Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
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Seed Starting Resources

Those of us who live in cooler climates and who want to get a jump-start on the growing season have been thinking about seed-starting recently. Last winter I shared several informative posts about how and when to start seeds. This winter I thought it would be beneficial to present all of those resources to you in one easy-access post. So without further ado – here are some of my favorite resources for seed starting.

Arcadia Farms Seed Starting Plans

Here’s a peek into how we’ve put all of the advice below together to create our own seed starting plan.

2013 Seed Starting Plan

2014 Seed Starting Plan

Resources

soaking onion seeds in water

Seed Starting Spreadsheet Template

Instructions for how to use this spreadsheet are included on the first tab.

Seed Sources

Here are my favorite sources for seeds (heirloom and open-pollinated).

Soaking Seeds

Soaking seeds before planting speeds up germination by stirring up the process of the dormant baby plant inside the seed’s hull coming to life.

Optimum Transplant Age

Starting seeds indoors helps gardeners in cooler climates to get a jump start on the growing season. But how soon should you start your seeds? This chart provides guidelines for optimum transplant ages of select crops.

Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing

Here’s a cheat sheet chart to let you know how many plants to sow per square foot. It’s easy to read on your mobile device so that you can use it in the garden.

Planting by Moon Phases

Did you know that the gravitational pull of the moon actually impacts the success rate of seedlings? Check this article out to learn more about the phenomenon and how you can use it to your advantage in the garden.

kale seedling in newspaper pot

Planting in Newspaper Pots

When you start seeds indoors, you need media – a substance to start your seeds in. I’m now using potting soil in plastic trays, but there are several options. Here’s an analysis of them all, along with details on how to make your own newspaper pots.

Keeping a Garden Journal

A garden journal is a tool you can use to keep track of important garden stats and observations. Being able to look back on this information will help you to plan for next year and will help you to identify patterns in your garden that you otherwise wouldn’t detect. In general, a garden journal allows you to record your successes and failures and details that may have impacted the outcome.

Square Foot Garden Seed Tape

Here’s an easy way to prepare for your spring garden while the snow is still on the ground. Seed tape helps you evenly space your seeds for maximization of resources.

Setting Up Your Garden for Seed-Saving

Here is a fabulous webinar video by Seed Savers Exchange on how to design your garden for seed saving. The post includes my summary notes to highlight the key concepts for those of you who don’t have time to watch the whole thing.

Container Gardening Tips

Everyone can have a garden, including renters and apartment dwellers. Here are some tips on container gardening to make yours a success.

Chitting (Sprouting) Potatoes

Chitting potatoes is the act of sprouting them before they are planted. It speeds up the maturity process and it’s super easy. This guide will show you how.

bean seedling

Planting Garlic

Garlic is a staple in the kitchen for many of us. The fact that it’s so easy and inexpensive to grow means it would also be a great staple in your garden. Here are tips for the best type of garlic for your garden, when to plant it and how to plant.

Garden Apps Wish List

For the technologically inclined among us, here are some apps that can streamline the gardening process.

Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.

 
 

Square Foot Garden Seed Tape

how to make seed tape

Seeds come in many shapes and sizes. The tiniest seeds – such as radishes, carrots and onions – can be difficult to sow with precision. One way to address this problem is to use seed tape. Fortunately seed tape is easy to make, store and use, both in traditional row gardens and Square Foot Gardening raised beds. Seed tape helps you conserve seeds, minimizes (or eliminates) the need to thin plants later in the season, and makes a great winter-time project to give you a jump start on spring. Also gardeners with back issues will find this method of sowing seeds much less painful than bending over a garden bed. Plus if you’re a neat freak, it will give you control over having a beautifully, perfectly spaced garden. Won’t the neighbors be jealous?

For pictures and all of the instructions for creating square foot garden seed tape, click here.

 
 

Dibble Templates for Easy Planting

Beekman 1802 holes from a dibble

{Image Credit}
http://beekman1802.com

Ever since I learned about dibbles, I’ve been wanting to make one of my own. A dibble is  a tool used to space seeds or seedlings in your garden by poking holes at exact measurements. Exact measurement comes in handy when it comes to Square Foot Gardening (SFG) because the main point of this intensive-planting method is to squeeze as many plants into 1 square foot (SQF) section as you can without hampering the plants’ ability to flourish. (For more on Square Foot Gardening, click here.)

Until recently, all of the dibbles I had discovered were board with pegs (to poke holes in the soil) managed with one central handle or two handles on the edges. I still think these are handy tools, but frankly, I don’t have the skill-set to make one. (However, if you know anything about woodworking at all, making your own dibble would probably be a breeze for you. Click here for a tutorial.) In addition to not being very confident with a saw, I’m also operating my micro-farm on a micro-budget. Simple as a wooden dibble may be, it still requires purchasing materials and I’d rather save that money for other items. Plus, to be most useful for my purposes, I would need four dibbles, each for the following SFG patterns:

  • 4 seeds per SQF
  • 8 seeds per SQF
  • 9 seeds per SQF
  • 16 seeds per SQF

Four boards. Lots of materials. Lots of time. I’ll pass.

And pass I have… for a long time… until I saw something that looked like this:

four seed dibble

This four-seed dibble allows you to perfectly place four seeds in one square foot of your garden.

Aha! Thanks to a post from a friend on Facebook (Clementine’s Homestead), I finally met my dibble match! This dibble is made from cardboard, which is cheap, easy to work with and readily available to pretty much anyone. Sure, it’s not as pretty as the wooden variety. And frankly, it’s also a smidge less efficient because you have to poke each hole rather than pushing the dibble down once, but, it still serves the same purpose of evenly distributing your seeds. If you have the skill-set, time and materials, you could make this same dibble with a wooden board (or a sheet of metal for that matter).

Wouldn’t you like to make one of these dibbles for your own garden? I thought you might… And that’s why I created these! Here are five dibble templates you can print at home to create your own dibbles in a matter of minutes. (That’s right, I did all of the measuring for you… feel free to leave a tip at the door as you leave.) Because they are 12? long, you’ll need to print on Legal Size (8.5? x 14?) paper. I created the templates in two sections (A & B) so that they are more easily printed from a home computer (which can sometimes only accommodate paper that is 8.5? wide).

To download our free dibble templates, click here.

 
 

Garden Apps Wish List

Wish List Wednesday | Garden Apps (from seed to table!)

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s nothing organic or sustainable about apps for your mobile device. At first glance it may seem a little off-center that a website about living sustainably is featuring a Wish List of Android and iPhone apps, but please, hold the phone! Our take on sustainable living is a wee bit different than you might expect. In this recent post about the topic of sustainable living I mentioned that “the beauty of sustainable living is that we can (responsibly) enjoy the comforts of modern resources without worry for what we’ll do if or when they’re gone. Living sustainably does not mean utterly forsaking modern resources, but it does mean that we have a plan for living well should we need to live without them.”

So in the spirit of smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, I give you this month’s Wish List Wednesday! There’s a whole world of nifty apps out there just waiting for you to discover them! Check out these neat programs that can be accessed from your mobile device and can make garden planning, planting, watering, harvesting, local eating, cooking and recordkeeping one step easier.

Square Foot Gardening Spacing

Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing Cheat Sheet. Its written to be easy to read from your mobile device so you can check it on your phone while you’re in the garden. {Arcadia Farms}

 

Gardening Toolkit
The Gardening Toolkit – The app that loves to grow! Organize your plants in multiple gardens. Advice on what to grow and when to grow it. Data and photos for 1000 plants and vegetables.

 

Gardenate
The garden calendar shows the vegetables and herbs you can plant every month. A detailed guide to growing the most popular garden vegetables, with local planting information for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.

 

Green Drop
Green Drop is a full featured garden/plant manager. – Organize your plants into gardens with locations – Monitor and get reminders when plants need water, food, or are ready for harvest. – Keep notes on your plants. – Manually adjust watering, feeding, and harvest dates if needed. – Keep a gallery of pictures of each plant with notes and date picture was taken (to track growth).

 

Herbs+
Herbs+ gives you images and information on the most popular herbs in an elegant, fun-to-use application. Each herb offers gardening tips, culinary ideas, medicinal uses and a crisp image to help you identify the herb.

 

Bugs in the Garden
Quickly ID common North American insects in your vegetable garden. Includes realistic illustrations and photos of both adults and larva (caterpillars and grubs). Gives basic advice on management and damage assessment. If you have seen while gardening: * Beetles * Moths * Aphids * Caterpillars * Grubs This app will help identify them. 33 pictures of 23 bugs all on one page to swiftly pinpoint the bugs in your garden.

 

Mother Earth News
The new MOTHER EARTH NEWS app acts as a virtual library of our electronic resources, conveniently bringing them all together in one handy tool. You can browse through our resources and download those that most interest you. Our How to Can and Food Garden Guide tools, previously available only as separate apps, are offered for free within the MOTHER EARTH NEWS app and together will guide you through growing a great organic garden and preserving your fresh harvests.

 

Garden  Guide (Mother Earth News)
The Food Gardening Guide from Mother Earth News is a one-stop gardening app from America’s leading magazine on organic gardening. The app provides expert advice on Crops and Techniques, plus a Resources section to find even more helpful information. Shown with beautiful illustrations, the Crops section includes planting and harvesting instructions along with recommended varieties, pest control advice and extra tips to improve your garden’s yields.

 

How to Can (Mother Earth News)
This app explains how to can fresh produce using both water bath and pressure canners. Complete basic instructions plus timing details for over 20 crops make this free app a must-have for anyone who cans or wants to learn how to can. Incorporates advice from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Ball brand home canning products company. The Basics section will fully equip even the most novice of canners with all the information needed to get started.

 

Harvest Plan
Harvest Plan is a neat little application for your mobile device that lets you keep tabs on your garden. With a library of more than 200 popular plants at the start, harvest plan will keep you abreast of what’s where and when it’s going to be ready. Keep track of plantings, losses, and yields – even attach a picture of your plants to the entry. When it’s time to check on your plants, Harvest Plan will post a notification to your device’s notification panel so you won’t miss it.

 

Taste of Home Recipe App
Taste of Home’s recipe app brings provides tons of recipes featuring the season’s freshest flavors right to your phone. Each season brings a new collection of recipes for fresh fruits and veggies. Recipes have photos. Allows you to browse by course, cooking style, cuisine, ingredients or holidays. My favorite part: You can find which locally-grown ingredients are available in your state this season—just choose your location, browse the ingredients, and find hundreds of recipes!

 

AmpleHarvest
While America has more than 50 million people who are hungry or are at real risk of being hungry (“food insecure people”), more than 40 million Americans grow food in home gardens – often more than they can use, preserve or give to friends. It doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you deliberately planted an extra row of food or just harvested more zucchini (or any other fruit, vegetables, herbs or nuts) than you can possibly use, AmpleHarvest.

 

Honorable Mentions

Fooducate
Don’t Diet – Eat Healthy with Fooducate! Featured App on Android Market Dec 2011. Scan and choose healthy groceries. Over 200,000 unique UPCs! As featured in Oprah’s O Magazine, USAToday, NYTimes, WSJ, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and on ABC, FOX, NBC and more… Instead of trying to decode nutrition facts labels and ingredient lists… …use your Android phone to: ? Automatically scan a product barcode ? See product highlights (both good & bad) ? Select better alternatives

 

Locavore
LOCAVORE: It’s your seasonal, local food network. Locavore makes searching & sharing in-season, local food a breeze by mapping farms and farmers’ markets, and what is in season based off your location. Features: 1 – Share photos about local, in season food & sellers 2 – Locate farms and farmers’ markets near you 3 – Browse what’s in-season and soon to come 4 – Find who is selling it and where 5 – Get details about your local farmers’ market 6 – Post what you ate locally to Facebook

 
 

Square Foot Gardening Planting Spacing

Our first garden was a Square Foot Garden. We’re talking about an authentic by-the-book (written by Mel Bartholomew) SFG. There are so many reasons why Square Foot Gardening is a great method for growing, especially for those who are new to gardening (that was me!) or have modest-sized gardens. As we’ve continued to grow vegetables, we’ve made some changes to our methods. For example, we no longer use the Mel’s Mix gardening soil recipe and we’ve exchanged six inches of soil in a box for hugelkultur mounded beds. But one thing has remained constant – we follow Mel’s concept of intensive planting. This intensive planting method follows the logic that if a plant can handle certain spacing in a row (i.e., 2 inches apart) the same spacing should apply in all directions (2 inches to the side, but also above, below and on the other side). So if you look at your seed packet, you can use the recommended spacing to determine how many plants will fit per square foot (1 foot x 1 foot).

But who wants to stand around doing silly math when they could have someone else do it for them? Maybe I’m just lazy, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been about to plant something in the garden and thought “Oh wait, can you plant four or six heads of lettuce per square foot?” Invariably, I pull out my smart phone and fire up Google so that someone else can remind me. I did this so often that it occurred to me that others might be doing the same thing. And that if they (and I!) were going to be searching for this info frequently, it sure would be a handy service for Arcadia Farms to provide a lickity-split answer.

Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing Cheat Sheet

So here it is – a SFG Cheat Sheet to let you know how many plants to sow per square foot. As a bonus, its designed to be easy to read from your mobile device. Bookmark this one – trust me, you’ll need it later.

 
 
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