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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Make It From Scratch: Choosing Seeds

by Tonya

Hi guys, are you ready for the first step in the Make It From Scratch series? Let's shop for seeds!

Today we'll tell you which seeds and plants we'll be growing in our gardens this year. There are some plants that will come back on their own in my garden and I have some seeds left over from last year, which I've kept in the refrigerator to increase their chances of germinating. We also ordered a bunch of new seeds, which are arriving in the mail and making me pretty excited about this year's garden! We hope you'll join us and order seeds for your place, so you can follow along.

The seeds, taking a look at their snowy future garden beds

For the Dye Garden, we ordered the following seeds. I arranged them based on the dye color we anticipate achieving with each plant, though there are no absolute guarantees about what color we'll end up with.

Pink:
Hollyhocks

Red:
Madder
Onion (you might buy onion sets instead of seeds)

Yellow:
Chamomile
Marigolds
Onion 
Rosemary
Rhubarb (this already grows in my garden; you'll probably buy a root rather than seeds)
Sunflowers
Thyme
Zinnias

Green:
Celery
Marigolds
Rosemary

Blue:
Indigo
Pansies
Red cabbage

Purple:
Pansies
Sunflowers

Some plants are listed under more than one color; that's no mistake. Different parts of plants can create different colors. We might use the flowers, leaves, stems, and roots of a plant to create different effects. We can also change the dye color by using different techniques and different mordants (fixatives to make the dye penetrate and stay in the fabric or yarn). We'll get to all that later on.


For the Herb Garden, we'll grow these seeds or plants:

For Eating and Drinking:
Calendula
Chamomile
Cilantro
Cumin
Dill
Fennel
Garlic (you'll most likely plant cloves of garlic, not seeds)
Genovese Basil
Greek Oregano
Lavender, Hidcote
Lavender, English
Lime Basil
Spearmint
Thyme

For Beauty Products, Household Items and Pets:
Calendula
Catnip
Chamomile
Lavender, Hidcote
Lavender, English
Spearmint

You should pick and choose which plants you think you'll want to use. If you're just starting out with gardening, maybe just choose a few plants that are the most appealing to you! 

As you're shopping for seeds, make sure they'll grow in your location. If you're in the U.S., you can click here to find out your zone. The zones are based on the usual weather conditions and temperatures in each area. We live in Zone 5, where we have cold winters and hot summers. Catalogs and online stores will usually list the zones where each plant will grow successfully. Your local nursery should only offer plants that will grow where you live.

I love looking through all the seed catalogs that arrive this time of year, folding down the corners of pages and circling way too many plants! Then I might make a more realistic list and see which seeds I can buy from my favorite sources. You can buy seeds from lots of different stores, but I'll tell you about my two favorite sources:

Seed Savers Exchange offers heirloom, open-pollinated, and some organic seeds. This is usually my first stop for buying seeds. They also store a collection of thousands of seeds in a vault in Iowa to preserve plant biodiversity. 

Renee's Garden also provides heirloom, open-pollinated, and some organic seeds, plus hybrids - and no genetically engineered or treated seeds. She chooses delicious varieties that grow well, so this is a great place to start. I've ordered quite a bit from her. 

I bought my indigo and madder seeds on Etsy, from this seller. They arrived quickly, packaged nicely, and have brief growing instructions attached. I haven't planted them yet, but I'll keep you updated on how they grow.      

We'd love to know your favorite places to buy seeds. Please share in the comments!   

Next time we'll be preparing to start our seeds indoors by collecting the right equipment and setting up a sunny place for growing. See you then! 

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