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Writing for Liberty

Nightly Blog 5

It was tough getting back to work today after a long weekend, but I am just grateful for the fun times with family and the amazing memories we made by simply enjoying the moments that we were in. Whether it was time spent with my whole family, or just with Kyla, I feel like we all seized the moment – there was no chance for regret.

And that is what I am pursuing in life – to leave no chances for regret.

This is the reason that I am so scattered – and yet so focused. I want to be a gardener/farmer, but there is also so much more in life that I am interested in & have a passion around. One of those things is writing. Writing is something that I have held near & dear to my heart; it is such a personal expression and an outlet for those rogue thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In the past I used to write all the time and I seemed to find myself in a negative space. Because of this I stopped writing for a while, and generally stopped putting content out into the world during those periods of my life.

To me it was better to say nothing at all than to flood the internet, and thus the world, with my negativity & bullshit. I feel like I am way beyond those feelings – but most of the world is not. Most of the world is out to bring everyone down to their level, so that we’re all one miserable melting pot of propaganda – or at least that’s the way it feels right now. So I hope that while my writing is simply a hobby, simply something to get me conditioned to better share my thoughts openly and more coherently, that I can attempt to bring some Common Sense to this world that is living in an ever-triggered state ready to attack anyone who may threaten your ideology.

My second passion somewhat stems from the last thought, and that is reading. Lately my reading has been much more purposeful with philosophical, economical, & historical readings such as Ayn Rand (although that was at least 6 months ago), but more recently with the writings of Thomas Paine: Common Sense, The Crisis, The Rights of Men, The Age of Reason, & Agrarian Justice. My thoughts in reading this book is not to incite a revolution but to understand the forging of nations and what role one man’s pamphlets played in turning the colonists from seeking Tax Reform to seeking Independence from Tyranny. A lot of people believe that there are some strong parallels between what is going on in the world today and the American Revolution.

I think that it is important to note the fact the we take advantage of the rights that we posses. We take for granted the promises made to us of “Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness”.

And how could we not?

We know no different than To Be Free – what we don’t realize is that people, as in Human Civilization, had not been living in a free society. The world was ruled by Kings; the Earth was inherited from the royal bloodlines while the feudal system kept the people in an impoverished, stifled form of life based on roles in society – not the freedom to “pursue your passions” or “find yourself”.

America was the country that turned the tides for the Freedom of Humanity – don’t take your Freedom for granted; and don’t let anyone take your Freedoms from you.

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Tilling Another Garden

As I sit down to type out my Nightly Blog, a navy hue hangs in the air extending dusk deeper into the night more & more every day as we inch towards the Summer Solstice. Today was another ultra-productive day that began with a slower-than-expected start & a later-than-expected wake time – but it all ended up perfect in the grand scheme of things.

I stayed up late last night finishing my nightly blog while Kyla conked out from all the work we put into scrubbing the front of the house. I find that I really enjoy writing the nightly blogs, but it is difficult to focus, and to properly articulate my day because I am so exhausted, and coming from a point of spending all my energy through the day, not from a point of pure pursuit of passion.

With that being said, I woke up early, cranked out my Morning Pages, then enjoyed my morning coffee with Kyla & the dogs before heading up to my parents’ house to get their garden prepared for the season. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think that they would have a garden because I didn’t think they wanted to care for it (and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to care for it) but I’m really pumped that they changed their mind so that we can plant tons of sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, cucumbers, & sunflowers.

Today’s project was long overdue, but had to be done – I needed to till up my parents’ garden. Yesterday we had a cookout at my parents’ and my grandparents were there as well. My Grandpa took a look at the weed patch that used to be a thriving garden for the past 4-5 years and asked me what I was going to be doing with it. I replied that I needed to till it up and that was all it took to get him rocking & ready to go.

“You wanna get that done in about a quarter of the time? I’ll bring the Kubota down and grind that up into a fine powder in no time,” my Grandpa said with a smile and a gesture with his hand like he was crumbling dirt.

“Hell yeah, let’s tear this yard up!” was my reply as I was laughing at my Grandpa hopping on the opportunity to help me with my gardens – and any excuse to use his new trailer and play with heavy equipment. But doesn’t everybody love playing with heavy equipment!?

It was funny because earlier my brother Adam texted me asking me if I remembered playing Army men on the dirt hills at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. I replied with an ‘of course’, and a burst of flashbacks of playing with Tonka trucks in the dirt with my brother & cousin – I feel like that was basically my whole childhood right there, just playing in the dirt with my dudes!

But after that wave of memories flooding back I realized something – I took those dirt mounds from my Grandparents’ house to build my parents’ garden into what it is today. So it was weird that Adam had those memories pop up – because it happened when I was tilling up the dirt that we played upon as kids. And the spot where my parents’ garden is located is where our childhood swings was; I’m just growing fruits, herbs, & vegetables on the mounds of our memories.

My Grandpa took the first few swipes on the Kubota and then handed it over for me to grind up the soil into the lush loam that all gardeners desire. There is nothing I love more than running heavy equipment or tractors – it just makes the job so much easier and it really makes you feel like a real Farmer ­čÖé

Grandpa on a tractor tilling up a garden
My Grandpa on his pride & joy

After I criss-crossed the garden I noticed that I had a heavy clay area in the southern portion of the garden. I had no manure, rice hulls, perlite, or anything to loosen the soil up – but then I found pine needles under the pine trees growing in the yard. After dumping 3-4 wheelbarrows-full onto the area, I tilled it in and it loosened the soil to an acceptable, and workable, consistency.

With the garden tilled up, we packed the tractor up and I followed my Grandpa back to his house to help him unload. Once we got there, we put the tools away and went on a little garden tour to see all that he has started so far this year. He always has a nice large garden, but this year it feels like he’s taking it to another level; I think I’ve got some competition. What I didn’t realize though was that he was actually growing potatoes for my CropBoxes – we’re still not sure if we will offer them at the scale we have, but it looks like we might have to with the volume that the whole family is growing!

After rounding up the kittens and then hugging my Grandma & Grandpa goodbye, I headed back to my parents’ to finish up the garden duties there. The last piece of the puzzle was to cover the garden with ground cover fabric to eliminate the weed problem, then I will burn holes in the fabric where I want to plant plants. As these things go, I ran out of anchor pins with only 2 more swipes of ground cover needed, so my plan is to get more anchor pins tomorrow & finish up the Garden of Gains North tomorrow if possible.

With sweat pouring off of me, I trudged from the garden to the garage to eat a double burger that my Dad made for me. There’s nothing quite like a thick, greasy burger after a long day of hard work under the hot sun. And it was also nice to get to spend more time with my parents, grandparents, Adam & Chelsea, and Kyla this weekend. I think we all take advantage of the value of the relationships that we have, but we realized how much we missed people, and how much we love people, through this whole Covid situation & social-distancing. Though it may have been necessary, it isn’t natural for humans to be separated from each other. We need each other to live, to heal, & to thrive.

Farmer in a straw hat on a tractor tilling up a garden
Me, living the American Dream
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Sunburnt & Smiling

Today was a great day.

I feel like it’s not often that you get to say that, but it truly was – even though I am thoroughly exhausted and trying to write this while Kyla, Twiggy, & Basil sleep soundly around me.

Our busy day began mid-morning as we felt the heat creeping up on us while drinking our coffee on the patio. Though my phone said it was only 72 degrees, you could feel the potential for heat in the air and we immediately began to gather our supplies to begin cleaning the front of our house before going to my parents’ for a cookout later in the day.

Cleaning the siding on the front of the house was priority numero uno, but there was a deeper issue that was causing the buildup of mildew on the siding – my gutters were clogged, which was causing rain to collect in the gutters, not drain, and spill water out and down along my siding. Once I set my ladder up against the house, I climbed up with a rake to attempt to unclog the gutters; although all I could really see was water & some of those helicopter seed things that fall from maple trees.

I reached my rake along the gutter and heard the water & seeds shift down the downspout.

Progress. But the water was still plugging the gutters.

I raked again and heard another shift.

I raked one final time and then a tsunami of stagnant rainwater and a bucket-full of maple seeds rocketed through the downspout & finally completed its journey back into the ground.

From the point of the gutters finally being cleaned out, the next task was to get scrubbin’ the siding!

It took a little Dawn dishwashing liquid, a scrub brush, and some balance on the ladder, but we got a huge portion of the siding and our porch railings done. It’s really amazing what a little soap, water, and hard work can do to make a place feel like brand new – and to give you pride in what you work for; what you own & to have pride in the place you call Home.

Aside from the work and the results of the work being fulfilling, it was great to see our neighbors outside and to feel the warmth of human engagement & interaction. It was funny because at one point I looked up and saw two people riding their bikes by our house and say Hi to us, only to find out it was one of our friends (who is also our hairstylist – yes we go to the same hairstylist hah!).

But either way – I loved the fact that they stopped by to talk, and ended up seeing our crazy garden that engulfs half of our backyard. I have been loving having people stop by to get plants, or to randomly say hi so that I can show them the garden; introduce them to this madness that keeps me sane.

Cleaning the front of the house was therapeutic for me & Kyla’s soul, but once we got rolling on projects we just had to keep it going. Next up was rearranging the landscaping so that we had a more balanced landscape – making sure we had a solid mix of colors, textures, & heights – but I won’t bore you with all of that. The biggest thing I had to say about this is that I couldn’t believe what happened next. As I was digging out a shrub in the landscaping to transplant, I was wearing one of those farmer sun hats with a broad brim and then a truck drove by, slowed down and they yelled, “HOLA” at me.

I’m not sure if it was just a joke – or if they thought I was Mexican – but I just stood there confused and just started laughing & was like, “Holy shit, I think I was just racially profiled”.

With all the plants in place, the dogs fed, and both of us showered, we headed up to my parents for a cookout. Normally we would have steaks and burgers, but today my Dad went with smoked chicken halves & they were absolutely primo. The chickens were marinated in either Mesquite or Cajun marinade, then smoked in the smoker for 7-8 hours with Mesquite & Apple wood chips – and you could taste the sweetness of the applewood in that chicken – again, primo.

Somehow Adam & I lost in corn hole 2 games to 1 to my Dad & my Grandpa, but the real victory of the day was that I landed my first ollie on a skateboard on concrete. I may have only gotten 3 inches off the ground, but the fact that I conquered that fear of skateboarding has me pretty pumped up & ready to keep attacking it to see how much further I can push the boundaries. Needless to say, I’m ordering a helmet & pads – gotta protect this body from my clumsiness! It’s funny because I feel that I’m athletic, but as soon as I’m not in athlete mode, I trip over my own feet.

Good food and good conversation filled the rest of the night as we yelled across the deck about the insanity of the news, the government, and politics – though we said we wouldn’t talk about those things – yet how do you avoid it.

Either way, I think the biggest thing we realized today is that we all need each other; people need people – especially family. So while times are tough, and things are uncertain, enjoy the things in life that are certain – and enjoy your time with the people you can’t live without.

And so it is sunburnt & smiling that I slip into my slumber ­čÖé

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Seedling Sales on a Saturday

Today was a beautiful Saturday here in Ohio.

Kyla & I began our day somewhat late because we took advantage of not setting an alarm and sleeping in on the first day of a long holiday weekend. Sleeping in for us is 7am – but it always feels amazing when you wake up on your own power & can face the world with your own force.

We didn’t really have an agenda today other than to prepare boxes of veggie plants for our friends & family who bought starter plants from us. It’s been incredible to see the overwhelming response that people have to our garden and to our plants. Just with our small circle of family & friends I feel like we have begun to sell a decent amount of plants – I just wish I started marketing the plants earlier!

But on the flip side of that, I think that this whole Covid situation has amplified people’s interest in gardening & growing their own food – plus it completely changed my focus for the Garden of Gains this year.

For the past 2 seasons we have offered our CropBoxes – a bi-weekly box of fresh produce from the garden. Once lockdowns began, and it became clear that we wouldn’t be going back to work anytime soon, I completely changed gears & rather than grow a bunch of quick-turn crops for 10-20 people, I needed to double-down on food production for our household & for our families.

What this meant is that I would plant a ton of plants that would produce a high yield of food, or things that would store for an extended period of time. Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs were the crops I chose for producing high yields, and offering veggies that we could can. Root crops such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, and beets are the veggies that will store for 3-4 months in the proper conditions and keep us fed for a while.

While my aim became more selfish with the garden, I saw that I had plenty of space to grow plenty of plants on my Grow Rack in the Plant Lab. The Grow Rack is a 4-tiered rack that holds 4 trays per level and each level has 2 Stratum LED Light Bars. I have started all of my seeds on it for the past 2 years & absolutely love the results that I’ve gotten with starting tens of types of tomatoes, jalape├▒os, habaneros, Banana peppers, Anaheims, Dill, Cilantro, Basil, Thyme, Lavender Hyssop, cucumbers, squash – you name it; we’ve grown it!

So with all that extra space on the grow rack, I decided to grow tons of popular tomatoes & peppers so that people who are looking to start a garden can get all the basics from us. It’s funny because in a way it feels like we have been “working” the past couple days that we have prepared plants for people, but it also makes me so happy that I can’t quite quantify it – there’s something about it that makes me realize that that could be my whole life; growing plants & putting smiles on people’s faces because of the seeds that I pushed into soil.

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A New Routine

silhouette of a person staring at the milky way

I want to keep things brief, but I have to write about my new routine that I have to commit to.

Every morning when I wake up, I grab a mug of coffee & head upstairs to my creative area / Plant Lab to write my Morning Pages. Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way) are a daily dedication to writing that I have done every single day since New Year’s Eve 2019 – I believe today was day 144.

While Morning Pages is a stream-of-consciousness writing that is more private, personal, and not meant for anything other than serving my own creativity for me, I feel like I need to do more writing and communicate more with the world other than sporadic posts. I will have Morning Pages for myself in the morning, but my new routine will now include Nightly Blogs.

Nightly Blogs will be my recap of the day that will inevitably consist of stories about Kyla, Twiggy, Basil, and the garden – but it will also be packed with lessons I’ve learned through the day with topics sprinkled in such as business ideas & opinions, politics & news, health & fitness, and so much more.

We all have varying interests in life & I believe that the point of life to experience as much as you can while enjoying the journey you’re on. Super excited to keep this rolling & hope you join along the ride!

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Haikus of the Mind, Body, Garden

tomato and pepper seedlings in jiffy pellets

Recently I have been trying to learn more about my WordPress site, its functionality, and in doing so, I found out about WordPress running daily writing prompts for the month of April. I know I’m a little late to the game, but yesterday’s prompt was: Three – whatever that means to you.

Unsurprisingly, my mind went to 3 things: Mind, Body, Garden, but I wanted to break away from the monotony & attempt some creativity. In place of a long-form blog I wrote 3 poems, that consist of 3 lines each; also known as Haikus – a Japanese form of poetry that consists of an alternating number of syllables per line 5-7-5.

Mind

When we doubt, we Seek;
Meditate upon the Truth;
Feel your Emotions]

Body

Acknowledge Power;
Your Body is a Temple;
Push Limitations]

Garden

Sow the Seeds of Hope;
Cultivate the Peace Within;
Harvest Happiness

Hope you enjoyed ­čÖé

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Microbes in the Garden: Mycorrhizae & Trichoderma

Mycorrhizae has been a hot topic in horticulture for a while and I had become familiar with it through products like┬áGrotabs. I became completely obsessed with how fungi or bacteria could be beneficial for plants, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. We have beneficial bacteria in our gut that help us break down & process foods, and that’s the same basic mechanism that soil-borne fungi or bacteria have – they work as pre- or probiotics for the plants, providing them with nutrients and protecting them from disease.

Grotabs are great because they contain mycorrhizae, fertilizer & Trichoderma (see bottom of this blog for more information on definitions for endo- & ecto-mycorrhizae, Trichoderma, etc) but theyÔÇÖre perfect for transplanting flowers or shrubs in your landscape, or for the veggies you plant in your garden. The downside to traditional Grotabs is that they come in tablet form (although they do make┬áGroTab Powder), they contain fertilizer (although there are some┬ágiant buckets of GroTab Microbial-only Powder), and many growers may just want Mycorrhizae only so that they can fertilize with their own fertilizer of choice. Personally I love GroTabs for transplanting my veggies, but I also love fertigating with Neptune’s Harvest Hydrolyzed Fish & Seaweed fertilizers.

Some great options for growers who are looking for Mycorrhizae-only are listed below with a description of uses & key points.

  • UE1 – MycoApply┬« Ultrafine Endo Mycorrhizae
    • 4 species of endomycorrhizal fungi
    • 130,000 endomycorrhizal propagules per pound
    • OMRI-listed Organic
  • UEE1 –┬áMycoApply┬« Ultrafine Endo/Ecto Mycorrhizae
    • 4 species of endomycorrhizal fungi & 7 species of ectomycorrhizal fungi
    • 130,000 endomycorrhizal and 110 million ectomycorrhizal propagules per pound
    • OMRI-listed Organic
    • Application rates are same for UE1 & UEE1:┬áMycoApply┬« Ultrafine Endo/Ecto┬áis a suspendable powder mycorrhizal inoculant that can be sprayed onto bare roots, used as a root dip, drenched into porous soils, hydromulched, or blended into potting media.┬áThe goal is to create physical contact between the inoculant and the growing roots.┬áUse higher rates for propagation or high-stress circumstances.┬á
  • SMAXX1 –┬áMycoApply┬« Soluble MAXX Mycorrhizae
    • This product is like GroTabs on steroids ÔÇô less fertilizer, but more beneficial fungi, bacteria, & natural growth hormone precursors
    • Combination of:
      • 1-0.5-1 fertilizer analysis
      • 9 species of endomycorrhizal fungi & 10 species of ectomycorrhizal fungi
      • 2 trichoderma species
      • 12 species of beneficial bacteria
      • Blend of: Kelp, Humic Acids, & vitamins
      • 30,000 endomycorrhizal and 1-1/2 billion ectomycorrhizal propagules per pound
    • MycoApply┬« Soluble MAXX┬áis best used with applications that create physical contact between the roots and inoculant. MycoApply Soluble MAXX can be applied to established plants including nurseries, ornamental seedbeds, propagation trays, or field grown plants, as well as new seedlings and transplants. Applications can be made through drenching, soil injection, or root spray applications to achieve the best contact with the roots to optimize plant benefits. Applications can be made at any time the root systems are active. Additional applications may be required for stressed plants. Use filters or screen no smaller than #50 mesh when using application equipment.

Endo vs Ecto Mycorrhizae:┬áThe key┬ádifference between ecto-mycorrhizae and endo-mycorrhizae┬áis that the fungal hyphae do not penetrate into the cortical cells of the plant roots in┬áectomycorrhizae┬áwhile the fungal hyphae penetrate into the cortical cells of the plant roots in┬áendomycorrhizae. In other words ÔÇô┬áEndo grow into the root cells and Ecto grow outside the roots.

Endo=into, Ecto=exit

Benefits of Trichoderma

  1. Disease Control: Trichoderma is a potent beneficial fungus and used extensively for prevention & control of soil-borne diseases. It has been used successfully against pathogenic fungi; Fusarium, Phytopthara, Scelerotia.
  2. Plant Growth Promoter: Trichoderma strains chelate & solubilize phosphates and micronutrients.
  3. Drought-Tolerance – Increases the number of deep roots, increasing plant’s ability to resist drought.
  4. Biochemical Elicitors of Disease: Trichoderma is known to induce disease-resistance in plants. Three classes of compounds that are produced by Trichoderma and induce ethylene production, hypersensitive responses and other defense related reactions in plant cultivars.

The best way to ensure a strong garden is by giving your plants the best chance to succeed. Mycorrhizae and Trichoderma will work as a shield from pathogens such as pests, fungus, or disease for your plants’ root zones. Plus, it will help you reduce the amount of fertilizers you will need to use, while also making your plants more drought resistant – and overall, giving you the healthiest plants possible that will grow into a lush, productive garden in your backyard or balcony.

Happy Gardening ­čĹĘÔÇŹ­čîż

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Garden Plans for this Sunday

Yellow Gingko leaves with blue sky background

The Time it is a-changin’!

Today is one of the greatest & most hated days of the year, when Time decides to leapfrog forward a whole hour to disrupt our sleep cycles by stealing an hour from us – but it is also a strong signal that spring is on its way! Yesterday I saw that we didn’t have freezing weather in the foreseeable forecast of 15 days out.

Whether or not I believe that we won’t dip into freezing temps, or maybe a light frost, is debatable, but my Hope for an early & strong Spring is not. I have been fairly patient this year with seed starting – I have some onions, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli started – and somehow I have refrained from planting tomatoes & peppers just yet.

All of this sunshine and pollen has my biological clock spinning out of control and screaming at me to plug seeds into the ground and get the garden rolling for the spring. Though I can’t fully follow my urges, I wanted to plan out a few things that I could do at this point of the season:

  • Seed Starting – though I said I was going to control myself, it’s been 2 weeks since I planted my first seeds of the season – so now’s the time to follow-up with a succession planting. This means that I’ll plant another 24-48 lettuce seeds and 60 arugula seeds or so – who knows, maybe I’ll get some cauliflower or something else started today too. I’m planning on getting a plot at the Piqua Community gardens, so I should be able to grow a much more diverse crop this year – and since I failed so miserably with Cauliflower last year, I really wanna prove that I can grow that little beast. And Kyla loves Cauliflower (call-EE-flower) wings, so I feel like I gotta deliver for her ­čÖé
  • More Seed Starting – I’ve been putting it off for long enough, but now’s the time to get those tree seeds started for bonsai trees. I have no clue if the time of the season is right, or if the seeds actually vernalized – but we’ll see what magic we can work. The varieties I am planning on starting include:
    • Baobab – this is a tree species from Madagascar and is extremely unique looking, with a fat trunk and small limbs/canopy.
    • Boxwood – I could easily take cuttings of these, but I really wanted to see if I could crack the code on growing everything from seed, not just the veggies for my garden.
    • Gingko – Gingkos are one of the most beautiful & ancient tree species on the planet. They have a unique leaf shape and turn an amazing shade of gold in the Fall
    • Sycamore – there’s also something magical to me about Sycamore trees. They are one of the mightiest varieties of trees with an ancient-scroll-style of bark that every kid loves playing with, a large imposing shape & profile on the skyline that any person can recognize, and they bear a striking resemblance to the dendritic structure of the neurons in our brains & bodies that connects them to us in a primal & subconscious way.
  • Mind & Body Exploration & Experimentation – today’s high temperature is supposed to be over 60 degrees so I am going to take advantage of that by going on a long bike ride – the first one of the season. There is nothing that can clear the Mind & push the Body like a long bike ride. It is soothing and challenging at the same time. You have the opportunity to push your body to new limits, but it depends upon the strength of your Mind, the power of your Will.
  • Writing – this blog is the beginning of me actually writing when I feel the inspiration – rather than collecting ideas like a hoarder and then never releasing them because I am too busy contemplating & strategizing. Beyond this, I think I just need to write – it is my natural state, a natural way of me to communicate; not only with the world, but with myself.
  • Meditation – I have been on & off with mediation – I do it when it absolutely needs to be done, but I think I need to treat it as a part of my nightly routine, in the same category as flossing & brushing my teeth. If we want to feel fully great, we have to commit to the things that we know contribute to our success & optimization of Life.

These are my plans for the Gains that I’m Cultivating in the Garden of my Life, I wish you the strength & the passion to cultivate your dreams & ideas into Realities ­čÖĆ

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Seed Starting Cold-Weather Crops in Zone 6

Title image reading: Seed Starting Cold-Weather Crops in Zone 6

It’s the end of February, and it’s still a little early to get most seeds started here in Ohio. Last year I made the mistake of starting my tomatoes & peppers extremely early with the thought that they would develop more fully & we would be blessed with an early & abundant harvest of Tomatoes, Jalape├▒os, & Habaneros. In reality, this just led to the seedlings becoming root-bound in the trays, and forced me to do more work than necessary by transplanting them up into larger pots before transplanting out into Root Pouches in the spring once the threat of frost had passed.

So the moral of the story is – don’t plant your Tomatoes & Peppers just yet! This blog will walk you through the crops that are safe to plant at this time of the year if you’re in zones 5-7 or so.

You can also check out the full Part 1 of the YouTube video, if you prefer to follow along that way, but I will cover most of what I discuss in the video, plus I feel I have more opportunity to elaborate on the pieces that I may have missed in the video.

Cold-Weather Seeds I’m Starting Now

  • Arugula – Arugula is a cold-hardy crop that can tolerate a light amount of frost, plus it’s fairly quick-growing. I chose to grow Arugula because it adds a nice spicy component to salads, sandwiches, or burgers. It’s also important to note that Arugula attracts a TON of pests like flea beetles and cabbage worms / moths. This is a great reason to get Arugula out in the garden early while it’s still cold and the pests are hiding away for winter.
  • Broccoli – I didn’t think that I would be growing broccoli this year because of the stomach issues I’ve had, but I have been given the all-clear to add more fiber into my diet as long as it doesn’t bother me. And my garden isn’t all about me since I’m growing for a CSA, so I had to take that into consideration as well. Broccoli was a huge hit last year, and the Early Green Broccoli variety should give us a super strong start to the CropBox. Broccoli is frost-tolerant as well and the cooler weather actually helps to enhance the sweetness – so get those broccoli plants started!
  • Lettuce – What is a spring garden without lettuce? This year I’ll be growing two fan-favorites from years past: Buttercrunch & Concept Lettuce, plus a new one that I’ve been hearing about from every grower at every trade show: Salanova Lettuce from Johnny’s. The amazing thing about Salanova is that you can treat it as a hybrid lettuce and harvest it as either head lettuce or leaf lettuce – meaning you can get up to 3-4 harvests from a single planting! It’s important to note that if you have a rainy season (like last spring in Ohio), or if you maintain an overly moist environment in the lettuce, you will almost certainly attract slugs and/or snails – I found this out the hard way last year, but will be combatting that problem with an organic solution of wool pellets. Last year I also made the mistake of planting 288 heads of lettuce at once – this year I’m taking advantage of succession planting to ensure that we maintain a steady harvest of the staple rotational crops like lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens. I’ll go into more detail on succession planting later in this blog and in more depth in a separate blog as well.
  • Onions – Typically I prefer to plant onion bulbs or onion sets, but I haven’t had much luck with growing onions from seed, so I figured I would give it another shot this year. I started off with Evergreen Onions which are a green onions variety, but I may also plant some Red Burgundy seeds as well (those are a bulb variety, not used for green onions). Onions have a looong growing season, so if you really want to grow them from seed, get those seeds a-going!
  • Spinach – As with Lettuce, what is a spring garden without Spinach! My variety of choice is Gurney’s Goliath Spinach because it’ll give you leaves the size of your hands and it provides abundantly. Like all of these plant varieties, mature Spinach is extremely cold-tolerant and, depending on the variety, can withstand temperatures down to 20┬║F.

Seed Tray Selection & Succession Planting

This section is not a full-blown blog about Seed Tray Selection & Succession Planting, but it should help serve as a general guide. As overzealous gardeners, it is our instinct to fill the seed trays completely full of seeds – not realizing that we will end up with 72 or 288 heads of lettuce all needing harvested at one time!

When we plant our seeds, we need to ask a few questions:

  1. How many people are you growing for? This will give you an idea of what size of trays to start your plants in. I’m growing greens in 288-cell trays because I am planning to provide fresh veggies & herbs to 10-25 people. When I plant in these 288-cell trays, that will help the root systems form quicker in the smaller-sized plug and will allow me to pack more plants into a 10×20 tray-sized area. When I planted my lettuce I thought about the timeframes for harvesting and ended up planting 48 heads of lettuce & 60 plugs with Arugula. This left half of the tray to be planted up in another 2 weeks to ensure that we have staggered & continuous harvests of Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach, and other leafy greens or quick-turn crops like Radish or herbs.
  2. How much space do I have in my Seed Starting area & in my Garden? Every gardener in the world overestimates what they can handle – until they learn the hard way like I have over the past few seasons. This year I’m dialed in with a plan that I created wayyy ahead of time to ensure that I wouldn’t over-plant. Last year I found myself drowning in tomatoes & hot peppers, as per usual. This year, it will be drowning in greens, beans, cucumbers, melons, sweet, corns, and tomatoes, potatoes, & peppers. My Plan assures that we’ve got the space, but to really over-deliver this year, and to build some street cred, I’m also going to buy a plot at our local community gardens and plug it full of watermelons, cantaloupe, sweet corn & potatoes galore!

Supplies I Use for Seed Starting

I hope this Blog, Video, & Supply list helps you in your Seed Starting Journey! I will be producing more gardening content throughout the spring, summer, and beyond – so if there’s anything you’re curious about, or want me to dive a little deeper on – let me know & I’ll throw a video together for you!

Hang on for a few more weeks & the weather will start to turn in our favor. Within 4-8 weeks you will be planting your onions, lettuce, arugula, spinach, and broccoli outdoors – and then the real challenges & fun begin – Happy Gardening!

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