Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Oh my goodness, the weather here has been absolutely fantastic this past week. It is mid March in zone 5 and we’ve had 60s and it even hit as high as 80 today. Even though it is supposed to get colder again next week, it has been so nice be outside and know that spring is just around the corner!

In the past I have started seeds indoors, done winter sowing, and planted directly after last frost. I have not ever had a lot of success with starting seeds indoors, which would be started at about this time here, or winter sowing. So, this year I have decided to plant my seeds directly into the ground. 

I recently discovered how to make seed mats and tapes, which make planting seeds in the ground easier and could be used for direct sowing or container planting. I started a couple of days ago and have made up about 50 square foot mats so far! These can be used for container gardening, the square foot gardening method or rows.

There are several different glues that you can use to glue the seeds to the mat or tape. The easiest thing to use would probably be just a plain old nontoxic glue stick. I did not use this, though, as my fear was that the larger seeds would fall off. Plain old white glue could also be used, which worked really well for me. This held large and small seeds just fine. The only issue with this is that if the seed mat/tape is not thick enough the glue can leak right through the paper and stick to the table a bit. I was able to gently finagle them off of the table keeping the mats intact and the table cleaned up fine, but it was kind of a pain. I only used this for my nonedible flower seeds because even though it is nontoxic I was a little uneasy on using it on my edibles. You can use a paste of flour and water as your glue. Just use a little flower and add water slowly while mixing until you get a nice glue consistency. I used a mixture of cornstarch and water for my mats/tapes with edibles. I heated a cup of water with 2 liberal tablespoons of cornstarch to boiling, which thickened it nicely. It cooled down into a thick gel and then I plopped it into an old cleaned out honey mustard squeeze container. If you don’t have a squeeze container to use, you can use a toothpick or spoon to dab it on your mats. It’ll just take a little longer to do.

For your mats and tapes you can use any kind of paper you would like. I used cheap paper napkins doubled up, which were nice because they were each one square foot in size and had folds in them when opened for easy measuring out. Paper towels, printer paper, toilet paper, cardboard, or black and white newspaper can be used. To make tapes, cut the paper into strips and stick them each together into one long strip before gluing seeds on.

Just lay the paper out on a flat surface, glue the seeds onto the paper, and let it dry. The seeds can be placed on your paper first and then glue over top, or put dots of glue on the paper and then seeds on top.

The glue is not too wet and dries quickly, so the seeds do not have time to germinate. The seed mats/tape eliminate having to kneel down for prolonged periods to plant individual seeds in the ground. When seeds are spaced out on the mats/tape, space them out according to the final spacing directions after thinning. This will eliminate the need for thinning later on. The paper will make a nice mulch and smother weed seeds long enough to give your seeds a good head start. Making up these seed mats has been a fun and relaxing task for me and gives me something spring-like to do even when I can’t plant anything yet. The hardest part about the whole process is going to be having the patience to wait for that last frost date to roll around before I put my seed mats in the ground!


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I love to garden, but it can get expensive really fast! Here are some tips on how to garden frugally.

Use seeds from the things you eat at the grocery store. Many times this method works well, but sometimes it does not. You just have to experiment with it a bit to see what will sprout and what will produce. If you buy a pepper at the store, cut it up and put the seeds on a plate on top of your fridge for a few days until they dry out. Package them up and save them until spring when you are ready to plant.

Save seeds in the fall from veggies from your garden. Scroll down to the bottom of the page on this link for instructions on exactly how to save seeds from common vegetables.

Don’t buy expensive seed starter packages. If you want to start seeds early, you can use your own dirt in recycled containers or paper egg cartons in front of a sunny window. You can sow many seeds outdoors directly into the garden when it is warm enough and avoid seed starting altogether.

Plant your own annual flowers from seed for planters, hanging baskets, and window boxes instead of buying packs of flowers or preplanted containers.

If you buy plants, buy small instead of spending more for larger plants. Your small plants will grow and fill in just beautifully in time.

Use groundcover plants under trees and shrubs and around objects instead of paying for mulch. Check this out.

Get free plants from cuttings, divisions, shoots, etc. If you are interested in a certain plant, there are many resources online available to show you how the plant reproduces.

Share and trade your plants and seeds. You can do this with friends and family or on many online gardening websites or Freecycle.com.

Perennial plants are plants that come up every year. Annuals die off in winter and you have to buy new ones. Plant more perennials.

To develop easy and inexpensive new beds, check out lasagna gardening.

If you don’t have much space for your garden, check out square foot gardening.

You don’t need expensive tools or equipment most of the time. What you need: A shovel, a hand trowel, a rake, and pruners. You may also need twine and stakes (sticks) for certain plants that require support. If you need an expensive tool, borrow one or rent one and split the rental fee with a neighbor.

You may need to amend your soil. Take the time to get a soil sample test done so you know exactly what to add and how much. This will save you time and money in the long run.

Make a hidden area on your property into a compost pile for grass clippings, leaves, kitchen waste, etc.  If you have rabbits, their droppings can go directly into the garden. If you have chickens, goats, etc., then you have to compost their droppings first or they will be too strong and burn your plants.

Look for sales on plants, seeds, and bulbs at the end of season. Seeds and bulbs can typically last more than one year so you can save them until you are ready to use them.

Conserve water. You can gather rainwater in barrels or containers from your downspouts to use in the garden. A soaker hose will also conserve water as opposed to spraying. It is best to water first thing in the morning.

Learn about each plant you put in so that you can care for it correctly. There are lots of resources online. My favorite forum is GardenWeb.com. There are many experts there who can help you with any questions or problems you might have.


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