Starting Tomatoes from Seeds

Naturally, I’m putting in a garden at the new homestead this year. I’ve done a bit of gardening in the past, but not really any vegetable gardening for the past 8 years. City living, you know.

Anyway, I decided to grow some heirloom tomatoes from seed this year. I got my seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Along with beans, lettuce and some other odds and ends, I ordered packets of three heirloom tomato varieties: Mortgage Lifter, Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple. I was particularly interested in Cherokee Purple as I tasted them for the first time last summer and found them stunningly delicious. We had lunch with a friend who made BLTs for us. A simple sandwich turned into a gourmet meal simply because of the addition of Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

Anyway, starting these couldn’t have been simpler. I bought a simple 18-pot tray and some organic seed starting mix at Walmart. I filled the pots, drenched them thoroughly with water, and then poked two holes with a pencil in each pot down about 1/4″ – 1/2″ or so. One seed went into each hole and then I gently covered them up, sprayed a little water on the top, and and covered the whole tray with Press-N-Seal.

The tray went onto the top of the refrigerator where I figured it’d be a little warmer. I set a thermometer in front of the tray to make sure, and regulated the daytime indoor temp so that the thermometer read 70-80 degrees. I checked on them daily, and sprayed a light mist of water on them every other day.

The seeds were planted last Sunday. I saw the first small sprout late in the afternoon on Thursday, just four days later. I waited till Friday to put them under the grow light, and by Friday there were a total of 14 little sprouts poking up. At the recommendation of Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast, I bought a Kingbo 45-watt grow light to nurture the little sprouts on to maturity.

The video above shows something of the process, and I’ll do some further updates over the next few weeks.



Tour of the Homestead

I know it’s been a LONG time since my first video. So incredibly much to do on our new homestead, and much of work during the first months were spent simply getting the house livable. We’ve done some landscaping work cutting back some of the brush, and while there is still a TON to do, we’re making progress.

It’s gardening time soon, so I’ll have some more posts coming about that, but I wanted to give you all a short video tour of the homestead. I took this video a month or so ago and we’ve already planted about 65 trees in the back field as well as cleaned up some more brush and laid out the garden.

Stay tuned for more regular posts going forward, but for now, here’s a brief tour.

And So It Begins . . .

IMG_0781In the movie Far and Away, Joseph Donnelly (played by Tom Cruise) pronounced, “I’ll work my own land someday. Without land, a man is nothing. That’s it. Yeah. Land is a man’s very own soul.”

Well, I’m not sure I’d go quite that far. That said, I can certainly understand the pull of owning one’s own patch of dirt. I understand it because ever since I left the property I grew up on, I’ve longed to possess my very own little slice of God’s earth.

Others have suggested, and I agree (which clearly means that at least in this instance, the others are correct), that whatever reasons are offered for owning your own land, they can be grouped into two broad categories: freedom and investment.

Investment isn’t really a driver for me, since I don’t really plan to sell. But I understand the freedom part. When I was growing up, we lived in the country on the Appalachian Plateau of Western Pennsylvania. Our property was only about a half an acre, but it butted up against my Uncle Al’s farm on two sides. As a kid, I considered all of that “mine.” When I got old enough that my mother felt we no longer required constant adult supervision, my brother and I roamed anywhere we wanted, and did pretty much whatever we wanted. It was idyllic. We fished, shot BB guns, played in the dirt, and generally stayed out of Mom and Dad’s hair (and out of their line of sight, which was important as well). 😉

But once dragged into adulthood, I’ve had neighbors piled up all around me. And if all you want to do is grow a few petunias, that doesn’t matter much, but if you want to let your dog roam around a bit, or have some chickens, or shoot a bow or a gun, well . . . you just can’t do that everywhere.

So in mid-June, my family and I purchased four acres in Bedford county, Tennessee. It’s outside of city limits, the taxes are low, and I’ve got neighbors I can see but can’t smell. 😉

About a week and a half ago, we relocated here from West Texas, where we’ve lived for the past eight years. And now, I’ve taken my place as part of the landed gentry of Tennessee. From the road to the back of the property is about 225 yards, give or take, and it’s probably close to 100 yards across. FOUR ACRES!


That freedom comes with a price, though. It’s only four acres, but it seems like there’s about 20 acres worth of work to do. The place was/is overgrown (one of the previous owners planted about a zillion crepe myrtles and a truckload of other little shrubby things) on the front two acres, which you can see some of in the picture at the top. The back two acres are an overgrown weed field that hadn’t been mowed in a few years. When we got here, the front half hadn’t been mowed in over a month. One Husqvarna lawn tractor later and I’ve regained control of the grass on the front half. But those shrubby, bushy things . . . I’ll have to thin some of those out.

In the process of beating back the bush, I’ve discovered that my property is supporting a thriving population of ticks. And chiggers. Yay me!

So there’s lots to do. I’ve started a list, beginning with a few things on the inside of the house (like new carpet). All landed gentry know that making happy the wife of one’s vows is the grease that will make everything else possible.

On the outside, the chores are legion. I need to close in part of the carport for a shop, and re-side the mini-barn, and figure out where to lay out a garden plot for next spring, and start a compost pile, and trim brush, and cut down a dead tree and cut up one that’s already fallen over. And I need to put up my archery target so I can begin getting ready for bow season. Oh yeah . . . and I need to find a place to hunt this fall. 😉

So because I process everything best by writing, I intend to blog about all this as I go along. The goal, at present, is to reclaim the property and transform it into a tick-free place of peace, beauty, and some degree of sustainable living. I’d like for the property to eventually produce a portion of my family’s food and maybe bring in a little income to boot. I’ve got three or four ways I think that could happen, but it remains to be seen which of those options is the most accessible and attainable.

So there it is. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. And for those of you who may be a little more experienced in some of this stuff than I am, I hope you’ll share some ideas if you think they’ll help.

Welcome to Minkslide Acres!