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To soak or not to soak…that is the question (?)

The ecological relationship between seed and soil is like a symphony; there are natural cues that promote germination.

One of the major cues is moisture level! When the conditions are right, the seed will follow its own instinct and begin to swell. Once the seed coat is soft and moist the new seedling erupts into life.

The germination time for seeds varies greatly depending on the species. Some seeds can take years for germination (peonies) and others germinate in less than three days (cabbage family). We can use a mechanical force to speed the germination time (soaking).

Large seeds with hard coats (sunflowers, honeywort, peas, beans, corn and sweet peas) will appreciate a longer soaking- up to 24 hours.

Larger seeds with softer coats such as pumpkins, squash, chard, beets, nasturtium and cucumber are perfect to soak overnight.

Small seeds like lettuce, radish, carrots and tomatoes can become mushy and sticky if soaked too long (15-30 min) is appropriate.

Find a shallow bowl, place your seeds and top with water. Set away from pets, kids and spouses out of direct sunlight and in a warm location. Warm water is best but any water will do (what would nature do).

Once seeds have soaked and swelled…it is time to plant! Follow your seed packet guidelines for planting depth or reference our write up: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/…/seed-starting-simply/

When in doubt…ask the question: What would nature do?

Alaska Sown-Alaska Grown

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Seed Starting- Simply

The excitement is near! The large push for indoor seed starting has arrived. What a wonderful time of year of planning, designing, creating and sowing.

Let us share some simple and easy ways to make your seed starting a success. We have started seeds in every way possible so let us share our experience and knowledge. Our seed starting classes offer even more in depth information to make your garden dreams come true.

There are many ways to arrive at the same goal- we honor expertise of all kinds.

First: Materials

What type of container will you use? There are many options available…using what you have on hand makes seed starting cost effective and accessible for all. Drainage is the most important aspect here. Trays, cell packs, soil blocking, recycled yogurt containers (the possibilities are endless). Drainage is the key!

What medium are you going to use? We are a long way away from outdoor transplanting where plants can mine the nutrients, fertility and water needs naturally. You must supply all of these needs for the next roughly three months. Choosing a growing medium that is sterile will require the addition of fertility. Growing mediums that have fertility built in may still require additional nutritional needs. Purchase what you can afford and support local. Make sure that the medium you choose offers a guarantee as many growing substrates can harbor unwanted living materials…also keep your receipt.

What is the light source? Plants must have light…where is the supplemental light coming from? A window? Grow lights? There are so many options to choose from. For years we used good old fashioned T5’s purchased locally. If you are using a window, you may need to turn your trays several times per day. Determine how much time, effort and energy you have to dedicate and then decipher your light source.

Second: Location: Providing a micro climate for your seedlings to thrive! Seeds needs the right conditions to germinate: moisture, temperature, light (for some) and proper seed planting depth. A “warm” location with air movement is ideal. Where within your home can you place your seed tray away from cats, pets, kids and spouses? Scope out the ideal location that offers protection and the proper amount of air circulation.

Third: Days to maturation: Starting the right seeds at the right time… plants should be transplanted at a specific size that is not too big nor at critical points of growth if this can be avoided (flowering and fruit set). Certain plants grow VERY slowly depending on their type. A quick example: Certain Brussel Sprouts require 180+ days to grow. This seed would need to be started indoors in the darkest days of winter for a fall harvest. On the other hand, some cucumbers finish their lifecycle in 60-70 days and grow very quickly. If we started cucumber seeds for our garden now, the plants would be too large for indoor growing and would be transplanted during a critical point of growth. Cucumbers are a seed started closer to our target transplant date. Look at the days to maturation, plus the days to germination, plus some time for plants to adapt to transplant shock: that is your goal seed starting date.

Fourth: Depth Seed depth is critical for success. Think of how plants disperse their seeds naturally…many lay on top of the soil until the conditions are just right for germinating. Others pass through the digestive system of animals and spend their time in dung waiting for the optimal time. Seeds know what to do! Give them their best chance of success by planting them at the proper depths. Unless you are growing VERY large seeds, most seeds should be planted at 1/8″, 1/4″ and 1/2″ and some just lightly pressed into the soil (the smaller the seed, the more shallow the planting). If you plant too shallow the seed cannot use the depth to remove its hull and could break. If you plant to deep the tiny seed doesn’t have the energy to push through that much depth. When in doubt 2x the height of the seed is a good measure. Certainly seeds have to have light for germination…your seed packet should outline this clearly.

Fifth: Needs: Indoor growing requires all the input to be placed on the grower. The food, water, shelter and air must be supplied by us. Feeding seedlings and transplants is a part of this! We use granular or liquid amendments that have a low scent, a mild amount of fertility and are “natural” in nature. Making your own countertop composts (stay tuned for that growing guide) is another simple solution.

Happy growing!

Alaska sown-Alaska grown

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Spotlight on seed: Giant Red Mustard

Giant Red Mustard is a staple green in our kitchen. This is my husbands favorite leafy green by far!

Perfect for companion planting with slow growing vegetables or flowers, mustard is a true “cut and come again”. Harvest individual leaves for sandwiches, salads or a stir fry. The large leaves can be used as wraps for a low carb and gluten free bread replacement.

Mustard is excellent combined with sweeter greens in “wilted” salads and perfect for some flavor in smoothies.

This variety is very cold hardy and withstands frosts with ease. Mustard is perfect for shade gardens and those that are a bit cooler.

Fall in love with flavor with an old fashioned green.

Shop now: https://seedsandsoilorganics.com/product/mustard-giant-red-brassica-juncea-var-integrifolia/

Alaska sown-Alaska grown

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Safe Seed Pledge

Here is our pledge:

SAFE SEED PLEDGE

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend.  We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations.  For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.  The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats…”

All of the links to sign the pledge, research the pledge or contact the Council for Responsible Genetics are no longer viable.