Organic Gardening Blog

Welcome to my organic gardening blog. At certain times of year I post gardening tips weekly and other times much less frequently. Sign up for my ebook over to the right if you want to get my best stuff :)

Starting Plants From Seeds - A Few Tips To Ensure Success

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Phil: Welcome to my bedroom.

If you haven't picked up my free online organic gardening course you can do that right on the home page of

Today we're talking about starting plants from seeds. I like going right into something like this that has the trays and then you can grow the plants individually and then you pull them right out of here and put them into the garden.

So this has holes in it for drainage, then I can plop it into this guy which doesn't have holes in it, and that can capture the water - so that's how that works!

In terms of what kind of potting mix you use if you get a conventional potting mix it's usually going to have chemicals or fertilizers in it, or peat moss in it. 

Now chemical fertilizers, I'm not really a big fan of for a number of reasons. The peat moss I'm not a huge fan of, it's something that basically is not that sustainable - we should be leaving those peat bogs where they are. 

They have a really important role to play in our ecosystem. That being said, it can be beneficial in seed starting there's even research showing that if you don't have peat moss in there the process doesn't work quite as well, it still has always worked okay for me.

So I'm not really sure what to say about that. I don't tend to use peat moss, but a little bit maybe is okay. Can I leave it at that for now? Because I want to keep the video short.

What I recommend most people do is go and buy an organic potting mix, a seed starting mix or a potting mix that's OMRI listed - that means you know it's organic. It probably is going to have peat moss in there, it's going to have some compost in there. 

Maybe a bit of lime, but that's something that's really easy to get going with. If you have a really nice big window you can just put your seeds right there.

They really need at least eight hour of sun a day, and what I always find is even if I have a nice big window it can be difficult to get enough sun because your overhang of your roof and the walls block some of that sun from coming in.

And what happens is the plants can start leaning to the sun and get kind of lanky. So what you have to do in that case is turn the plants regularly. That's kind of unnatural actually to have to be turned like that all the time but that's what you need to do.

On the other hand what I like to do is have a little bit of supplemental lighting. So here is a fluorescent light - it's in the six thousand calvin range so look for that when you're buying it. 

I'll turn it on so you can see it, and what I do is I have it propped up about four to six inches above wherever my plants are. So occasionally I need to raise it up a bit.

And I just put it on top of whatever I have, today I have it on top of my book. That's usually where it kind of starts out at. And I just set it there like that.

What I do is I'll just leave this on for twelve to fourteen hours a day so then the plants are getting a lot more light and they can grow more efficiently, they're going to grow straight up instead of pointing out towards the window.

I still often put it by a window anyway, I don't know why I kind of like having that natural light there. Now the other thing we can do to really improve this process is to have a heat matt to provide some heat because a lot of these plants really want to have nice warm soil and you know, we want things to happen fairly quickly.

And so that's where a heat matt comes in - it plugs right into the wall, you set it right under the tray just like this, and you've got our heat!

Seeds can take a while to get germinating and get going and we really want to help them along with that process so what I do is I soak them for six to twelve hours. That's why I have them sitting in this bowl instead of in a seed packet.

So there's a couple of reasons we do this. One is just having them in water is going to get them nice and full of water of course they need water to get germinating and so it really helps them kind of swell up and get going, it really starts that germination process.

The other reason is the water allows me to coat them in some other things that I've talked about before. Liquid kelp which has lots of different minerals and natural growth hormones that really help that germination process along. 

So it's a main one that is often used in soaking seeds. It should say on the label hopefully, but just half a teaspoon per five hundred milliliters of water. The same amount of sea minerals, which is full of minerals and other bioactive substances and you could use either of these or you could use both of them. 

Now I'm starting something that I've never bothered starting before and that is corn, and that's kind of a weird thing to start because you can just put corn out there and it works fine. But I just kind of wanted to see what happens when you start corn so I thought I'm going to start corn today.

The next thing I do once I've poured that off is I take my mycorrizzhal fungi, because corn LOVES these mycorrizzhal fungi and I just sprinkle on the tiniest little bit over the seeds.

Ta Da! I have some potting mix in here now. And I actually have a good tip for you, after you get your potting mix in there then you can water in it before you've done your seeding and it's just a little bit easier to get things wet before hand I find.

When I do that, you know, I put my biostimulants and my EM in there as well, it's just a habit of mine whenever I'm watering something like this - I'm using those biostimulants. 

Often when you do something like this it make sense to seed two seeds into each spot and then what happens is when they come up you can basically cut out the weakest seedling that means you're always selecting for a stronger seedling.

So in this case since I'm planting corn and since they're so big and since I know they're going to germinate pretty well, or I HOPE they're going to germinate pretty well I'm only going to plant one. 

Do you guys think it's kind of weird to start corn from seed? I think it's kind of weird to start corn from seed, but it's also really fun to try stuff like this. Who knows what will happen??

Here's how we do it...go like that...and just make sure it's covered! Some seeds will come up in a few days, some will take a couple of weeks. A lot of the vegetable seeds we do will take less than a week.

You want to keep it moist in there and until they've germinated an easy way to do that without really aggravating the seeds with the watering can is to use a spray bottle. 

Once I'm done seeding I'll put this on top to keep the moisture in there, and then once those have germinated and come up I'm going to want to take that off or at least remove it partly to get some more air circulation going on in there.

Then eventually I'll take it right off. Through the magic of time travel we now have corn! It's actually been about a week and things are looking really good and there's only problem is that I'm heading out of town tomorrow for three weeks, so I have to plant this corn today!

Ideally what I would want to do is let in be in here for probably another week or so to establish a stronger root system, but I can't do that so we'll see how well it works but at least we have a nice example here of starting from seed.

If you have any questions about starting plans from seeds you can ask them down below and I will answer. If you haven't signed up for my free online organic gardening course you can do that down below, you can also join me and my sister, haley over on

Note: I've now started selling the organic fertilizers and microbial inoculants mentioned in this post. You can read more about that here.

You can get the jump on spring by starting plants from seeds.


How To Get Rid Of Moles And Voles

A MoleA mole.

So, you want to know how to get rid of moles and voles?

First of all, moles are great!

They plow the soil and eat insects such as grubs.

Of course, they do leave behind some tunnels.

And while they don’t eat your plants, they can disturb them.

We may not mind a few tunnels, but when it gets to be too many, it can leave an unsightly mess of molehills, uneven soil and brown ridges in the lawn.


You Are Going To Fail

Tomato HornwormA photo from an Academy member of a tomato hornworm (explained below).

You are going to fail this year...

Hornworms will eat your tomatoes.

A loved one will get sick.

The bindweed you thought was finally under control will spring up again.

Someone will make you feel bad about yourself just for being who you are.



Where To Grow Your Garden On This Planet

Map of the world

Let’s say you’re the type of person for whom establishing a big, organic, food-producing permaculture garden is a major goal.

And fortunately, you’ve just come into a windfall - a huge sum of money.

You can finally buy or build that house you’ve been dreaming of and then get to work on planting your organic garden.

The question today is: where should you build it?


Who Is Your Garden For - You Or Your Neighbors?

WHO is your garden for?

I spent too much of my life caring about what other people thought of me.

Especially people who didn’t really seem to care too much about what I thought of them.

I still care too much sometimes.

But I try every day to make decisions based on what I want and what will be best for the people I love, rather than what looks good to the rest of the world.


How To Make Effective Microorganisms - Step By Step

How To Make Effective Microorganisms (EM)Last night, when deciding what to write about for today, I looked around my apartment, saw my probiotic fermenting away on the shelf, immediately took this photo, and proceeded to write this step by step process for making effective microorganisms.

In gardening, there’s a lot of talk about chemistry - the fertilizer, NPK, carbon, etc.

All important stuff, but I like to spend just as much time on the biology - the microorganisms, insects, animals (and of course plants).

It’s especially the microorganisms that really rule our world, our bodies (we contain 10 times as many microbes as we do human cells), and our gardens.

Today I’m pumped to get right into teaching you about these good microbes and how to make effective microorganisms.

These efficient microbes improve the soil, increase plant health and yield, help keep pests away, and are some of the most important beneficial bacteria and yeasts that make up our world.


Why Grow A Garden? My Top 3 Reasons

WHY grow a garden?

‘Why’ always comes first because it’s the most important question for pretty much everything we do in life.

Asking why helps us figure out if the thing we’re thinking of doing is something we really want to do.

If we decide it is, knowing our ‘why’ helps tremendously when it comes to figuring out the who, what, when, where and how.

When you know your purpose for doing something, it makes every decision easier from then on because you can choose the direction that’s in line with that purpose.

So why grow a garden?

Maybe for you it’s:


Planting Trees In The Fall (Plus Some Other Fun Stuff)

Planting trees in the fall is one of my favorite things to do, so today I'm giving you 9 videos from my online gardening course on how to plant a tree (these videos are from 1 of the 4 'modules' from month 8 of the Academy).

Yes, there are a lot of videos on this page.

Here are the most important organic fertilizers and inoculants I mention at some point in these videos because I always use them when planting trees:


What I Learned From Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu FukuokaMasanobu Fukuoka (Photo credit)

Every so often I read Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution to remind myself I sometimes have very little idea of what I’m doing in my garden - and my life.

In some ways it’s a troubling reminder while in other ways it’s quite freeing.

Troubling because I teach gardening so I’m supposed to know some things about that, and because I live my own life so I’m supposed to know some things about that, too.

But freeing because I see that it’s okay to not have the answers to most of life’s questions, to admit that at times I have no idea what I'm doing.


Forest Gardening - How To Grow A Food Forest

I love digging in a garden and I also love walking through a forest.

Most people think of forests and gardens as two separate things, but forest gardening combines the best of both worlds.

In this video, I show you the mini forest garden I'm developing that's only about 2000 square feet (you can do this in a small area).

Feel free to ask your questions down below...


Free Ebook Download

Organic Gardening Ebook
"The Holistic Gardening Handbook: Condensed Version"
Discover how to grow nutrient-dense, organic food and control pests without chemicals...
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