Seed Libraries where library members can “borrow” fruit and veg seeds for free

Life & Soul Magazine

Public libraries across the US are offering library members free fruit and vegetable seeds to promote sustainability.

Known as seed libraries, these collections of complimentary seed packets are being made available in hundreds of libraries across the country. While some institutions simply give the packets away to library card holders, others allow them to be “checked out” with the understanding that the seeds of any future plants will be returned to the library.

A seed library is a place where community members can get seeds for free or for a nominal fee and is run for the public benefit. Many seed libraries are open in public libraries and community centres, and are run by nonprofits, clubs, or school groups.

The Seed Library Social Network, an online resource for anyone wanting to set up their own seed library, said: “For some communities, getting folks to garden and grow some of their own food…

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Starting Plants: Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Transplants

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Some plants can be started indoors early in the season, before soil and air temperatures are warm enough to plant outdoors. From a seed-starting perspective, most of our common vegetable plants fall into one of three categories.

  • Don’t do well direct-seeded outdoors – these plants seem to do better if they are started in a controlled environment. The reasons may include poor germination rates or too short of a growing season. Plants that fall into this category include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, winter squash, onions, Brussels sprouts, gourds, and melons.
  • Do okay either started indoors or direct-seeded – these plants could be done either way. Some plants have a short enough growing season that even though they can be started indoors, the economics of doing it don’t justify the time and expense. Plants that fall into this category are peas, beans, corn, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, spinach, Swiss chard…

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Starting Your Seeds Indoors This Winter

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Expert answers to your herb-growing questions.

Q.  This year I want to grow some of my herb plants from seeds. What are the steps to starting seeds over the winter?

A.  Seed starting is like baking bread- you need the right mix of ingredients, the right temperature, and viable yeast. In the case of seed starting, the ingredient list includes a lightweight growing medium and containers for planting. Provide the right temperature with a warm greenhouse or sunny window; and seeds, of course, are the viable catalyst.

Use a commercial potting mix or seedling mix for the growing medium. Choose from egg cartons, yogurt cups, flats of six-cell packs or small pots when it comes to containers. {Note: Fiber- or peat-based pots should be soaked well before adding soil.} Like yeast, seeds have a limited life, be sure the seeds are fresh or packaged for the upcoming growing season for…

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Urbalive Worm Farm: Making worm composting indoors a simple process

Life & Soul Magazine

There’s a myriad of choices when it comes to composting, and if you live in a small space with no access to a garden, worm composting, in particular, is still an option. Urbalive Worm Farm is an indoor kit for composting kitchen bio waste with red worms.

Designed by Czech designer Jan Pelcl, the Urbalive Worm Farm is a stylish container which stands on wooden stilts, like a stool. Its modern design is made up of composting layers where worms help create vermicompost leading to a container where the worm tea collects.

Vermicompost contains essential enzymes and natural growth hormones that are great for soil fertility and feeding gardens. Worm tea is rich in natural nutrients and enzymes that help plants grow strong and healthy. The tea can be mixed with water and added to soil in flower pots and plants for use as food.

By following a few simple basic rules,

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NYC’s largest student-built hydroponic farm leading students and Bronx community to healthier futures

Life & Soul Magazine

A hydroponic farm at a Bronx school is New York City’s biggest student-built, indoor, vertical hydroponic farm.

DeWitt Clinton High School campus students teamed up with Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) to build an indoor, vertical hydroponic farm in an unused third-floor lab in the school building.

Students will grow more than 25,000 lbs of produce annually to feed their entire school and its 1,300 students daily and the local community on an ongoing basis, while mastering key STEM concepts and skills needed in a green workforce economy.

TFFJ works to ensure universal equitable access to healthy, fresh, affordable food. The organisation train youth in 21st century hydroponic urban agricultural farming techniques, entrepreneurship, and health/nutrition education and advocacy, empowering them as change agents who can lead themselves and their own food insecure communities towards healthier futures.

DeWitt Clinton High School is located in one of the most food insecure communities in NYC. Around 125…

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Thinking About Planting a Dye Garden?

Good Witches Homestead

Traditional dye plants offer intriguing materials for the gardener who is also a spinner or weaver, or who just wants to experiment with the vast usefulness of the natural world. Nature has its own subtle palette of colors and this little garden represents a few of the dozens of plant dye possibilities, which even include some nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other common foods.

And even if you’re more inclined to pick up some easy powdered dye at the corner store than to make a dye bath from the plants in your garden, you still might appreciate this connection to history and tradition. All of these plants are desirable garden plants.

About Dye Plants

A separate garden isn’t necessary to grow dye plants, as you can incorporate them into an existing flower border or bed (and you might unknowingly be growing dye plants already), but this small corner bed can give…

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A Passion For Herbs

Good Witches Homestead

Herbs are a fascinating group of plants with a history of cultivation stretching back to the dawn of civilization. Once the herb garden was a practical project, necessary for supplying flavorings for the kitchen and medicines for the family. Today, gardeners are growing herbs for medicinal purposes and for their attractive looks, pleasing fragrances, and tasty flavors. Whether your interest is kindled by taste, aroma, beauty, or history, you’ll find herbs a satisfying addition to your garden.

What is a Herb?

Traditionally, herbs have been defined as plants that are useful to people. The oregano and thyme on your pizza are herbs just as the ornamental foxglove, from which we once extracted the medicine digitalis, is a herb. The insecticide pyrethrin is derived from the painted daisy, making it a herb as well. The list goes on and on; we use herbs and herb products every day.

Choosing Herbs:

In…

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Food as Medicine Update: Carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus, Apiaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Widely available at most supermarkets, the common root vegetable carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus, Apiaceae) is a biennial plant with erect, green stems and fine, feathery leaves.1 The plant produces densely clustered white blossoms in an umbrella shape, which is typical of plants in the Apiaceae family. The edible taproot comes in a variety of colors: orange is the most widely available in stores, but the root can also be white, yellow, red, or purple.2

The modern carrot is a domesticated cultivar of wild carrot, Daucus carota, also known by the common name Queen Anne’s lace. Indigenous to Europe and southwestern Asia, frost-tolerant carrots are now cultivated in a wide range of environments.1 Carrots are popular with home gardeners due to their colorful varieties as well as their hardiness.

Phytochemicals and Constituents

Favored for their sweet flavor and versatility, carrots contain a vast array…

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Herb Gardener Gift-Giving Idea: Hori-Hori

The Herb Society of America Blog

I’ve asked five blog contributors to share their favorite herb-related gift ideas.  HSA’s blog will be running one per day during the first week of December. – Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

image2My father had over three acres of the most glorious organic gardens, filled with historic roses, lilies, and every kind of beautiful perennial and herb imaginable. I remember perfect summer evenings when he’d wander his gardens with a cocktail in one hand and a sprinkling hose in the other. He taught me everything I know about growing beautiful gardens organically and with a minimum of intervention.

The funny thing about my father is that he didn’t have a garage full of tools. He wasn’t into the latest, greatest gardening anything, well except for permaculture which really isn’t a latest and greatest secret…

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Bittersweet … A Tale of Two Sisters

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Kathleen M Hale, Western Reserve Herb Society

The Sisters’ Shame
We were two daughters of one race;
She was the fairest in the face.
    The wind is blowing in turret and tree.
They were together, and she fell;
Therefore revenge became me well.
    O, the earl was fair to see!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

bittersweetA lot of legends of magic, revenge and sorcery begin with two sisters. Sometimes they are friends.  Sometimes they are rivals.  But an unspoken message in many stories is, “Don’t pick the wrong one!” Increasingly, North American gardeners are finding themselves faced with this dilemma.  The choice may be between a native plant and its sometimes seductive, sometimes invasive sister, introduced from elsewhere.

Bittersweet gives us such a story. American bittersweet, Celustrus scandens, is seen everywhere this time of year in wreaths and dried arrangements. It has tiny vivid orange fruits…

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