At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Pumpkin seeds are "in" this holiday season

Pumpkin Seeds are IN this holiday season. For Christmas and New Years, pumpkin seeds help you stay healthy and provide a delicious, nutritious snack kids love. Cheaper than anywhere else, non-GMO, organic. Get them today with your order!

Plant early, plant often

Soil temperature and air temperature are very important for your planting decision. Here are guidelines from the Alabama Cooperative Extension…

The general relationship between days until seedling emergence and percent germination is inverse. What this means is that considering the optimal temperature for planting seeds, you will want to tend to plant too early instead of too late: the seeds will germinate best when the temperature is ideal, and trusting them to the ground when you have few birds or other creatures who will dig up the seeds is intelligent. Planting extra as precaution against this predation is also advisable. 

We offer affordable seed packets, sometimes for as low as $0.20 each.  And they have more seeds than those you'd get at the store!


Before you buy seeds...cooperate!

We are getting ready to buy seeds, and we buy seeds in cooperation - which means that it is cheaper.  Our cooperative, the Maia Cooperative, allows us to buy in bulk and reduces the cost of planting, even if we want to plant a large variety of things.
While a seed packet of black seeded simpson lettuce may cost you about $4, the seed packet will only contain about 500 seeds. When 384,000 seeds costs Maia only $20, you can recieve the same 500 for 1/768 the cost (about 2 cents). That's good value! Even if you want to plant organic yellow squash (packet $4 for 30 seeds), Maia can order some 5,000 seeds for $35, and your packet now costs about 21 cents. 
Everyone likes a varied diet, but the cost of seeds these days is crazy.  So before you buy your seeds let us know what you'd like this year in your garden, as well as what you'd like this year in our fields (which are your gardens too!).  We would love to cooperate with you, too.


hi Bill!  We buy seeds not only from large breeders and distributors, but also from small breeders and distributors like yourself and other members of the maia co-op...
The question of sustainability is complex, but shouldn't be confused with self-sufficiency.  Self-sufficiency is truly impossible: we don't make our own vehicles, either.  While we recycle heroically - most (90%) of our farm and ranch is built out of recycled materials - and are very ecologically conscious - using green energy, and transitioning to zero petrochemicals, foresting our lands and otherwise undertaking good stewardship and sustainable farming - we prefer to trust to experts, like yourself, whenever possible.
Breeding and collecting seeds is important work, and a specialty unto itself.  By using the very best selected seeds, and seeds that are tested for disease and germination, we produce with greater quality, and require less water and other ecologically taxing inputs.  We commend you and your work!
The seed library is a good idea... does your company, Native Seeds/SEARCH offer similar library services?

Starting seeds with recycled materials

Starting your seeds in egg cartons is easy, but some people find that their cartons dry out quickly.  Rather than baby the cartons of starts, put them in a tray full of water, and let the carton wick the water up.  Don’t overfill the tray – the carton should not be submerged as this will reduce oxygen flow to the young roots and encourage mold.  However, keeping the bottoms of the cartons moist will ensure that the entire soil within is moist.

Temperature is important to starting seeds.  Every seed has an ideal germination temperature.  Checking with your seed supplier will inform you of the ideal temperatures for your crops. 

                   While some folks will use heat mats or other electric devices, it is also possible to heat your plants using the sun.  Within your cold frame or greenhouse, construct a Styrofoam box (or other insulated box) and cover the top with clear plastic to let in the light.  This greenhouse within a greenhouse will keep your starts warmer than if they were simply on a shelf!  Make the insulated box deep enough to put several water bottles on the bottom for the tray to rest on: the water will absorb the heat in the daytime and

A cardboard box works great.  Use bubble wrap for insulation, stapled onto the sides.  Aluminum foil on the inside of the bubble wrap and some black ink or paint on the outside of the box will keep it toasty.  If you don’t have fancy polycarbonate sheeting for the top of the box, plastic food wrap works great.

Angle the top of the box so that the side facing closest to the sun is lower.  This will prevent the box from shading the plants on that side of the box.  Having a taller back wall will reflect the heat and light back down onto the plants.

If your water bottles are not warming enough, try adding quantities of salt to the water: as much as is possible!  This increases the thermal mass of the water.  Even if it sludgy, this is a good heat sink, better than bricks.  You might also try using a bigger box so that sunlight will penetrate down beneath the starts and hit the water bottles.

In the coldest winter, stack or layer water bottles around the outside of the box.  Be careful not to block sunlight coming in.  You may also try other insulation, such as leaves or straw.  If it is convenient, cover up the top of the start box with an old blanket at night.

Fertilizing: your plants are not in the soil and will quickly consume the nutrients in the little egg carton.  Like all house plants, they will require fertilizer.  Once your seedlings develop their second set of true leaves, it is time to start feeding them. Young seedlings are very tender and can't tolerate a full dose of fertilizer. Baby them with a half-strength dose until they are three or four weeks old. After that, you should start full-strength fertilizing every week or two.  Composted manure, or a mixture of urine and ashes are good natural fertilizers.  If you notice discoloration of the leaves – yellow or purple are typical – you likely have greater need for fertilizer.

If you notice mold, fungus or other microflora, you are watering too much.  Reduce soil moisture quickly, and apply ashes, cayenne powder, black pepper, juniper juices, or other antifungals, or even transplant the starts into new soil. 



Dandelion Seed Biscuits

Dandelion Almond Sweet Biscuits

Recipe from Prodigal Gardens.


2 cups whole wheat flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups dandelion seeds, plucked out of the flower head


Put flour, baking powder, and almonds in a food processor.  Blend almonds are chopped fine.  Add butter and blend again until it forms a crumbly mixture.  Add eggs, buttermilk, almond extract and dandelion and blend just until dough forms a lump.  Shape into biscuits and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot with butter and jam.


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