Seed Sprouting Success

by Bonnie Jo Manion on June 27, 2014

Chances are you have everything at your finger tips for creating perfect seed sprouting success. Sprouting seeds yourself is economical and expands your ability to grow many more varieties.

Materials Needed:
1) Saved plastic tubs with lids and with bottom holes for drainage. Fruit such as berries are often store-packaged in these containers.
2) Potting soil, or seed starting medium.
3) Desired seeds to sprout.
4) A handy chopstick, to make a hole or indention for your seeds.
5) Label gun to label your seeds started and the date.
6) Spray bottle with plain water to mist your seeds in soil medium.
7) Safe place with filtered sun exposure.
8) Time and patience.

I started my saved heirloom pumpkin seeds this way. I simply picked out my desired size plastic tub container. I filled each tub with moistened seed starting medium. I took a chopstick and made my number of desired holes in each tub for my seeds. I then filled each hole with a different heirloom pumpkin seed, and covered the seed over with soil. Once again, I misted each tub again. If you create a label and date for each tub containing seeds, you’ll always know what you planted where and when. I keep the container lid closed, as it acts like a mini-greenhouse creating warmth and keeping in extra moisture for your seeds. This further helps germinate your seeds. I placed each tub in a filtered sun spot, in this case, in my potting shed. Every morning I opened the lid of the tub, and misted the seed starting medium, and closed the lid once more.

In about 8 days my pumpkin seeds had germinated and were too tall for me to close their lids. My pumpkin seedlings were now ready to be transplanted to shaped mounds in the ground. Since I started my seeds in my outdoor potting shed, they are already to be planted in the ground. If you had started seeds in your garage or an indoor environment, you might have to include the step of hardening off, or gradually acclimating your delicate seedlings to the outdoors for small periods of time before actually planting them in the ground.

Here is a fun link for more information on starting seeds, Seed Starting For Real People by Kelly Roberson. She suggests starting seeds in an empty egg carton, as an alternative to plastic containers. Roberson also includes a handy chart for Best and Worst Seeds to Sow Indoors and Outdoors. Thanks Kelly for sharing.

Please comment if you have a favorite method for seed starting success. Please share your favorite seeds to start yourself.


Podocarpus Icee Blue

by Bonnie Jo Manion on May 16, 2014

Podocarpus Icee Blue Podocarpus Icee Blue

I am in the throes of landscaping my back garden this spring. One of my favorite new additions is the Podocarpus Icee Blue or also called Icee Blue Yellow-Wood, Podocarpus elongates “Monmal’. I love not only the striking blue-gray foliage, but the upright columnar form which is so distinct. I first saw this Podocarpus Icee Blue in a private garden in Oakland, California on a garden tour. Wow, it knocked my socks off. Notice how beautiful the blue-gray foliage looks against the brown color stucco of the house.

This is a slow growing conifer with fabulous upright structure. It thrives in USDA Zones 9-11, in partial to full sun. It likes regular watering, and more in extreme heat. The Podocarpus Icee Blue is slow growing to 15-25 feet, and 15-25 wide if you don’t prune it. I find the Podocarpus Icee Blue readily available in local nurseries.


I have tall house edges I want to soften and necessary drain spouts that I want to hide. I wanted an upright tree that looked dynamite. Since it is so close to my house, I am planting these trees with root barrier material, as a precautionary measure, so I don’t have to worry about the roots affecting my building foundation. I’m planting these trees against my white stucco home, which has a wine-colored trim appropriately called “Wild Raisin.” I know the color combination is perfect for my home and garden setting.

The homeowner in Oakland planted her two Podocarpus Icee Blue in a container, as an option.


Please share if you have a special tree in your garden that you particularly enjoy. Please share if you have a Podocarpus Icee Blue in your garden.


Welcoming Appetizers

April 24, 2014

When I have guests visiting, I like to serve them two special house appetizers because they are so good and easy to make. Both appetizers can be partially made ahead of time, and then quickly assembled before serving.  Enjoy!   Print Goat Cheese with Marinated Olives Author: Chef Jenn Recipe type: Appetizer Cuisine: Mediterranean Prep time:  25 mins […]

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Beautiful Blood Orange

March 5, 2014

A few years ago I planted a Moro Blood Orange tree, after making this gorgeous Blood Orange Upside Down Cake adapted from the March 2010 issue Bon Appetit. This recipe is simple to make, and calls for creating it in a skillet. Packed with flavor but not overly sweet, it is a perfect way to […]

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White Bean, Pasta and Swiss Chard Soup

February 13, 2014

“China tea, the scent of hyacinths, wood fires and bowls of violets–that is my mental picture of an agreeable February afternoon.” –Constance Spry I agree, Constance, and what about soup to take the chill out of you, such as one of my favorites, White Bean, Pasta, and Swiss Chard Soup. I saw this recipe in […]

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A Wreath For All Occasions

January 23, 2014

I love burlap as a medium, see my post, Beauty in Burlap for more ideas. Burlap is easily found in art and craft stores as a finished garland. Over the holidays I made this rustic burlap wreath and finished it with a plaid holiday ribbon. Now that the holidays are tucked away for the year, […]

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San Diego Magazine Feature

January 7, 2014

Last fall at harvest time, our gifted architect, Bill Bocken  brought his partner, Paul Adams, a talented San Diego landscape designer, and his amazing photographer, Shelley Metcalf to photograph our home for the first time since the completion of our home remodel. San Diego Magazine took notice and features Metcalf’s photos, article written by Kimberly Cunningham […]

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New Year 2014 Greetings!

January 6, 2014

Greetings to you all, and wishing you the very best in 2014! It is only natural this time of year to reflect on the fruits of the past year, as well as plan and dream for the year ahead. Consider gratitude as a foundation for your coming year. One of the blogs I follow, Liz […]

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Paris, Provence, Patricia Wells

November 5, 2013

Patricia Wells has a new cookbook out, The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence. Last weekend, Owner and Founder, Susan McBeth’s Adventures by the Book hosted culinary legend Patricia Wells at Torrey Pines Lodge. Check out Adventures by the Book, you’ll never go to another regular book signing again. McBeth features […]

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Composting with Grape Pomace

October 29, 2013

I’m a firm believer in backyard composting. I love the idea of recycling what you have from your own garden, property, and kitchen scrapes into your own personal compost recipe. It is especially important to compost when you have backyard chickens. In fact, I really delve into this subject of backyard composting and backyard chickens […]

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