Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seed Saving

This year I planted all heirloom, organic, non-gmo, non-hybrid plants with plans on saving seeds for next year's crops. This is my first time saving seeds from the vegetables I grew, so it has been a little trial and error and a bit of a learning process. I have already saved seeds from my bell peppers, chile peppers, lettuce, and carrots. It's amazing how many seeds you can get from one bell pepper!

I have researched methods for seed storage and it all seems to come back to a dry, cool, dark place. I have also looked for seed envelopes and have found a variety at Seed Savers, and also found several sites where you can print out templates to make your own.

Making Your Own Seed Envelopes

Making your own seed envelopes is easy to do. I have tried making my own templates with seed information printed on them that I could cut out, fold and glue together. They were nice, but were very  time consuming to make and seemed to waste a lot of paper. 

Here is one of the simplest ways I have found to make a seed envelope and you can make it any size you wish. I usually make two different sizes by starting with either 3-1/2" or  5-1/4" square paper.

Start with a 5-1/4" x 5-1/4" piece of paper.

Fold in half from corner to corner.
Fold the center point down, about 1/8" from the bottom.
Fold one corner to the center
Fold the other corner to the center
Lift up the center points and tape the end flaps.

Now you're ready to fill!
Seeds should be stored in a cool dry location. The paper envelopes alone aren't enough to protect your seeds from humidity and temperature so the packets should be stored in an air-tight container such as a mason jar. For long term storage they can also be stored in the freezer.

One of the best resources I have come across for learning how to save seed is Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. This book goes into great detail on the process of saving and storing seeds. It also gives in depth detail on the proper technique for each plant variety. I think it s a great tool for anyone interested in learning how to save their own seeds.

Does anyone else save their own seeds?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flood Relief & Supporting Organic Farmers

Hurricane Irene caused the worst damage in many years here in New England. Homes were washed away and destroyed along the coast in Connecticut and old covered bridges, roads and homes were washed away in Vermont. We were very fortunate and only lost a few trees, and our power & phone service was knocked out for only a few days.

Vermont was hit especially hard by this storm with some of the worst flooding some have ever seen. My wife and I got married in Vermont and we feel like it is our second home (we are actually hoping to purchase a 2nd home there soon!) We vacation there a couple of times a year and one of our favorite place to stop at is The Woodstock Farmers Market.

The Woodstock Farmers Market sells local organic produce, fresh local meats, deli foods, prepared dinners, fresh milk, eggs and all sorts of specialty food items. We always look forward to stopping buy and order holiday gifts for family, friends and business associates from their online store. They were hit especially hard by Irene, as you can see in the picture above. The store was completely destroyed and they are trying to rebuild. They are running a program called the Irene Card to help then raise cash to rebuild faster while they wait on the insurance and other disaster relief to help them. They are a wonderful market and really serve their local community!

The Vermont farmers were also hit hard. Their fields were flooded and their crops were destroyed. I am a member of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association, both Connecticut (CTNOFA) and Vermont (NOFAVT) chapters. The Vermont chapter is now accepting donations for the Farmer Emergency Fund to help Vermont farmers recover from lost crops due to the damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

If you are looking for a way to support organic farming, local food or would like to help Vermont farmers rebuild after this devastating storm click on the links above to make a donation. Help support organic farming and our healthy food supply!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where did the summer go?

 I had big plans at the beginning of this summer. I was going to get so much accomplished and yet here we are in the middle of September and not much has been done. Now that the kids are back in school and life is getting somewhat back to normal, it's time to regroup and get back on track.

Our new puppy Buster.
I have already ordered some seeds for next season, planted the cold frames for our winter garden and fenced in the gardens. I have been planning topics for future blog posts and hope to be more organized and do them weekly or bi-weekly from now based on the projects I am working on and the crops I have growing.

The summer gardens are almost finished. I had an excellent crop of lettuce early in the summer, with several different varieties of romaine and we enjoyed fresh salads every day for a couple months. I just planted more romaine and leaf lettuce in the cold frames for the fall and winter garden. We had a week of extremely hot and dry weather in July when we were away on vacation so my tomatoes we pretty much wiped out.The heirloom peppers are doing great. I have been harvesting the red and orange bell peppers and sweet frying peppers. They are delicious roasted! I also have some heirloom peppers called Joe's Long which are 8-10" long and are just about ready to pick. We finished harvesting the garlic, fairy tale eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini and carrots for the season.

Orange Bell Pepper waiting to ripen

Fairy Tale Eggplant

Sweet Pepper "Lipstick"

Joe's Long Pepper

This year I started saving seeds from all my organic heirloom varieties.
Would anyone be interested in a seed swap ?