How to Store Seeds (Outside of Norway)

Anyone with a garden knows that you don’t always use all the seeds in a particular packet.  You also know about the free seeds with online plant orders and stocking up on clearanced seeds for the next year.  With all these seeds not in the ground, you might be wondering the best way to store them.

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There’s a seed vault in Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where scientists have stored as many different varieties of seeds as they can.  Why in Norway?  Because if the vault ever looses power, the seeds will still be cold.  Seeds need cold to stay dormant and survive until you plant them in the ground.  It is estimated that some of the seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault could stay viable for thousands of years.  These seeds are supposed to help secure the future of agriculture and plant diversity on our planet.  If, say, a particular variety of zinnia falls out of favor with the public and companies and individuals stop growing it completely, the hope is that that particular variety of zinnia is stored in the seed vault so when people realize they want that particular variety of zinnia back, they still have it.  The seeds in the vault could also be used if a disease or catastrophic event wipes out all of a particular plant in the world.  I just hope they’re better at sprouting seeds than I am.

The best way for you to store seeds, outside of moving to Norway, is in a glass container in your refrigerator.  The fridge will obviously keep the seeds cold, and the glass jar will keep them dry.  That part is important because humidity can be a problem in refrigerators.  I save glass food jars for my growing collection of seeds.  I was even able to grow some watermelons this past year that were from seeds my dad had saved from the year I was born.  They were delicious! Moral of the story- save your seeds carefully and they will be there for you for years.

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Coriander, Not Cilantro

This makes me think of the song, Istanbul (Not Constantinople), by Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon.

Coriander was cilantro
Now it’s coriander, not cilantro
Been a long time gone, cilantro
Why did cilantro get the works?
That’s nobody’s business but the gardeners

Wow, that was really bad.  Sorry.  Anyways, when I first was looking at planting cilantro for salsa making I was interested to find out that cilantro is the same plant as coriander.  The leaves are called cilantro and the seeds, coriander.  My little patch of cilantro has become a little patch of coriander as the plants have gone to seed.

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If you have your own little patch of cilantro you can let it turn into a patch of coriander at the end of the growing season.  It will slowly start to die and you will see little green seeds start to form at the end of branches.  Then the plant will dry and turn from green to brown.  Once the plant has completely dried out, you can harvest the coriander.

You can pick each seed by hand or you can pick larger clusters and hang them upside down in a paper bag.  Shake it and they will fall off the branches and into the bag.  I decided to only harvest some of the seeds and hope that the rest will re sprout cilantro next year.  They absolutely should, my only hesitancy is if the patch gets taken over by weeds.

Rosemary From a Clipping

I got a cutting from an existing rosemary plant and put it in a cup of water on our front porch.  It took about a month but it did finally sprout roots.  I took the sprout to the backyard.  I was planning on putting it next to the peppermint and cilantro to start creating a herb area.  Of course, that space was already taken by grass.  My old nemesis.  I had some cardboard that I have been using to prepare space for my winter garden and I figured out a way to use it to help me plant my rosemary.  I pulled the grass and weeds right around a small hole that I put the rosemary in.  Then, I planted the rosemary, you know, like you do and put the cardboard over it with the rosemary leaves peeking through a slit.  Like so:

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I had to weigh the cardboard down with rocks to keep it in place against wind and also to compact the grass underneath so it was low enough for the rosemary.  Hopefully it will take and soon I’ll have a front of rosemary to battle my front of mint.  Oh expansive plants…

Beaucoups of Onions

I harvested the garden and got three tomatoes, four chili peppers, 7 banana peppers, a cucumber, and (as the hero and his limited French would say) beaucoups of onions.  We’ve been using the onion greens throughout the season, but they have started to die back which is a signal that the plant is putting more energy into making a bulb to use during the winter.  And it’s that bulb that we eat.  So I pulled up some and just kept noticing more and more ready to be harvested.

If you’ve ever had onions from the grocery store, you might think we could just put these onions in a cool dark place and they would last for a long time.  But with homegrown onions, you have to cure them first.  To cure them, place them on a tray with space in between each one.  Place the tray in a sunny spot (preferably outside) for a few days.  If you do leave them outside, you might want to take them in overnight to avoid the moisture from dew.  You are trying to dry out the outermost few layers of the onion.  Once they are dry and the roots are brittle, you are done and ready to store the onions.  And braid them if you want and have the right type of onion.

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Zone 8: My Goldilocks Zone

I sometimes wish I lived somewhere where I could grow a sugar maple and tap it for maple syrup.  While they will grow here, it never gets cold enough for the sap to make enough sugar or something.  So no homegrown maple syrup for me.  I also can’t easily grow sweet cherries here.  It’s too hot here.

Other times I wish I lived somewhere that I could grow citrus.  Lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, I love citrus.  But I’ll never have any from my yard.  It’s too cold here.

Still other times I am glad we can grow tomatoes, peppers, almonds, muscadines, sweet potatoes, and watermelons.  it’s Just right here.

There are a lot of plants that do grow and produce well here in lovely zone 8 therefore, I try to focus on them.  If I could get maple syrup and cherries, I wouldn’t be able to grow almonds and okra.  Similarly, if I could grow citrus, I wouldn’t be able to grow other yummy things.  There will always be something that you wish you could grow but can’t based on where you live.  But there will also always be something you can grow.

What are some things you wish you could grow but can’t?

Mosquitoes Love My Garden…and Me

We have a major infestation of mosquitoes in our garden.  I mean major.  While harvesting for 10 minutes, I probably killed about 20 mosquitoes trying to get at me.  I itch just thinking about it.  It is supposed to be really bad this year, probably because we have had so much rain, but this is ridiculous.Usually I spray on a bit of our homemade bug repellant, which does help, but there are a few problems with this method of dealing with the problem.  One, I (obviously) forget sometimes, and two, I would rather have multiple levels of protection.

I have heard tell of using plants such as citronella and marigold planted near where you will be outside.  Has anyone tried these plants with any success or have any other ideas of ways to keep the mosquitoes away?  Thanks!

Tomato Disaster

**Warning, this post contains images of tomato carnage, if you are squeamish, look away.**

We’ve had a lot of rain this year.  Very strange for normally drought ridden Georgia.  I thought this was good since I didn’t have to water the garden very often.  What my lazy self didn’t realize is that too much rain is really bad for tomatoes.  We’ve lost a ton to splits, had almost all of the plants (and cages) knocked down in heave storms, and I think we have leaf blight killing the plants.  We’ve started picking any with a tinge of red and started preserving them thinking they won’t last very long in the garden.

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*sigh*  At least I’ve learned a lot of what not to do next year.

Preparing for Winter Gardening

I’ve been having quite a battle with the grass that has been growing where I now have my garden.  Now that’s a weed!  I figured I should prepare the space for my winter garden a little better.  So today, I put down a layer of cardboard boxes to start to kill the grass now.  Some people use black plastic that you can buy in the store, but I didn’t want to use plastic plus we had these boxes left over from our recent move.

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What are you doing to prepare for winter gardening now?

The Beginning of the Blueberries

I  didn’t get any blueberry bushes in my yard this year.  I kept meaning to get some started since they take a few years to start producing berries, but I never bought them.  I guess I knew I would still get berries even without my own plants.  My grandmother and my parents both have huge blueberry forests at their houses and more berries than they can eat themselves.  The minion and I picked some berries at my parents house today.  There aren’t too many yet, but they’re starting to ripen.  Then my mom made blueberry muffins, yum!

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By the way, the only way to pick blueberries, or any other type of berries, is in whimsical baskets.  Plastic cups or bags just don’t have the whimsy factor.

Multiplying Tomatoes…Again

Is that using exponents?  Anyways, I posted before about trying to get new tomato plants out of some branches I had pruned from my existing plants.  I thought the one I just stuck into the ground wouldn’t take, but it seems that it did.

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I had also started a branch in a jar of water waiting for it to sprout roots before planting it, and after about a week, it has sprouted roots.

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So I planted it in the ground and gave it a good watering.  Here it is:

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Hopefully all these transplants will keep us in fresh tomatoes for a while!