Gardener's Grapevine 2013.01.30

Written by David Green.

This week I would like to discuss purchasing and starting seeds. Let’s all face it, starting plants from seeds is the least expensive way to get your plants, which, of course, are essential to a garden. No plants, no garden, unless it’s a rock garden. So unless you have good friends who are splitting or sharing their volunteers, it’s a pretty good idea to get experience at buying seeds.

For the majority of my gardening history I have bought my seeds from local gardening stores, and other than a few types of seeds that are favorites I just pick up what looks or sounds good. I know that over the years I have tried many different varieties of peas, beets, corn and lots of other vegetables.

There is one seed I don’t stray from; it’s a green bean called Kentucky half runners. These beans are the most flavorful of any I’ve ever tried. I also like the purple green beans as they aren’t susceptible to rust, and insects leave them alone. They are funny beans, when you cook them they turn green, but they are as purple as can be prior to cooking.

When purchasing seeds, obtain catalogs from companies located in your part of the world and compare their offers and prices. Regional seed sources will have seeds best suited to planting in your area.

Prior to purchasing your seeds, look at your garden notebook and look at what has worked in the past. If you are starting your vegetable garden, jot down what you like, what you use a lot of, what keeps your summer taste buds satisfied, and what is a must.

One thing that is always in my garden is tomatoes. We eat tomatoes year around; they are easily a staple in our house. Nothing in the grocery store compares to your own homegrown tomatoes. I can many quarts of my own tomatoes every year and as much work as it is, I am so glad I did when the chili is hot on the stove in the cold months. I will give you a heads-up on growing tomatoes from seed. If not done correctly, they will get leggy in the main stem and not become a successful plant.

So back to purchasing seeds. Take your list and think about your garden space. Decide which plants are a must and make sure you plan enough room for plant growth. Order the seeds you decide upon, and while waiting for them to arrive there are a few things you will need. I use a grow light. You need containers, which can be almost anything, and a lot of people use divided compartment planters that are available in many stores. You can also use a heating mat that keeps the plants warm as they develop.

Next is soil. Stores that sell seed starter supplies will have special soil that is enhanced to give the best results to growing seeds. Some people just purchase peat pots, which look like pellets that expand when watered and contain everything needed to get the seed to a plant.

A grow light is a must to keep tomatoes from getting spindly. Keep the plants about four to six inches from the seeds/seedlings until they are ready to harden off. If the plants are farther from the light source they will reach for it and have long stems that cannot support the plant. Once this happens, the plant becomes stressed and will shrivel and die. I really believe a grow light is essential for good seed-to-plant success.

If you choose to give starting your own seeds a try, I wish you the best of luck. If you don’t succeed, don’t give up, there is nothing like a plant in the garden that started as a little seed in your hand and is providing bounty for the cold months. Here’s wishing you good times playing in the seeds and dirt.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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