Starting Japanese Maple Seeds

While the weather outside resembles that of the arctic I spent a few minutes starting Japanese maple seeds. I had two varieties of tree that I saved seed from this fall, 'Sango Kaku' and 'Bloodgood' (Acer palmatum). Both types of Japanese maples are fairly common and can make good root stock for other, more unique Japanese maple varieties. One of these days I'll get around to doing some tree grafting but before I do I need some root stock maples. Starting Japanese Maple Seeds There are several good ways to start Japanese maple seeds so please note that what I do here is just one possible way. I began with a presoak to determine the best viable seeds. The way the seed soaking works is that the viable seeds tend to sink while the less viable ones float. Unfortunately I had a bunch of floaters. I had over 15 seeds…

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A Simple Seed Starting Mix Recipe

It's just about time to start seeds indoors for peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes here in TN so I thought I would share a quick post on how I make my seed starting medium (mix).  Seed starting mixes can be bought with the same ingredients as what I'm about to share with you but when you mix it yourself you can make larger quantities and save a few dollars over the long run. For my basic seed starting mix I use organic peat, vermiculite, perlite, and compost. I want a little nutirtion that won't overwhelm the plants which is why I use a little compost. The vermiculite and perlite are light ingredients that will help create good drainage.  Both are mineral based ingredients that are safe to add to your soil. My typical recipe may vary slightly (I'm not a strict measurer when it comes to soil ingredients). Sometimes I may…

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Germinating Japanese Maple Seeds in a Plastic Bag

I love a nice Japanese maple! Who doesn't? There are Japanese maples  with variegated leaves, ones with deep burgundy colors, others with interesting shaped leaves that are highly dissected and many other kinds. The fall color on a Japanese is almost always guaranteed to be something special.  Their highly ornamental nature makes them very popular trees in the landscape. Last summer I gathered up quite a few seeds from a 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) located in my mom's garden with the idea that I would grow more Japanese maples from seed. Collecting Japanese Maple Seeds I collected the seeds from the tree when they had turned reddish in color which was on July 10, 2012. I placed them in a plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel (important: not soaking wet, just slightly damp).  Then I put the bag of Japanese maple seed in the refrigerator to stratify.  Stratification is the cold…

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Tomato Seed Starting Update

Last week I wrote about my seed starting "mini-greenhouses" made from clear plastic cups so I thought I would share how my tomato seeds are doing so far.  To sum things up I am very pleased with the results.  Strong and healthy growing tomato seeds are in many of the cups.  Some of my tomato seedlings are developing their second set of leaves or the "true leaves" already.  It won't be long until I need to do some transplanting into pots.  There are some cups that have barely germinated or have not germinated.  I'll give the seeds some more time to germinate before starting another fresh batch of tomato seeds. Once my tomato seedlings are a few inches tall I take the tops off the mini-greenhouses and place them close to the lights.  Ideally you want the lights within a couple inches of the leaves to encourage strong growth.  Too…

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Seed Starting in Plastic Cup Greenhouses

One little seed starting trick I have in my bag of gardening tricks is to start seeds in mini-greenhouses made of plastic cups.  I shared a picture of this about 2 weeks ago on the Facebook page and I thought today I would share with you the progress of the seedlings. This is a very easy way to start some seedlings.  Just find two plastic cups, one of which must be clear to allow light through. The plastic cups will cost you less than $3 or could even be free if you collect them after a family gathering or party.  If you are re-purposing the cups make sure they are clean.  Fill the bottom cup with a seed starting mix and water.  Put your seeds in the cup and cover the seeds with an appropriate depth of soil then add a little bit more water.  Don't add to much water…

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Organic Seed Starting from a CSA

Yesterday I watched and shared this video from Quiet Creek Farms and the Penn State Extension Service on the Growing The Home Garden Facebook page.  The video has some great techniques for seed starting including a recipe for their seed starting soil.  It has a business slant geared toward developing a CSA but the techniques described are very usable in the home garden!  If you don't use your local extension services you really should investigate what they have to offer.  They are an awesome free resources to utilize for growing in your garden! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Customers buy a share of the crop and receive produce that is in season.  

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How to Save Seeds of Echinacea (Coneflower)

Fall is that time of year when gardeners begin the process of cleaning up the garden but also is the time when we begin to think of next year. One of the many things gardeners enjoy doing in the fall is saving seeds. Saving seeds allows us to continue to grow genetically diverse plants that have thrived in our during the previous season. Seedlings can range from being extremely close to the parent plant or can be quite different if they have been hybridized with another of the same species. It can be very exciting for home gardeners to experiment and see what comes up the following year! How to Separate and Save Seeds from Echinacea (Coneflower) This week I've been collecting seeds from various plants that have matured in our garden. One plant in particular that I've been collecting from are my coneflowers - Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea tennesseansis…

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Starting The Fall Garden From Seed

It's time to start thinking fall garden if you haven't already!  It may seem too hot, too dry or too much like August where you are but over the next few weeks we need to get our seeds started and growing. When to Start Seeds for a Fall Vegetable Garden? The tricky thinking about starting a vegetable garden in the fall is getting the plants started from seed.  Anyone can buy transplants and get them growing at the right time but it takes a little extra effort to get them started from seed.  That being said I believe that this is something anyone can do too!  You need to know two dates:  your first frost date and the time to maturity.  When you get your seed packet look up the time to maturity or time to harvest on the packet.  Then add a few weeks to the time to allow…

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Saving Seed Season is Year Round!

I've been saving seeds like mad this year.  Collecting the seeds from my own garden and using them for my nursery as well as for personal use is one easy way to make sure I have quality seed at a low cost!  Unfortunately the amount of seeds produced by plants this year will probably be fewer due to the drought conditions. I've done my best to water the critical plants with seeds I want to save, especially anything I've attempted to hybridize.  I've attempted a few coneflower crosses ('White Swan' x 'Sunrise') as well as several daylilies, hostas, and even heuchera.  Have you ever tried hybridizing a teeny tiny heuchera flower? Good grief the flower parts are small! Those will take a good deal of practice to get something going. For now I've been collecting open pollinated as well as any that may have produced seed as crosses.  We'll see…

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