Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds indoors is the first step in learning to grow your own food. Learning how to start a garden from seed is a very important skill in prepping. Food prices are going through the roof as well as the cost of those cute little plants the nursery is starting for you now and will have on sale in a few months.  Why pay for that when you can do it on your own. It’s not scary. I promise and I will walk you through it step by step.

Starting Seeds Indoors-Step One, Shopping!

what is an heirloom seedFirst thing you need to do is buy your seeds. Tammy made some great suggestions on where to buy seeds in this article.  Preppers prefer heirloom seeds because you can save the seeds from year to year and will get the same plant each year. The ability to save seed is an important survival skill as well as a cost saving measure. With a hybrid if you save the seed, you will get one of the parent plants, not the same seed.
There are lots of cool stories about people immigrating to this country with seeds sown into the hems of their dresses to have their plants from the ‘old country’ here. Heirlooms just have great tradition and are sustainable. So if you are learning to garden for the ability to grow your own food, start stocking up on heirlooms.

This year I choose to order the bulk of my seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They have an artichoke variety I am interested in trying so I decided to place most of my order through them. Since these are new plants for me, I went with the smaller seed packets of most. In some cases the price for 50 seeds was only $1 or $2 less than a packet of 250 or 500. In those cases I went with the 250 so I can add those to my seed preps. Here is what my cart looks like so far.

starting seeds indoors order 2013

OG on seeds stands for Organic, F1 notes a first generation hybrid. While I certainly stock and store heirlooms, I do love to play with hybrids. How cool does that purple bell pepper look?

You don’t have to order from a fancy seed supply company. If this is your first year, then go to Lowes, Home Depot or wherever you can to pick up some packets so you can follow along in this series. Later this week I will post a tutorial on how to germinate your seeds.

Materials you will need for the How To Germinate Your Seeds Tutorial:

Seeds-some good choices for first timers in late February and early March are:

  • celery
  • dill
  • leeks
  • parsnips
  • tomatoes (although we don’t want to start these too early)
  • asparagus (bare root)
  • carrots
  • Cabbage
  • garlic (bulb)
  • lemon balm
  • onion seeds
  • thyme

Late March Starters-

  • Chives
  • Lettuce
  • Sage
  • Turnips
  • Swiss Chard

The above are a good reference for my Zone 5a-5b area. Make sure you know your growing zone before buying your seed!

In addition to seed, you will need:

  • Drip Tray
  • Dome cover or plastic wrap for humidity. You can buy these or use plastic cake covers like what you would get when buying cupakes (ask your bakery or treat the kids)
  • Jiffy Peat Pellets or
  • Root riot starter cubes or
  • soilless, sterile seed starter mix like Fertilome or EKO
  • chopsticks or a sharpened pencil

OK, go gather your supplies and we will plant later this week!


Prepping With Potatoes

Potatoes are cheap, store well, and are easy to find thus making them a great friend of preppers. Recently 10# bags of potatoes have been on sale for $1.99 in my area leading me to search for many ways that prepping with potatoes can be done. Here is how I have been using these sales to further increase my food stores.

Prepping With Potatoes – Dehydrating and Freezing

For both dehydrating potatoes and freezing potatoes you want to par boil them first. That means you want to boil them until they are soft but still firm. You need to be able to grate them into hash browns for dehydrating so you do not want to boil them until they are too soft. See what I did here?

Dehydrating pototoes-step one, boiling Big mistake. I should not have cut them. This was my first time dehydrating potatoes for hash browns so I followed the advice on one of my favorite sites, Dehydrate2Store. The next time I do this I will peel them first with my apple peeler and leave them whole and hope that makes it easier for me. Cutting them in half allowed them to boil too softly which made grating them a bigger chore than it should have been.

I used half of this batch to dehydrate shredded potatoes into hash browns. I had mixed some yellow potatoes in which the 10# bag of russets because I had a few sitting around that I did not want to go bad. I store these in vacuum sealed jars. I don’t like the bags or mylar for these because they are pokey. These are considered a long term food storage option if packed in mylar with oxygen absorbers, estimated to last 20 plus years.

dehydrating hash brown potatoesI experimented with half of the batch doing what Nasreen of suggested on our facebook page (you are friends with us there, right?). Nas shared that she typically stores her potato bumper crop by:

I like to scrub them, dice them up and shake them with paprika onion powder salt & oil. Then I freeze them to make homefries with later. I haven’t had an issue with browning while freezing. The oil is just me being lazy. Then they can go straight into the pan & cook without having to do anything else.

I did this as a trial so I skipped the foodsaver bags but here is how mine looked. If it turns out well after tomorrows breakfast I will make a new batch and freeze them in foodsaver bags.

prepping with potatoes: homemade home fries

Prepping With Potatoes-Storing and Growing

I was telling Tammy about this post and she reminded me that she had a great post on how to store potatoes through the winter on Parker’s blog. Click over to see how she uses cedar shavings to keep them fresh.  I have also seen some great ideas on building root cellars on Pinterest that I will share next week.

I often take gardening classes in the winter and a few years ago one of the skills I learned was how to grow potatoes in garbage cans. Potatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow and you can use a standard garbage can or 5 gallon bucket. Ideally you want to start with organic ‘potato seeds’ which is really just cut potatoes revealing the eye’s to start the plants. In a non ideal situation though, any potato you have can be cut into “seeds”. They take roughly 140 days to produce plants but one eye can be quite prolific. It would be best to always have 1-2 (or more) containers going in rotation.

prepping with potatoes: growing potatoes in containers

If you are unfamiliar with growing your own potatoes, this is a great video to get you started. Remember, growing food takes practice. You can’t expect to become a master gardener in one season and with the cost of food going up like crazy it makes sense to start growing as much of your own food as possible! This is one you can do in a small amount of space with a big impact.