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


April Gardener’s To Do List: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Get Started

It’s almost the end of April, and it’s finally starting to feel like spring around here.  I think this is the latest I’ve ever started to feel the itch to start playing in the dirt.  Better late than never, I suppose.

If you are like me, time is always limited, and you’re probably wondering what might be the most effective use of your time.  We all want to start planting flowers, but here in the midwest, there are still chances of frost all the way up until May 10th, the official frost free date for Zone 4 gardeners.

I am going to make a list of things that I know I need to do before I start planting the more tender crops.  This list is in no particular order.

April To Do List

  1. Cut back ornamental grasses to at least 6 ” above the ground:  this can be quickly done with an electric hedge shears to save your hands from carpal tunnel and save tons of time.
  2. For an organic way to fertilize your lawn and flower beds, get a truckload of compost from the compost facility and sprinkle it evenly, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick all throughout the lawn and flower beds, and rake in to evenly spread it out.
  3. If you have an asparagus patch, now would be a good time to spray roundup or an organic herbicide to kill weeds before the spears come up.  You can also top dress with some compost and loosen up the soil between the rows with a tiller as soon as the soil dries out enough to be worked.
  4. Cut back dead stems from perennials
  5. Remove debris, (dead leaves, etc.) from flower beds
  6. If you are doing a veggie garden, put up a rabbit fence after soil is worked and before you invest your time and money into planting it!  Don’t learn the hard way like I did…..I always say I’m going to put up a fence, but I get so excited about planting, that I do it first and then never get around to putting up a fence until after the rabbits have already mowed off all my seedlings.
  7. Till up the veggie garden down at least 6 inches.
  8. Add compost to your veggie garden and till in again.  We have raised beds for our veggie garden and over the last 2 years or so, the soil level has gone down at least 3 or 4 inches.  This year, my husband topped them off with more garden soil and then tilled it in to mix with the existing soil to improve drainage.  Hopefully, this will improve the moisture retention in the soil as well.
  9. If you are going to be growing broccoli, cauliflower, or any type of salad greens, order some white insect fabric to cover your crops!  I am finally going to try it this year because I do not like using chemicals, and I am tired of being afraid of finding those little green worms in my salad greens and broccoli.  The white fabric is supposed to keep moths from laying eggs(that turn into little green worms) on the plants, and also help keep flea beetles from chewing holes in leaves.
  10. Plant cool season plants, tubers, and seeds.