The Basil 🌿 has Sprouted!


WE DID IT!  WE HAVE ACHIEVED SPROUTYNESS!!!!

Italian Genovese Basil Sprouts © 2018 Marie Stephens
It took less than a week! We planted the seeds last Tuesday afternoon, and the seeds were beginning to sprout by Saturday morning! It’s now Monday morning and the sprouts have formed cotyledons(the first set of baby leaf forms), and are beginning to green up!

Now What?????

If you have made it this far, you might be wondering what to do next to keep your basil babies alive.  Here’s a short list of things to do to keep them going.

  1. Remove your seedlings from the top of the fridge once they begin to sprout
  2. Reduce the number of times you spritz your seedlings to once a day, and gradually taper down to every other day, and then just start watering them with a watering can as the soil starts to dry on the surface. Why?Seeds need to be kept moist constantly until they sprout, then you want to gradually reduce the amount of water you give them to avoid causing them to rot or suffocate. This could be another separate article!
  3. Take the set up to a warm, sunny room, away from heat vents(at least 5 feet away) I have mine sitting on the top shelf of a bakers rack that sits in my sunny foyer.
  4. Begin removing the clear lid from the seedlings. Why?
  • To prevent your seedlings from getting to long and spindly (leggy)
  • To prevent mold from growing that can cause a disease called (dampening off) that causes your seedlings to die off right at the base of the stem.
  • To begin getting your seedlings acclimated to air movement. (air movement will ultimately help your seedlings get stronger, sturdier stems.

If you ordered seeds this winter, this poem is for you!

How to Start Your Own Basil

Marie’s Favorite Kinds of Basil

Day 8 Seedlings are growing. Now what?

  1. Rotate your seedlings once a day to prevent them from bending too much in one direction towards the sunlight.
  2. You can now leave the clear dome off permanently
  3. Reduce watering to once every 2 or 3 days. Just make sure that you water deeply so the soil gets wet all the way to the bottom of the container to stimulate deep rooting down into the soil.
  4. At this point you can still water with a mister, but you can adjust the nozzle from mist to more of a heavy spray and eventually a small stream.
  5. Avoid blasting the delicate seedlings with hard streams of water.
  6. Teach little ones to wet the soil surface rather than aiming directly at the seedlings.
  7. Teach little ones that the seedlings will get their water from their roots which are buried in the soil. This is why we aim at the soil instead of the leaves.
  8. You could even gently pull one seedling out and show your kids the little white root! Tell them that the root is kind of like a paper straw! It can suck up water through the tip and can absorb through the sides kind of like a wick.
  9. If you use a magnifying glass, you will also see root hairs which also help your plants get a drink.
  10. Make sure your container is not standing in a saucer full of water. Standing water causes the roots to be deprived of air and will cause suffocation and rot which ultimately results in death of your seedling.

Seed Starting Basics


We Planted Our Basil!

This is a mister that is about the same size as the one we have.  It’s small enough for little hands to hold and still be able to squeeze the trigger.  It is also BPA free, and has 3 different spray settings. We keep ours in the kitchen cupboard to use for spritzing seedlings, and also to tame crazy hair in the mornings as we head out the door to school!  It’s a life saver for moms of boys!

We Did It!

Finally, after talking about it, we made some time to plant a few basil seeds.  It’s so easy to put it off, and then 3 weeks have passed by and still no seeds planted!  I try not to stress too much about it, because I know I can always buy a plant at the garden center if I get behind.  The point of all of this is to have fun and learn something anyway right?

The Case of the Missing Basil Seed

So I was all ready to get started.  I went to the basement, found the wooden box that we keep all of our seed packets in.  I began digging, and digging…..and digging some more. I am now the proverbial squirrel in search of the nut! No luck.  No basil seed to be found!  “I could have sworn I still had some of that basil seed!”  I did find about 3 packages of Arugula seed, and a bazillion packages of Zinnias and other garden flowers, tomato, pepper, and other seeds, but no basil.  And this is how a gardener ends up with an entire box of seeds with multiple packages of the same kind!  It’s the squirrel syndrome!

I picked up Harrison from school, and we headed over to Wallace’s Garden Center to buy some seed.  It was so dreary yesterday, so seeing some green life forms was good for all of us.  My boys love to look at all the cute little cacti and succulents in the tiny pots there.

I was quite proud of myself, as I only spent $7 on seeds.  I purchased some Italian Genovese Basil and some Thai Basil.  The first packet cost $5!  I thought that seemed a little high, but then I looked at the seed count on the packet.  There were about 1000 seeds in the packet, compared to about 200 in the others that cost around $2.  Since I am planning to replant the basil more than once, as I am going to use it more as a microgreen and get a shorter lifespan out of it.

We got home, and settled in, and a light bulb went on in my mind. The spice cabinet!  “I think I saved some seed heads in a baggy and put them in the spice cabinet!”  Sure enough, there was the suspicious baggy.  A bunch of dried up leaves that smelled like basil!  I noted there were a few seed heads in the bag, so I decided to try to collect a few seeds from them.  It took some time and patience, and now I realize why seeds cost what they cost!  It’s all about the time it takes!  If you want to learn how and maybe work in a little life lesson for your kids with during the seed collecting activity, click the link below to see!

Collecting Your Own Basil Seed From Dried Flower Stems

 

It’s April. What Vegetables Can I Plant Right Now?


It feels like spring.  Finally!  We can all get out, get some air and get our hands dirty again.  But what can we plant that isn’t going to freeze on us and have to be replanted again later?  Here’s a list to get you started in your veggie patch.

  1. Potatoes:  as of Good Friday, you can start planting seed potatoes.
  2. Carrot seeds
  3. Beet seeds
  4. Peas
  5. Raddish seeds
  6. Broccoli Plants
  7. Cauliflower Plants
  8. Cabbage Plants
  9. Salad Greens
  10. Kale
  11. Arugula
  12. Mizuna
  13. Bok Choi
  14. Pak Choi
  15. Sweet Corn
  16. Asparagus crowns
  17. Strawberries

I’m sure there are many more, but this is just off the top of my head and will at least get you started:)

Wilcox tools are great for digging holes for annual flowers and vegetables, especially for those of us who don’t like to get down on our knees!  The extra long handle is 18″ long, super sturdy from tip to tip, and made in my native state, Iowa!

 

 

Click here for a great online seed selection

I Garden Because I Can….Pun Intended


This post is about gardening, and why I love it, why I hate it, and why gardening will always be a part of my life!


I garden because I can!

There’s no place I’d rather be.

In this place, treasures abound,

when searching around,

hunting on bended knee.

 

My arms are getting itchy,

The bugs are beginning to bite!

Yet still,

I feel,

A calm respite.

 

My buns are sweating, 

My back is breaking, 

SO MANY TOMATOES,

I should be staking!

Muscles I never knew I had,

soon will be aching!

 

Weeds are tall,

My patience is shrinking!

My boobs are sweating!

My armpits are stinking!

And then I start thinking:

 

How I would love to fall into a pool

But then I look at my haul,

and I begin to drool!

 

My shirt is stained

My body is drained

My thirst needs quenched

My clothes are drenched

 

But…

 

My mind is clear

My soul is cheered

My heart is full

along with my bucket!

 

My bucket is full

of gardeners’ loot.

I’ve hit the jackpot

in multiple pounds of delicious fruit!

 

My garden may not be perfect,

after all, it’s full of weeds,

but still it remains

an escape for me.

 

Not to be alone,

but to live in community

with birds and bees…….

and those stinking rabbits,

the snakes that give me the shivers,

the caterpillars,

other creepy critters

and let’s not forget the coons!

Yes they have a right to be here too,

so I guess I could spare them a tomato or two.

©Marie Stephens 2018

Are You Ready?

If after reading this poem, which is almost a disclaimer stating that gardening is not glam, you still want to give it a try this year, then I found a collection of seed at a decent price to get you started!  I read a little bit about the company, and it warmed my heart!  Take a peek and see for yourself when you click the pic!


The “I Garden Because I Can” Gift Collection, by Marie Stephens Art

Below, is a link to a small collection of “I Garden Because I Can” items that I created as gifts for gardeners and home grown food preservation fanatics!  They can all be personalized and shipped directly to you or to the person you’d like to send the gift to!

So far, I have designed a

  • kitchen floor mat with funny canning puns and phrases,
  • a tshirt that can be ordered in multiple styles and colors,
  • an apron,
  • a bandana to hold your hair back on canning day,
  • and a mason jar mug with the graphics I designed to make your fellow gardener/canner smile, especially if they hate bunnies…even though they really are so cute!

I hope you will get a chuckle, and if you do order something, thanks so very much!  I earn a royalty for the items purchased with my art on them!



Canning and Gardening