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Seeds, sprouts, and transplants

Growing a great garden is one thing but where do you get the seeds? Do you use sprouts? What do you start from seed and what do you transplant?

Here is my quick guide of what I get, what I plant, and where I find my goods.

A garden raid: This is our bounty from picking produce at Pappy T's garden. Thom has an (approximate) 15'x30' fenced in garden. Whatever we can't grow in our own gardens, we grow in Thom's garden. We are expanding our planting areas, learning how to cultivate 3 [and 4] sisters, and utilizing more vertical spaces. For now, we also plant and grow produce and flowers at any other available spots. Here we have gathered zucchini, eggplant, various tomatoes, green peppers, wax peppers, and a multitude of hot peppers, green beans, onions, and not shown: watermelon, squash, potatoes, and horseradish.

“Daddy, where do seeds come from?”
"Maybe you should go ask your mother..."

Planting from seeds

Where do seeds come from? The age old question. Basically, our seeds come from all over. We dry flowers and collect seeds after the season. We carefully scoop seeds out of fruits and veggies, wash them, dry them, and store them in envelopes, jars, old vitamin containers. I even keep the silica packets to keep out moisture. Did anyone ever tell me to do that? No, honestly, one day I thought, I'm going to keep these and use them for the same purpose: freshness and moisture control. Everything is labeled with season and dates. We eat food, we collect the seeds, we sprout the seeds or sow directly, and we [hopefully] grow more food. Eat, save, plant, repeat. Anything that we buy that is organic (or non-gmo) from a farm, a farmstand, a store, a market, etc we will try to save the seeds. We even have avocado plants all over the "art room" and yes, we know they won't fruit but there's nothing wrong with having and maintaining free plants. Why would I just throw out avocado pits when then grow such interesting plants with huge, awesome leaves? One day I will learn how to graft them, one day. But for now, one step at a time.

So where do we get our seeds?

  1. From all organically, regeneratively, or certified "natural" produced food that we eat

  2. Reputable sources {shops, markets, farmers like Rodale Institute, Health Food stores, small local nurseries and garden centers}

    1. High Mowing Organic Seeds

    2. All Good Things Organic Seeds

    3. Peaceful Valley USDA Organic (non-GMO) Farm and Garden Supply

    4. Botanical Interests Organic Seeds

    5. Burpee sometimes for filler plants, extras, pollinators, gourds, melons

  3. Online / printed catalogues

    1. Johnny's Seeds

    2. Seed Savers [Exchange]

    3. The Herbiary [Maia Toll's shops] This is also a go to for cut, dried, prepared herbs. It looks like they do not currently have seeds here at this time.

    4. White Harvest Seed Company

      1. Not all of these seeds are organic. A neighbor recently made an order and asked if I'd like some seeds so I ordered as well. I don't have information on how well these seeds will do yet but I will keep this posted.


      1. Here you can find Strictly Medicinal Seeds which are all organic and sustainably grown

      2. I have been taking courses at the Herbal Academy's online school and this was one of the resources provided. If you take courses you also receive a discount code for orders

  4. From local growers on an online exchange platform

    1. There is a local Facebook "Buy Nothing Emmaus" group. Sometimes you can find seeds from friends who have extras, for free. I only get this if I know the person or if they show an original packet indicating that the seeds are organic.

    2. The local Lehigh Valley Garden Group on Facebook also often has seeds, spouts, and transplants for free or for trade online. I have gotten so many plants this way with trades, shares, exchanges, and barters, or even just gifts.

  5. Farmer and garden friends

    1. I have some amazing friends and acquaintances who farm and garden. I wouldn't trade this for the world. Are there people in your life who you talk to 4 times a year and it seems to correspond with growing or planting seasons? Well, keep those people in your life forever! This is more likely how I acquire sprouts, transplants, and overgrowth but I have also gotten seeds from friends just by asking, telling people what I am looking for, or posting an all call ISO. My neighbor also is known to put out a box of seeds several times a season with everything pre-marked and labeled. She puts them out on her stoop and puts a huge sign "Free".

    2. The Creative Kindness Coalition also has been giving seeds at book signings, events, and with certain book purchases straight from the Author and Illustrator, Tassia Schreiner

This year from seed we have planted: cosmic purple carrots, sweet basil, Italian large leaf basil, white sage, fizzy kale, calendula, amaranth (scarlet and cream), dill, lettuce mixes, mizuna mix, tulsi, lemon balm, oregano, oregano vulgare, yarrow, purslane, mullein, comfrey, helichrysum, black oil sunflowers, Titan sunflowers, Teddy Bear sunflowers, Moon and stars watermelon, arugula, radishes, microgreens, echinacea, elecampane, tarragon, chives, onions, and scallions.

We will also sow our pollinator mixes with mints, anise hyssop, beebalm, cosmos, sweet peas, sunflowers, borage and lovage, zinnia, poppy, black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta), and marigolds.

We also have been experimenting with fixing some blank spots in our yard with alfalfa, clover varieties, buckwheat, oats, peas, and other perennials and herbaceous legumes. I happen to be allergic to five of the main ordinary grass blends and we have taken a pledge to not use any chemicals on our green spaces. We are using natural growing methods to enrich our soil, strengthen the roots of our yard plants, and create a healthy ecosystem of diverse native wildlife in all of our green spaces.


Do I start everything from seed? Heck no. First of all, we don't have a greenhouse yet. We also have deer, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, and probably raccoons with the amount of compost we make. So for me starting things from seeds doesn't always make sense. What do I buy at plant sales? Probably way too much but I like to give back. So if I buy plants and put them in the garden and we get hit with an unforeseen hail, lightning, and snow storm late in April *cough* I am not too upset about the early plants I put in the ground because for me it feels like a donation to the farmers who worked hard to grow those plants.

I always buy some plants that have been started on farms or in green houses. These are my go to plants that I need to buy after they are well established: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, some herbs like spicy globe basil, parsley, cilantro, rhubarb [perennial], cardoon [perennial], lemon verbena, eggplants, cucumbers. So I guess what I'm saying is I have to buy my nightshades pre-started and certain culinary herbs. I cannot just grow tomatoes from seed. Give me a healthy tomato plant any day. Peppers—I need these guys hearty and ready to go. They go straight into the raised beds over the micros and among the kale. I love to get some prestarted herbs and then once they are established sprinkle some seeds in to fill in the gaps. I have some herbs ready and as I'm using them the new, younger herbs will hopefully start to grow and add to the eating season.

So where do I get these pre-started plants?

  1. Rodale Institute's Plant sale [Kutztown]

  2. The Seed Farm's Plant sale [Emmaus]

  3. Rappelkeppi Farm [Kutztown] had some herb plants for sale last year

  4. Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education has native, perennial fruiting shrubs, bushes, trees, and other edibles available for online purchase and contactless pickup [Philadelphia/Roxborough]

  5. Wild Fox Farm offered plants at a sale this year [Barto]

  6. Tooth of the Lion was selling herbs and apothecary delectables (last year) I am hoping they sell more this year as well. Last year I purchased calendula from them and it was beautiful. [Emmaus Farmers' Market]

  7. Eagle Point Farm Stand [Trexlertown]

  8. Friends and neighbors

    1. As I said before, I have some amazing people in my life who love plants as much as I do. I trade with friends especially when we have heritage or heirloom medicinals in our yards. We often trade elderberry, sun chokes, asparagus, elecampane, poke berry, johnny jump ups, echinacea, hosta, mint varieties, lemon balm, rhubarb, anise hyssop, horehound, comfrey, wild ginger, St. John's Wort, Evening Primrose, catnip, ramps, ferns, milkweed varieties, and other pollinator flowers to diversify our natural, native wildlife ecosystems.

  9. Some local greenhouses or nurseries for me those would be

    1. Herbein's Garden Center

    2. Dan Schantz Greenhouse

    3. Burkholder's Farm Fresh Produce, Greenhouse, and Nursery


I have bought a number of plants and happily placed them in the ground. They were already started so they should be good to go in the garden, right? No. Unfortunately, we still need to take some measures to assure that our plants will survive once they have been moved around. The weather and storm fronts have also been so sporadic that I lost many plants from an early planting. We were hit by an instant hail and lightning storm late one afternoon followed by snowfall that night. This was sometime in late April. There are some warm weather plants that even when I bring them home as healthy seedlings or hearty little plants, I still keep them inside until warmer more consistent weather patterns arrive. When we planted seeds at Rodale Institute for the Earth Day on the Farm event, I told all the children to take care of their little seeds. "Ok, I need a big helper. These little seeds cannot take care of themselves. Someone will need to water them every day until a little green leaf pops out of the ground and then they need to be watered as the dirt gets dry. Do you know anyone who can do that? Your plants need to stay inside until June 5, then they can find a nice sunny spot in a large pot or spot in your garden." I was faced with large, open eyes and nodding heads. Some children raised their hands or pointed to their own chest as if taking ownership and saying, "Me!" or "Yes, I can do that!"

With all the new gardeners, I was participating in a webinar about gardening the other day and it was stated that some 20-million people were gardening in 2020, we may be reaching new territories. Seeds and plants were impossible to come by last year so I have been taking measures for this year. I try to order my plants from local plant sales early and also volunteer to guarantee that I get a few plants and it gives me a chance to speak directly with the farmers and greenhouse managers. I can learn what the different plants need, their conditions, their ideal companion plants, the environments that they like, etc. Some plants like temperatures and soil conditions and can actually change the environment for other plants so they shouldn't be planted near each other. The kale was kept outside during a recent plant sale because the green house was just too humid. I have read that many types of mixed greens or arugula do not like to be transplanted. It is best to start them from seed or germinate them in the place they will be grown unless you start them in a mud pot which can be placed directly in a bigger pot as they grow. Some gardeners and growers use mud pots instead of small seed flats. They fashion mud, soil, nutrients into molds and then dry. Then they wet them and plant, germinate seeds, and repot or place in the garden once the plants are ready. They just plop the entire mud square into the ground.

Other gardeners are advocating for rinsing the dirt off the roots of pre-started plants allowing the roots to fan out and breathe and then placing them in a sizeable hole and covering with appropriate soils or compost, depending on what nutrients each plant needs.

My advice would be to find a good reference book, a gardener with pictures or tutorials online, or a handy resource that can help you with questions as they arrive. There are so many amazing people who are actively making a difference in the world. Find 2-5 sources you really like and see what advice they have. Find a friend or neighbor for hands-on help. Find a professional who works with organic or regenerative practices because they can help with growing conditions, pest management, soil treatments with natural measures, and techniques for healthy biodiverse garden communities. Then find two gardeners/farmers online who seem to grow similar plants as you —or grow the plants that you would like to eventually plant—and live in the same growing zone/region.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver

Plant, Grow, Eat, Seed, Repeat

Growing a few things at home in your own garden, in a window box, on your kitchen counter, on the back slab, in a pot, in a glass, in the ground, all of these things can help you to provide your own food for you and your family. Everytime that we can do something for ourselves we take back some of our own natural connection to the earth, to nature, to the planet, to the food web and chain. We take back feelings of vulnerability. We become more sustainable and self-sufficient. Start small with one plant. Add a plant each growing season. Grow things you will like to eat like herbs and small veggies or a small fruiting bush (though you will most likely need at least two of them to fruit). Start saving your seeds and trying planting them. If you grow too many vegetables or too much of something learn to save it, preserve it, share it with neighbors. You can grow something and your neighbor can grow something different and you can trade. With small steps, we can all take actions to make a difference in our own lives, our food system, our neighborhoods, our networks. I don't want to just exist. I want to live.


Thank you for joining me today. Please be sure to share with friends if you know someone who may be interested in gardening or composting with children, learning and playing outdoors, growing their own food, or collaborating to share talents with others. #gardening #gardeningwithchildren #raiseawildchild #growyourown #visforvictorygarden #Rodale #Rappelkeppi #TheSeedFarm #SchuylkillCenter #EnvironmentalED #AgriculturalEd #Horticulture #Gardens #Seeds #Sprouts #Transplants #TheFindingPlaceLV #NaturebasedLearning #1000hoursoutside2021 #Outdoorsall4 #playoutside #HandsOnMindsOn #sustainableLV #LehighValley #ReggioEmiliaApproach #sustainLehighValley

Make less waste, grow more food, live life with love and gratitude.


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