Yippee! A Seed Starting Kit!

Ok, quick question: what sounds better… seeding system or seed starting kit? Eh, I digress. Either way I now have a way to start my seeds indoors in a controlled environment. I don’t know why but every time I plant seeds outside I only have about a 50% success rate at germination. So I keep trying. Meanwhile I’m wasting seeds. I’m persistent, but sometimes I swear I’m not much of a green thumb at all.

I picked up this seeding system from Gurneys.com a few weeks ago and it finally showed up in the mail. It’s nothing amazing, but I’d imagine it gets the job done. It comes with a lid as well, to keep things nice and humid. The cool thing is those dirt ‘plugs’ fit very nicely in the styrofoam section and when you fill the green part halfway with water the styrofoam floats, so it is supposed to keep the seeds moist, but never too wet. Low tech, but ingenious. I can dig.

Now then, anyone care to play a game? Look at the picture below (click on it for a larger view) and guess what seeds are ‘planted’ in the seeding system. Before you look below the picture for the answers skip down to the comments section and tell me what you think. If anyone plays along I’m curious to see if they can guess some/all of them right.

Top down view of seeds I just planted in my seed starting kit

As you can see above there are 10 little slots for seeds. I numbered them myself so I could keep easier track of what seeds I planted where. I hope you made your guess already, because I’m about to reveal what seeds are hanging out in my seed starting kit.


  • In numbers 1, 6 and 7: Sweet Corn, “Early & Often Hybrid”
  • In numbers 2 and 3: “Mammoth” Sunflower
  • In numbers 4, 5 and 10: “Blue Lake” Pole Bean
  • In numbers 8 and 9: “Burpee’s Fordhook” Zucchini (summer squash) and Spaghetti Squash (winter variety)

I’m interested to see if I’ll be able to achieve a 100% germination rate now that I’ve started things off in a controlled environment. I’m assuming that I will, but oftentimes when it comes to plants and gardening I never know what to expect. Wish me luck!

I’m a Mac. I used to be a PC.

Those of you who know me in real life know I’m an Apple geek. I have an iPhone, iPad, two Apple computers (Mac Mini and MacBook Pro) and I really enjoy using each of them. All of that being said, I don’t consider myself a blind fanboy. You see, I grew up on Windows PCs. I broke them, I fixed them and I even custom-built them.

I'm a Mac | I'm a PCI was a PC.

I hated Apple back then. I had all the usual arguments against them. “They cost twice as much as a comparable PC.” “Of course they don’t crash as much as Windows PCs — they have limited hardware options to write drivers for” (that was an argument against them? silly me) “None of the good programs/games are compatible with Mac’s.” The list went on and on…

Somewhere along the line I got over my blind bias (I never really used a Mac until I was in College) and gave Apple a try in the computer lab at my school (to be honest these were the only computers I could ever find available). I was pleasantly surprised. Everything was clean, polished and it just worked. Had I been wrong about Macintosh’s (and consequently, Apple)?

I made the leap

When Apple switched over to Intel processors and announced Boot Camp I decided to make the leap. I needed a laptop for my studies at ASU anyway, so I decided to get a MacBook Pro. I figured worst case scenario, I could always boot it into Windows and run my essential programs from there. Thankfully I never really had to use Boot Camp (except for the occasional Windows only game). Everything I needed for my studies worked great in OSX.

So it started with the MacBook Pro. For my next Apple acquisition I bought a Mac Mini, when my desktop PC crashed. I made some tradeoffs with the Mac Mini, I’ll admit. But I’d grown used to everything just working as is with the MacBook Pro so I wanted to stick with Apple.

No tweaking. No registry. No viruses.

The tradeoff? An integrated (mobile) GPU. My newer games couldn’t run in maxed out graphical settings from that point forward. That one detail to me was worth the flexibility, stability and beauty of my Mac and OSX. Finally if anything does go wrong with your Apple then you’ve got a world class tech support team that can help. You can get free inspections at the Genius Bar if anything does go wrong. Can’t beat that. Other PC manufacturers will charge you $200 for phone support — 3 days after you bought a new computer from ’em.

That’s the Apple value proposition. They’re not always the most competitive on price (I’m looking at you Mac Pro) and they never seem to follow computing trends *cough*Blu Ray*cough* but they always just work, and they work really well.

I’m proud to say that I’ve graduated out of a suit and into a t-shirt and jeans. I’m a Mac, but I used to be a PC.

The Start of a New Garden

My wife calls me a dirt nerd. That’s a nerd I’d never really considered I might be. I’ve always been a huge tech nerd (and absolutely still am) but there’s nothing quite like digging around outside and watching plants grow from just a tiny seed to something else entirely: a fruit or veggie plant, bush, vine or tree. I guess dirt nerd is actually an appropriate title. Maybe just nerd.

I picked up gardening as a hobby a few years ago when I moved into my current house. I started out pretty slowly, learning a little at a time, but unfortunately have struggled to retain certain pieces of information that could be useful. I tried (unsuccessfully) to keep track of planting dates, and monitor progress by keeping a garden journal, but I never managed to do it consistently, let alone in one easy to access place. I’ve been itching to start another blog after having started and run Debit versus Credit for the past few years so this is my solution to both ‘problems.’ I’ll be monitoring my garden through regular posts and will also write about other random stuff that’s interesting to me (e.g. gadgets, technology & green living).

To kick things off, here’s a quick post on what I’ve been up to this spring in the garden. First, a few pictures (if you want to get a closer look you can click on them for the HD version).

My new raised garden bed

That’s my new garden box. I went all out this time around.

This is my old garden box, in front of the new one. Don’t let the picture fool you, the old one is quite a bit smaller then the new raised garden bed.

My old raised garden bed, next to the new one

Both garden beds are made from redwood, which is used often in decks because it’s slow to rot, at least when compared to other woods. The smaller one (which is also the older one) is 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. The newer box is 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. They are both approximately 18 inches tall.

You’ll notice that I built a sitting bench all the way around the top of the new garden bed. I built it using the same 2×6’s that I used to build the rest of the box, so effectively that reduces the “useable” width from 4 feet to a little over 3 feet and the useable length from 8 feet to a little over 7 feet.

Did you notice the PVC pipe along the edge of the new garden bed? That’s to be used for shade and/or plastic (to act as a sort of greenhouse) in extreme weather. Being in the desert I get plenty of that. I’ll tell you more about my raised garden bed design later. For now, back to the plants.

Some of the plants in my new raised garden bed

For reference I’ve been subscribing to the knowledge of Dave Owens, otherwise known here in Phoenix as “The Garden Guy,” through his book, Extreme Gardening (that there is an amazon affiliate link). I’ve been using it primarily for information on companion planting and also when to plant different things here in the low desert.

You can see planted there in the top row (starting from the left): sweet pepper, salsa pepper (spicy), marigolds (haven’t sprouted yet), Early Girl tomato, Rose tomato, rosemary (again hasn’t sprouted) and in the area just to the right of the picture, Blue Lake pole beans.

In the second row we have Nasturtium (seed), Swiss Chard, Onion (seed), Basil, Basil (again), Calendula, and just off the screen pole beans again.

In the bottom row you can see Muskmelon in the far left followed by Lavender, Spinach (kind of wilty), pickling cucumber, nothing (yet — carrots soon), and off the screen to the right is a vining cucumber.

Dwarf Peach Tree with Strawberries

Here you can see my dwarf peach tree starting to bloom and next to it a large strawberry plant. I’ve never had much luck with strawberries here in the desert, but I’m hoping that the more established plant, that should be shaded by the peach tree in the afternoons, will make it through the summer.

What do you think about my new garden? It’s absolutely still a work in progress, but is really coming along I think. Stay tuned for more…