Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is a Food Revolution brewing?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tools for the Kitchen Gardener

I have been buying garden things from Gardener Supply Company for years. They always seem to have the newest accessories to make gardening easier and I have been really happy with their offerings and service.
Look what they came up with now. The Gardener Supply Company now offers an online Kitchen Garden planner.
It is build on the concept of the 'Square Foot Garden' method and geared toward their popular
3' x 6' raised garden beds. It gives you a few options of pre-planned Kitchen Gardens, for the new Gardener just starting out and a bit unsure what to plant.
But the fun really starts with the 'Design your own Kitchen Garden'. This feature let's you choose from 30 different type of vegetables to drag and drop into a grid of 1' x 1' sections, which resembles your garden bed, it puts just the exact amount of vegetables in that grid as you can fit in that space.
I wished they had some more different types of vegetables, the selection right now is limited. Although you can substitute different vegetables which use the same spacing, instead the ones you actually want to plant, it sure would be better to be able to use the ones you have.
Hopefully they add more varieties with time.
After you are done, you can save and print out the garden with growing information or email it to yourself.
The program also offers a 'Step by Step Planting and Care Guide' and a 'Vegetable Encyclopedia'
which right now only has the vegetables they use in the program.
It also will let you link to garden accessories in the online catalog, you could use to grow your Kitchen Garden.
All in all it is a neat program to plan your Kitchen Garden and the best is, it is free.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Planting with home made Seed Tape

Sometimes I have a hard time planting the tiny seeds without wasting to many seeds. It is really hard to spread the small seeds at a proper distance, often you can't even see where you put them. I hate to waste so many seeds, but even more annoying is the extra work I have, having to pull the excess seedlings to make room for the ever growing plants.

When I still lived in Germany, 25 years ago, they sold many varieties of vegetables in Seed tape. It was a fleece type paper, similar to tissue paper which easily dissolved once planted.
It was so easy to plant. You just tore the right amount off and laid it in proper distance on the bed, spread some soil on top. Done!

In my early gardening days in the US, I often looked for Seed Tape in the plant catalogs, never found it until a few years ago.
Some things just take a long time to make their entrance to the US.
We are such a progressive country, for some reason we are often behind the rest of the world in new things.
For just a few years you finally can find Seed Tapes in a few catalogs, very few catalogs that is. But they have such a small amount of seed varieties offered that it is hardly worth bothering with it. Especially for gardeners which like Heirloom Vegetables.

Luckily they are easy to make yourself. All you need is some tissue like paper. Toilet paper works well, I like to use commercial type paper towels, like they often have in restaurants bathrooms.
Then you need some glue, like Elmer's Glue or you can do what I do, just boil some Cornstarch in water until it is thick like glue, it works just as well and there are no chemicals involved.
I don't have exact measurements for it because I just mix a little Cornstarch in water, cook it and if not thick to my liking I add some more Cornstarch and repeat. Just remember not to get it too thick, because it has to be able to come out of a squeeze bottle. After it cools down a bit transfer to an old glue bottle and you are set.
To make the Seed tape, I put little dabs of the glue mix in the right distance for the seeds to grow. I seed mine a bit closer, just to make sure I have enough sprouting. Rarely all the seeds will sprout, and the few extra seedlings I just pull when needed.

Then I put the seeds on the little daps of glue and cover the sheet with another paper towel, labeled with the varieties name, so I don't confuse the plants.
Now all you have to do let them dry, fold them up and next time you get out to the garden, lay them on the prepared garden bed, cover with a bit of soil and you are done planting.

The nice thing about it is, that when the weather is too rainy to go outside to plant, you can prepare the seed tape inside, knowing once the rain has stopped, you quickly can plant your seeds.

So after I made these seed tapes, I found this product on the web.
Make your own seed tape http://seed-tape.com/index.html, just like the Seed tape I knew in Germany. You just add your own seeds. I think I will order some of that.
Go figure, I have been looking for that for such a long time and right after I make my own, there it is.

Victory Garden at the White House

A Victory Garden is coming to the White House

White House guests will be munching on vegetables grown in the White House's own vegetable garden.

After the Grassroots campaign 'Replant a Victory Garden at the White House' signed so far by 100,00 people and the efforts of Roger Doiron's Eat the View campaign the White House made an announcement they will dig up a part of the South Lawn at the White House for a Vegetable Garden. Making this a great victory for the sustainable-food movement.
Michelle Obama and elementary Students will break ground in a Ceremony today on Friday, March 20, 2009 for the vegetable garden project.

My wishes for this project:
'Please Michelle and Obama, don't be to timid. Think big. You have so much space to grow lot's of food. Think about the food banks and people hungering in Washington, plant many rows for the poor.'
What better example could be there, the White House feeding the poor!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tools for the seed collector

Are you collecting your own seeds? Where do you keep them? Do you keep them in little zip lock bags, like I do? Or in little containers?
I used to keep them in old Film containers, but unfortunately I don't have those around anymore since I went digital.
Do you label them with Permanent Markers, which end up not being really that permanent?
So now you are left with seeds in a bag and you can't remember which ones?
Has that happened to you?

Don't despair, I came across something really neat to solve our problem. How about printing your own seed packet?
You can find printable seed packets in different sizes at Homes and Garden Website plus canning labels, recipe cards and other neat printouts.
You can also use Photo shop to use your own picture, how neat is that?

As always, our fellow Gardeners are a great bunch of people, to share what they come up with.
Thank you! Fellow Gardener