seedlings

I am worried about my seedlings. They are thin and long, not bushy and hearty like so many I see at my blogging friends’ sites: handmade.homegrown.beautiful life

I decided to get them outside into the sunshine, even though it’s early. I put them out  a bit every day for a week and just recently started keeping them out. I built a “greenhouse” for them (rocks on the sides to retain heat and old windows on the top.makeshift greenhouseThey look to be adjusting (haven’t died yet).

makeshift greenhouseI’m most concerned about my heirloom Golden Jubilee Tomatoes . . . they were SO good last year . . .

tomato seedlings

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inside

Things are looking greener, even in my attic. I’ve had great success sprouting a dozen or more different kinds of seeds in my makeshift greenhouse setup.  Adequate light is definitely a problem, though. When the first sprouts appeared, I put them on a cookie tray near the window. I used two shoe boxes to prop a light over them, but they are still thin and leggy.Seed sprouts and a lighting setupI used some cork I had to segregate the different seeds from each other – folded up aluminum foil would also work. I’m hoping the sun comes out soon; I think that would do these guys a world of good.

Sprouts Segregated and LabeledHere at my house we have a little habit of sending each other messages through our spice jars. Here’s my wish for all of us. . .Spring message spelled out in spice jars

free heirloom seeds

So, not only do my local libraries supply me with all the books I can read (no small task), the Woodbury and Pitman branches here in Gloucester County, NJ also lend out seeds.

Free packaged heirloom seeds

a selection of seeds at the Woodbury, NJ seed bank

They give me free heirloom seeds; I plant them, enjoy the bounty, and give them back some seeds at the end of the season. (And no fines if it doesn’t work out.) Sweet deal!

Below are just a few of the flower, vegetable and herb seeds I picked up. All it takes is a library card.

heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs

Watermelon radish, Traveler jalapeno pepper, Monarda bergamot, Callipe blend carrots, White sage

I’m hoping my backyard looks like this in a couple of months.

companion gardening

I just finished an organic heirloom gardening class, and I am wildly excited about companion gardening. That’s the art/science/voodoo of grouping plants that are beneficial to one another. I am planning small clusters of companion plants instead of one large plot with everything lumped together.tomato, basil, chive

I can feel a full garden re-do coming on . . .

tomatoes

Every year around this time, I start to run out of ways to use up all the tomatoes. Here’s a list of my current favorites:

1) tomato & pesto sandwich
2) tomato pie
3) tomato salad with green beans & black olives
4) pizza topping
5) salsa (always)
6) halve cherry tomatoes, chop green pepper & onions & sprinkle with oregano. Keep in the fridge ready to add to: pasta, omelets, salad, soup, quiche, or pizza

Cherry tomatoes, chopped green pepper & onions with fresh oregano

Cherry tomatoes, chopped green pepper & onions with fresh oregano

How do you use tomatoes?

loving the basil

My garden is giving me more basil than I can eat, but I know how to save all those delicious vitamins and antioxidants.

I make pesto, and I use it. I spread it on half a bagel and toast it. I use it as a sandwich spread (my favorite: chicken, roasted red peppers, and pesto).When I get tired of it, I freeze it for later.