Alternate Seed Sources

With the current shift in the economy, there has been a massive – massive! – spike in the number of people interested in growing gardens. Hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of new plots are springing up across the country. Some are large, some are small, and all are important.

Normally the renaissance in gardening would be good news. However the surge of interest is stretching seed businesses to the limit. Continue reading

Lactofermenting for the Time-Challenged

Stainless steel bowl available at Lehmans.com.

All the root veggies are washed well, not a speck of soil remains. Then they air-dry. Use a colander, or spread on your counter on a clean dishtowel. Stainless steel bowl for photo spiffiness only! (Lehmans.com has ’em.)

Alrighty then, it’s that time of year. The garden is starting to really gear up and I have more produce than we can eat before it goes bad. My plan for filling the pantry with wholesome and delicious foods that have less than 5 ingredients, none of which came out of a lab, is working.

Pickling for people disinclined to boil vinegar
So, what is a girl to do with all this bounty?

I know, I’ll lacto-ferment it all. I like lacto-fermented veggies, so does the hubbin, and I really actually find cutting up veggies to be enjoyable. I’m weird that way!

And as a completely unrelated bonus, lacto-fermenting things is so incredibly easy that even I can’t mess it up. Though I thought I had and threw out the first batch I ever made: more on that later.

Lacto-fermenting is what creates sauerkraut, kimchi and cocktail onions, to name some of the more commonly known results of the process.

Sandor Katz The Art of Fermentation at Lehmans.com

Make your own healthy, pure lacto-fermented veggies, vinegars, pickles and more! Pick up The Art of Fermentation now at Lehmans.com to get started fast.

It is a bacterial process, utilizing critters that are present in any environment that has not been completely sterilized (it will not work in outer space, so those of you reading this from the Mir Space Station, sorry, try it when you get back home), so yes, when I first got into this process I had to get over my germophobia and embrace the little things (metaphorically speaking). It’s similar to the fermentation that creates alcohol, just with different microbes.

Which brings me to examine exactly how one goes about lacto-fermenting, rather than creating carrot booze accidentally.

We want to attract the right kind of microbe, so we have to create the right kind of environment. Think of it as very, very small game trapping, because the microbes are all there, hanging out together. We want to encourage the lactobacilli, while discouraging the yeasts (alcohol) and other things that would spoil our food. Continue reading

American Gardens: Buckeye Garden Nears Harvest

Tough Cherry Tomatoes survived well. They're in the front bucket.

Tough Cherry Tomatoes survived well. They’re in the front bucket.

American Gardener Tim sent us tons of new pictures–we’re saving the “how to build a raised bed” for the planning days of wintertime.

Right now, let’s take a look at how his gardens are growing. He’s managing two–one small one in the suburban home where his family now lives, and one on land he and his wife will retire to in a few years. There are photos in the gallery below.

“Things are growing so fast now, and I’m just trying to keep up,” Tim says. “Thanks, Lehman’s, for sending me seeds to grow. I had a fail on the cukes, with that late cold snap. And squirrels kept digging up the carrot starts in the suburban garden.”

“I’ll tell you what, though. Those Black Cherry tomatoes are seriously hardy. I wasn’t able to get water to all my tomatoes for about four days recently. But look at that picture! The front barrel are all the Black Cherries. The rest–well, they aren’t. I know for sure I’m coming back to Lehman’s for tomato seeds next year!” Continue reading

American Gardens: Southern Harvest Starts Up

Our Lazy Housewife beans! We're eating some fresh, putting some up. Thanks, Lehman's!

Our Lazy Housewife beans! We’re eating some fresh, putting some up. Thanks, Lehman’s!

The garden is doing great, and I’m starting to harvest lots of goodies!  Since I’m furthest south, I’m thinking the first American Gardener to harvest.

The Lazy Housewife beans have done really well, despite the June Bugs and Mexican Bean beetles (which I’ve had to really stay on top of this year). I love that the beans can be cooked as green beans, or canned (which I’ve done a lot of!), or you can let them get larger and dry out for shelling beans.  Continue reading

American Gardens: Ohio Gardener Plants His Way to Independence

Ohio’s American Gardener Tim has been busy–there’s the garden at the house, and then there’s the “Buckeye Garden” he’s planted at the land he and his partner have purchased for their eventual off-grid retirement place. The soil there hasn’t ever been farmed, so he’s looking for some good garden results. He’s put some of his Lehman’s seeds in, but the overall garden contains just about any crop an off-gridder would want. Check it out.

Continue reading

American Gardens: Mountain Garden GROWS!

Radish and carrot plants.

Radishes and heirloom Dragon Carrots from Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, growing thick and fast!

In the foothills of the mountains, between the borders of North Carolina and Tennesee, there’s a nifty little microclimate. In that area, our gardener Kendra is having some great results! She’s sent two updates, one from mid-May, and one from the end of the month.

May 13, 2014:

The radishes and carrots were growing thick, so I harvested the radishes a few days ago to make room for the carrots to grow.

The lettuce is looking gorgeous. I haven’t harvested any yet, but I expect to be able to in the next few days.

Lazy Housewife beans thrive! Heirloom seeds were provided by Lehman's.

Lazy Housewife beans thrive! Heirloom seeds were provided by Lehman’s.

The tomatoes are loving this hot weather, and are looking lovely.

On April 24th I planted the beans. They’re about six or seven inches tall now.

On May 6th I planted the cucumbers, which I’m still waiting on to sprout. So far no problems with pests yet. Keeping my fingers crossed! Continue reading

Down East Gardener Welcomes Spring…Finally!

Black Cherry Tomatoes

Originally found in the Ukraine, these colorful heirlooms have been widespread since the 19th century. Get yours at Lehmans.com!

I was beginning to lose hope but at long last my seeds have decided to welcome spring. I have flats and greenhouses and all many of crazy places around the farm, and they’re getting green, with little growing things.

Experimenting with Tomatoes
I was especially pleased to see my Black Cherry Tomatoes have sprouted. The germination rate is 90%, a good number for me. The real test will be, not just what emerges but what makes it through to productivity. I only planted 15 pots and I spread them among three different kinds of pots.

I seeded 5 in plastic seed flats, 5 in paper pots I made and the final 5 in soil blocks. I want to see if there is any difference in vigor between the three.

I have another idea I want to explore. I always cut off the suckers on my tomatoes although there is disagreement among experts as to whether or not it’s necessary.
Continue reading

Will Alternative Gardening Methods Work For You?

Maine Garden Hod

Maine Garden Hod

Allison Geraci is a recent graduate of Kent State University’s Zoology program, and has an interest in native plants and restoration of native habitat–and how that works for plants, animals and people. This is the first in a short series of articles looking at native plants and plant habitats that she’ll be writing for Country Life this summer.

Going Native?
In today’s world of industry and technology, there is also a trend, a yearning to get back to the land: to be out in the fresh air, green grass, getting dirt on your hands. The weather has finally broken in my area of northeast Ohio, and I’m hoping the ground will be ready for planting soon, as things dry out. These days the majority of what is planted in our gardens comes from foreign areas and is planted in native soil. (Foreign meaning any plant not native to your region, not necessarily plants from other countries.) Continue reading

American Gardeners Seeing Some Green!

These Black Cherry Tomatoes made their appearance April 4 for Kendra!

These Black Cherry Tomatoes made their appearance April 4 for Kendra!

Kendra, NC-TN Mountains

We’ve enjoyed a good rain, and the seedlings are thriving. My carrots are just emerging from the soil, and are finally making an appearance among the radishes in the garden.

The lettuce is also making its first showing, safely covered with chicken wire to keep the cat from scratching in the bed. I was excited to find my Black Cherry Tomatoes sprouting indoors recently. The seedlings are now warmly growing under fluorescent bulbs on my kitchen counter. Continue reading

The PotMaker Makes Seed Starting Simple

The PotMaker

Make biodegradable seed starter pots easily with The PotMaker from Lehman’s in Kidron, or at Lehmans.com.

Today’s article comes to us from Ann VerWiebe, a staffer at 89.7 WKSU, a service of Kent State University. We’re proud to help support public radio, and were thrilled when Ann jumped at the idea to test one of our products. Ann’s an avid gardener, crafter, sewing maven and all-around creative person.

This winter in Ohio has been tough and persistent. Even now, weeks after it has officially turned to spring, we can’t be sure we’re passed the final frost of the season. I decided to force the issue by starting seeds on what is commonly known as a “sunny windowsill.”

I used the PotMaker to create tiny starter pots. What’s really great about this product is that it allowed me to easily – and cheaply – make something that can be planted directly in the ground once my seeds have sprouted. The simple strip of newspaper used to make the pot biodegrades in the earth without disturbing the roots of the seedling during the transplanting process. Continue reading