‘Little sprouts’ might like kit for first organic garden

Jan. 27, 2012
‘Little Sprouts’ might like a kit for first organic garden

A lot of us older folks often forget that kids like to see things grow, too. Why not start an organic garden for little sprouts.
I saw a really cute seed starter kit for kids, for example, in the Seeds of Change catalog.
It includes:
•Two biodegradable planting pots
•Certified organic seeds
•Organic planting mix
•100 percent recyclable windowsill protector tray
•1 – 2 – 3 easy grow guide
It sells for $5.99.
For more, see: http://bit.ly/wwcanD – or write P.O. Box 4908 Rancho Dominguez CA 90224, or call 1-888-762-7333.
Of course, you can assemble these items yourself and probably get more for your money, but it makes it easy if you want to order some of these little kits and give or send them as gifts.
Better yet, create a 4×8-foot Jim’s plot, and dedicate that space for kids and grandkids. Make it their own food plot (maybe with a little help from Dad, Mom and grandparents).
That’s a gift that gives for a lifetime.

These high temperatures – 77 degrees last Friday! – are unusual and causing my greens to bolt and go to seed, but trust me, there’s more cold weather on the way.
The temptation may be there to start thinking about planting with highs now for two weeks in the 60s and 70s, but February is usually a bone-chilling month.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t start preparing now by planning what you plan to plant, ordering seeds, and in a couple of weeks, getting seeds started.
To figure out when you will want to plant, count back from the last frost date.
Here in central Mississippi, the old folks used to plant seeds on Good Friday, which this year is April 6.
To be cautious, in the past, I’ve planted a week after Easter, as we sometimes have a frost that week. Easter this year is April 8; so, that would be April 15. That’s a bit early.
We’ll probably set out some plants the first week in March, relying on Agribon to protect them from frost. According to the U.S. temperature tables, last frost date for central Mississippi is March 20-31; there’s a 50 percent chance of 28 degree weather where we are (Lena) on March 9, and warms thereafter. So that’s a pretty safe bet.
Of course, seeds won’t germinate until the soil reaches a certain sustained temperature. So, we usually start plants indoors in containers and set them out when the weather starts to warm.
You can start your plants from seed two to three weeks before you intend to plant them, by putting them in little cups filled with organic potting soil in the windowsill. (You can actually use a type of Miracle Gro that’s OMRI approved for organic growing: Miracle-Gro¨ Organic Choice¨ Potting Mix.)
Before planting, make sure and put them outside where they are protected but still get some sun for a couple of days to “harden” them for outdoors growing.
For optimum growing (to continue to grow crops throughout the year, or to finish up before August, which we prefer, so as to avoid the hottest part of summer), you want to calculate the earliest you can plant after the threat of frost is past.
•Here’s a frost chart for Miss.: http://msucares. com/lawn/garden/vegetables/planting/map.html
•Here’s a listing by state: http://www.victoryseeds.com/frost

Climate change reflected in USDA plant hardiness map?: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a new plant hardiness map that reflects a general 5-degree higher reading than the 1990 map. No posters of the new map have been printed, but it can be viewed and downloaded online: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb

Farmers Market: The Jackson Farmers Market off High Street resumes Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For additional information, see:
http://www.mdac.state.ms.us/departments/ms_farmers_market/index.html

Food Safety: Acres USA reports that in response to Monsanto releasing the first genetically modified (GMO) sweet corn for human consumption, a coalition of food safety groups has started a petition drive to keep it off the dinner plates of an unsuspecting public. It has collected more than 264,000 signatures from consumers who refuse to buy or eat the corn asking retailers and food processors to reject it, since the United States – unlike Europe – does not reject GMO foods, nor does it require food containing it to be labeled.
For more information, see: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org Or, to sign a petition: http://bit.ly/ulPlGe

Mark your calendar:
•I’ll be speaking on Community Supported Agriculture at the 21st Annual Urban Forest Council Conference Feb. 7 at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson. Details: http://www.msurbanforest.com
•I’ll be speaking on Organic Backyard Market Gardening Feb. 25 at the third annual Sustainable Living Conference by Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi at Eagle Ridge Conference Center at Raymond. For additional information, visit www. ggsim.org

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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