Seed Starting Tips: Start Your Garden Today

Growing your own food for health, fun, and sustainability is a no-brainer. You can grow your own super-foods, tasty morsels, and more, and you don`t need a lot of space or know-how to do it. Now is the time to get started if you plan to grow your own food this year.

 Seed starting is simply getting your seeds to sprout into tiny little plants. Many prefer to do this early in the spring, indoors, before the weather has cleared and outdoor gardening is possible.

 First, find out when the last frost date for your location is by visiting the Farmer`s Almanac (where you can also find information about moon phase calculations for growth timing, which is optional).

 Many say that beginning seeds indoors achieves better growth results. Generally, indoor seed starting should take place about three to four weeks before the last frost date. So if your area`s last frost date is predicted to be April 15, you should start your seeds in mid-late March. Traditionally, many people in the northern hemisphere begin their seeds late in March or the week before Easter.

 The tools required are simple:

–         containers for the seeds to start growing in

–         good soil to fill the containers,

–         something to poke holes in the soil,

–         a little water and patience.

 Most varieties of heirloom seeds will grow quickly and easily and are widely available from small markets, online, and through gardening centers.

 Heirlooms tend to be hardier plants that have gained their name because they are long-popular seed varieties with a rich history.

 For containers, you can either purchase them from a garden store or make your own. A piece of 1-1/2″ pipe, a dowel, or something round and at least an inch and a half in diameter can be used in conjunction with damp newspaper. Wrap the paper around the object to make several layers (3-4 layers thick) in a cup-like shape. Let dry and fill with dirt. These are temporary, but work well and are completely biodegradable. Eggshells, old plastic containers, and more can all be used to make planters too.

 For poking holes in the soil to put in seeds, anything that is about the right size will work: a screwdriver, pencil, etc. The seed packet will tell you how deep for each type to go. For small-seed plants (tomatoes, lettuce) 3-4 seeds per starter cup is best. For larger seeds, one or two is enough. When the seeds sprout, you will “thin” the crops by cutting out those that aren`t as healthy as their companions in each cup. This ensures that you don`t waste a cup on a dead seed and lets you select the strongest for growth. Once you have all the seeds planted, they can be kept anywhere that is warm. Watering them every few days with a light sprinkle or through the bottom of a tray (depending on your setup) will keep them moist and growing. After the sprouts poke through the soil and begin showing leaves, they`ll need sunlight for a few hours a day.

 When you`re nearing the final frost date, or once you`re past it, you should harden the new plants by putting them outside for a few hours a day for 4-5 days. Then transplant them into your garden and tend them there.

 Seed starting is easy, fun, and gives you and your family something to do on those cold pre-spring days when you`re just itching to get outside and do something, but the weather isn`t cooperating.

Check the Pumpkin Moon website for all your Heirloom seeds!

The Benefits of Using Organic Lip Balm

 

Image

So you love using lip balms, especially those that come with nice scents and delicious flavor. You love the way they keep your lips smooth, soft and moisturized especially during cold nights. But do you know what your favorite lip balms contain? 

What you need to be aware of is that not all lip balms are the same. In choosing lip balms, make sure that you go for ones that are labeled organic or at least all-natural. Many of the popular commercial lip balms available in stores contain ingredients that can actually be harmful to the body. This is the reason why you should go for organic lips balms. 

Below are just some of the benefits of using organic lip balms. 

  1. Organic lip balms are safe for the body. Organic lip balms do not use artificial ingredients such as mineral oil and petroleum jelly that are bad for the health. 
  2. Organic lip balms help nourish the lips. The ingredients of some organic lip balms are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that do not just help in keeping the lips moisturize but helps nourish them as well.
  3. Organic lip balms protect your lips from the elements. The natural ingredients in organic lip balms serve as a natural shield against sun, wind and cold weather.
  4. Organic lip balms are naturally delicious. The scents and flavors used in organic lip balms also come from all-natural ingredients so they are yummy but do not put your health at risk. 

So ditch your old lip balm and go for the safer alternative. 

Check out Pumpkin Moon’s Organic Lip Balm – http://www.pumpkinmoonfarm.com

WOOD BURNING COMPARISON CHART

Wood
Variety

Rating

Heat
Yield

Burn
Difficulty

Split
Difficulty

Smoke

Sparks

BTUs
per Cord

Ash

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

25.9 Mil

Red Oak

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

21.7

White Oak

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

26.5

Beech

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

21.8

Birch

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

21.3

Hickory

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

30.8

Hard Maple

Excellent

High

Easy

Hard

Light

No

29.7

Soft Maple

Good

Medium

Easy

Hard

Light

No

19.1

Cherry

Good

Medium

Easy

Hard

Light

No

18.5

Elm

Fair

Medium

Medium

Easy

Medium

No

23.8

Aspen

Fair

Low

Easy

Hard

Medium

No

14.5

Chestnut

Poor

Low

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

 

Yellow Poplar

Poor

Low

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

16.0

Eastern Red Cedar

Good

Medium

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

17.5

Juniper

Good

Medium

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

 

Eastern White Pine

Fair

Low

Medium

Hard

Medium

No

15.8

Fir

Fair

Low

Medium

Hard

Medium

No

19.5

Tamarack

Fair

Medium

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

20.8

Larch

Fair

Medium

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

20.8

Spruce

Poor

Low

Easy

Hard

Medium

Yes

15.9

Alder

Fair

Medium

Fair

Hard

Medium

Yes

17.6

Apple

Fair

Medium

Hard

Easy

Medium

Few

17.6

Ironwood (Hornbeam)

Excellent

Very High

Hard

Easy

Light

Few

24.7

Willow

Fair

Low

Hard

Hard

Fair

Fair

14.5

Firewood and Wood Burning Tips

Image

 

Cut or buy your wood ahead of time and burn it dry

Any wood that you burn needs to be well cured or dry. The moisture in green wood robs your stove of efficiency and deposits creosote in your chimney. Creosote is what causes chimney fires that can burn down your home. Buy or cut your wood a full year in advance to insure that it has time to cure properly. You may want to consider keeping two years’ worth of wood on hand to insure you have enough each burning season.

 Keep Your Wood Dry

The best way to keep your wood dry is to store it in a wood shed. If this not possible you have to stack it somewhere and keep it covered from the weather. You shouldn’t stack your firewood on the ground. An easy solution is to find excess pallets from a local business and stack your wood on those. Wood should be stacked so that air can reach all of it and then covered. If you use a tarp to cover the wood remember that air still needs to get in to dry the wood out. Stacking on pallets can help with this too. When you stack rows beside each other leave space between them (6-12″) so the air can circulate to dry the wood.

 Consider The Type Of Wood You Burn And Burn Smarter

Hardwoods such as hickory contain more energy per cubic foot than softer woods. They are denser and will burn longer cutting down on the number of trips you have to make to the woodpile. Fat woods such as pine can be used as fire starters, but should not be used as your primary fuel because they will cause creosote problems. If you buy your firewood ask your supplier what type of wood they are bringing you. Insist on wood that has been cured for a year or buy the wood a year in advance and cure it yourself. Make sure that you ask about the way the wood is cut to length and how it is split so you know it will be suitable for your stove or fireplace. You don’t want to pay for wood that you can’t use.
Burning smarter or more efficiently will make your supply of wood last longer and keep your chimney cleaner. A more efficient stove might be an option. No matter what stove you use, always use a thermostat on the stovepipe where it enters the thimble or as close as possible to this point. Your flue gases should be entering the flue at a temperature of 250–475 degrees Fahrenheit. Experiment with your damper settings on your stove so that you keep the gases in this range. When you damper the stove down too far you risk depositing excess amounts of creosote into your chimney. Also, keep your stove clean. Remove excess ashes from the stove regularly to prevent clogging and a smoldering burn. You always want to see flames in your fireplace or wood stove when you are burning. The flames burn the smoke and result in a cleaner chimney with less smoke output.

 Tips For Purchasing Firewood

The standard term of measurement for firewood is called the “cord”. A “cord” of firewood occupies approximately 128 cubic feet when stacked neatly in a line or row. A standard cord of wood measures 4-feet wide by 8-feet long by 4-feet high as shown below.

 Image

Buy your wood by the cord or a partial cord to avoid ambiguity in the amount of wood you are purchasing. When your wood arrives, stack the wood and measure exactly how much you received. If you didn’t receive the amount you paid for contact your supplier. Take a picture of the stacked wood with an object of known size next to it so you can show them if they dispute your claim. It is also a good idea to write down the license number of the delivery vehicle when they arrive.

 How To Start A Wood Fire

  • Check to make sure your damper is open.
  • Lay your fire starters in the floor of the stove or fireplace. Loosely balled up newspaper works well. You can also use dry bark, fat wood, or wood shavings.
  • Loosely stack kindling on top of your starters, leaving space for the air to circulate.
  • Stack some larger pieces of wood on top of this pile, supporting it with other pieces so you don’t crush your starters. You want the flames to easily reach this wood so it will ignite.
  • Check to make sure that your chimney is drawing and not putting air into your house. If your chimney is not drawing, hold a piece of lit newspaper up into the flue opening or as close as you can to the stove outlet inside the stove to get the draft going. Light your starters in several locations starting with a point farther away from you and working your way towards yourself.
  • If you have a stove open the air control dampers all the way before closing the door(s). Allow this starter fire to burn freely and add wood as needed until you have established a bed of coals.

 How To Keep The Fire Burning In A Traditional (air flows from the inlet, through the fire to the outlet) Wood Stove Or Fireplace

Once you have established a bed of coals in your stove or fireplace, you can reload wood to the fire as needed. Keeping the fire going is a fairly straightforward process. Keep track of your fire. When it burns down to coals and some smaller pieces of wood it is time to reload. Rake the coals inside the stove towards the air inlet dampers and then load the stove. You want to fill the stove completely, but you don’t want to pack the stove. Leave enough space for air and flames to circulate around the pieces of wood. Leave your air supply dampers fully open to allow the fire to get going again and then adjust them to control the size of your fire. As mentioned above, a thermostat can very helpful. And remember, you want your fire to have flames for better burning.
    When reloading your fireplace, rake the coals so that they are underneath the wood you are loading. Load the wood into the fireplace leaving space for the air and flames to circulate around the pieces.

 

How To Keep The Fire Burning In A Newer Base-burning (air flows from the inlet, through the fire, and then through the catalytic converter or a series of baffles to the outlet) Stove

When lighting or reloading this type of stove the bypass damper is opened to divert colder air away from the catalytic converter. These stoves need to be allowed to heat up high enough to reach an operating temperature for the catalytic converter unit, typically this around 500-degrees Fahrenheit on the top of the stove. The catalytic converter will burn the smoke a second time at these temperatures increasing efficiency and reducing emissions from your stove. Once your stove has reached it’s operating temperature close the bypass damper so the smoke will pass through the converter.

When reloading these stoves, rake the coals so that they are spread evenly throughout the bottom of the stove. Load the wood, fully filling the stove. Leave the air supply dampers open until the fire gets going as before. Once the fire is going and the stove is at it’s operating temperature close the bypass damper and adjust the air supply dampers to control the size of your fire. As mentioned above, a thermostat can very helpful. And remember, you want your fire to have flames for better burning.

 

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Groundhog Day

Image

German tradition holds that if the sun comes out on Candlemas, the precursor to Groundhog Day, the hedgehog (or badger) will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow. When German settlers came to Pennsylvania they continued this tradition, using groundhogs instead of hedgehogs to predict the weather.

 The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper’s editor, Clymer Freas: “Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow.” The legendary first Groundhog Day trip to Gobbler’s Knob was made the following year by a group of spirited groundhog hunters who dubbed themselves “The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.” Clymer, a member of the club, used his editorial clout to proclaim that Phil, the Punxsutawney Groundhog, was the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog.

 Phil’s fame began to spread and newspapers from around the world began to report his predictions. Growing legions of fans started making the trek to Punxsutawney every February 2, and with the release of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, the crowds began to number in the tens of thousands. Phil’s yearly Groundhog Day predictions are actually even entered into the U.S. Congressional Record!

 Facts: 

  • The groundhog wakes up from hibernation on February 2.
  • If the groundhog sees its shadow when it emerges from its burrow, there will be six more weeks of winter.
  • If it does not see its shadow, spring will arrive soon.
  • This tradition started in Europe as Candelmas Day. Germans who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s brought the custom to America.
  • Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil is the most well-known, but more than a dozen states and provinces celebrate with their own groundhogs.

 Punxsutawney Phil – Punxsutawney, Pa. 

His full name is “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary”

 February 2, 1886 – The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper proclaims this date as Pennsylvania’s first official Groundhog Day celebration.

 Phil has correctly predicted the beginning of spring 100% of the time, according to his owners. However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ground hog shows “no predictive skill” for the last few years.

 1986 – Phil travels to Washington DC to meet with President Reagan.

 1993 – Columbia Pictures releases the movie, “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray.

In the years following the release of the movie, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney.

 1995 – Phil appears on the Oprah Winfrey show.

 January 27, 2010 – The animal rights group PETA suggests using a robotic groundhog in place of Punxsutawney Phil.

 February 2, 2010 – For the first time, fans are able to register for a text message alert of Phil’s prediction.

 February 2, 2013 – Phil doesn’t see his shadow, predicting spring.

 February 2, 2014 – WAIT AND SEE ?

How to Store Firewood for the Winter

Image

 

1.     Choose your storage location wisely. The key to keeping firewood seasoned and dry is to allow for air circulation. The most ideal place for firewood is an open ended wood shed that allows for stacking off of the ground. Remember to choose a location that gives you easy access. On the coldest day of winter, how far will you have to go to get the firewood?

 2     It may be tempting to keep firewood inside of your home but be very careful. Inspect wood thoroughly for bugs before you bring it inside. It is okay to have a small log rack near your fireplace to stack wood that you are currently using. But keeping large amounts of wood inside the house will leave you vulnerable to pests such as termites.

Basements can be used if there are no air connections to the living areas or ways for pests to be transferred from the basement to the living areas. The same with garages.

The absolute best place to store firewood is outside and away from the home.

 3    Outside of your house or shed, stack the firewood off the ground. A homemade or store bought log rack should be kept a few inches off the ground. This will keep the wood dry and further protect it from insects. If you put the log racks on the ground (rather than on cement or a patio) it needs to be staked into the ground in order to stay stable. If the log rack begins to lean the whole pile can come falling down.

 4     Log racks should be kept a good 30 feet from the house. Firewood attracts a lot of insects and it is best to keep these pests away from your home. If you don’t have the space to keep the wood far from the home, be sure not to stack the firewood against your home’s wall. Leaving some room will give the firewood better air circulation and give your house a bit of protection.

 5      When stacking outside it is wise to have a cover for the log rack to protect the firewood during inclement weather. Retail stores sell log rack covers that have tie downs to keep it from flying away with the wind and have slits in the material to allow for air flow. You may use other covers like a simple nylon tarp but be certain to uncover the firewood on sunny days to allow the wood to dry and to remove moisture that may have gotten trapped under the cover. Many tarps have grommets so you can use rope to tie the cover to the log rack. Otherwise place rocks or wood on the tarp to hold it down.

 6     When the firewood is delivered or cut and ready for storage, prepare your storage area as listed above. Make sure that the area is level and stable. Stack the larger pieces of wood at the bottom of the pile in level rows. Check the area as you stack it to make sure that the pile is not leaning. It is much easier to adjust the pieces of wood in the beginning when there is less weight on it.

 Finally, don’t stack the pile so high that it will be difficult for you to reach and/or the pile has a danger of leaning and falling over.

 

 

 

Farming by the Moon by Martha White

Image

The age-old practice of performing farm chores by the Moon stems from the simple belief that the Moon governs moisture.

 Pliny the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist, stated in his Natural History that the Moon “replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them.”

 The Moon’s Phases

The Moon’s phases guided many a farmer and gardener in the past, and still do today:

 Moon rise occurring in the evening brings fair weather, says one proverb, harking back to the belief that the waning Moon (full and last quarter, which rise in the evening) is dry.

The New Moon and first quarter, or waxing phases, are considered fertile and wet.

The new and first-quarter phases, known as the light of the Moon, are considered good for planting above-ground crops, putting down sod, grafting trees, and transplanting.

From full Moon through the last quarter, or the dark of the Moon, is the best time for killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting below-ground crops.

The time just before the full Moon is considered particularly wet, and is best for planting during drought conditions.

To garden by the moon in your area, go to this site and type in your home town.

http://www.almanac.com/moon/calendar/NS/Annapolis%20Royal/2014-04

 Moon Folklore

 Folklore is rich among farmers, given their close ties to Earth and her natural rhythms.

Rail fences cut during the dry, waning Moon will stay straighter.

Wooden shingles and shakes will lie flatter if cut during the dark of the Moon.

Fence posts should be set in the dark of the Moon to resist rotting. Ozark lore says that fence posts should always be set as the tree grew. To set the root end upward makes a short-lived fence.

Don’t begin weaning when the Moon is waning.

Castrate and dehorn animals when the Moon is waning for less bleeding.

Slaughter when the Moon is waxing for juicier meat.

Crabbing, shrimping, and clamming are best when the Moon is full.

Best days for fishing are between the new and full Moon. See our best fishing dates for the year.

Dig your horseradish in the full Moon for the best flavor.

Set eggs to hatch on the Moon’s increase, but not if a south wind blows.

 Image

 Don’t forget to add this blog page to your bookmarks and remember to visit our website at http://pumpkinmoonherbals.com/