Posts in Garden Economizing
Seed Sprouting Success

DSC_0894Chances are you have everything at your finger tips for creating perfect seed sprouting success. Sprouting seeds yourself is economical and expands your ability to grow many more varieties.

Materials Needed: 1) Saved plastic tubs with lids and with bottom holes for drainage. Fruit such as berries are often store-packaged in these containers. 2) Potting soil, or seed starting medium. 3) Desired seeds to sprout. 4) A handy chopstick, to make a hole or indention for your seeds. 5) Label gun to label your seeds started and the date. 6) Spray bottle with plain water to mist your seeds in soil medium. 7) Safe place with filtered sun exposure. 8) Time and patience.

I started my saved heirloom pumpkin seeds this way. I simply picked out my desired size plastic tub container. I filled each tub with moistened seed starting medium. I took a chopstick and made my number of desired holes in each tub for my seeds. I then filled each hole with a different heirloom pumpkin seed, and covered the seed over with soil. Once again, I misted each tub again. If you create a label and date for each tub containing seeds, you'll always know what you planted where and when. I keep the container lid closed, as it acts like a mini-greenhouse creating warmth and keeping in extra moisture for your seeds. This further helps germinate your seeds. I placed each tub in a filtered sun spot, in this case, in my potting shed. Every morning I opened the lid of the tub, and misted the seed starting medium, and closed the lid once more.

In about 8 days my pumpkin seeds had germinated and were too tall for me to close their lids. My pumpkin seedlings were now ready to be transplanted to shaped mounds in the ground. Since I started my seeds in my outdoor potting shed, they are already to be planted in the ground. If you had started seeds in your garage or an indoor environment, you might have to include the step of hardening off, or gradually acclimating your delicate seedlings to the outdoors for small periods of time before actually planting them in the ground.

Here is a fun link for more information on starting seeds, Seed Starting For Real People by Kelly Roberson. She suggests starting seeds in an empty egg carton, as an alternative to plastic containers. Roberson also includes a handy chart for Best and Worst Seeds to Sow Indoors and Outdoors. Thanks Kelly for sharing.

Please comment if you have a favorite method for seed starting success. Please share your favorite seeds to start yourself.

Composting with Grape Pomace

DSC_0971 I'm a firm believer in backyard composting. I love the idea of recycling what you have from your own garden, property, and kitchen scrapes into your own personal compost recipe. It is especially important to compost when you have backyard chickens. In fact, I really delve into this subject of backyard composting and backyard chickens in my book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies. See also my previous post, How To Compost In Your Backyard.

I call backyard composting a personal compost recipe of your life, because it is the layering of greens and browns, essentially by-products of your cooking, gardening, and property which create this custom compost mixture. My husband, John, and I have a small backyard vineyard. We use the grape pomace in our compost each fall. Grape pomace is the skins, seeds, and stems of the vineyard grapes after the wine making process. Grapes are a form of green or the fire that heats up the compost mixture, where the browns such as our chicken bedding, or rice hulls is considered the browns and fuel for the compost. Grape pomace heats up our compost to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, an incredible temperature for a backyard compost mixture. Composting with our grape pomace creates a rich organic material called humus, which will go back into our garden soil, and flowerbeds.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit Annie's Annuals and Perennials with my fellow garden bloggers attending the three day San Francisco Fling. One of the highlights of this three day adventure was Richmond east bay nursery, Annie's Annuals and Perennials. If you are ever in the Bay Area, make a visit to Annie's Annuals. A truly incredible nursery. Plants can be purchased online and shipped, too. While visiting Annie's Annuals, I noticed a sign and display, that grape pomace is one of her favorite compost materials.


This was the middle of summer, and not Halloween, as this sassy and colorful mannequin greeted you at the nursery entrance. I can only imagine how she is costumed this week, two days before Halloween!


Annie and I know a good thing, composted grape pomace. Try contacting your local vineyards in the fall, for possible sources of grape pomace. It is a great way to enjoy the colorful autumn season, maybe have a quick wine tasting, and purchase wonderful grape pomace for your backyard composting.

Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend

Starting PVFS Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend in Garden Flats In doing research for my upcoming new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor Rob Ludlow of BackYard Chickens, I stumbled across Peaceful Vally Farm Supply's Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend. What a find!

This organic forage blend is a real treat for your hens. It is available in 1 pound to 1,000 pound quantities. You can grow in it on a large scale in a pasture, in your garden, in a chicken run or zone, or even in 17" garden flats like I did.  Warning, Peaceful Vally Farm Supply recommends not grazing horses on this mixture. Flax can form prussic acid when exposed to frost.

This forage blend is a warm season crop in mild climates, and can be sowed after danger of frost in cooler climates. It needs regular irrigation, and most likely needs to be replanted each year. Keep your seeds moist, and your chickens away from this blend until it is the desired height for your chickens. Surprisingly, seeds germinate immediately, and in less than two weeks time is 3" to 5" high, the perfect height for chickens to graze.

In 2 weeks time, the forage blend is ready to be given to your chickens.

Peaceful Vally Farm Supply has refined this unique forage blend from their own expertise, feedback from backyard poultry enthusiasts, and university research. This blend consists of alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, flax, millet, rye, and rye grass. Feeding your chickens this forage blend ensures their eggs will be rich in Omega-3  fatty acids, an important component of a healthy diet for those eating their eggs.

My happy hens love this forage blend, and your chickens will too

My chickens go crazy for this blend as you can see in the photo. Most chickens devour the blend before the plants can set seed. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply tells me you can try and grow this forage blend in a raised bed with a protective wire over it to keep your chickens from eating it roots, and all. With the protective wire, the grass might have time to replenish itself, if you keep your chickens away from it as regrowth begins.This blend is not only great for chickens, but ducks and turkeys,too.

If you order the Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend from Peaceful Vally Farm Supply for your chickens, be sure and tell them VintageGardenGal recommended it.

Simple Country Bouquet from the Garden

Besides growing your own edibles, it is a great idea to grow your own flowers for bouquets. Here is a simple country bouquet idea for an event I had this spring.

Flowers. My perennial sweet peas were abundant and in bloom. I have written about my lovely perennial sweet peas in more detail, Perennial Sweet Peas. Perennial sweet peas are easy to grow, bloom spring to summer, and return year and year. Perennial sweet peas are one suggestion. Let your garden dictate your bouquet.

Vessel. I collected Bulgarian yogurt jars back in the seventies. When traveling through Bulgaria, yogurt was sold in these simple-shaped wide mouth jars. Such a nice size, and an appealing shape. You can use any vessel you have on hand. Try using vessels which appeal to you and are a little out of the ordinary.

Embellishment. These Bulgarian jars are clear. For fun, and a little color, I lined the jars with peppermint geranium leaves. These leaves are very soft and fuzzy. They hold up well in water for several days. The leaves are the prettiest "Ireland" green which is fabulous with the various pinks of the perennial sweet peas. I could have added a pretty ribbon, or glass balls at the bottom of the jars.

In a way, this simple country bouquet from my garden is exactly what my dear friend, Debra Prinzing, and her photographer, David E. Perry, are trying to convey in their new book, The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers. Following after the "Slow Food" movement, Prinzing and Perry introduce us to the "Slow Flower" movement. Do you know where your flowers are grown? When they were harvested? If chemicals were used to grow them? Prinzing and Perry introduce us to local organic flower growers, gathering, and ultimate "Slow Flower" design. Using fresh flowers out of our own gardens is one easy step in this direction.

Please share if you are aware of local organic flower growers in your area? Please share if you create your own organic flower bouquets out of your own garden.

Handmade Garden Projects

Seattle-based freelance garden writer, author, blogger, and new editor of Pacific Horticulture, Lorene Edwards Forkner, has an exciting new book out called Handmade Garden Projects.

Swinging through Southern California on a recent speaker circuit, Lorene had time to give a special hands-on demonstration and sell some of her "hot" books. Lorene demonstrated her Galvanized Wire Plant Support craft to my enthusiastic garden friends. It was a beautiful Monday morning, and there under my Torrey pine, she crafted a wire garden cloche from 36" galvanized wire fencing. Lorene's wit and humor was "icing on the cake" as she maneuvered through her demo. Thanks Lorene!

Lorene has been a special friend of mine for several years now. Last summer as part of "Seattle Fling" (a national garden blogging event) I attended, and Lorene helped organize, I had a chance to visit Lorene's special garden. There, I saw first hand many of the projects created and photographed for Handmade Garden Projects.

There are  33 projects in this book, with two options to every project, which makes a total of 99 potential projects you can make. Her book is cleverly organized into six chapters, such as "The Ground Floor" and "Supporting Acts." Each garden project is beautifully photographed and detailed in easy-to-follow steps. True to my own heart, Lorene embraces eco-friendly salvaging and re-purposing for these projects. Above all, she urges us all to "Go outside--it's a nice day!"

Publisher, Timber Press is hosting a Handmade Garden Projects Blog Tour this week with several other participating garden blogs. I invite you to visit these fab gardening blogs from all over the country, and read more about what they have to say about the talented Lorene Edwards Forkner, and her new book.

Organize Your Garden Shed

Now is a great time to get organized in the New Year.  Besides the usual closets, pantry, and garage, don't forget about organizing your garden sheds , too. A neat and organized garden shed will help ensure you have a healthy, productive, and thriving garden.

Take a look at this garden shed, from a client of Karen Contreras of Urban Plantations. Urban Plantations is a design and maintenance of edible landscape for an urban environment in the Greater San Diego area.

Check List for Your Garden Shed: 1) A garden shed should be clean, and well lit. The door opening is big enough to move bulky tools and bags around easily. 2) Keep a huge calendar to jot down, when seeds and seedlings were planted, harvest dates, and important days to remember. 3) A huge white board, keeps your "To Do" list visible and on track. 4) A cork board keeps important charts and papers in place, and easily accessible. 5) A place to hang a garden hat and coat is a must.

6) Garden tools are clean, organized, and hung up on a wall. 7) Sturdy shelving provides space and organization for garden products.

Take a cue from this garden shed, and start your gardening year on the right "hoe." Please share if you have a garden shed for your tools, equipment, and products. Please comment how you organize your garden shed.

Incompatible Vegetable Pairings

I saw this "Bad Bedfellows List"  in Troy-Bilt's  Great Gardens, 6th Edition, Garden Hints, Tips, and Techniques, and wanted to share it with all of you. Not all vegetables coexist well when planted side by side, in a friendly vegetable garden.

Have you ever witnessed a friend's or neighbor's "picture perfect" vegetable garden. They are probably incorporating the vegetable garden techniques of crop rotation, successive planting, inter-planting, and oh yes, compatibility likes and dislikes when growing vegetables.

Generally speaking, plants of the same "plant family" will grow and thrive together. Below, is an informal list of vegetables that are "imperfect pairings" and should not be grown in close proximity to each other.

Incompatible Pairings: Asparagus and Garlic Beans and Onions Beets and Beans Broccoli and Beans Cabbage and Strawberries Carrots and Celery Corn and Tomatoes Onions and Peas Potatoes and Tomatoes

If you are curious for more information and a source on plant compatibility, read  Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.

Glossary Crop Rotation. Rotating your vegetables to a different spot or bed in your vegetable garden. Avoid growing the same vegetable in the same spot each year. An example is tomatoes.

Successive Planting. Planting the same crops in timed intervals, allowing for a longer harvest of one particular crop. An example is lettuce.

Inter-planting. Planting compatible vegetables with different maturing times, space requirements. An example is the Native American Indian technique called "Three Sisters" comprised of planting corn, beans, and squash together.

Please share if you are aware of incompatible vegetable plant pairings. Please comment if you use these techniques for better vegetable growing and yield.


VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme....

VintageGardenGal, a garden lifestyle blog, is celebrating it's third anniversary this month! Fab Sponsor, ORGIN DAY SPA in the San Diego, California area, is offering 20% off of services for a limited time, when you mention "VintageGardenGal" at time of scheduling.

Thank you everyone for your interest and support. See you in the garden!

Beauty in Burlap

Beauty in Burlap When my husband and I remodeled a year ago, I carved out a perfect office and workshop area in a single car garage. With the addition of our new master bedroom wing, it created this small, private, very intimate garden room which I can look out and access from my office and workshop. I planted a Podocarpus hedge along the north fence on one side, a row of espaliered Silver Wave Camellias along the stucco wing on the south side, and the third side was my very old working garden shed to the west.

In the middle of this garden room, I created a pea gravel square edged with dwarf Euonymus and placed my vintage garden baby fountain smack in the middle. My garden baby fountain, see Everyone Loves a "Garden Baby"  finally had a permanent home, after years of transit traveling around my garden.

The reason I'm describing all of this in detail is because I had an unappealing open door and side of my garden shed which desperately needed some sprucing up. The answer was burlap, the reasonable landscape burlap which has incredible texture, durability, and vintage-like appeal. This is another idea for garden economizing--reasonable landscape burlap as a material. If you don't know about it, you must look for it at your garden and landscape centers. I find my burlap locally at Grangetto's. You can also be creative and re-purpose coffee burlap bags.

I created a small vignette with an old warped wood table, matching symmetrical pots, a pair of young cypress trees for height, and blue-gray shutters for interest and color repetition.  I pulled out my "dusty but trusty" sewing machine, and loosely measured my spaces as everything was uneven. Presto, a working burlap curtain door, and a sweet table skirt for my table. I secured hidden dowels to hang the burlap for my shed opening and table. I also dug out one of my old hooks, and placed it on the side of my shed for a quick way to hold up the burlap curtain door when I needed the large opening.

What a difference, and what beauty in this burlap. Think of this landscape burlap material when you have a project where it might conveniently lend itself. Please share if you use this burlap material already in your garden. Please comment on creative ways you have worked with this burlap.