video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
Friends, I need more than hands and toes to count the number of times people this week have told me their child asked to give or receive sunflower seeds this holiday season.
How can I not have hope for the world?!
What gift would you give the world, if you could give anything?
The gift of a sunflower is the gift of growth, of beauty, of abundance, it's the gift of life itself.
There are dozens of different sunflowers, all native to Central and North America. The only plant with more Monarchs on it in our garden is milkweed.
And did you know?
We toss them in salads and arrange them on cakes all summer long.
So yes, we grow the seeds of many sunflowers, each one with a unique gift and story to share.
We love the bright lemon yellow of Lemon Queen petals, a unique hue among so many golds. She is ohhhhh so tall, easily climbing 12+ feet tall in rich, fertile soil. She is crowned with a massive, single head on top and bursts...
Whether you have a handful of your family's heirloom beans or you simply wish to keep your germination rates high for next season, storing your seeds well puts your mind at ease and will surround you with abundance for years to come.
First, I made this handy infographic for you, check it out
Below, we'll get into the nitty-gritty details.
Many seeds will maintain great germination for three years even in your kitchen cupboard, though there are exceptions. Stored well, some seeds can last centuries.
Beans, like the Chocolate Runners, are among the longest storing seeds, often sprouting after a century in ideal storage conditions.
What conditions are needed for seeds to germinate? If you want seeds to store, give them the opposite conditions. Here are the four keys to keep your germination rates high for years to come:
Here in the Northeast, finding easy ways to extend our season is essential to eating well as the days grow short.
After years of working on farms and experimenting at Fruition, here are the four keys of season extension:
- sowing the right seeds
- using the right tools
- at just the right time
- and harvesting in just the right way
Let's dive in.
In any season, the right seeds make all the difference. September in Zone 5 is no match for seeds selected to thrive in California, where most seed is grown, which is perhaps why so many gardeners don't grow into the fall. Oh yes, and we've all been working hard all summer, so we're ready to slow down, too! But I know my own childhood-self was deterred by lettuce that wasn't up for the cause.
Now, I am so grateful to know which ones are.
'Winter Green' mesclun mix has been selected by Dan Brisebois, in Montreal, to re-grow quickly in cold temperatures. We are grateful to...
It's almost September and true confessions: I'm exhausted.
I know I'm not alone.
We've been cultivating beauty and abundance for months, with so much on our minds and hearts, amid the bustle of our everyday lives and cultural chaos. Behind each of those gorgeous photos on social media we know there is a weary gardener, often wishing someone would make her dinner from all the glorious food she's surrounded by.
Last year, Dandy saved us: Last September, while we were busy harvesting seed and picking up irrigation, she sowed seeds. Greens and herbs that fed our bodies and souls until snowfall and many that even survived the winter, re-growing the most tender and sweet leaves of the season as spring arrived. Taking that extra moment to sow a few seeds this September may be one of the best decisions you make this season. Certainly, one of the most delicious :)
Interplanting maximizes every inch of your garden space; especially when you plan to put hoops with row cover over your greens...
Here in the Finger Lakes of New York, Zone 5a, we're filling our greenhouse with the seeds of crops best sown 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Exploring last frost dates is a blog coming soon! In the meantime, we aim for Memorial Day as our frost-free date.
Here is the laundry list, with notes:
Though onions & shallots (like Cuisse du Poulet below) were ideally started 4 to 6 weeks ago, there is no time like the present and last call! Other alliums like Leeks and scallions are not day-length sensitive, so sow them anytime now through mid-July. We'll be planting them out early/mid-May.
Now is the perfect time to start peppers, eggplant and tomatoes (like Brandywise below). Other varieties in the solanid family to start indoors include ground cherries and tomatillos, but hold off on them til mid-April: they are a lot more vigorous and will easily become stressed started this...
The red-winged blackbirds have returned and we just got eighteen inches of snow!
Before I sat down with a cup of chaga tea to write you this morning, here is what we did at dawn:
Friends, I've been asked a lot recently:
"Is it worth planting these seeds I didn't sow last season?"
The answer is yes. Mostly.
Here's the thing: most seeds will last three to five years kept dry and stable, relatively low temperatures. A kitchen cupboard or desk drawer are perfect places for seeds. So planting seed from the year or two prior is perfect.
The only exception: anything in the allium family (onion, leek, scallion, chive, shallot) and parsnip. Their seed coat is thin and fragile, so they readily oxidize and lose their germination. These are the only seeds to purchase each year. If you do have extra from years past, sow them more densely than you would if their germination was optimal.
Many seeds are delicious as seedlings...
Many gardeners want to start seeds more successfully, so my friend Sal and I created this gorgeous infographic for you:
...the LED grow light that we use? Here.
...easy to use soil blockers to make gorgeous soil blocks? Here.
...organic potting soil? Here.
...a heat mat that will change my life? Here.
And for our Ultimate Seed Starting Collection, head here.
Dreaming of the season ahead, my dear friend Kc inspired me to make a list of the 7 essential things she needed to know to start seeds well...
...then I'm scheming to make supper with my dear friend Sal, whose illustrations are as vivid and whimsical as her gardens and stories. Eureka! Sal and I had SO much fun laughing and learning as we brought to life the 7 Essentials of Seed Starting through visual story.
Welcome to Sal's Garden!
Petra: Whose advice do you always listen to?
Here are nine key questions to source the best seeds possible for you, making your garden beautiful and abundant from the start.
At the end is my (inimitable) response to one of our most asked questions:
"Are these seeds GMO-free?"
Stay curious, ask questions & have fun!
May the seeds you sow amplify abundance for all for months and generations to come :)
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.