Starting Seeds Indoors

February 28, 2013


Here in Minnesota we have a very short growing season so it is imperative that certain seedlings be started indoors. It is almost the end of February and the sun is gaining heat strength and duration in the sky. If you have a good southern exposure window that stays quite warm you are already ahead of the curve when it comes to seed propagation.Plants-with-Sticks

We like to start various varieties of garden vegetables and herbs that are two tender to plant directly into the garden soil in May. Tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, herbs such as basil, Thyme and parsley are also great to plant inside to give them a head start. One wonderful thing in Minnesota is that we have a large, diverse population of immigrants that have brought many different varieties of garden vegetables to this region. I particularly like some of the Asian vegetables like, Bok Choi, Pak Choi and Napa Cabbage. These are also very good varieties to start indoors.

Since we like our vegetables to be organic I generally find organic seeds. There are several companies that provide organic seeds such as Seed of Change http://www.seedsofchange.com. I have found a small selection of these seeds available at some our local retailers. One word of warning though if you do want your seeds to be organic, make sure you check your seed company carefully as many of these companies have sold out to Monsanto and you may find yourself planting genetically modified seeds (GMO’s) if you are not careful. I have found a list on the Internet that lists all the Monsanto seed companies which is very helpful http://www.garden-of-eatin.com/how-to-avoid-monsanto/. I have returned some seeds once I knew where they came from. Remember to vote with your money.  Anyway, also try to find some organic soil to start your seeds. This can be somewhat difficult but not impossible. You want soil that can hold the moisture well as generally you plant very young seeds in shallow trays and they tend to dry out quickly.  Some soils do not absorb water very well and seeds can float when watered. I found this out the hard way.Young-Cabbage-Plants

If you are like me and are concerned about the hybridizing and patenting of seeds, you may want to find heirloom seed varieties. The beauty with heirloom seeds that you can save your seeds from one year to the next while patented hybrid you cannot. This will ultimately reduce your seed buying cost from year to year and you are doing your part to keep food sources a free and sustainable commodity. It is more work as you will have to save some of your best produce just to provide seed for next year. I have saved some tomato seeds, year after year. It is also a very good practice to have a friend that does the same so you can periodically trade seeds. This keeps the variety hardy and minimizes the same plant family continuing to pollinate each other. There are some incredible heirloom seeds on the market that will product the most flavorful produce you may have ever tasted. Once you eat an heirloom tomato you will never eat a hydroponic tomato unless you have no other choice.

It is best to keep a misting bottle handy as this provides a very gentle way to water tender young plants without brakeage. I also like to cover my seed trays with a plastic dome to keep the heat and moisture in. If for some reason you are not getting good sunlight, find some good grow lights at your local hardware or building supply store. They are critical as your young seeds can rot if they do not get enough heat or light. Use natural light whenever possible as nothing is better than what Mother Nature’s light.  As a person who has never had children, nothing is more rewarding then seeing your first seeds sprout from their germination beds. You feel like a very proud parent. Start now as spring is just around the corner.Young-Plants

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Prefect Time For Propagation

February 20, 2013


If you are looking for the perfect time to prune your fruit trees and grapes, now is the time. It is always preferable to do this while the weather is still cold and the sap has not started to rise from the roots to the plant. Keep in mind that fruit will only develop on new growth so be careful not to trim back beyond last year’s growth. Generally you can tell as last year’s growth has smooth bark. Prior year’s growth will have a textured bark.Grape-Root-Powder

A good friend of mine who grows grapes and has five acres of them is trimming them now. I was fortunate enough to receive some cuttings of his grapes that are not patented varieties. Each cutting contains at least three shoots to a cutting. It is best to place the large end of the cutting in some rooting compound, which you can find at any garden store, then place in a container of soil until weather permits you to transplant them outside. I was told that both ends of the grape is cut so place the straight cut into the compound then the soil while keeping the diagonal cut put in the air. This makes sure that the correct end of the plant is rooted in the soil. Grapes are generally very hardy and can grow virtually anywhere. With that said if you want to get the most of your grapes, it is best to plant them in full sun in a North South direction. By doing this the plant gets morning light as the sun rises in the east and afternoon light as the sun sets in the west. You will also have the best luck if you can plant them on the south side of a hill side as this protects them from the cold Northwest winds of the winter.Grape-Rooting

Unfortunately, the property that I have does not give me the optimum location to plant grapes as the tree canopy provides way to much shade for maximum growth and production. I did an experiment last year and planted my grapes in an East West direction and not in full sun. I did lose a few plants, but last year it was exceptionally dry and they did not get near enough water. I have not had them in the ground long enough to let you know how well they do, but once they begin to produce fruit I will let you know if it is worth the trouble of planting grapes in a non-recommended location.

I am going to begin pruning my Concord graphs and will start some of those cuttings also. I have had one Concord grape in my back yard that has been there for years and it runs in an East West direction and can produce a plethora of fruit each year. Generally more than I can preserve. They do keep the neighbors happy as we always share the bounty. If you can I would suggest finding someone you know that has grapes and volunteer to prune them for them if you can get some of the cuttings. I think you will find it very rewording and it will in a few years provide you with great grapes.Grape-Cuttings

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A Sovereign Mans Spin on the Fiscal Cliff

January 10, 2013
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This blog was originally intended to be a platform where I could provide a sovereign spin on current items in the news. You may have noticed that we have a large amount of recipes as my wife has had more time and creativity then me when it comes to blog entries. Don’ t get me [...]

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One of my favorite tools in the kitchen!

January 3, 2013
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Today I thought I had better clean the refrigerator of all of the New Year’s foods that have been hanging around. Potatoes were in abundance and needed to be taken care of along with virgin coconut oil, garlic, onions, red and yellow peppers, and blue cheese.  Well, nothing better than a cast iron pan & [...]

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Black Bean Veggie Burgers

December 20, 2012
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I’m so excited to share this recipe with you. Anna Dvorak, a friend of mine from Minneapolis has just written a cookbook called “nourish: winter” (nourish: cooking with love in four seasons), which is a four-part seasonal cookbook, released in sequence. Lately I have been on a black bean kick. When I purchased Anna’s book [...]

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Sunday Morning Eggs

December 15, 2012
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Sunday is the only day I have to enjoy my home and my kitchen. Having a nice quiet morning to enjoy some home cooked food with a cup of coffee or tea makes the day even more special. This is one of our favorite things to make when we can enjoy our time together. Enjoy this recipe with your [...]

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Curried Squash and Kale Dressing Recipe

November 19, 2012
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Traditions to TransitionsEvery family has there holiday traditions and nothing says tradition more then the recipes that you enjoyed as a child. Visiting grandma’s house always invoked memories of your favorite foods that were cooked and served. Like all people experience, times change, people move and families and life pass by in a blink of [...]

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Carrot Cake

November 16, 2012
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November brings many heat felt memories of my Mother. In March of 2012 she passed away and November 13th would have been her seventy seventh Birthday. My Mother, my sister and a close friend of mine share their birthdays on the same date. My good friend had a very special birthday as she just turned forty. [...]

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Cranberry Blueberry Breakfast Bar

March 2, 2012
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These are another one of my favorite Bars. They are great as a snack food and or breakfast on the run. You want to plan ahead when you are making these because you do need to soak the buckwheat groats for 6-8- hours. I like to get a few bowls ready the night before to [...]

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Goji Berry Breakfast Bars

March 2, 2012
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2 cups organic Buckwheat Groats, soaked 6-8 hours 1 cup Pumpkin Seeds, soaked in 2 cups water 2-4 hours 1/2 cup Flax seeds, soaked in 1 cup water 1/2 cup Flax seeds, ground 1/2 cup Goji berries soaked in 1-1/2 cups water for a 1/2 to 1 hour 1-cup Raisins, soaked in 2 cups water [...]

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