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.

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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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