm environment. We were able to pick peppers all they way until Christmas this last year using this method. Better yet, plant a few of the them in a pot in the first place and then all you have to do is move them in the fall. Remember, plants confined in containers will need to be watered daily.We avoid this by burying the entire pot in the ground and mulching. All peppers are a perennials and can be overwintered, most will stop growing in the winter and lose most of their leaves, but will leaf back out in spring.

While realizing everyones local and growing conditions differ, we hope this article will be of some benefit.


  1. DAN & VAL
    Thanks for the timely info on PEPPERS. For the PEPPER plants that are planted in pots can they be wintered over in a root cellar? And what is the procedure to revive them for next season?

    Thanks . . . MILO

  2. Milo, if you have any heat in your greenhouse, so that it is above freezing, the peppers, will stay comfortable there. Reduce the watering, mimicing the drier winter soil. The plants will look shabby and loose most of their leaves. When the days begin to lengthen and warm up you should start to see a bit of new growth. Up your watering slightly and you should be off for the second year. I will check with other sources and see about basement storage.