Starting Seeds Indoors for Spring Planting

Who doesn’t love to walk into the garden and pick a summer ripened juicy tomato to eat off the vine or slice up later with basil and olive oil? It’s almost a rite of summer for gardeners. Many summer vegetables that love heat such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers can be started indoors as seeds in late March to mid April to get a head start on the season. Starting seeds indoors is easy, fun, and you get to watch your creation from seed to plant to your dinner plate. It’s also an economical way to plant exactly what you want to grow and eat.

More significantly, in the Northeast where the growing season is not as long as we would like it to be, starting seeds inside gives a jump on the season so your transplants are ready to go out in the garden in May. Starting seeds indoors is almost required as planting them outside at the end of May means they won’t be ready to harvest until the first frost! Unless you can find a nursery that sells organic plants, the only way to grow an organic vegetable is to buy the organic seed and plant it yourself. I order my organic seeds from Johnny’s of Maine and High Mowing of Vermont. The latter company sells only organic seeds; the former sells organic and conventional. They both have large selections of vegetables, flowers and garden amendments. Seeds of Change also sells organic seeds as well as gear to start with such as seed starting trays, heating mats, and grow lights.

This is what you need to get started:

At least 10 plastic containers that strawberries are packed in. A large bag of special seed starting soil (Johnny’s has it) Post it labels A large plastic tray with shallow sides A sunny preferably south facing window

Note: if you don’t have strawberry containers, you can use paper cups with holes punched in the bottom for drainage.

Here is what you do with your materials:

Spread the soil in a large tray and moisten with water so it’s damp but not sopping wet Fill the plastic containers with the damp soil and keep it fluffy not tamped down Put about 6-7 seeds of your desired vegetable in the container spread out. Sprinkle soil on top of the seeds just to cover. Close the top of the container to create a mini greenhouse to expedite germination. If you want to speed up the germination, you can buy heating mats especially made for this purpose. Do not put the plastic containers directly on the mat but use a plastic tray in between. I use my heating mat at night and keep it off during the day. They will need good light to germinate successfully; if they don’t get enough light, they are susceptible to fungus. If you don’t have a sunny window, you can buy special grow lights. I put a post-it on the side of each container labeling what it is.

Once you are set up, you do need to be conscientious about checking the soil every day for dryness. If the seeds dry out, they will not germinate. All the nutrition it needs is in the seed. Water lightly — do not drown the little seeds.

Once the seed has pushed through the soil, remove the cover. When it has outgrown the container and has sent up a set of leaves, you can gently take it out with a spoon and transplant it to a peat pot (which will disintegrate into the ground) or one of those plastic containers from the nursery that flowers come in. After about three weeks when it has grown into a mini plant, it will need a boost from you as it will have used up all the nutrition that was in the seed. I like using Fish Emulsion by Neptune’s Harvest diluted in water.

Once the seeds have sprouted, you can keep the room a little cooler.

When the end of May comes and the weather has been warm, you can think about putting the seedlings in the garden. However to avoid shock, you must do a “hardening off” process. This involves packing them up in a tray and taking them for a field trip in the great outdoors to get used to natural light and air. Keep them on the back porch for a few hours a day gradually moving them into the sunlight and be sure to take them in at night. After about a week of this, and when nighttime temperatures are at least 50 degrees for a week, you can plant them in the ground or in large prepared pots. You will need garden markers to indicate which plant it is that you insert in the pot or the ground. Water the holes in the garden or pots before putting them in. Be aware that in our eagerness to get our veggies planted outside, we must check in with the weather forecast as it is heartbreaking for a sudden unexpected frost to kill off a tender transplant that you have nurtured for two months.

When you plant tomatoes in the ground or a pot, pinch off the bottom leaves and be sure to do that all summer. They don’t like their feet too wet or their leaves dragging on the ground.

Anyone can stick a transplant in the ground but planting a seed and helping it grow to create an array of organic homegrown food is quite satisfying! So enjoy your garden and grow!

For further information or help with setting up your garden, please contact Priscilla Warshowsky at Priscilla is a Certified Master Gardener and her mother, Ruth Shaw Ernst, was a published author of two books on organic gardening.

The Benefits of Turmeric Tea

| by Merlian News

Many people know about the healing benefits of turmeric: with the active ingredient curcumin, it is a potent anti-inflammatory, a digestive aid, a powerful anti-oxidant and may help to prevent cancer and other diseases. Turmeric is available loose as a spice, in pill form and as an extract. But did you know that one of the most effective ways to take turmeric is as a tea? Served hot or cold, turmeric is a refreshing addition to your daily routine.

Read More.
Filed Under:

The Unlikely Vegan Dines Out by Phil Shainmark

So since last time, I’ve tried some new things – Egyptian food for one – at a place called Pots here in Las Vegas. They have the usual hummus and babaghanoush, but they also offer a tasting menu, and my wife, my mother, and I all tried it. It was excellent. Ive noticed that being Vegan has made me move out of my comfort zone with a lot of foods. Egyptian was never something I would have tried in the past, but I’m glad I did now.

Read More.

9 Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme, an herb native to the Mediterranean but now grown over most of the world, has been used for thousands of years as a medicine, an antidote for the Plague and in embalming preparations. And while it’s unlikely that thyme stopped the plague, modern research has proven that thyme does indeed combat infection. One study from 2010 suggests that thymol, the active ingredient in thyme, can reduce bacterial resistance to common drugs, including penicillin. A member of the mint family, thyme has long been used in Mediterranean cuisines for its sharp minty flavor as well as its medicinal properties.

Read More.

Happy New Year from the Unlikely Vegan

| by Phil Shainmark

While texting back and forth with one of my friends in Texas, we got on the discussion of sandwiches. I was lamenting that one of the only foods I genuinely miss is an Italian combo. Not that stuff you get out west where it’s a little ham and salami and some oil and vinegar (they put mayo on them out here!! MAYO!!) I mean a legit east coast, 10 types of meats with banana peppers and provolone, ITALIAN COMBO (which, if you ever find yourself in Hawthorne/Valhalla, NY, check out Pops Deli. Get menu option C4 – best Italian combo ever). So I was on a quest to get as close as I could to those flavors, and I feel that I’ve come pretty close….

Read More.

The Unlikely Vegan Explores Making Moral Choices by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

Is your pleasure more important than your morals? It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve never been able to answer, or even fully articulate, till now. The 16-25 year old me says “absolutely.” I drank, did drugs, committed crimes. Hurt whoever, whenever, and treated people that loved me like crap. I did horrible things to people I should have cared about just so I could chase that NEW thing. Pleasure, not in a sexual sense, but the pleasure of just doing whatever the hell I wanted, whenever I wanted, was the GOAL. Now I thank the gods every day that I still have friends from back then that put up with me.

Read More.

13 Ayurvedic Anti-Aging Herbs by Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

In Ayurvedic herbal treatment, anti aging means principally keeping up a healthy body into herbal treatment and bringing down the operation of aging, degeneration and depreciation. The objective of herbal anti-aging treatment is to aim for a healthy aging mode, and to maintain both mind and body working at optimum level, so the treasures of old age can be relished with peace of mind and vitality.

Read More.

What Is Natto & How Do I Eat It?

Natto is a traditional Japanese food. It’s fermented soybeans that are rich in vegetable protein. Typically eaten with rice, natto has a mild cheese-like flavor and can be an acquired taste. It has a sort of sticky paste on its surface and once it is stirred, the paste increases its volume becoming even stickier. You will find that the paste pulls apart in such a way that resembles a web. This is another characteristic that sometimes turns people off. Still, the benefits make it worth exploring, and according to The New York Times, it’s catching on. If you’re the adventurous type or enjoy uncommon textures in your food, definitely try Natto! You can even make it yourself (video) if you want.

Read More.
Filed Under:

The Unlikely Vegan Visits New York by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

So I went to NY to visit family, and while there I had some GREAT food. Got in on a 7 something flight that evening, and my Dad took me to an excellent Indian restaurant, with a buffet. They had a whole set up for Vegan/Vegetarian food. Not a surprise. But it was nice to walk into a place that wasn’t specifically a VEGAN restaurant, and not only have a ton of choices, but also have meat food for those who want. Yes, yes, I know, I’m supposed to be fighting the industry and trying to convince people that they shouldn’t be eating meat… But, I don’t want to. It’s a stupid move. And no one wants to listen to you tell them all the bad stuff about the food they’re about to eat. (More about this later.)

Read More.

Visit Nettle Meadow Farm for Artisanal (and Ethical) Cheese

Nettle Meadow Farm and Artisan Cheese is located about an hour north of Albany, NY. Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan have tended to their beautiful farm in the Adirondack Mountains since 1990, with dozens of sheep, over 300 goats, chickens, ducks, and a couple of guard llamas living off of the land and providing their milk to be turned into some of America’s most incredible, award winning cheeses.

Read More.
Filed Under: ·