My Going To Seed Crops 2024 No fertilizer, No water, No Sprays, Wood Chip Mulch System

Starting from mid-2023 is the strawberries I started from seed. They spent their time in one of my growing tote nursery setups. Only those seedlings that survived my moderate neglect were transplanted directly in ground. This is a full sun area so it may prove too much as strawberries need full sun but Texas full sun is another level above other area’s full sun. Let’s see how they do.

I found some old packets of Spinach and Cilantro, I am talking circa 2015-2016 in the back of the food pantry (temporary placement when moving into the house then forgotten about :innocent:)

I am sticking them outside to see if they want to teach me anything. But I have no surprises so far.

Spinach:

Cilantro:

Finally we have the very first GTS seeds planted this early. It has only been about four days, perhaps five at the most. Temperatures have been just above freezing and have dropped to freezing. Already we have emergence of the GTS Radish seeds packed for 2024. :+1:

The original intent was to thin and eat as they grow and leave a variety of survivors to generate seed. I have half a mind to just let them grow and compete with each other and let them all have a fair go (chance) to contribute to this season’s seed collection.

Center of Tag

Left of Tag

Right of Tag

As a side note I have started a new job with 12 hour shift work so my normal seed starting station is not being used as much or in the same way as I normally would. For the moment I am not using the heat mats and only using the lights. These seeds are primarily ornamental flowers for the front garden. I have not started any GTS or other food crop seeds using the seed germination station at this point. My intention is to as much as possible direct seed as I would rather not have a higher effort garden when I can select for low effort garden compatible plants.

Not shown, some unknown maxima squash seeds planted in the corner of the fences off on its own as sacrificial lambs to the Squash Vine Borers and Squash Bugs this year. If they survive long enough to contribute any pollen to the Moschatas I am growing this year and actually hybridize good on them, if not I will not shed a tear.

Also not shown is a full planting of all the Rhubarb seeds I had, if at all lucky Rhubarb will only grow as an annual here. I don’t have high expectations but if I get some rhubarb and strawberries in any quantity for one pie, I intend to make one this year.

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I wonder if it’s possible to make strawberry wine and save seeds at the same time. It would be neat if we could smash a few pounds of strawberries in a bucket, let the seeds settle to the bottom and the fruit pieces to the top. Then we could remove the seeds and then add the yeast?

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Unfortunately strawberry is one of the fruits that don’t transfer their flavor well to fermented drinks. Best to make syrups or jams from them to put on deserts etc.

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It looks like the ten year old Cilantro seed is still viable.

No signs of anything from ten year old Basil seed.

I am also starting to change my gardening process. In the past I used to painstakingly plant one seed per 72 cell 1020 tray and have rows and rows of lights and heat mats–“Ain’t nobody got time for that.” With this old method sometimes you don’t get viable seed and have wasted the space and effort on those cells in the 1020 that are not viable or you have to double plant two or more seeds per cell and pinch off seedlings that are extra. Too much effort.

Now I just dump a bunch of seeds into a small glass canning jar and put some cling film wrap on top. Stick it under the LED grow lights and wish it the best. Now each seed / plant type is isolated from the rest. Those that germinate and grow slowly don’t interfere with any seeds that have germinated in the same 1020 tray and are growing at a faster rate towards the light.

Again surprised my ten year old tomato seeds that were improperly stored, lost and forgotten about in the pantry cupboard actually are showing signs of life. This was a packet of Mortgage Lifters I bought and promptly lost and forgot about a decade ago.

Now that I have signs of life, only now I am going to effort of mixing up some seedling mix in individual pots (modified bulk drink cups). The most vigorous and largest seedlings get teased out into cups. The cups then get placed in an old growing tote I have with drainage holes a few inches up from the bottom on the sides. I then filled the bottom with water so I don’t have to constantly be outside looking after them when I am stuck at work on 12+ hour shifts. The slow germinating or non germinating seed I just chucked them out into the garden under some wood chips. C’est la vie little slow tomato seedlings, if you live, good for you, if not, goodbye.

Did I mention I am enjoying this less work intensive approach to seedlings?

I still did a single 72 cell 1020 tray the old fashioned way but this is for giant marigolds and giant zinnias for the front garden. I have already transplanted the better ones out front and will just transplant the remaining flower plants into the backyard garden amongst the food plants. The left behind plants are those that either had non straight stems or just were simply excess supply for the front yard.

You can see how much more space maximizing I can get under the grow lights on the grow bench using this new seedling germination method. Again these are all flowers of some sort or another, mostly annuals with a few perennials. White Yarrow, Tall and Dwarf Mexican Petunia, Gomphrena, etc., etc., etc. Now that I have experienced this with the flowers and with the exceedingly warm February we have had in the Southern USA I may get some of the smaller non-direct seed food plants / GTS seeds germinating using this new method.

And this last one has the one food plant, Lemon Basil, in one of the jars. It smells exactly like Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) which won’t grow in our climate here and survive with our cold winters.

This method is also good to see how seed from different sources (Etsy, etc.) performs and / or has endemic mold spores, etc. on them while isolating them from the rest of the seedling jars.

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Cool, I haven’t had the courage to do something like that except for onions with tougher roots. I’d be interested to see how they do.

Well as you can see there is a drastic difference between this morning and tonight.

I have transplanted clumps of Lemon Basil (I really didn’t want to fuss with it anymore on the germination station). I also transplanted a lot of other plants directly into the ground outside. This is all that is left. As you can see tons of room for plenty more jars of different plant colonies to germinate.

If I was using the germination station I would have first cleaned all the accumulated past work off the top. Got the heat mats plugged into my industrial PID temperature controller. Plugged the lights into my night/day timer to cycle the lights precisely.

For now its the low-tech method and only one single row of LED growing lights. Normally I would have the entire kitchen floor lined with plastic and rows after rows of LED growing lights on portable frames set up with 15+ 1020 trays under them.

The Audray Gomphrena is already transplanted out into the front garden. I don’t think I have room for more Gomphrena but the last remaining jar of a different variety is quite full of seedlings. After they get larger I may just end up transplanting them into the back yard or experiment with non-full sun locations since I now have the luxury of excess plants to play around with.

A lot of my seeds, including the Lemon Basil, came from my local County Research Gardens. I visited them all throughout the year last year so I got to collect some seed as the different plants started setting seed. This way I am assured that they have grown through the seasons in my local climate at least once before I collected their seeds.

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I don’t know if I am adding more work or removing work but I do know I am very time poor at the moment and the weather is crazy warm a month early in the south.

So today I am starting germination with the paper towel method in various plastic containers laying around from when my kids were small.

This was the first, and perhaps the last time I put the labels inside the container then wrap over the top.

  1. C. Moschata GTS 2024 + Austin V.
  2. Water Spinach (upland version)
  3. Loke Squash / Gourd (Austin V.)

  1. Cushaw (Debbie A.)

  1. Big Ol’ Watermelon Mix [GTS 2024 + Orange Tendersweet + Cal Sweet Bush (Austin V.)]

  1. GTS 2023 Muskmelon
  2. GTS Ground Cherry Clean Up Mix (Austin V.)
  3. Burmese Okra (my personal seed expansion project as a sister project to my already expanded Choppee Okra)
  4. A Big Ol’ Mess of GTS 2024 Purely Promiscuous Tomato (I had given up on growing tomatoes so this is exciting enough to get me growing them again)

That should be enough for tonight and if all pop should provide for enough fights in the garden this season for space and sunlight.

Not shown are about 10 more seed packets of various sources (GTS, etc.) that I will just chuck in the ground under the woodchips live or die style.

Fun times ahead!

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Oh my, seeds have sprouted.

Moschata showing some decent germination but still a few have not germinated. I don’t have time to baby sit them any longer so I planted them outside. Grow or die little babies!

Loke Squash, all five show signs of germination. I have no time to baby sit, planted outside, grow or die little ones.

Water Spinach (upland) half germination. Again, no time, planted outside, grow or die.

Watermelons, just over half germinated. I have some mold on a few seeds (black large for the most part). Again I don’t have time, planted outside, grow or die!

Cushaw absolutely slaying it for the germination this go around, extreme vigor, one might even say monstrous vigor. I am excited to see how these go. Planted them outside, next to my buried logs with conk mushrooms that have devoured the logs and made them very squishy underfoot. Good luck little ones, grow or die!

Muskmelons showing decent germination, planted outside, grow or die.

Burmese Okra for my seed expansion project. Half germination, no time to baby sit, planted outside. Grow or die.

Ground Cherry so far not showing germination, black mold spores have germinated and are having a go at the tissue. Will keep an eye on this. Might just direct seed what I have left outside and see what happens.

Purely Promiscuous Tomato with a lot of signs of good germination. But it is now 9pm and I still need to cook dinner before up at 4 for the next 12 hour shift. So these will have to wait until I get back tomorrow.

I also didn’t get to get a photo in the dark of the totes outside but a few mortgage lifters are showing good growth, others are still deciding what they want to do. I have some Sweet William in some other cups in those totes and those all look good so far when I shined the phone flashlight on them. My next day off is Monday so I will see if I can stretch the transplant into cups and totes until then for a grow out before transplanting in the garden.

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Interesting, hopefully you get some germination on those ground cherries. I can send you some more and better stock now in terms of diversity.

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hmmm i have case of those jars (never send a non canner to get jars) that I could use for this method for those very old ie 2012 onion seeds… Winter sow people transplant chunks of seedlings so I know that can work if they actually sprout… not to mention easier for my little experimental micro dwarfs I have been sent seeds for… FYI they also make good seed saving jars since I can use dissolvable canning labels to mark the jars

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It’s getting very lonely on the seedling germination bench. This last jar remains, no signs of germination yet. But I don’t have time to baby this any more. Lights are now out and the jar is outside. Grow or die little giant coneflower seeds!

Where have all the flowers gone? (and tomatoes!) – Why outside everyone. They can grow the rest of the way on their own. I don’t have time to fuss with them or baby them and harden them off. This is their training wheels for full sunlight.

and the earlier potted up plants…

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Earliest of the squash plants coming up in this little time since putting the seed under the woodchips is Cushaw for the winner.

They have the most fully developed seedlings so far, even at the cotyledon stage.

Moving up to the second cluster of Cushaw plantings this time around the rotten log. Here is the log that has now completely rotted under the woodchips and the conk mushroom that did the job of the “teeth of the forest” and reduced the hard cellulose material into a broken down form for use in the woodchip layer.

And the various Cushaw seedlings coming up around it.

As an aside, when I trimmed back all the fig trees in winter, instead of throwing the trimmings away I just stuck them into the woodchips. It looks like one of them has taken already, a Brown Turkey fig cutting.

Next up is my sacrificial planting of Maxima squash seeds. I found an old packet of seeds from 2015 and just chucked them all in the ground. I fully expect both the squash bugs and the squash vine borers to absolutely decimate these plants. Hopefully that will distract them from the Cushaw and Moschata plantings for a short while until all these plants are killed off. I didn’t even bother labelling it as anything specific as I don’t expect to have anything here in a month or two.

These were planted directly before germinating the Cushaw and Moschata. And the seedlings already look not very happy.

and the second one that has decided to peek through the woodchips…

Up next are the Moschata

These are a mix of GTS Moschata, some Seminole Large fruited, Seminole Small fruited, and David the Good Seminole mix and any other old Moschata packet of seeds I could find. They do no good to me sitting in my refrigerator in their seed packets. Grow or die, mix your genetics or not, I don’t care.

First of the GTS Watermelon + my Orange Watermelon Seeds mixed together has come up.

Don’t ask me which one it is, I don’t really care, whoever grows, thrives and passes on genetics gets to stay and is a winner in my books.

None of the old Spinach seeds seems to have germinated but I think this might be one of the Water Spinach seeds I planted in the same area. Or did I, I forget. Oh well, Serendipity!

Black Pearl Peppers and Giant Cone Flower still showing no signs of germination. Cilantro from 2015 behind it and strawberries grown from collected seed last year behind that. Harder to see is the lemon basil from the research gardens above.

GTS Radish Mix growing like a Boss.

To the right of them it looks like I might have the first Burmese Okra poking through.

Grape vine coming alive and bursting forth with leaf. And out of frame to the bottom is one of the Apple trees trained using the Grow a Little Fruit Tree method.

My “Highlander – there can only be one” crossed Collard seedling plant is now going into its 3rd year and is already going for another flowering and seed creation run.

Not for any plants but to show freshly planted rows in the woodchips, I found a 2015 packet of Daikon Radish and said what the hey, lets just plant it all out until all of the packet is empty. Grow or die old Daikon seeds!

And it continues, then becomes the rest of my Burmese Okra seeds, get them all out there to grow or die, no use sitting inside on the shelf.

Not shown is I planted out all my remaining Water Spinach seeds against the fence just before the rows of Asparagus starts.

And now lets check in on the germinated seedlings transferred into cups in my old wicking bed totes because I have no time or care to keep them inside paying for lights and a heat mat only to have to go through an entire hardening off period before transplanting them outside.

The first tote filled up.

The next tote includes the GTS Promiscuous Tomatoes seeds I germinated. I didn’t have time to tease them apart off of the tissue paper as they sometimes came off as one seedling, other times came off as two or three. I just transferred them as they came off into cups and into the totes to harden off and grow out.

and more

and more, running into flowers as well…

and the last tote set up for now…

End of report.

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I hope you have success with those GTS tomatos! I would love for several people in the south to all have success and trade seeds.

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I have last year’s GTS self pollinating tomato seed packet but the discovery of the 2015 mortgage lifters made me get those out the door first to grow along with the promiscuous tomatoes this spring. I’ll get those out next grow out.

I’ve got an envelope of mixed hot climate tomato seeds (of all shapes and sizes, some with more potential for promiscuity than others) from our trials the last two years that can be contributed. Year 3 is in the ground, now, so I’ll have more additions.

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I must have had a low temperature dip last night. A few cushaw and the fig looked like they got frost damage though for some reason one didn’t show signs and looks very large and healthy. Moschata all looked fine.

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We had a large flood warning storm go over recently with hail coming down as well. My early moschata, maxima and cushaw seedlings got hammered and are gone. Now I am waiting to see if I have any late seedlings pop up to take their place. The corn survived, radish still doing well, onions as ever still growing well and the fruit trees are flushing out.

GTS Onion Seeds.

Germinated under wrap, signs of sprouting so I removed the wrap and just leave these bowls under the lights until I get a chance to set up an outside wicking tote grow system to let them get to a decent size for transplanting. Again, I don’t have time or desire to keep these indoors on the germination station and take care of them.

One day I may find the Louisiana Evergreen Shallots and get some of those going in the garden as well. I am very successful with most every onion I have tried in the woodchip garden so I think I am approaching my square foot limitations unless I want and entire backyard of onions :wink:

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Some more photo updates. Had a few minutes after 12 hour shift to get some more photographs taken.

Looking at the nearly 10 year old mortgage lifter tomato seeds. Looks like a few really want to do something, one in particular.

I was worried as it was under 37 F last night and these are on top of the ground and in water. But surprisingly they pulled through. The one that was planted in the garden ground directly up and died under the same temperature swing conditions.

Something about this no care system. I never filled water yet in the containers, just after every rain go out and tip the side up to help drain more than half the accumulate rain water since I normally have woodchips, green and brown waste and anything and everything in the bottom of these then way up at the top a few inches of premium mix. But now its just small cups directly touching the bottom so the drainage hole locations are bit too high for what I am doing now but I don’t care. Don’t have the time, or energy, grow or die little seedlings!

The renamed, ahem, GTS Purely Promiscuous tomato seedlings started later are still sticking around as well in the temperature drop swings in this grow system for seedlings.

GTS Radish Mix

Nearly 10 year old packet of Cilantro seeds

All the berries have been pulled out and disposed of. Don’t have time to manage them.

I am really bummed that the Cushaws have disappeared, also in ground during the temperature swing drops. I still have hope a few will be slow growers and pop up.

But I also am hedging my bets, I have ordered a few hundred more Cushaw seeds, this time the green striped variety just in case I do get some orange striped showing up I can tell immediately which one is which and came from which seed stock.

…but those Moschatas!

I planted everything, the Seminoles, the GTS Moschata Mix, everything I had that was Moschata was tossed into the ground. A few early sprouters also died in the temperature drop swings. But a LOT of moschata seeds did not germinate early and are now emerging.

Moschata planted Everywhere! :wink:

2nd year grow out of the GTS Sweet Corn Mix. First year lots of deaths and a few survivors and really bad cob sets of kernels. This year, I am stressing them with ultra close planting, let them fight and let the best one win. I am not eating this yet, so its all fight, spread pollen, make new seed mixes of genetics. I’ll worry about proper spacing and cob size later.

Upper plantings of GTS Kale+ Mix starting to show up.

Cukes and Beans planted along the fence line coming up, but most signs of beans for now.

Even the two blue passionfruit vines are showing signs of regrowing after dying back last winter.

Persimmon Tree trained using Grow a Little Fruit Tree method is waking up.

Planting the GTX Melons mix up high this time, not a lot of seedlings showing yet, a bit disappointing in this location.

Just 2 out of the whole packet of melon seeds so far showing up.

European Grape is growing fantastic and waking up, and the native grape which still looks pitiful is not photographed yet.

Plum tree trained in Grow a Little Fruit Tree method waking up.

Second Plum tree

Sad location of what was the stellar monster growth Cushaw and its rotted log. I’ll hit the area with green striped cushaw seeds and see what comes of that second planting.

Odd Fig tree growth, decided most of the left over wood would just be left dead which one single piece would be perfectly find for sprouting new growth. The rest is all coming from down below.

All along this side fence I planted out the Snake/Yard Long beans, second year growing out.

A left for dead Clematis decided to rise from the grave like a Phoenix, I thought it died last year and had no growth. Now it decides it wants to live?!

Okra, not a lot impressive so far, and some insect damage to the seedlings. I need to grow this fresh from the seed store seed out and then collect my first self-generated seed. I tend to see store bought seed performing not so well and the next gen working great so I have hopes I can recover this variety as well and get it in my rotation.

Healthiest Okra seedling so far.

and finally the lower main plantings of GTS Kale+ Mix are showing germination sign as well… I see a lot of mixed berry and Kale smoothies this year :wink:

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Just an update for native versus European grape. As a reminder I was told the European grape would not grow well here with the various diseases. The native grape (muscadines) would grow well here according to all the literature on the nursery web pages.

Here is my European grape vine

lots of fruiting clusters

I will need to remove the extras so that there is only one per node

And here right next to it is my native muscadine grape vine planted the same year, the same age, the same treatment of no water, no sprays, no fertilizer, wood chip mulch system.

I would post photos of the other four muscadine grape vines but they all up and died the first year under the same growing conditions. :rofl:

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