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Giveaway: $1354.83 worth of fresh produce

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Ok there is a little catch, you have to plant the seeds and grow the produce yourself and have perfect weather and unlimited space to do it.  Over the past season I have intentionally harvested more seeds than I needed just for the purpose of sharing them so here is your first chance to get some of CVG’s seed stash.  This should be a good addition to your current selection of seeds or great for a person just starting out next year.

The harvest values were calculated using my most profitable vegetables in your garden post, so numbers are estimated but I tried to be as accurate as possible.  Below are also links to my harvesting techniques of most of the “Self” seeds below (just realized I never wrote up cilantro and radish seed harvesting so expect to see these soon).

CVG’s Seed Stash (Variety Pack)

Seed Seed
Type
Seeds (Est.) Harvest Value
(Est.)
Jalapeno Pepper Self Collected 10 $ 45.00
Radish Self Collected 30 $ 11.66
Lavender ? 50 $ 10.00
Cilantro/Coriander Self Collected 100 $ 525.00
Bhut Jolokia pepper Self Collected 10 $ 150.00
Sunflower (Big) Self Collected 20 $ 10.00
Spinach Self Collected 25 $ 11.25
Carnation ? 30 $ 5.00
Onions (White) Self Collected 50 $ 12.94
Tomato (Early Girl) Hybrid 15 $ 233.55
Corn (Sweet Yellow) Self Collected 25 $ 31.25
Pumpkin Self Collected 15 $ 150.00
Carrots (Finger) Hybrid 70 $ 15.58
Sunflower (Evening Sun) Hybrid 10 $ 10.00
Cucumber Heirloom 30 $ 116.10
Peas Self Collected 30 $ 12.50
Mint (Spearmint) Hybrid 50 $ 5.00
Total     $ 1,354.83

As always just enter a comment and a winner will be randomly selected using my patented “CVG’s Contest Winner Pickorama” on Jan 1st, 2010.  This contest is open to everyone inside/outside the United States pending any export/import of regulations of sending seeds, which I am still doing some research on.

Hometown seed giveaway #2 (Survival Seeds)

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Hometown Seeds has again graciously offered up a selection of their non-GMO non hybrid survival seeds.  These are advertised to keep in storage for 5-10 years but also are open pollinated so you can grow them this year, collect the seeds and create your own stockpile in preparation of any future catastrophic food shortage.

They include a selection of the following varieties:

  • Lincoln Peas
  • Detroit Dark Red Beets
  • Kentucky Wonder Brown Pole Bean
  • Yolo Wonder Pepper
  • Champion Radish
  • Lucullus Swiss Chard
  • Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Waltham Butternut Winter Squash
  • Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
  • Scarlet Nantes Carrots
  • Long Green Improved Cucumber
  • Rutgers Tomato
  • Golden Acre Cabbage
  • Romaine Paris Island Cos Lettuce
  • Golden Bantem Sweet Corn
  • Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion

 

They will be sending me the seeds to no restrictions on where these can be mailed to, so simply add a comment by 2/16/2010 2/19/2010 and I will randomly select a winner in one week.

Update — 2/16/2010

I got the seeds in the mail from Hometown Seeds and I was very surprised in the weight of these seeds.  Well over a lb of seeds in this package.  They come in a sealed lightproof wrapper as you can see below:

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Though the seeds would last longer if I kept them in this packaging, though I just had to rip it open to see what was inside (winner’s package will not be opened):

 

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As you can see there are quite a few seeds in this package so you may want to think about who you may want to share these with if you win.

And the winner of the CVG seed stash is…

After a week of waiting over a week I haven’t heard back from Aly so I have picked an alternate winner, I reran the CVG Contest Winner Pickorama and the new winner is Angela, please send me an email using the contact link at the top of the page with your name/address and I will get the seeds sent out as soon as possible.

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How to grow seeds in your garden

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Because of a strange heat wave we had in June, I seem to be growing more seeds than vegetables this year.  Now as they say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  In that spirit I am planning on increasing the number of plants I will allow to completely go to seed this year.

I have always saved cilantro seeds, the first time it was almost an accident my daughter liked the pretty white flowers and after neglecting my garden at the end of the summer I had perfectly dried cilantro seeds on the plant.  Free and renewable supply of seeds, what could be better.  If I don’t have you convinced here are some more reasons:

Cheap: You really can’t beat free.  With the price of seeds increasing depending on the variety of seeds you grow this could save you a considerable amount of money per year.

Easy: The creation of seeds of seeds is a completely natural process that has been happening for millions of years.  In many cases you can do practically nothing other than harvest the seeds before the birds do.

Natural selection:  With a little attention you can hand select only your best plants to harvest seeds from.  If the plant survived to produce seeds it has to be at least a little disease tolerant and if you intentionally pick plants that bolted early you can also establish your own slow bolting variety.

Limited availability: Even with all the resources on the internet your favorite seed company may not always carry your favorite varieties or in some cases just a few seeds might be hard to come by.  If you play your cards right you may even be able to make a few bucks selling your rare seeds.

Seed Exchange: If you collect seeds you more than likely will get more seeds than you need for the next 2-3 years from a single plant.  This is a great supply to use for local or mail seed exchanges.  Not only are you supplying someone else with seeds they need but also adding seeds to your collection which you can harvest and repeat the process again.

Growing sprouts: If you are paying for seeds growing sprouts for some plant varieties can be pretty expensive…unless your seeds are free.  This is a good healthy way to use up some of those extra seeds you can’t get rid of any other way.

This year I am planning on harvesting spinach, pea, carrot, and radish seeds (along with my previous onions and cilantro) so stay tuned for more details.

How to collect lettuce seeds

I wasn’t exactly good about eating my lettuce last year, after a few weeks of neglect the plants began to flower and eventually created some seeds.  At the end of the season I pulled out the plants to dry out a little more and eventually forgot about them for a few months.

Because I forgot about the seeds when it came time to plant them I simply grabbed a seed pod broke it apart in my hand and planted some seeds.  If you are only going to plant a few plants this is a great way to go using natures seed packaging system.  If you are needing many more seeds or lack the extra space to store your seeds here is a simple process to save lettuce seeds.

1. Extract.  Place a few seed pods between your hands and rub your hands together lightly allowing the seeds and the chaff (aka other stuff) fall into a bowl.  Repeat this for all of the seeds you want to save for this/next year.

2. Filter.  Just by carefully shaking the bowl a little any large pieces of “other stuff” should come right to the surface which you can easily pick out.  Take the remaining seeds and “other stuff” and place in a sieve and shake to removed the “other stuff” removing any remaining large pieces that come to the surface.  You can also gentle move the seeds with mild pressure around to break up some of the remaining “other stuff” and help it fall through the sieve.

Now with some fairly clean seeds you can store in an paper or plastic envelope and plant when needed.

How to grow onions and not onion flowers

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Last year, I grew a lot of onion seeds but unfortunately not many large onions I could use in the kitchen.  I have learned a few things since then which hopefully can help you not have the same problem.

Use small onion sets: Last year I selected all of the largest onion sets in the 100 count bag which from some of my experimentation this year proves why almost all of my onions bolted to seed.  Smaller onion sets were much less likely to bolt to seed during normal temperature fluctuations.  Now what should you do with those large onion sets?  Why not think of them as flower bulbs since that is what they will end up eventually.  Given you know the onions will grow pretty small so you can plant a 1-2 inches apart and they do make a quite attractive flower and as an extra bonus you can collect the onion seeds for next year.

Grow from seeds: Well if you are like me with all of your plants bolting to seed on the positive side that gave you a considerable number of onion seeds.  Now you have a couple choices here, you can plant some seeds at the end of the summer which will create basically small onion sets which will go dormant over the winter and pop back up during spring.  The other option is to plant seeds indoors 9-10 weeks before last spring frost and plant seedlings the size of a pencil or smaller into your garden.

Try a different onion variety: The ultimate reason flowers bolt is temperature fluctuations which tricks the onion that it has completed its biennial (2 year) growing pattern which results into the onion jumping into its last stage of its life, flowering.  Now unless you are growing in a heated greenhouse or grow box, unfortunately you don’t have too many options in controlling the weather.  Fortunately you can select onion varieties that are more tolerant to temperature fluctuations.

Hopefully with these tips you can grow a few less onions flowers and a few extra onions.  Though if you still get a few onion flowers you do have a couple choices.  Pull it up and user the smaller onion in your kitchen or simply embrace the flower and the bees it will attract and get plenty of onion seeds for next year.

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