Seedy Business

California’s drought drags on. To that end, I’ve planned my seedy business judiciously. About two weeks ago, this sweet little box of seeds arrived in the mail, my modest order from Botanical Interests. They even included “thank you lettuce.” You don’t see that ever day.

Botanical Interests Box of Seeds

Botanical Interests Box of Seeds

When I first starting buying seeds, I didn’t pay much attention to the source. Now that I’m better educated, I prefer buying organic where possible, while supporting small, independent companies.

Cover Crop:

Once the unidentified behemoth, aka the pumpkin/zucchini mystery plant, dies back, I’ll plant both vegetable boxes with a cover crop. Purchased online from Botanical Interests,

This hardworking combination of field peas and hulled oats is a legume and grass cover crop that quickly benefits the soil with nutrients and green matter, while helping suppress weeds. A great cover crop for established gardens, the mix is also perfect for improving areas being turned into gardens such as lawns and vacant lots.

Pea plants fix nitrogen and condition the topsoil while the pea flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects. As an added benefit the young pea shoots and tendrils are edible and can be used in salads or as a soup topping. Oats hold nitrogen, provide green matter and provide support for the pea vines.

cover crop seeds

Cover Crop Seeds

When planted in the fall, the oats and peas benefit from the cool weather but are killed by the cold temperatures of winter and won’t regrow in the spring. The dead plant material provides a wonderful winter mulch that helps prevent soil erosion and is ready to be tilled into the garden as soon as soil can be worked in the spring

Not bad for $2.99 a packet! I bought three.


This is my only cool-season crop. I’ve grown it before and it got by on very little watering. I’m hoping for the same success to keep my water usage low.

Butterfly Flower:

After reading earlier this year about the decline in butterfly populations, I learned that one of the problems is the reduction in Milkweed. I’ve never seen it offered in our nursery centers, but found the seeds online.  It’s a perennial, and will replace the seasonal flowers I’ve grown for the past two years in the triangle near our front sidewalk.  The plant prefers swampy conditions, but they say it will do okay with ‘regular’ garden watering.

Butterfly Flower and Broccoli

Butterfly Flower and Broccoli

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, since San Jose is anything but swampy. I’ll be thrilled, though, if I can plant a healthy shrub that attracts Monarch’s and helps them on their way south.

Cat Grass Oats:

My sister’s indoor kitty, KT loves his greens. He prefers home-grown to what’s available at the market and I can grow it for a song year round. Pretty cool, eh?  So I plant a pot every few weeks and place it near the kitchen window. My sister brings me the empty pot, and I start a new batch so we always have them in rotation.

I tried to get Mr. Personality to pose for these pictures, but we wasn’t having any of it. He eventually nibbled on the corner of the envelope, before jumping down and moving on.

cat with grass seeds

“Clever” Photo attempt Number One

cat with seeds

“Clever” Photo attempt Number Two

Here is the lovely KT moving in for a nibble. Isn’t he the sweetest? KT started out as a foster cat, but she couldn’t let him go.

KT Loves his Greens

KT Loves his Greens

So, that’s my seedy business this fall. How about you? Are you dropping a seed or two into the earth, a greenhouse, or the time-honored pot in the windowsill?

Back to the Drawing Board: Sunflower Seed Do-Over

Sunflower Seedlings: Long Gone

Did you see the sweet little photo I posted earlier this week?  It was my celebratory shot of my emerging sunflowers.  If I hadn’t snapped a picture, I’d have thought I imagined the whole thing.  Squirrels, you are my nemesis.

I lived with my discouragement for a few days then tried again.  I transplanted the seedlings I started indoors and planted the last of the remaining seeds in the pots along the deck. I covered some of the seeds with makeshift domes.  The larger dome worked and the three remaining seedlings are okay…for now.  The other “dome” was too light: I caught the squirrel lifting it up right in front of me.  The nerve! What remains: three little stick shaped shoots (photo “unavailable”…ha!).

Happiness arrived today in the form of an email from Botanical Interests entitled Sow Successful.  What timing.  I learned about soaking seeds for faster germination and I learned about Floating Row Covers or FRC.  I’m going to wrap up this post and head to my local garden center now before it closes.  Stay tuned…

In the meantime, you many want to take a look at Botanical Interests In The Garden blog.

Cat Grass: Nibbles for K.T.

Seed Packet (I love the art work)

We’re growing cat grass in our kitchen window for my sister’s kitty, King Tut (K.T.).  My sister started foster sitting cats, but fell in love with K.T. and couldn’t let him go.  He’s an older cat, with a beautiful white coat and cute little ears.  Sadly, he was de-clawed by a prior owner and he suffers from a thyroid condition so he has good days and bad days.  For a period of time last year, pre-grown cat grass was hard to come by.  This gave us the idea to grow some at home.  It’s also a bargain: $6.29 for a huge packet of seeds, vs. $4.00 for one ready-to-go tray.

Our current mix of “Gourmet Greens for Cats” includes organically grown rye, oats, barley and wheat, produced by Renee’s Garden in nearby Felton, California.  I learned the hard way that you have to keep the grass covered till it establishes roots (about 14 days), or the cats will jump up on the counter and help themselves, scattering cracked seed and soil everywhere.

Kitty Salad, Hold the Dressing

Plant seeds indoors year round in sun or part shade.  They germinate in 3 – 7 days and are ready to eat in 10 – 14 days.


Such Promise in a Packet of Seeds

Organic Sunflower Seeds from Botanical Interests

Just imagine:  for $1.99 (plus tax) you can hold a handful of summer potential in a slim packet of seeds. I’ve been dropping seeds into the earth since I was five, forever optimistic that what I planted would grow.  And grow they did!  Given the right amount of water and sun that slip of a seed knows to break through the earth, set roots below and then do what it does best: grow up and out as it morphs into leaves, branches, flowers and fruit.  When the cycle is complete, that clever plant turns to seed so the process can begin anew.

Nothing epitomizes this cheerful process like sunflowers.  Helianthus annuus are easy to grow and spectacular in size. A regular show-stopper along the garden path, they follow the sun throughout the day, then reset at night. Glorious flowers and abundant seeds attract wildlife as they reach skyward.

Once these cold spring days are behind us, I’ll tear open that packet and gently tuck each seed beneath the soil.   All that promise in a packet of seeds.

Here’s what we’ll plant this year (descriptions from the seed packets):

Sunflower ‘Mammoth Russian‘ from Botanical Interests®

Heirloom Towering in the garden, the tall plants produce a single, magnificent flower reaching 1 foot across.  Ripe seeds attract birds and wildlife.  Annual full sun, blooms summer to fall 6′ – 10′ fall”

Sunflower ‘Evening Sun‘ from Botanical Interests®

Heirloom Fiery shades of vivid gold, autumn orange, warm mahogany and blazing bronze! A dazzling cut flower and enticing treat for birds.  Annual full sun.  Blooms summer to fall, 6′ – 8′ tall”

One of last year’s sunflowers: From Seed to Tower in an Hour

The default direction of the sunflower head is to point east towards sunrise: Helianthus: Flowers of the sun