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Seeds Rule

August 15, 2013

Lately, it seems that seeds are commanding my time.  Decisions to be made.  Good, bad, live, dead, feed, compost, sheep, pig, chicken, or cow.  Seeds at first glance are so innocent, and they bring so much good, but placed in the wrong place can be so troublesome.

Rhubarb - Rheum rhabarbarum

Rhubarb – Rheum rhabarbarum

Resting after her sleepover...

Resting after her sleepover…

Some decisions were made for me by others.  Jane’s season would not coincide with the AI tech, so Jane spent the night with her boyfriend, as opposed to being mated with some long dead bull in a can…  Live cover is not nearly so iffy, so I am expecting that she is settled.  One type of seed down, many to go.

Turga parsnip seed

Turga parsnip seed

With a pending raincast, the parsnip seed needed gathering.  So that was on the agenda in the garden.  Jane eats a lot of parsnips during the winter, so I need a lot of seed.  Since parsnip seed is about as viable as onion seed, this is something I have to do each year to ensure I have good vigorous seed for planting.

Red Cored Chantenay

Red Cored Chantenay

Checking for rogues only turned up one bolting carrot.  Carrots are biennials, so finding a bolting carrot is not good.  This was pulled and added to the weed pile for feeding.


We’re at the point in the garden season that any weeds we have missed have grown and set seed, gone is the time frame where we can just throw weeds down as future fertilizer.  Adding further complications, who gets to eat the weeds since the garden can’t.  If I put these on the compost pile, they can possibly be brought right back to the garden, ditto if I feed these greens to the chickens.  So, that leaves cow, sheep or pigs.  So believe or not I have to sort my weeds.  I don’t actually sort them, but use two wheelbarrows, one for Jane with weeds she will eat, and won’t make her milk taste, and a wheelbarrow for the sheep or pigs with anything else, checking carefully for poisonous weeds of course.



Lately Jane has only been getting Lambsquarter in her pile, normally this protein rich plant goes to the hens and pullets, but now that the seeds are present, I can’t risk all that seed ending up in the chicken bedding compost.  Don’t ask me how I know that fascinating fact about lambsquarter seed and poultry digestive tracts.  Sigh.

Compost pile

Compost pile

Gardening is nothing if not honing your observation skills, so all that innocent looking calendula that reseeds so vigorously in my garden each spring is actually a rodent hotel for voles!  They love the seeds, and the hiding area that the dense foliage provides.  So since I have tons of calendula, and calendula seed, I pulled the thicket near the carrots and celeriac and put all the plants on the compost pile, since none of my eaters care to partake of the sticky medicinal stalks.  Calendula is not a plant I worry about infecting the garden via the compost.

Insectary row

Insectary row

The good seeds are not much of a worry, just waiting, waiting, waiting.  Have you ever noticed when you want something to bolt and set seed it takes its sweet time?  Notice to serial dead headers – stay out of my garden this time of  year if you can’t resist that annoying habit of snipping off spent flowers and fat bean or pea pods!  I am saving seeds.

beauty in the vegetable garden

beauty in the vegetable garden

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Dava Serbantes permalink
    August 15, 2013 7:48 pm

    Ok, so I have been a lurker of your blog for some months now. May I just tell you, out of every blog, podcast, and other online forms of information regarding homesteading style topics, you are my absolute favorite! Your way of telling a story, chock full of information with pictures is so easy to read and digest.

    It is not a “how to” for me so much as an ‘eye-opener’ as to what to expect and how far I am out of the loop of back to basics. In fact, your blog creates more questions in my mind than ever before, but they are questions I did not KNOW to ask, so I thank you for your blogs, your posts, your pictures and your hard work. Your posts never cease to amaze me! I will be beginning my own journey come Dec 31st when I quit the job to work on my own place. 5 acres in Calif. I expect it will be some years before I could ever begin to see the kind of success you have!

    • August 16, 2013 5:23 am

      Dava, thank you!

      Congrats on the adventure on your 5 acres! You can accomplish a lot with 5 acres. Enjoy!

  2. August 15, 2013 8:01 pm

    When, oh when are you going to write a book?

    How about you just send me an email when to plant stuff for various seasons? I am ALWAYS behind!! I guess it’s too late to sow root crops and cabbage.

    Please? I need someone with serious chops and experience who I totally admire and trust (you) to tell me when I should be starting my tomatoes, when I should be starting my potatoes, when I should be starting stuff for winter.

    How about a pacific northwest newsletter- I’d even subscribe! For money!!!

    • August 16, 2013 5:19 am

      Paula, you get that Azomite yet 😉 You’re so sweet!

    • Sheila permalink
      August 16, 2013 6:41 am

      Paula, I know what you mean, about the planting. Seed packets aren’t that helpful, neither are most gardening books, especially if you are trying to plant for winter crops. Last year I bought Seattle Tilth’s Maritime NW Garden Guide I also purchased Winter Gardening by Binda Colebrook this past January. Both Have been helpful (I live upriver from Astoria), and better than a seed company in Missouri telling me when to plant. I also listened to Linda Gilkeson (Backyard Bounty) at Mother Earth News Fair a couple years ago. I kept the little slip of paper that she handed out with basic winter sowing dates; it has been handy too. But, I’d still like someone to hold my hand and tell me that it’s time to plant cabbages this week,

      • August 16, 2013 4:29 pm

        I saw Linda Gilkeson at the MEN Fair last year too!

        But the difference is that Nita has been doing this forever and knows when to do what and have stuff come out right.

        Hey Nita- maybe you would do another tab called, I dunno, Do This Next Week and post what we should be doing the next week so we can plan life around getting stuff done on time in our gardens.

        And I did get the Azomite and glacial rock powder at Concentrates. They used to be literally on the way home on 8th in Portland but the new space in Milwaukie is better and still sort of on the way home.

        • August 16, 2013 7:03 pm

          Paula, hey I dunno, but a good tip for you might be if you see me posting it know you have a week or two to spare due to your longer growing season and less rain. We are easily two weeks behind PDX with most things. I like the new setup at Concentrates, so easy for me to get to without driving any side streets, and I can catch the back way home and hit New Seasons if I need to 🙂

    • Shauna permalink
      August 22, 2013 8:23 am

      DITTO to Paula! Write a book…or newsletter… in all of your spare time! 🙂

  3. mumofteenagers permalink
    August 15, 2013 11:19 pm

    Jane looks content – perhaps the deed is done. Great post as ever – I sometimes pull the seed heads off my weeds and put the rest of the plant on the compost pile – but then I don’t have as much to weed as you. It never ceases to amaze me how hard you work to feed your family. Thanks for the blog it always combines sense, information and a really good read.

    • August 16, 2013 5:18 am

      MUM, that’s what I was hoping, I guess there is a reason they call it settled. She’s back to her normal, calm, and collected self. I guess I can allow her a day of craziness once in awhile 😉

      Good idea on the seed heads.

  4. August 16, 2013 3:05 am

    jane looks like she should be smoking a cigarette! very interesting info about the seeds!

  5. August 16, 2013 3:29 am

    Insectary row is really pretty. Do you have a deliberate row of Queen Anne’s Lace? Why?And all this time I thought I knew what Lamb’s Quarter was, lol.

    My gardening goals are completely tanked. I over-attempted, couldn’t keep up, was thrashed by the weather – ironically though it was mostly perfection, rain and dry days didn’t align with my schedule and access to borrowed equipment.

    I’ve got some highlights, but not the ones I planned. Hooves crossed for a late frost. Luckily, I’m much better with animals than I am with plants.

    Jane looks pooped 🙂

    • August 16, 2013 5:15 am

      AMF, heavens no – are you seeing cilantro and dill maybe in the row? I don’t like to see Queen Anne’s lace, crosses with carrots, and means poor pasture. Although I admit it makes a mean bouquet filler with my dahlias 🙂 I have to go hunt for it though.

      Don’t feel bad, over attempt is the name of the game with gardeners, seasoned and new alike.

      She was, poor thing, that’s a lot of running around and no eating. Quite the feat to lead her to the herd, cut out the bull, put him and her in the “honeymoon suite.” Then repeat in the morning, take her out, put the bull back in the the other cows, and lead her back home. Glad that is done.

      • August 16, 2013 5:26 pm

        Breeding season is kind of exhausting. Everyone’s lost a bit of weight during the last month, the bull in particular. He is one trolling beast – always on the move.

        I later realized I was mistaken and that it was (I think) your carrots. I didn’t know carrots & QAL crossed, but that doesn’t surprise me.

        My pasture obviously needs some improving – I have QAL and burdock scattered here & there. I’ll be chasing weeds for a long time…

  6. August 16, 2013 5:00 am

    I really liked reading this blog about the seeds, really full of good information. I’m so hoping for a better garden next year we have had so much rain here in N E Georgia, I’m saving seeds from my heirloom tomatoes and swapping seeds for next years garden. Ellen from Georgia

    • August 16, 2013 5:16 am

      Ellen, you guys have really been hit with that rain! Gardeners are the optimistic people I know – saving seeds brings hope for a better turnout in the next garden 🙂

  7. Bee permalink
    August 16, 2013 5:55 am

    What all do you have in the insectary row? Am I correct that it’s cornflowers, calendula, dill? Anything else?

    • August 16, 2013 7:48 am

      Bee, it was a kitchen sink affair, I had paper sacks of miscellaneous, who knows how old, seeds of cilantro, mammoth and bouquet dill, bachelor buttons, calendula, marigolds, zinnias, bronze fennel, and cosmos. I knew some would germinate, but not all. From the looks of things, calendula, cilantro, dill, and bachelor buttons are the only ones there. It sure is pretty though in that barren vegetable garden of staples, and it is full of insects of all types.

  8. August 16, 2013 6:29 am

    So true we are optimist and saving seeds will help not only with the garden but it will give us the HOPE we need to get through the winter. We are always looking for the next spring and starting the seedlings inside and watching them pop up in the little seed cups. Ellen from Georgia.

  9. Chris permalink
    August 16, 2013 7:08 am

    Where does Jane’s boyfriend live…it wasn’t Big Daddy, was it? If so, she’d have to smoke a whole pack! 🙂 Wonderful seed tutorial!

    • August 16, 2013 7:51 am

      He’s living with the other cows right now, across the road. They know each other, he is Dickie’s dad 🙂 He’s not as big as he looks, she is as tall as him, just more, uh, willowy…

  10. August 16, 2013 9:39 am

    What a great photo. Love the depth of field you have captured.

  11. Shauna permalink
    August 22, 2013 8:09 am

    I must “ditto” the commenter at the top. I love your blog. I love the simplicity and the wealth of information and your [writing]/gardening/living style. In a life full of a rat-race job, marriage, baby, rabbit raising and wanna-be-country survival on the fringe of the big city (dreaming of ditching the crazieness someday soon!), your blog is one of the very few that qualifies for prime-time reading regularly. It’s a breath of wonderful, fresh, country air.
    So thank you!
    (And if you ever start selling your insectary seeds or seedlings, let me know! I’ll be your first customer. :o) Calendula is surprisingly hard to find unless you want some ridiculous frilly marigold/petunia looking thing!)

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