Category Archives: Plants From Seed

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DIY Carrot Boxes for raised beds

Grow straight carrots

(Plus, after you grow these carrots, there’s Mom’s Carrot Cake)

I’ve been making mini raised beds. Little one foot wooden boxes without a top or bottom and 8″ tall. It is a little raised bed for the raised bed.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Here’s how: cut four 2 x 8 x 12 wooden pieces. Cedar lasts longer, pine is cheaper. Scrap lumber makes me happy. I call it a Carrot Box because I made it to grow carrots.

Loosen and add organic matter or compost to the raised bed. Set the box in your raised bed garden. Fill with a light soiless mix.

Thinly sow carrot seed. Cover. Firm. Water. Details are on my hub page Grow carrots weeks ahead of the last frost.

For the best results, thin the carrots to 2″ apart.

Using a double-deep container with extra fine soil will be the key to growing carrots. It is critical that you fertilize and water carrots regularly.

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“Sunshine Orange and Yellow” carrots from Renee’s Garden. Wonderful simply oven roasted. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Rose Marie Nichols McGee at Nichols Garden Nursery has one of the best gardening blogs, The Gardener’s Pantry and newsletters.

She has good information How to raise carrots without using a spade or hoe

You might like:

How can you make a soup rich?  Add 14 carrots (carats) to it.

Mom’s Carrot Cake

with cream cheese frosting

I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but it is the best.

1 1/2 Cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 Cups peeled and grated carrots
1 Cups chopped pecans
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

Beat together oil, sugar and eggs until well combined. In a bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the eggs and sugar. Mix well. Drain the pineapple, add carrots, nuts. Mix well. Pour into 9 or 10 inch tube pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or check with toothpick.

Cream cheese frosting

2 (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 box powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream cheese and butter together. Add sugar gradually until complete box has been added. Add vanilla. Refrigerate for an hour, then frost cake. Use all frosting.

 

Lettuce think Spring

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Renee Shepherd

Renee Shepherd

 

I met Renee Shepherd at my first Annual GWA Symposium*. I admit to being a little star struck meeting Renee of Renee’s Gardens.

“You’re Renee! Of Renee’s Gardens! I recognized you because you look just like your picture,” I said.

She was kind enough not to say anything.

It was about that time when I realized that I sounded like I had the IQ of a seed packet. “OMG, I just told this woman who she was.” 

Then, I quickly left, praying that Renee had not read my name tag.

Growing Salad Greens

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries with balsamic dressing.

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries with balsamic dressing.

I always order way too much seed for the spring salad bowl.  Lettuces, arugula, radishes, scallions, and spinach come up by the crisper full. I love salads. Plus, I like those generous seed packets that have enough seeds for succession planting all season. I will always plant more lettuces and radishes every single week of the spring until it just gets too hot.

baby romaines

Thin small lettuces to allow room for the others to grow.

I can never have too many spring greens, baby leaf lettuces, chopped salad, wilted lettuce. Top with chive blossoms or lacy chervil leaves. Serve with the lightest of dressings.

Renee’s Garden Seeds has a big gourmet greens selection. The only problem will be limiting your salad selections to the size of your garden. I like Renee’s combo selections because the seed combination’s are a thrifty way to get a lot of variety into a small garden.

Container lettuce, “Ruby & Emerald Duet” is a perfect pairing of emerald-green baby butterhead rosettes with red and crispy mini leaf lettuce. The “Caesar Duo” romaine lettuce combo of red and green baby size lettuces. These Romaines are the foundation of the best homemade Caesar salads you’ll ever make.

Romaines also grow to crispy, crunchy leaves, perfect on sandwiches. The “cut and come again” mescluns are a jumble of color, size and texture in containers or hanging baskets. Lettuces, radish and green onions will be gone before you need the baskets and containers for their warm weather annuals.

Last spring I tried the “Paris Market Mesclun”, a mix of several baby lettuces, chicory, endive, and arugula. Small successive plantings stretched the flavors, textures and colors of this “cut and come again” mix through the whole spring.

Yes, there is a real Renee. And yes, she selects, grows and eats this stuff before she offers it to us in her beautiful online only catalog. Plus, the website tells how to plant, grow, harvest, prepare and cook all these amazing vegetables.

Renee’s Garden Sowing in seed-starting containers to transplant into your garden will get you headed in the right direction.IMG_9430

Renee’s Garden Seeds offered seed to garden writers. It’s a great way to grow and share information about what’s new for home gardeners. For example, I grew “Little Prince” a container eggplant. I was smitten. It was beautiful. The lavender blooms alone would be reason enough to grow Little Prince.

Being a garden writer and blogger is great fun because I get to share the joy and pleasure of gardening with others.

Little Prince in bloom.

Little Prince eggplant in bloom. Dozens of delicate lavender flowers become 2 – 4 ounce eggplants. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

 

Eat Little Eggplants

Small and tender, marinade little eggplant halves and quarters then, grill. Serve as a warm side or add other grilled vegetables for a cold marinated vegetable salad.

* GWA = Garden Writers Association

How to Grow Your Own Baby Greens

 

Hardy fall vegetables

Big beautiful leeks, leafy chard, sweet baby carrots are still in the garden.

chard, leeks

Pot of Gold chard, is a garden show off now that the weather has cooled. The big leafy plants are not bitter. Photo PBH

 

There are also some young kale, broccoli and, cauliflower plants still in the garden. The plants are slow-growing and may not have time to make before the cold weather settles in. I’ll harvest the young kale leaves.

Read more:  Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard

Build a bed this fall. Get a jump or the spring garden season. Try  simple wood framed easy raised bed. Build the basic garden this fall. Get a jump on next spring’s garden.

Raised beds are a quick start for new gardeners

Baby kale is sweet and crisp.

Read more:  Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard

 Kale

The baby kale will be part of Zuppa Toscana, an Italian potato soup with sausage and kale. It’s one of the many soups collected on the Bread and Soup board on my Pinterest .

Add kale in the last minutes of simmering so it will stay bright and green.

 

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Sweet baby carrots

Carrots

Little carrots still have time to grow bigger and sweeter.

Little carrots still have time to grow bigger and sweeter.

Daucus carota. There are lots of carrots out there in the garden. They are sweet, orange and about three inches long. I’m curious, they have been thinned and are growing faster than anything else.

I’ll just watch and see how long they keep growing. Carrots as a fall crop are new in my garden. I’ll sow more carrots in the spring.

A packet of carrot seed has about a gazillion seed. Buy it and you will have enough for two crops a year. There are dozens of varieties.  You can get a generous packet of carrot seed for two bucks at Nichols Garden Nursery

I pulled up some short fat carrots, Chantenay Red Core Carrot, I think. It’s an old heirloom and it is growing well in my Southeast Missouri garden. They take up so little space in the garden.  Try to grow carrots if haven’t.

There's lots of parsley in the garden this fall.

There’s lots of parsley in the garden this fall.

Parsley

Parsley is loaded with vitamin C. It’s a real asset in chicken soup. I’ll add a heaping helping in the last minutes of simmering.

Some parsley will stay in the garden because it is a biannual and will appear early in the spring. It will flower and go to seed in the second year.

Calendula

Calendula

Calendula

And finally, perky little blooms are hard to come by in November. Calendula, “Flashback” is a volunteer. They frequently self seed. Anywhere this colorful plant appears, it’s welcomed to stay. This bright orange bloom brings pollinators to the garden.

Yaya

Yaya

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Scarlet Nantes

 

Baltimore

Baltimore

More information:

Grow 2 crops of carrots this season

How to grow long straight carrots

Nichols Garden Nursery – Fine Seeds & Herbs. Has some good carrot growing tips. Plus, they have 11 varieties of carrots. several good varieties that are under $2 a packet. I may have slightly exaggerated in saying there are a gazillion seeds in a packet.

There are approximately 18,500 carrot seeds per ounce or 650 seeds per gram.

 In the soup pot today: Washed and coarsely chopped chunks of  these Leeks, kale, carrots, onions, oregano, garlic, parsley and rosemary are simmering in a big pot destined to be a vegetable broth by tomorrow. Beef, chicken, or vegetable both will make any soup brighter, adding another levels of taste.

When cooking a chicken for chicken soup, cook it in your homemade broth instead of water. The resulting golden chicken broth is the best. Really. I mean it. Double broth may have originally come from heaven.

Night Blooms

Datura

Datura is a member of the Solanaceae family. This big, flawless white flower also called Angel’s Trumpet, Moon Lily, Jimson weed, Moon Flower or Belladonna (beautiful lady).

Only blooming in the evening, it may be tricked by cloudy days.

Only blooming in the evening, it may be tricked by cloudy days.

The flower opens after dusk and closes by mid-morning of the following day. Huge, white, trumpet-shaped flowers stay open until the sun rises. The night blooming white flower can sometimes be fooled into blooming on grey cloudy days.

Every single bloom depends on night pollinators

Every single bloom depends on night pollinators

The plant is easy to grow and produces flowers and seed plentifully. Plants ramble and spread while growing to three feet tall. It produces spikey, golfball-sized fruit.

Moonflowers are herbaceous, growing quickly and rapidly self seeds. Leaves are covered by tiny smooth hairs. The plant is a member of the Deadly Nightshade Family.

Some species of Datura have been used by native peoples for the plant’s halucinogenic alkaloids. People trying to imitate Native American ceremonies have poisoned themselves, sometimes fatally. All parts of all Datura plants are poisonous and can be fatal if ingested.
The Solanaceae family includes potato (Solanum tuberosum); tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum); and pepper (Capsicum annuum).

pollinators flock to moonflowers.

pollinators flock to moonflowers.

“Jimson weed” may have been corrupted from “Jamestown.” Early colonists were said to behave strangely after eating the plant when no other food was available.

 

 

More White flowers of the night

Nicotiana

nicotianan alata tobacco sweet scented bloomer in the afternoon  and evening.

nicotianan alata tobacco sweet scented bloomer in the afternoon and evening.

White flowers of the night

Nicotiana

Sweet white flowers a mildly fragrant in the evening. It took two or three years before I finally got this to bloom. The seed is about the size of this period → . ←

Collecting  these seed is not easy. But they do self seed quite well.

Collecting these seed is not easy. But they do self seed quite well.

Nicotiana alata is a species of “Nicotiana” tobacco. It is also called Jasmine Tobacco. The unwieldy 24″+ stems bloom freely producing gazillions of seed. Just now, there are dozens (maybe 100s) of the tiny plants coming up around every single square paver on my patio. After days and days of rain, the ity bitty seed have washed down between the pavers. and started to grow.

nicotianan alata tobacco sweet scented bloomer in the afternoon  and evening.

Nicotiana alata tobacco sweet-scented bloomer in the afternoon and evening.

I added this to my worry list. It would be hard to pull the plants up without destroying the lush green moss. But I think the first frost will kill them off. The plant is only winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. I’m in 6A, SE Missouri.

The good news, it will be gone at first frost.

 

More night-blooming white flowers, Datura.

pollinators flock to moonflowers.

pollinators flock to moonflowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purple Tomato Thief on eBay

This is the stolen photo of Indigo Rose tomato.
This is the stolen photo of Indigo Rose tomato.

Blue (Purple) Tomato Photo

This is a stolen photo.

I took this picture on my birthday, October 14th, last year.
The tomatoes are sitting on my custom made patio table. Member id ilg49, Robert & Jessica, are the seed sellers on eBay that are using my photo to sell Indigo Rose tomato seed. Of course You Know, it is neither rare or heirloom as they advertise.

This is Indigo Rose tomato.

This is Indigo Rose tomato.

Todays Harvest Basket 9/8/14

Today’s Harvest Basket September 8, 2014

Mild Habanero Peppers, “Suave”

So many peppers.

Sun Gold cherry  tomato, Arkansas Traveler, Giant Martian and, paste tomatoes.

Paste tomatoes are ripe ripe every day. I'm freezing them whole to process later.

Some paste tomatoes are ripe every day. I’m freezing them whole to process later.

Top right corner is the Black Brandywine, much smaller than the other Brandywines. Below the black tomato is a regular Brandywine, weighing in at just over a pound. I picked it early and a little green to keep it from breaking the vine.

Those cute little green and yellow wrinkly peppers are a new mild Habanero pepper, “Suave”. They turned complexly yellow by the next day. They are said to be flavorful but bot as hot a true habanero pepper. It’s a new and exclusive variety from Renee’s Garden Seed. With the break in heat, the plant has perked up and is blooming non stop. The plant is loaded with peppers.

These are bright Goldfinch yellow when ripe. I’m letting the rest of these peppers ripen in the vine. Their beautiful color is reason enough to grow them.

Much of the heat has been removed from this pepper, but it still has heat. The Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University has created this milder version of the habanero.

Mild Habanero pepper, “Suave” are 800 on the Scoville scale.

For comparison, a Sweet bell pepper is 0; Pimento is 100-500; Pepperoncini,100-500 and TABASCO® brand Sweet & Spicy Pepper Sauce is 100-600.

Ancho and Poblano register between 1,000–2,000. (This is the chili relleno pepper.)

Jalapeno and the Original TABASCO brand pepper sauce are 2,500 – 5,000.

Ghost peppers exceed one million Scoville units.

I am already thinking of what kind of tomatoes to plant next year.  Some tomatoes, I can use the seed leftover from this year. A number of my favorite tomatoes are on HubPages.

 

This is my last zucchini cake of the season. Here come the apples!

One recipe makes three cakes zucchini, carrot or apple

The orchards are loaded with apples.

The orchards are loaded with apples.

Make applesauce your first home canning project. Try a simple small batch canning recipe.

Apples as a first canning project

 

 

Todays Harvest Basket 9/6/28

Today’s Harvest Basket September 6, 2014

Potatoes, peppers

 

Potatoes and peppers

Potatoes and peppers

Clearly, the potatoes are not grown to help us through the winter. This is my third year attempt at growing potatoes. For one pound of seed potatoes, the return was 7 1/2 pounds.

It’s my best yield so far. Uncle Ebb came to the rescue and  helped figure out what went wrong last year. I left the potatoes in the ground too long. The year before that produced only a hand full of potatoes.

So I am getting better. Who knows what yields I’ll get if I actually pay attention and regularly fertilize and water them?

Growing potatoes in a bag makes for an easy, back saving harvest.

Growing potatoes in a bag makes for an easy, back saving harvest.

I used this bag to grow potatoes. It was sitting on the ground and a few of the roots grew through the bag, down into the soil. The potato plants were drawing moisture from the ground.

If all the conditions are just right, I could expect to harvest 10 pounds of potatoes for every pound of seed potato planted. That is a guideline in row crops. Who knows what to expect using a grow bag fabric planter?

I like to grow varieties that are available to gardeners and not usually found in grocery stores. These, I think, are Yellow Finn potatoes. I’m hoping the yellow potatoes will  fool me into using less butter.

Potatoes are the fourth-largest food crop in the world. (After rice, wheat, and maize.) This is an old European gourmet variety. They are said to have a buttery, sweet, yellow flesh.

The grow bag allows for excellent drainage and aeration. Plants respond much like they do in raised beds. You can start plants earlier than you can sow directly in the ground.

These fabric bags also last a long time. I’ve used it for three years with a variety to crops and It shows no signs of wear and tear.  It will be in service next year.

Golden salsa, made with yellow tomatoes.

Golden salsa, made with yellow tomatoes.

Oh, by the way, those lovely peppers are a variety of jalapeno that are supposed to be milder than the original. Still, half of one is enough for my canned salsa. Since I started making our own salsa, we use a lot more of it.

Jeff says that is because I make such good salsa. But it’s probably because of the roasted garlic, peppers and tomatoes. It’s an extra step, but it makes for a richer and sweeter salsa.

 

 

 

 

Todays Harvest Basket 9/3/14

Today’s Harvest Basket September 3, 2014

Tomatoes and Peppers galore! Bell, Jalapeño, Habanero, Felicity peppers

Hot and sweet peppers. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Hot and sweet peppers. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

 Chile, “Classic Jalapeño” Pepper, hot

Felicity, sweet pepper, no heat.

Red Bell Pepper, sweet

Arkansas Traveler, Martian Giant, Brandywine and assorted cherry tomatoes.

Brandywine tomato

One slice will cover the bread on a BLT.

One slice will cover the bread on a BLT.

Big old Brandywine was so heavy, it dropped off, stripping the vine’s exterior by several inches.

From an old line of Brandywines, known as the Sudduth’s strain.

Sudduth’s strain comes from tomato collector Ben Quisenberry in 1980. He got it from Dorris Sudduth Hill whose family grew it for over 100 years.

Big pink beefsteak-like fruits can grow up to 2 pounds on indeterminate vines.

This is the tomato by which all others are measured for taste. Brandywine is a consistent winner in tomato taste contests. The intense tomato flavor is the perfect balance of acid and sweet taste.

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/30/14

Tomatoes, peppers

Today’s Harvest Basket August 30, 2014

Every tomato plant has ripe, sun warmed tomatoes.

Every tomato plant has ripe, sun warmed tomatoes. Photo PBH

Plus, four cups of cherry tomatoes. The neighbor’s tomato garden is about to run down for the season, not many more tomatoes will ripen. He has planted seed for a fall garden already.

In the upper left photo, may be the last of the Gold Medal tomatoes in my garden. Blight has cut the tomato season short. There is a Gold Medal tomato plant in a container on the deck. There may be as many as a half-dozen tomatoes on that plant. Blight is also overtaking the plant on the deck.

One pound and one ounce. Brandywine. Photo: PBH

One pound and one ounce. Brandywine. Photo: PBH

As the  “Italian Pompeii” plum tomatoes ripen, they go into a freezer bag. Sometime this winter, on a cold snowy day, I’ll pull those tomatoes out of the freezer and make some amazing sauces or chili. I learned this tip from Renee’s Garden.

To learn more about this beautiful, meaty plum tomato – Pompeii – Italian tomato from seed

or,  Grow a spaghetti sauce theme garden in a 4′ x 4′ raised bed

Capellini Pomodoro made with plum tomatoes.

Capellini Pomodoro made with plum tomatoes. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

 

Pomodoro is a simple tomato sauce made from plum tomatoes. A quick, light tomato sauce fresh made.

Literally, apple of gold, pomodoro is an indication the first tomatoes were yellow, not red.

It is time to plant lettuce and radishes.

 

 

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