I first met Mike the Gardener about a year ago when he was a guest on The Are We Crazy, Or What? Podcast. I had been a follower of his Facebook page and podcast for a few years and I knew he was a gardening expert, but wasn't one of those gardening gurus that only gardened with those "one specific brand, not available in my area, outrageously expensive" gardening products. He is a normal gardener, and even more to his credit he graciously granted me and my little podcast an interview. We've been friends ever since. The story doesn't end there, though.
You'd think that I would have signed up for his Seeds of the Month Club right there and then, but I didn't. I confess I was seduced by seed catalogs; it's easy to not have your head on straight after looking at those gorgeous pictures, but after buying over $120 on seeds this year from a company with one of those catalogs, no doubt half of the money will go into the publishing of that gardening porn, well, I knew there had to be a better way. So I asked Mike more about his Seeds of the Month Club.
I'm not saying you should never buy from a seed catalog again. There is a time and place for sprouting seeds, and exotic round white cucumbers are always fun to grow every once in awhile. But I wanted a seed source that I could depend on for my harvest and preserving. That's not to say Mike doesn't send out a few interesting things once in a while, but for the most part it's vegetables and herbs you don't have to look-up on the internet to know what to do with them.
I have to say I am very impressed with the Seeds of The Month Club, and here's why:
The seeds come in the mail and you pay less than $5.00 a month. I'm not sure if you've priced seeds lately but that's huge bargain. Mike's link to his website even says, "average person gardening," so it must be true. In this case it really is!
A lot of heirloom seeds fit into that envelope. All the seeds from the Seeds of the Month club are heirloom seeds, a prepper's dream come true.
Here's what I got my first month. Now, here's the thing... (There's always a thing, right?) You don't get to pick your variety of seeds. Now, wait, wait, before you click away from this post, let me explain why this is not a bad thing. Mike does send out seeds that are zone specific. So all the seeds you get will grow in your climate. Also, I got a lot of seeds in the first month. I won't plant an entire package of any of these seeds. So I get to save these heirloom seeds, that I got for a very low cost, for when I do need them.
Also you get seeds that you might not buy on your own. After all seeds are expensive and you might not want to risk money on something you've never tired before. Mike's seeds are already priced low and if he throws in something you've never tried before, it's not that big of deal if you don' t like them, but the thing is you might like growing it. You might discover something new and really like it. It's kind of like when we were kids and we went to look something up in the encyclopedia (remember those relics?) and while we turned the pages looking for a specific thing we got distracted and started reading about something else, something we would have never looked up on our own. So not knowing exactly what you're getting, but knowing it will grow well in your climate, is fun, educational and a bit adventurous.
I have done some gardening posts before, including one on seeds, and I didn't want to rewrite that post to showcase Mike's seeds. I really wanted to show-off Mike's seeds with something a bit different, but I have a posting schedule and can't wait the few months it would take to grow beans to show you how well the seeds grow. Then I thought, well, I'll just plant them. Beans sprout and grow fast, but then time was running out (It always seems like I'm running out of time) and I thought it would be too close a call - what if the beans didn't come up? All I would be able to show you would be some dirt in a pot. So here's what I did.
My mother-in-law taught me how to do this years ago. It's actually a way to see if your seeds are viable after you've saved them and stored them for awhile. However, she didn't teach me that part. She just thought it was a cool way to start plants, especially if you ran out of pots and your garden wasn't quite ready, she told me doing this would give you an extra week or so. Wet and squeeze out two paper towels. Lay the seeds between the two paper towels.
Then place the two paper towels with the seeds inside between two pieces of plastic wrap. Did I mention this is great to do with kids?
Check daily to make sure the paper towels stay moist.
The thing is my garden wasn't going to be quite ready even after those seeds started to sprout so I had to find a place to put my beans. I thought I'd show you another use for those pickle buckets I get from FireHouse Subs. You'll need two buckets for this bean pot. Drill holes in one.
The holes can be random, just make sure you have enough for water drainage.
Place the bucket with holes inside the other bucket without holes and fill with dirt.
Pretty easy so far, right?
Then take some bamboo sticks ( I got these sticks at the dollar store) and stick them in the bucket. I have a total of 6 bamboo sticks, 3 of the sticks are shorter and 3 of the sticks are longer.
Tie the shorter sticks together to make an A-frame. There is nothing fancy here. I just wrapped some garden twine around the bamboo sticks tucking under here and there as I went.
Then do the same to the longer bamboo sticks. You can tie all the bamboo sticks together if you want to. I just had sticks that were different lengths and made do with what I had.
A bean pot with a built in trellis.
Now, back to the seeds. They all sprouted. Which means that Mike's seeds are top notch. I've done this with other "fresh" seeds I have received from seed companies and have not had this good of germination rate.
This is what I wanted to show you, the seeds in action. I wasn't sure if I'd have time to show you the seeds sprouting in the pot but I wanted to show you some kind of germination action. Turns out I still had a bit more time.
So I thought I'd show you how to plant these seeds that I germinated on my kitchen counter instead of in the soil. You can plant the seeds at any time during the process. These seeds are well on there way to becoming plants so a good bit of the roots grew through the paper towels. That's no big deal just cut the paper towel around the roots and plant along with the seeds.
Since none of these seeds had sprouted leaves yet, it was fine to cover them with dirt.
They came up anyway, even after all my worrying about time. Did I mention beans grow fast?