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They’re Baaack!

Those beautiful black swallowtail butterflies have been hard at work finding mates and leaving the eggs of the next generation on our bronze fennel! This little guy (featured above) has probably been hiding in the leaves for a week since he’s about 1/4″ long now. He’ll keep eating and growing, shedding his skin and growing more (and eating more) for a few weeks. Then he’ll crawl off to one of the shrubs near-by and form a bright green chrysalis. A few weeks more and the transformation will be complete! And the cycle will start all over again, only this time the mature caterpillar will form a brown chrysalis that will winter over and emerge next spring. Here are a few photos of the entire process:

 

 

This great life-cycle sheet can be found at the Square Foot Gardening Forum

Here’s a fun and educational project to share with children:

Check out your fennel, dill, parsley, carrots, or even wild Queen-Ann’s lace for the round bright yellow eggs or the caterpillars. Collect them gently; still attached to the leaves they are on. Place them in a clean clear container with lots of room for them to grow. The container will need good air flow (a secured screen on top will do) and lots of the food plant they were eating. You will need to change the food plant daily so make sure you have a fresh supply from your garden available for at least 4 weeks. You can put a few sprigs in a container of water to keep them fresh for a few days, but these little caterpillars grow quickly and have big appetites! Don’t let them go hungry! Keep the container shaded; heat can build […]

By |June 5th, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on They’re Baaack!

Spring Into The Garden and Celebrate Earth Day!

This very special day began 45 years ago to encourage people to care about the environment. A simple way to express your love and respect of the earth is to give a child a seed and plant it together. You’ll be surprised what will grow from that simple act.

Is it spring YET????
It doesn’t matter what the date on the calender reads, nor the ‘meteorological’ date for your area; spring arrives for gardeners when certain biological activities start to happen. For me, two things must happen before I will claim ‘It’s Spring”.  First, I need to hear a chorus of peepers on a warm rainy evening. And then the birds must be singing loud enough to wake me in the morning before the sun rises. If both the peepers and the birds are out making woopie, then I know spring finally has won the battle with Old Man Winter (although our friends up in northern New England got a dusting of snow last night). Gardener’s and farmers know to watch the signs Mother Nature gives to know when it is truly safe to plant. Did you know when the common forsythia blooms, the soil temperature is around 50 degrees? It’s a sure indication that you can plant certain crops. Check out this Vegetable Planting Chart -Soil Temps to give you a better understanding of when you can plant that basil (NO – you can’t plant it yet! Not until mid June for Connecticut).

 

By |April 22nd, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on Spring Into The Garden and Celebrate Earth Day!

Happy Spring!

Don’t let this snow fool you, spring officially begins at 6:45 today. The day will be as long as the night (vernal equinox) and from now until the first day of summer, we will have more hours of sunlight than darkness. I looked for signs of spring around the garden today before the snow began to fall, but I came back in to enjoy forced the blooms of witch hazel.

Watch for this native tree to show off it’s plumage as the weather starts to warm. In the mean time, visit your local garden center for that spring feeling. They’ve got lots of color to brighten even the whitest of days!

 

 

 

pansie photo thanks to guenterhb

By |March 20th, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on Happy Spring!

Time to Plant the Peas! Well – Maybe Not Outside.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and the spring equinox is almost here. One traditional way to celebrate the ‘green’ is to plant your peas. Looking around New England this year, the garden is just not ready for them. But we have a solution – plant peas inside to harvest as shoots. You may have seen these fresh greens at the markets or on the menu of your favorite restaurant.

It is very easy to grow these sweet greens right on your windowsill without any additional light or heat. You can even purchase a micro-green kit that suction-cups right to the glass of your window. Choose an edible pod pea seed such as Sugar Ann or Dwarf Gray Sugar.

Start with any container that will sit comfortably on your windowsill and is at least 2″ deep; it doesn’t even have to have holes in the bottom. Fill the container with moistened seed starting mix not garden soil (see my recipe for see starting soil if you’d like to blend your own).  Scatter the seeds thickly over the top of the soil in a single layer; don’t worry if they touch each other (I placed these seeds far apart to photograph them as they grow).

No need to ‘plant’ the seeds, just press them firmly into the soil and water them in with a ‘rose’ end water spout or a spray bottle. Remember to water your seeds (or spray them heavily) every day from the top, you don’t want them to dry out.

 

In about 2 weeks you’ll have ready to harvest pea shoots.

  

You can harvest at 2-3 inches or allow them to get 6+ inches tall when the stems become entangled together. Some people say you can get […]

By |March 17th, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on Time to Plant the Peas! Well – Maybe Not Outside.

St. Pat’s Day = Corned Beef and Cabbage Micro-greens ?

Yes, I admit it. I’m not fond of cabbage, but I love corned beef! And it’s time to celebrate the ‘green’.  Which led me to experiment. Many of the brassica family are grown as micro-greens; a way to get that tangy flavor and crunch packed with nutrition. Could a few cabbage shoots give me that traditional taste without over-powering me?

Two weeks ago I planted red cabbage seeds on the window sill at the office. Last weekend (just 8 days later), it was time to harvest the shoots, and cook the corned beef.

I don’t have a standard recipe to prepare corned beef, each time it varies slightly. But I do write down each change I might try (just in case I discover the perfect recipe). Every few years we host a small gathering on St. Patrick’s Day of other couples who spend their lives ‘playing in the dirt’. So this was my opportunity to practice.

I’m not very good at photographing food, but it turned out to be the best corned beef dinner I’ve ever made.

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to give these micro-greens a try, start by filling a shallow container with soiless mix and water it well. Sprinkle any variety of cabbage seeds over the top of the soil and press the seed down so they make good contact with the soil. Place the container on a sunny window sill, no need for grow lights. Mist the top of the container daily – no need for fertilizer. Harvest the greens at the soil level at any stage of growth from tiny sprouts to a few true leaves tall.

Here’s my best recipe for the corned beef. I cook the way my grandma did; a pinch of this […]

By |March 9th, 2015|Garden Fresh, Garden Fresh Recipes|Comments Off on St. Pat’s Day = Corned Beef and Cabbage Micro-greens ?

Garden Candy and The Seed Catalog Mystery

Not too many years ago, he decided he wanted his own garden. Only cherry tomatoes. Lots of them. Every color.

It was the very end of the gardening season when he made that declaration, but we picked out a place, turned over the soil, added grass clippings and chopped up leaves. And made sure to invite some of our ‘girls’ (worms from the compost bin) to move into the new area.

Then came the waiting. Cold. Winter. Snow.

When?   He kept asking.  When!?!

Right after the first of the year the seed catalogs started to arrive. And a special trip to the seed company with Uncle Gubby. . .

I may not remember all the details of that year correctly (every story ‘changes’ over time), but I do remember it was late February – time to order seeds. Lots of catalogs had been arriving over the previous few weeks, temping me with colorful photos and fabulous descriptions. I looked in the apothecary drawer where I kept all my gardening records. Not a single catalog was there. How strange. I looked in the pile of magazines near the door, on my desk, and in the basement where the grow lights were patiently waiting to be turned on. No catalogs. I looked in the old box where we put papers to start the wood-stove. I even rummaged through the recycle bags. Did I mistakenly toss out my garden fantasies?  It’s not that I didn’t know my old stand-by varieties. I even had seed that I’d been saving from year to year myself. But in a time before the internet was everywhere, seed catalogs were our link to all the variety trials, gardener’s success stories and farmer’s reviews.

He wanted a garden […]

By |February 28th, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on Garden Candy and The Seed Catalog Mystery

Come Play in The Garden with Grumpy!

As parents and grandparents we want our children to grow up loving the natural world around them. But often we find it challenging to entice them into the garden. Why is it we often hear the phrase ‘please come help me work in the garden’.  Why is ‘work’ and ‘gardening’ always joined?

Take a lessen from Trevor and his granddad (known only as Grumpy). Trevor has deep roots in seeds; his family is part of not less than 3 different seed companies right here in Connecticut. So he was destined to be a great gardener from birth. Fortunately Grumpy knows just how to nurture that heritage!

Helping Grumpy enlarge the garden

to make way for  . . . . SEEDS!

“Hey Trevor, where did the row markers go?”

Harvest Time! It’s only important to rinse the soil off the carrots – a sign of true gardener!

Thanks to Grumpy and Grandma Sue for sharing!

 

By |February 13th, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on Come Play in The Garden with Grumpy!

A Random Act of Sunflowers

Last summer, mysterious seedlings started to show up in many gardens in one Niantic neighborhood. Some people thought they were weeds, other people thought maybe the birds or squirrels had been busy during the winter. Most allowed the plants to remain, just to see what they would grow into.

These little plants grew very fast and soon were the talk of the street. Giant Sunflowers were starting to bloom all over!

Then the truth came out.

Earlier in the summer, a young man named Jack received some sunflower seeds from a neighbor and he planted these ‘gifts yet to bloom’ in gardens all over his neighborhood. At the time, he didn’t know what these seeds would really produce; it was just something to do one afternoon. Oh, he knew they were sunflowers seeds he was planting, but what he didn’t know was how many smiles this random act would produce.

Here’s just a two of the photos from that Random Act of Sunflowers:

Thank you Jack! What a wonderful gift you gave to your neighbors.

(and thank you Marcy for sharing the story and photos)

By |February 8th, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on A Random Act of Sunflowers

OK, we get it! Six More Weeks of Winter.

 

But we’re thinking positive . . .  we’re half-way to Spring! And to celebrate, we’re Garden Dreaming!

Over the years, many gardener’s have shared their photo’s with us. So until those first true signs of spring emerge, we will be posting some of our customer’s favorite pictures and stories.

If you have a photo or story you’d like to share, please email us at info@hartseed.com and put ‘Garden Dreaming’ in the subject line.

By |February 2nd, 2015|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on OK, we get it! Six More Weeks of Winter.

grow BABY grow! Micro-greens!

Fresh greens even when the garden is covered with snow? It’s easy, right on your windowsill.         Micro-greens may be new to some people, but eating these tiny plants as a flavorful garnish or crunchy topping has been around for years. Recent studies suggest that these ‘micro’ plants can have 4-6 times higher nutritional value than the mature vegetable.

Micro-greens are not sprouts, they are seedlings; which includes the stem, seed-leaves and first true leaves (no root or seed coat).  Any vegetable, herb or flower with edible leaves can be planted in a shallow container of soil right on your windowsill and harvested within a few days or weeks. Because you’re not trying to produce a mature plant, these tiny seedlings can be grown in the low light of winter without additional heat or fertilizer.

If you visit a local farmer’s market, you might find these colorful treats for sale still growing in a seed tray or freshly snipped offered up in a clam-shell container. Many restaurants are adding micro-greens to their farm fresh menu items.

Baylee Drown of Upper Pond Farm plans to continue to grow micro-greens throughout the winter. “It’s a great time for farmers to help feed the local community. Growing micro-greens are low impact on the environment; requiring less energy to produce a fresh healthy crop.”

Creative Living Community of CT has been growing micro-greens throughout the winter months for years. Their greenhouse in Vernon is a vocational training program for adults with developmental disabilities as well as senior citizens. You’ll find their stand at the South Windsor Indoor Farmer’s Market through December 20th.
Our team of gardeners at Hart’s Seed spent the summer trialing varieties right here in Wethersfield to come up with a mixture […]

By |October 27th, 2014|Garden Fresh|Comments Off on grow BABY grow! Micro-greens!