My father has spent seven decades–more than seventy summers–playing in the dirt. He’s taught my daughter and me a thing or two about keeping a garden and how to grow a garden from seeds.
This year, the biggest lessons we’ve learned revolve around growing a garden from seeds. In New England, a gardener must know how to lovingly court seeds on cold winter months if she wants to be engaged in a sweet relationship with the garden on fleeting summer weeks.
While this skill, imperative in a northern climate, was never something my southern-boy dad had to master, he–not unlike my own daughter–learned a lot from a grandfather.
Every day his father, Jim, walked off in the dark of the West Virginia morning, toting his lunch pail and heading toward the Potomac River where he took a little boat to the other side and walked over the Randolph Tunnel toward the B&O tracks. Jim certainly knew how to tend the warm summer soil, but his main goal was to plant a little nest egg. So he walked far and worked hard to provide a small bi-weekly paycheck by maintaining the steam engines’ tracks and keeping them clear of rocks, which were continually descending down the surrounding cliffs. Meanwhile his father and his only still-at-home son (my dad) maintained the crops in the fields to provide the family’s food.
I’ve absorbed some of my father’s and grandfather’s gardening knowledge. Working barefoot-to-barefoot beside my daughter, who has inherited and then compounded my father’s love for agriculture, I’ve learned even more. She used to bring home plants from PapPap’s garden in cottage cheese containers and plant them with a plastic shovel.
More than a dozen years later, and she loves playing in the dirt even more today than yesterday. This winter she grew over 4 dozen different plants herself from heirloom seeds, and now our garden is teeming with her efforts.
Joyfully, our kitchen is also teeming with her efforts, and there too she is strongly influenced by many wonderful previous generation’s of impact. (I wrote about that in this post, where I also share my Grandma’s amazing from-scratch pie crust recipe and my Aunt Jeannette’s deliciously amazing strawberry pie recipe, that my industrious teen will soon be making with her own sun-warmed garden-grown strawberries.)
5 Simple Steps to Garden From Seeds
Spray your seeds.
When you plant seeds in pots in cold winter months, use a spray bottle to water them, never a watering can. The strong flow from a watering can will cause seeds to move in the soil, pushing them too too deep or raising them too shallow. Excess water may also cause seeds to rot. But the gentle, steady, evenly distributed mist from a spray bottle is perfect hydration for tender seeds.
Prepare seeds for the summer sun.
When late spring arrives, 4-7 days before you’re ready to transplant your precious green miracles in the garden, set young plants outside, for about 1/2 an hour at a time, in the direct morning or early evening sun, to let them get used to the heat gradually.
Shade young plants from direct sun.
Once they’re in the ground, offer young plants some shade during the hottest part of the day, for the first week or so. Even after your gentle preparation, non-stop, direct sun will be hard on the tender plants. This year, we used our tomato cages and ladders as framework for a haphazard, funny-looking, yet effective labyrinth of old-sheets-and-drop-cloth tents that we could easily take down in late afternoon and put back up the next day before the sun got too hot.
Plant the leggy ones nice and deep.
If you look closely, on some of your young plants, you’ll notice tiny root hairs growing quite a distance up from the base of the plant. Go ahead and plant all those root hairs in the nutrient-rich soil, to help the plant get all the good minerals, as well as important stability, that it will need.
My daughter keeps a detailed gardening journal; we’re always glad she wrote down specific details that we would have otherwise forgotten many growing seasons later. And we have a section in Our Backyard Book just for garden plants. We add new pages whenever we discover a new variety of tomato plant we love, or when we consider adding a we’ve-never-grown-this-before vegetable to our garden and want to research it before we plant it.
In my next post, I’ll share 5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Gardening With Kids This Summer. And if you liked this post, you’ll love my FREE 7-page, chock-full-of-information printable that will get you started on an unbelievably easy, unlimitedly rewarding journey of nature study with a child. Just follow along here on SoulyRested and you’ll have full access to my subscriber library, which includes my popular ebook, 5 Things You Should Know About Nature Study, along with a free garden plants printable and so much more.
For now, I’m gonna go join my dad and daughter in our happy place.
Meanwhile, You’ll Love This Resource!
If you’re interested in growing a garden from seed, I’m guessing you’d love a lot of the topics covered in the 2017 Back to Basics Living Summit. If you’d like to sit under the tutelage of 32 different experts, and learn great insights into 32 different aspects of this homesteading way of life, you’ll love the 2017 Back to Basics Living Summit.
Let’s Keep This One Secret Between Us
I should stop and recognize those of you who have been following me on this homesteading journey. Cause you know I don’t consider myself an expert at much. Well, except failure. I’m really good at failure. So don’t let the rest of the presenters at the Summit in on our little secret, that I’m not truly an expert.
I presented Maple Joy in 8 Steps–From Tree to Syrup.
But through the 2017 Back to Basics Living Summit you’ll also learn great life lessons, like how to effectively save money at the grocery store, how to make DIY cleaners and even makeup, and how to lose weight.
And there are courses on all kinds of homesteading-related skills, from purchasing a good incubator to making cheese.
There are plenty of courses to help people prepare for the homesteading life before they start, with topics like making homemade bread, preserving herbs, using sunlight efficiently, and starting a homestead from scratch.
When you consider all the great knowledge that you’ll be able to access here forever, you realize it’a s pretty great deal. Go here to give it a gander!
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Glance at my Resource Page if you’d like to get a glimpse of all the supplies I use and recommend for everything from gardening, to homeschooling, to nature journaling, to maple syrup making.
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And please follow along!
Please take a second to follow along here on SoulyRested to catch up on a few of my memorable mishaps, enjoy musings about my centuries-old farmhouse, or glean a little parenting/homeschooling insight from this momma who’s been failing at the effort for almost 2 decades. I hope my focus always encourages you, because simple joys require hard work, so we all need all the encouragement we can get!
As soon as you subscribe, you’ll have immediate access to my subscriber library of resources, which I’m continually adding to. You’ll enjoy lots of printables, including my popular e-booklet: 5 Things You Should Know About Nature Study, and a garden plant ID page to use to record fascinating facts about your own garden plants. You’ll also from my most-popular ebook, A Sweet Taste, for anyone who wants to know more about backyard maple syrup.
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