Make your own seed packets (packet templates)

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Last year I did origami seed packets last year which worked out pretty good though I only got two per sheet of paper and didn’t hold too many seeds (especially large seeds like peas) with the many types of seeds I am collecting this year I decided to try another option.

I looked online and found many templates, though I couldn’t find any with standard seed package sizes.  Eventually I gave up and created my own and thought I would share.

Small Seed Packet (2.75” X 3.00”) 4 packets per sheet pdf  doc  docx
Typical Seed Packet (3.00” X 3.75”) 2 packets per sheet pdf  doc  docx
XLarge Seed Packet (4.50” X 5.25”) 1 packets per sheet pdf  doc  docx

Basic idea is pretty simple, just print them out and glue the flaps on the inside.  I used a plain old grade school glue stick which worked out great.  Not only does this work great for new seeds collected, but I also used them to reduce much of the space my large seed packets were taking for a small number of very small seeds.

How to use Vegetronix soil moisture sensor (VG400) on Arduino

With the summer starting to come to a close it has been time for me to start thinking back to the computerized grow box.  I have been doing some considerable work on the electronics and software over the summer.  Better to break stuff while the plants are outside and not while killing them inside.

Though I have been happy with my homemade gypsum soil sensors I decided to try out a commercial option hoping for better accuracy and longer life.  This is important with my current plans to include automatic watering to the latest version of my grow box.  Don’t want to wake up to a flood in the garage due to a broken sensor.  After some looking I came across the Vegetronix VG400 which measures the dielectric constant of the soil using transmission line techniques.  Which I have no idea what that means but sounds impressive.

The hookup couldn’t be simpler, red wire to 3V, bare wire to ground, and black wire to an analog input.  As you can see below in my completely not to scale diagram below.

vegetronixArduino

From here it all comes down to some simple code to write on the Arduino to get some values.

void setup()
{
// Setup serial
Serial.begin(9600);
}void loop()
{
Serial.println(analogRead(0));

delay(200);  // wait 200 milliseconds
}

Upload the code to the Arduino and now I can get a moisture value from the analog input between 0 and 614 (0-3 volts) depending on the degree of water saturation.

vegetronixOutput

Though not as hacky as my PS2 controller moisture sensor solution definitely more elegant and reliable.  Stay tuned for more details of other improvements to the computer controlled grow box.

Blackberry Picking Tip: Hands free berry picking

Blackberries

I love to pick blackberries, they grow literally like weeds in my area and very easy to find a trail with more berries than I ever could pick.  The fresh air is nice I am always looking for new ways to pick berries in less time.  This tip from my brother-in-law will be sure to help step your berry picking up a notch.

Simply take an old milk carton and cut a hole in the top.

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Then take your belt and loop it through the handle and now you have both hands free to pick those berries even faster.  Of course this would work for anything else that could be beneficial to have both hands free.

I also cut a small notch lower than the top and used the same container to rinse the berries are allow easy separation of stems, leaves and/or insects that decided to join my bucket during my rapid picking.

As always if you have a gardening tip you would like to share please feel free to let us know using the Contact link.

Big events this week

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My four five year old has been patiently been waiting for the “color sunflower” she planted from seed at a friends house this spring to finally bloom.  Every morning she will run to the kitchen window and check on its progress.  It turns out the sunflower was waiting to share her blooms on my daughter’s birthday which was definitely one of her favorite presents that day.

Here she is posing with her flower (still in pajamas)

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Garden Salsa recipe

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Big moment this week, I was able to make salsa entirely from ingredients.  I normally don’t use cherry/grape tomatoes for salsa but my Early Girls are not that early this year and have not quite turned red. 

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CVG Garden Salsa Recipe
  • 2-3 tomatoes (or 12-15 cherry/grape tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • green onion
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro
  • tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
  • sugar

Directions:  Coarsely chop tomatoes (removing seeds, though if I few sneak in it is not a big deal), onion, and green onions and add to bowl.  Finely chop garlic, cilantro, and seeded jalapeno pepper and add to mixture.  Add vinegar to bowl and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for 10 minutes and add sugar until salsa does not have a spicy aftertaste (normally 1-2 teaspoons)  If you like the spice skip the sugar and include seeds from the jalapeno.

Mango Salsa Recipe

mangoSalsa

I am starting to get some cherry tomatoes turning red but not enough to make salsa so yet again so I decided to make some Mango Salsa.  It is great to eat on tortilla chips the same you would for regular salsa or black bean corn salsa.  One of my favorite things to do with is as a topping to blackened salmon (salmon grilled with dusting of Cajun seasoning)

CVG Mango Salsa Recipe

  • 3 mangos
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • green onion
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro
  • juice of one lemon (or lime)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
  • sugar

Directions:  Finely chop 1 mango (or blend in blender/food processor) this will create a base for the salsa.  Coarsely chop remaining mangos, onion, and green onions to have more defined texture and add to bowl.  Finely chop garlic, cilantro, and seeded jalapeno pepper and add to mixture.  Squeeze in juice of lemon into bowl and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for 10 minutes and add sugar until salsa does not have a spicy aftertaste (normally 2-3 teaspoons)

Now if you really like the spice you can leave the seeds in and/or skip the sugar but for the blackened salmon it give a good contrast to the spicy meat and people just are not usually expecting fruit to be spicy.

I can proudly say with the exception of mangos, lemons, and sugar the remaining ingredients came right out of my garden.

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