Exactly as the title says — this is an easy and foolproof guide to starting seeds indoors.
Whether you have a dedicated vegetable bed in your backyard, or a cluster of containers on your patio, it all starts out the same way.
Growing seedlings indoors is ideal if you want to get a head start on the season, or if the weather is still too hot or too cold to put anything in the ground.
This simple step-by-step will take you from seed to seedling with a minimum of fuss. Just the stuff you need to know, and none that you don’t. (But if you’re the really-need-to-know type, I’ve added footnotes at the end to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing.)
I remember the first time I bought seeds for my garden. They were tomatoes, and the packet read “75 days to maturity.”
Great! I thought. If I start them in March, I’ll be picking tomatoes by May.
So imagine my confusion when the first tomatoes weren’t ready for harvest until the end of June — and this was in a Southern California garden that received ample warmth and sunshine.
It had me looking more closely at other dates of maturity on my seed packets: 80 days for melons, 65 days for cucumbers, 90 days for sweet peppers, 100 days for winter squash. Sometimes the numbers were off by several weeks, and sometimes they were right on point (give or take a few days).
Why the discrepancies? And why did it seem like most major seed suppliers printed the “wrong” figures on their packets?
There is no simple answer to the mystery that is “days to maturity” or “days to harvest,” common terms that are used interchangeably in the gardening world.
If you’ve been puzzled by this very thing, here’s what you need to know about those numbers.
Pink peppercorns are often thought of as a gourmet spice, packaged in small, expensive jars and called for in fancy cookbooks.
But in Southern California and other parts of the country, bucketfuls of the vibrant berries litter the ground all fall and winter, sometimes considered a nuisance by the gardener who has to rake them all up.
It almost seems like a food crime to let heaps of peppercorns lay forgotten when just a few miles away, they command upwards of $10 an ounce at specialty spice shops — and here in a suburban backyard, they’re free for the taking.
Hello, friends! It’s been a few weeks, but I have to say I really enjoyed my long holiday hiatus from blogging (and my laptop in general — I think I’ve opened it twice since Christmas).
Gemma was on break from preschool, which kind of forced me to take a break from work as well. We built a sled hill in our backyard after storms brought a few inches of snow in town. We cleaned out closets, donated boxes of clothes, and generally just tidied up for the New Year.
I cooked through the holidays, and found joy in the kitchen again after a hectic season of writing my cookbook. (Not that writing a book isn’t fun… but it’s full of pressure to meet deadlines and get things just right, when my usual mode of cooking is freestyling a meal from ingredients I already have around.)
We hosted a Friendsmas dinner party last month that was one of our most enjoyable evenings all year. To be able to get a group of much-adored friends together, a year after moving to a new town, was the best gift our family could hope for and it just made our holidays that much sweeter.
By now you’re probably inundated with all kinds of gift guides for gardeners, co-workers, kids, and various people who are hard to shop for, so know that this isn’t just another gift guide.
I honestly don’t know what you should get for your significant other, or what the latest must-have item is this year. What I do know is what I like, and what has worked for me in my home, garden, and travels.
That’s why I’m launching my Shop on Garden Betty, a one-stop shopping guide for all things gardening, chicken-keeping, cooking, camping, and road-tripping. (You’ll see it as a new link above in the blog menu!)
For the first time in many years, my husband and I are staying home for the holidays. With both of our families living in other states, I have to say it’s really nice not needing to worry about weather, traffic, peak travel prices, or a toddler’s sleep schedule.
We’re looking forward to hosting Friendsmas dinner in our home in a couple weeks and are even more excited to wake up in our own bed on Christmas Day.
Gemma’s at that age (just over two-and-a-half) where she’s starting to understand celebrations, family traditions, and — of course — presents, so it’s going to be especially fun to see all of her reactions on Christmas morning.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that my favorite gifts tend to be of the homemade variety — especially if they’re made to go in my stomach!
I’ve also found that jars of all shapes and sizes are the perfect vehicle for packaging such gifts. Sometimes they can even be the gift! (Remember these DIY jar koozies from last year?)
Some of my standbys to make for gifts are this rich and creamy chai concentrate, pickles of all kinds (especially quick pickles like these roasted beets, radish pods, or pineapple guavas), fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut, and my zippy grapefruitcello and orangecello (though these take time to age, so you need to think about making them at least a month ahead of time).
Today, however, I’m sharing a new recipe that actually comes from my book, The New Camp Cookbook. Because it’s intended for camping (or tailgating or cabin trips), you know that it travels well, keeps for a while, and is super easy to make!
If you’re as enthusiastic about the holiday season as I am, you probably like to decorate your Christmas tree early, and that means bringing home a live tree soon after Thanksgiving and hoping it lasts several weeks.
If you’re not diligent at the start of the season, however, you could end up with more fallen pine needles than presents under the tree by Christmas Day.
The creative process of shooting a cookbook cover is always inspiring, exciting, surprising, confusing, and nerve-wracking — all at once.
Take, for example, the first cover I ever shot — the one for The CSA Cookbook. We photographed three variations of essentially the same scene, and in the end, the publisher chose the cover that I was originally uncertain about (but have since grown to love).
Then, there was The New Camp Cookbook cover. After submitting our ideas to the art director and getting the green light on a concept that everybody was on board with, the publisher ended up choosing a cover image that hadn’t even been on our radar at all.
With my third book, The Backyard Fire Cookbook (now available for preorder!), the process felt a bit more fine-tuned as it’s intended to be a companion title to my second book.
I’ve been intrigued with alternative building methods ever since seeing the first container home featured in Dwell magazine.
Combine that with seven years of living near the Port of Los Angeles, where I used to drive over the bridge and watch containers stack up like blocks in the harbor, and you could say my quiet intrigue eventually turned into an obsession with all sorts of sustainable building designs, from domes and straw bale homes to cob and earthbag construction.
I love reading about new materials like hempcrete, studying the mechanics of passive solar design, learning how to incorporate permaculture principles into my garden, and generally trying to live in harmony with our ecosystem.
Will and I have daydreamed about building our own eco home “some day,” but in the meantime, we’ve settled for visiting some of the more unconventional structures so we can learn from their experiments and live vicariously in them. (Remember way back when we toured Arcosanti in Arizona?)
That was how we found — and decided to stay in — an Earthship one weekend while road-tripping through New Mexico.