Welcome Back!

It’s Summer!

Summer is an active time of gardening! This year we have been collecting photographs, topics, plants, seeds and more.

All of the collecting is for your benefit! Come back and see what more we have to offer.

Still considering jumping into the gardening world? This is a great time!

Planting seeds in the mid and late summer help provide more fresh food later and later into the fall season. Crops like peas and lettuce, which do not usually like the heat of summer, will love the cooler days of fall. Many won’t even mind a little chilly frost in the mornings.

Want to try out seed starting? Directly planting in your garden bed? Container planting? Grow bags? There are so many ways you could get your garden started, or continued, even today.

We have the carrots and calendula sprouts already planted for fall. Maybe it will be peas and kale to follow? The growing season continues!


Struggling Seedlings 

Don’t worry, many of the seedlings are doing quite well! But there have been a few that started strong and quickly wilted. There has also been an issue of bugs becoming increasingly present in the seedling nursery, and until very recently I didn’t realize that these two issues are a bit connected.

Dropping off: the issue of seedlings sprouting well, growing a bit and then suddenly wilting down to the soil’s surface, still green until they eventually just shrivel and die. If you lift one of the seedlings up, you may even find an area of the stem near the base, browning, caving in and breaking off.

The issue? Fungus in the soil getting into the stem and separating the upper sprout from its roots. For an individual sprout, it’s not survivable. For it’s neighbors, there’s also a risk of spreading, which only time will tell.

The solutions?

  • Have good air circulation around the plants. I’ve added an oscillating fan, on low, in the seedling area to just keep the air moving
  • Using fresh or sterilized soil to avoid the fungus, if it was present previously.
  • Avoid over-watering and keeping the soil too moist, because this will encourage the fungus to grow. I’ve found that slightly older sprouts (getting true leaves, although perhaps only older by a matter of days) like to send roots deep and are satisfied being watered from below, not at the soil’s surface


It’s not yet clear the connection between the dropping off fungus and the fungus gnats, but I do suspect they’re related. Not only do they come up from similar conditions, they also seem to cause similar issues for the seedlings. Whether it is the fungus and moisture that attract the bugs, or the bugs that spread the sprout-killing fungus, we’re going to work on beating both, and maybe even learning how to prevent the issues for future rounds of sprouts.



Now, what about those bugs?

Fungus gnats: tiny, fruit-fly-like flying critters that just seem to pop up off the seedling soil surfaces as you water the plants. And hopefully they don’t fly into your nose! Or eye…


Solutions? We’re about to try some of these out.

  • Fly traps: sticky, yellow (apparently the gnats are attracted to yellow), can be placed around the plants or in plant pots to catch the flying bugs
  • Nematodes: they’re tiny, microscopic worms that eat the gnat larvae, and actually eat lots of bad-bug larvae from the soil’s surface
  • Not over-watering: if they’re more a problem with house plants than with seedlings, letting the soil surface dry down a couple inches will actually kill off the larvae before they can turn to adults and continue to multiply

Apparently fungus gnats are a common houseplant issue, too. We will see how it goes with these methods. And whether they try to spread or not?


In the meantime, some good news! Some of the tomato and pepper sprouts have made it to the stage of true leaves and potting up to a larger container! They will probably move out of the nursery and into a bright window some time soon, but not until we’ve received some of our sticky traps and nematodes, so we don’t track any of the buggy pests elsewhere. I’m happy to keep the larger potted plants free of them.


  • Happy New Year!


It’s (almost) that time of year again

If you’re somewhere near the midwest/Great Lakes region, or anywhere, really, with a similar mid-May last frost, it’s nearly time to get those onion seeds planted.

Hard to believe that we’re back to January already. It wasn’t even that long ago that the fall garden was finishing and old vines were being pulled and added to the compost pile. Now, we shift back to the new plantings.

This year (so far) I will be trying four kinds of onions:

  • Red Florence
  • Australian Brown – these are old seeds, so we’re also testing how well they hold up over time (purchased for 2012 and 2015 seasons)
  • Tosca
  • White Lisbon (scallion/bunching onions)

If you do the math correctly, and with most onions wanting to move outdoors a couple weeks before last frost (give or take a couple weeks, depending on variety…) then:

Last frost: mid-May

Two weeks before: May 1

12 weeks before May 1 = February 1

What does this mean? It’s just about time to get those onions started. Do you have your supplies ready? Check out our “Garden Guide” Featured article “Seed Starting” for some more tips and a list of recommended seed starting supplies.


Here’s some seed starting inspiration for you…

It’s January, it’s cold and snowy and icy outside, and I didn’t really want to wait any longer. So, my onion seeds went in today. Hopefully seeing the fairly simple process will encourage you to find your seeds and get them planted, too! You’ve got a bit of time still.

Filling the seed tray with organic seed starter mix

Ready for planting!




Ready to grow!

Winter has come! In the midwest, it’s a bit cold. There’s snow on the ground, and the upper layers of earth are freezing solid. No outdoor gardening, really, for now.

So, we move inside! I spent a bit of time yesterday organizing the seed stores, starting a plan for the spring garden. There are a few seeds that didn’t quite make it out for a fall planting (the cold-hardy types that want to spend winter in the cold and snow). Hopefully this was remedied: small seedling trays were filled with seed starter, seeds were planted and watered, and they were moved outside to the small porch greenhouse to spend the rest of winter. We will see how everyone is doing come spring!

Cold-hardy seedlings planted yesterday:

  • Pulsatilla, from strictlymedicinalseeds.com
  • Bugbane, found on Etsy
  • Sweet violet, from strictlymedicinalseeds.com
  • Goldenseal live roots – transferred outside in a pot
  • Pacific bleeding heart (Strictly Medicinal Seeds)- well, hardiness level is unsure, or need for “cold stratification”, so it’s just in a cooler part of the garage, along with…
  • Osha – Palm Beach Seed Company

Also, what I would call a “seed test” – since I couldn’t find fresh seeds during my recent seed shopping experience, I took some Sweet Mace (also called “Mexican marigold”) seeds from 2013 or so and planted them, too. They’ve not sprouted well in prior attempts, so this is basically a test of whether I will be able to have better success or toss the packet and go find more. It sounds like a tasty seasoning, so we will have to wait and see!

Still waiting on the carrots to sprout, and then we can start discussing “Sprout Care”. 

-Dr. Stef

Yesterday was unusually warm for Michigan, reaching around 50 degrees! It was good timing, though, for a day off. Outdoor garden cleanup is important, and makes things much easier when spring arrives.

Leaves have been shredded into mulch, and spread around garden beds, pathways and muddy spots. Buckets have been emptied, and rain barrels, too. Watering cans have been retrieved. A few plants are still happily not going dormant (cranberry, we’re talking about you!), but most have settled into their roots to wait for the sprouting time of spring.

Bugs have gone away. Cardinals have arrived to spend the winter eating leftover berries and seeds. Soon the snow will be flying, and blustery cold winds are coming. 

Look for the beauty of Creation in the winter: the tall, stately forms of trees; the sparkle of the snow; the 6-branched form of a snowflake; the pattern of a frosty window; the bright color of the winter birds visiting.

Soon enough, spring will come, in perfect timing.