Because of various things going on we haven’t had as much time for homesteading tasks lately. Or blogging. Sorry about that. But the homestead never sleeps and there’s always something going on. And at least I have officially finished my Christmas shopping. Except for the special fruits for our Christmas stockings that will be bought closer to the time.
During winter I was looking through my seed collection to give seeds to someone. T’was then that I realised my seed collection had turned into a volcano of slippery little packets that had begun erupting into a giant mess. There were seeds in two different cardboard boxes and a container in the Potting Shed and there were seeds in an overflowing container or two in the fridge. And the newest seeds I’d bought that hadn’t yet been added to the mess. It was hard to keep track of them all and to find what I was looking for, especially since my seed collection seems to get bigger every time I look away. I decided I needed a proper seed storage solution. Here’s my seed collection, then and now:
I got the plastic storage container from Mitre 10 for $11.24. It’s a 27L clear container that is a nice shallow height for accessing the seeds and storing the seed collection under my bed. It will be cooler there than where most of my seeds were before – in the Potting Shed. Although handy, that was not a good place to store them because of the heat in the summer.
Then, my favourite part, I found these narrow but long plastic storage trays in Bunnings for $8.98 each. I can fit four of them in the storage box, with some narrow gaps on one side and at the back for extra seeds.
The great things about these trays are 1) they fit in the storage box nicely, 2) they are narrow enough that the seed packets won’t fall over and get messy and 3), my favourite part, is that each one came with three dividers that are moveable. Do you know how exciting that is? I can move them along the range of slots according to how much space I need for each category of seeds. For example, corn needs a large section right now because we saved a huge amount of seeds from what we grew last summer. And they’re big seeds. But celery only needs a small section because celery seeds are tiny.
All up, my seed storage system cost $47.16. If you only have a small seed collection, something simpler and cheaper will do just fine. But when you start doing a serious amount of growing from seed and saving seed and your seed collection starts erupting… You need something to keep your seeds organised and safe so they last longer and you can plan better. Now I can easily see what we’re running low on instead of having to check in multiple different places. And there will be no more slipped over, hiding packets of seeds.
Excitingly, in the erupted mess, I discovered one packet of Wee Bee Little pumpkin seeds that I didn’t realise was there last year. This line is my best and maybe last chance for actual pure Wee Bee Little pumpkins after the cross-pollination saga. I have four plants in the garden now.
The veggie garden continues to get more populated as we plant more plants and sow more seeds. Most things have been planted now. We’re in that transition phase in which we aren’t harvesting a lot from the garden because most of the winter crops have come out and the spring ones aren’t producing much yet.
A few pumpkin and celery plants were obliterated by slugs and snails. Thankfully, most of the other plants are surviving. I decided to sow all the beans, both bush beans and climbing beans, into 6-pack cell trays and I’m glad I did. Most of the bean plants have been planted out and the last lot are popping up in trays. A few seedlings got beheaded by slugs on the deck before they even reached the garden. Then six of the seedlings I had planted in the bean bed were savaged by the molluscs. But that’s a lot less than they destroyed last year.
I finally pulled all the red cabbages out of the Front Plot and The Husband helped me chop them up to make more sauerkraut. This cleared the row for the potatoes to be planted. As a family we planted out the seed potatoes and covered them with pea straw. I am trying this instead of mounding them this year. I would rather use normal straw, but I don’t want to use straw from a conventional farm that sprays pesticides and agrichemicals everywhere. The potato plants are well up through the pea straw now, which is a beautiful sight.
All the tomatoes have been planted. We have 62 at present. It ain’t quite the 100 that The Husband was gunning for, and that I knew we couldn’t fit in, but it’s more than twice as many as we’ve grown before. Excellent. Aside from using fresh tomatoes, most of what we do with them is make concentrated tomato soup. We use this throughout the year to spread on pizza bases, to add to meat dishes or pasta, or as soup. Outside of the veggie gardens, other parts of the garden are a weedy mess, but I will try to find places to stuff a few more tomato plants. There are two in the Herb Garden at present. I have started hanging the strings on the tomato frames and winding up the plants, but I have a bunch more to go.
The Front Plot is now all sowed and planted. The corn is all up except for the last section of seeds we sowed. The Little Fulla likes helping to poke the seeds into the ground. So far, we’ve only had three that didn’t come up. The birds have not been a problem with digging thanks to the chunky mulch on top of the rows. There are also Chuck’s Winter squash plants out there and three honeydew melons, in addition to the tomatoes and potatoes. The only problem is the Jack Be Little Pumpkins. I planted two. They got eaten by slugs and snails. I planted two more. They got eaten. I got angry. I have not planted replacements yet. I only have two left. I am letting them grow bigger.
The Little Fulla’s Veggie Garden has been planted too. He chose to have one Broad Ripple Yellow Currant tomato, which is a cherry tomato with a vigorous, rambling habit. He wants it to grow up and over the roof of his cabin, so I put our last mesh panel in there and we’ll see what happens. He also wanted climbing beans to go wild over his cabin roof. I tried to explain that he wouldn’t be able to fit those in as well, knowing how vigorous this tomato is. He really wants tomatoes to eat. But he also wants crazy beans lolloping all over his cabin. I do have a few spare climbing beans, so maybe I’ll just let him plant some after all and see what happens.
The Little Fulla is also a big fan of shelling dried beans, so he opted to fill the rest of his small veggie garden with a mixture of red kidney beans and Burgundy Borlotti, a chance strain that I have been saving and growing the last couple of years. It is interesting that he chose a long game crop rather than things he can eat straight from the garden. Mind you, he knows there’s always sorrel that he can nibble on in the main Veggie Garden.
The main Veggie Garden is starting to get full too. The main thing that hasn’t been planted is most of the peppers and the okra. And I’m trying to figure out where to put the things that hadn’t quite made it into my spreadsheet. I don’t remember reading that ground cherries needed 90-100cm of space. Maybe I glazed over that part when I bought the seeds and sowed them. I guess I can’t just ‘stuff’ them into spare spaces then. I know, I need to fill the new narrow bed down the end with soil and compost. I can stuff… um… one ground cherry in there. Never mind that it was supposed to house a pretty rose beside the seat and trellis I’m building. Well, if anyone can find a place to stuff all the ground cherries, it’s me. Maybe I should just put some in the Front Plot instead of the Jack Be Little pumpkins…