GrowVeg and Urban Farmer Seeds Giveaway results

image The winner of the Flower and Vegetable seed kits is Luis Tobon.  You should have a email in your inbox requesting you mailing information
image The winner of the GrowVeg one year subscription goes to Ragnar.  I have passed on your contact info to GrowVeg and you should receive your gift certificate for your one year subscription shortly.


For those you didn’t win, no worries we have more giveaways coming up this weekend.

Urban Farmer Seeds Vegetable/Flower seed kit giveaway


They great people at Urban Farmer Seeds have graciously offered their Flower Seed Kit and Vegetable Seed Kit to giveaway to the readers of CVG.  Like many seed companies Urban Farmer Seeds is environmentally conscience, one unique thing they do is use recycled magazines to make their seed packets as you can see in the picture below.

We will pick a winner on 02/12/11, as usual there are multiple ways to enter:

  • 1. Add a comment to this post
  • 2. Like CheapVegetableGardener on Facebook (add an additional comment to the post)
  • 3. Mention this giveaway on your site/Twitter (add an additional comment to the post)


First seeds started: onions, leeks, purple cone flower

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My youngest daughter has been patiently waiting all winter to plant some seeds (as have I)  Finally it was time in my area to start planting the “start 8-10 weeks before first frost” seeds.  Which for me included onions and leeks, though as I was picking up the leek seeds my daughter talked me into getting some purple coneflower seeds as well.

After carefully mixing my special blend of 3 parts normal potting mix with 1 part perlite we filled some trays, sprinkled on the seeds, applied some light pressure to ensure good contact, and placed them in my small Christmas light grow box

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This provides me a small of convenient location to care for these seedlings until they are big enough to move into the computer grow box which if all goes well should be getting a slight makeover this weekend, which I should post about soon.

Seed types: Heirloom, open pollinated, hybrids, GMO


When you pick up a packet of seeds knowing what type of seeds you are growing is very important especially if you are planning on saving seeds from the fruits of your labor.

Much like man’s best friend seeds come in many varieties, sometimes these occur with careful consideration of pedigree. others are brought together to complement both parents good (or bad) physical traits, and finally there are the nature chooses their own way.

Heirloom: These would be the purebreds (English Bulldog) of the seed world.  These seeds are carefully pollinated and saved for decades or even hundreds of years to preserve the quality product that has been stabilized over many generations.

Hybrids: These would be those carefully planned mixes (cockerdoodle) with both parents being specially selected to produce offspring that carries traits of both parents.  The tricky thing about hybrids is the seeds these plants create more than likely will not be that of their parents since it normally requires at least a few generations to stabilized their genetic makeup.  So your “tasty slow bolting cilantro” might end up being “tasty fast bolting cilantro” or “not so tasty slow bolting cilantro”  Even if you decide to collect your seeds if the seed company has patented that variety you could be sued for patent infringement…though I have yet to hear of a case of this occurring to a home gardener.

Open Pollinated:  These can be thought of as the “muts” of the seed varieties.  Just like in the canine world these can produce some very fortunate accidents and produce some seeds no one could have even considered trying to create on their own.  There are many benefits to growing with open pollinated seeds.  First there are very little worries in collecting seeds from these varieties.  There are no patents to worry about and these varieties have a few more generations to stabilize their genetic traits.  By collecting your seeds and growing these along with other varieties to add some diversity to your garden and avoid establishing a monoculture which can be susceptible to pests and disease after a few short seasons.

I should also state that Heirlooms are also open pollinated thought for most strains extra care is taken to prevent cross pollination to keep the end products as true as possible.  These

GMO:  Now GMO or Genetically Modified Organism, would be the the creation of a dog which is crossed with a cat which has the loyalty of a dog but the bathroom habits of a cat.  In the seed world this would be seeds that are grown with “good intents” such as the creation of a potato that is resistant to the potato beetle, reducing the need for pesticides.  On the more scary side are seeds with “terminator” genes whose offspring that does not create viable seeds.  From first thought, this seems like a justifiable way for seed makers to protect their patents being infringed on, until you think about cross pollination.  For example lets say your neighbor is growing some GMO tomatoes where your friendly bees cross pollinate your open pollinated heirloom varieties.…now to your dismay now your seeds are now crossed with the “terminator” gene and you no longer can produce your own viable heirloom seeds.

Though I have never actually found GMO seeds being sold to home gardeners, though for commercial seeds these are much more common.  Basic rule is to avoid these seeds at all costs.

HomeTown Seeds: 3-Tray Kitchen Seed Sprouter Review and Giveaway


Last year I played with sprouting seeds in a mason jar to hold me and the kids over during the winter until it was time to start growing for the following spring.  The process worked great but I ended up with way more sprouts than I could consume and most of the sprouts were wasted.  One option was to use smaller jars and stagger the starting of the seeds, but this would leave me to fill and drain 3-4 jars a couple of days.

Fortunately Hometown Seeds has a product (3-Tray Kitchen Sprouter) that solves these problems for me and when they asked it I would want to review this product I jumped at the chance.

The kit comes with 3 trays and a packet of 2 oz of organic alfalfa seeds, which you can fill each with a half of tablespoon of seeds to get a full tray full of sprouts in 2-3 days.  Each tray is easily removable so you can choose to create 3 trays worth of sprouts at a time or create start a new tray every day to always have a fresh supply of sprouts.


After you have added the seeds you put the pieces together and simply fill the top reservoir with water and the sprouter does the rest.  The sprouter uses a syphon technique to allow the tray to partially fill with water before draining to the tray below it, to repeat the process for any other trays you have.


Here you can see the syphoning in action.

I have not tried it myself but I don’t see any reason if you bought multiple kits and stack them as high as you want and have a sprouting factory on your kitchen counter.

Overall I was very impressed with the sprouter it was easy to use and entertaining for my 6-year-old to watch the water drain through the various levels.  Also produced clean quality sprouts without making a mess all over the kitchen counter.  The only negative observation is sometimes the seeds/sprouts can clog the syphon if too many get packed together.  Fortunately when this happened to me, I simply removed the plastic syphon cap and pushed away a few of the seed/sprouts blocking the drain and didn’t have any problems after that, but something to keep an eye on.

Here are some sprouts I after growing for 2 days…tomorrow they will go on some sandwiches.


Hometown Seeds has also graciously offered one of these sprouting systems to readers of CVG, so if you are in the continental United States, just enter a comment below and I will pick a winner at random in one week (9/18/2010 Midnight PST)

Starting seeds in paper towels


Most often I start my seeds in a mix of coconut coir and perlite in seeding cells or small containers, though there are occasions when it may be better to start your seeds in a simple paper towel.

Before going into the benefits first lets go over the technique:

  1. Get a paper towel, napkin, or coffee filter and spray with water so it is moist (not soaking wet or the seeds could rot)
  2. Add a few seeds and folder over the paper to cover them.
  3. Place the paper and seeds into a zip lock bag (I like to use the snack sized ones) and place in a warm location (top or refrigerator, water hearer, etc)
  4. Check every day or so do see if seedlings have emerged and water as needed
  5. When seedlings emerge very carefully place the strongest seedlings into dirt cups.


  • Instead of trying to remove the seeds from the paper, you can simply cut around the seedling and plant both into the ground.  The paper will eventually erode away without affecting the seedling.
  • You can also use this technique to plant the seedling right into the ground.

This technique is great for many reasons:

  • Allows for faster germination rates and times
  • Great if you have limited space for seedlings (stack of zip lock bags take up much less space than 40/50 seed cells)
  • More consistent moisture
  • Less dirt on your counters
  • Great option for rare, poor germination rates and/or very slow germinating times (think hot peppers with 3-4 weeks germination delays)  With this method you can keep close tabs on the progress and know after a week or two if you need to start some more (or buy some new seeds)

For the home grower this is a great space saving technique and due to the water retention in the bags it is nearly impossible to lose seedlings due to lack of watering.

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