Know your seeds

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Know your seeds

Growing plants from seeds is an exciting activity when it comes to gardening. Its a slow process but the benefits are worth the process. Unlike saplings plants grown from seeds tend to adjust to the growing conditions very well. The amount of care needed is way less compared to a sapling. When nurtured and cared from their birth they tend to become immune and also provides a good yield. This is going to be one big article but I assure you that the knowledge you gain in the end is worth your time.

We have heard many technical terms when it comes to seeds. We will look at those terms in brief in this article. This is a vast subject and I am trying to consolidate all in a small post so providing link to external articles as well. If you find any of these links not working kindly let me know.

The types of seeds: There are many internal classifications but we are going to only look at the broad overviews. In general seeds are broadly classified into 2 types namely

  • Angiosperms aka enclosed seeds: Enclosed seeds are the ones that are formed and protected inside an ovary base. They mostly are inside a fruit. Most of the vegetables and fruits fall under this category.
  • Gymnosperms aka naked seeds: Naked seeds generally lie exposed on the surface of a scale. examples include rice, maize, greens, almost all flowers.

The seed generation process is a technique used by farmers and other commercial organisations to generate commercially viable seeds for mass crop production. Before we go into the details get to know the basic classification


Heirloom seeds come from open-pollinated plants that pass on similar characteristics and traits from the parent plant to the child plant. There is no concrete definition that every gardener uses to define heirloom plants. In general, you should consider heirlooms to be seeds that are possible to regrow and pass on from one generation to the next.

One important thing to note for heirloom plants is whether they are organic or non-organic. In most cases, heirloom plants are organic because they are generally only used by small-scale gardeners who do not use pesticide or other harmful chemicals. However, there may be minor cases when chemicals do get involved since heirloom plants do not always have a similar level of innate protection that hybrid and GMO plants provide against diseases and pests.

Remember, heirloom refers to the heritage of a plant, while organic refers to a growing practice. They are two different things.

Hybrids: Hybrid seed is seed produced by cross-pollinated plants. Hybrid seed production is predominant in agriculture and home gardening. Hybrids are chosen to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color & disease resistance. Hybrid seeds will produce similar plants, however the seeds of the next generation from those hybrids will not consistently have the desired characteristics.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): GMO seeds are produced using sophisticated and very expensive lab techniques (like retroviruses and gene guns). With this they manipulate and combine the DNA of species that could never, ever breed in nature.  GMO technology allows us to “play God” in a way that even Mother Nature hasn’t dared.

Combining or splicing together genes from different organisms in the lab (without actually sexually breeding them) is known as recombinant DNA technology, and the resulting organism is said to be “genetically modified,” “genetically engineered,” or “transgenic.”

RoundUp-Ready crops are plants that have had their DNA manipulated with bacterial genes to withstand heavy, repeated applications of the herbicide RoundUp, also called glyphosate.

Read through this article for more information.

Heirloom, Hybrid or GMO?

There are some distinct differences that one should be aware of when it comes to heirloom, hybrid and GMO plants.

Heirloom plants: The only ones that breed true. As mentioned earlier, this means the same characteristics are passed on from generation to generation. The same cannot be said for hybrid and GMO.

Hybrid plants:  Produced when different varieties of plants are cross-pollinated, which can happen with or without human intervention. Because there are different varieties of plants involved, it can’t be guaranteed that the offspring of hybrid plants produces identical traits as the parent plant.

Both heirloom and hybrid plants can be viewed as natural occurrences.

GMO plants: GMO plants, can only be produced using unnatural methods such as gene splicing. Scientists essentially modify a seed’s DNA to ensure the resulting plant produces the desired traits and characteristics.

The crop modification process used in Hybrid and GMO seed production is something unique. Rather than me briefing it I would encourage you to read through the article here for knowledge base. For those of you who wish not to skip my blog here is a picture borrowed from the site 🙂

Organically produced seeds are pure native varieties and also treated and stored using traditional methods making them viable even after years. With appropriate soil conditions and traditional methods organic seeds can give you a decent produce for a longer period.

So what’s organic? Organic produce is not generated with synthetic pesticide and is much lower in overall pesticide residue. The widely used herbicide Glyphosate (Roundup) is not used in organic produce. The seeds are not treated with toxic hexane. Read through the below table to understand the difference between organic and non gmo.

Method Organic Non organic
usage of synthetic pesticides NO YES
roundup herbicides NO YES
hexane NO YES
sewage sludge NO YES
Growth promoters NO YES
Chemical boosters/ Soil promoters NO YES
Natural boosters/ soil promoters YES NO
Seeds treated with chemicals/ preservatives NO YES

Hope this article helped you in understanding the basics of how organic seeds are produced. Let me know your thoughts on this article.

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Preparing your pot/ grow bag or garden bed – Part2 – The Sandwich Soil layering method

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Preparing your pot/ grow bag or garden bed – Part2 – The Sandwich Soil layering method

In my previous blog I had shared the knowledge base on soil layers. Natures design is unique and replicating the same format in our pots/ grow bags is not really necessary. However we can take the tip from nature and create a sustainable soil layer which can withstand heat and retain water and fertilizer.

For this article purpose I am going to take the example of a setting up a standard 12″x 12″ HDPE grow bag.

Materials needed:

  • Large gravels from the seving process while preparing your potting mix.
  • A bit of river sand (cocopeat in case of no river sand)
  • Neem oil cake
  • Horticultural Charcoal broken to small pieces or self prepared Bio Charcoal

Now you are wondering what? Charcoal now where did this come from and what is this Bio Charcoal? I know I can read your mind… 🙂

Charcoal use in garden: Charcoal helps in raising the PH level of the soil, improves the air circulation and helps the soil to retain water and nutrients. This continues for years making the soil rich and full of micro organisms. Do not use the charcoal used for barbeque as they may contain chemicals use the normal ones available in local stores. You can also check with your local ironing person (if they still uses charcoal) where they gets it from.

Bio Charcoal: Its nothing but the charcoal which you can prepare by burning your garden dry waste including the weeds. Just ensure the seeds and any pests are completely burned and nothing but deep color smoke is coming out. Allow it to cool and you have your own Bio Charcoal.

Coming back the layering method is pretty simple. Picture is self made so kindly excuse 🙂

Lets go bottoms up 🙂

5. Cover the bottom 2 inch layer with the gravels you had retained earlier.

4. Now layer the next one inch with a mix of river sand/ coco peat, your potting mix and neem oil cake (You might wonder why we are adding neem oil cake now as we already added it during the preparation). Well this is to ensure no soil pests thrive even deep inside the soil.

3. Now cover this with one and half inch of charcoal or bio charcoal. Ensure to break the charcoal to small pieces.

2. Top it up with 1/2 an inch of river sand.

Now that we have setup 5 inch of layering we are left with another 7 inch space.

1. Fill the rest of the 6 inches with your potting mix and and plant or sow your seed.

0. Remember the thumb rule, always leave and empty space a thumb measure from above the top of the pot/ grow bag bare minimum an inch. This helps in when you water your plants

The above mentioned is the sandwich soil layering method I am following. Have learnt this from expert gardeners and after multiple R&D have freezed on this method. While they say that the soil would hold good for upto 4 years with this method, many of my pots are already 2 years old and the plants are really doing well. All you need to do is just top up the soil with required nutrients at required time.

Try it out, hope this helps. Next would enter to the core topics soon… Until then happy gardening.



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Preparing your pot/ grow bag or garden bed – Part1 – Understanding the need

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It has been quite some time I have written my next article. Apologies have been busy with personal work and setting up my shopping cart for all your organic needs including seeds and organic supplements. Lets get started.

Preparing your pot/ grow bag or garden bed

Part1 – Understanding the need

In my previous blog I had written about preparing our own potting mix now that we have prepared it we need to setup the mix in such a way that fits the growing conditions of a plant. You might wonder why I am writing a article on this? Isn’t it a simple task to just fill the pot and sow the seed/ fix a plant. Well not really. Lets see why.

I would like to quote my previous article for reference here. We all know by now the real manufacturer of feed for the plants need are the leaves. However the prime supplier of required nutrients and water to the plants are the roots. Moreover the roots need to spread and establish themselves clearly so that the plant  is stable.

Hence our teacher (the nature) has created the complex system of soil layers to make the above possible. The soil layers are broadly classified into 3 layers.

  • The Top Layer
  • The Sub Soil
  • The Bed rock

This is further classified into horizons namely OABCR

The Top layer: This consists of O and A Horizons. The O horizon is nothing but the partly decomposed materials. This indeed is the surface layer of the topsoil which we see. Then cums the real nutrient and mineral rich soil the A horizon which is the humus rich zone where micro organisms, earthworms and other insects live. This is also rich in mineral content. The soil is mostly porous and well aerated. For records this is the potting mix that we have prepared.

The Sub soil: This is called as the B horizon. This is where the compounds that drain from the O and A horizons settle. This is not as porous as top soil. Mostly it is clayey and thick in nature.

Then comes the C Horizon which is nothing but the partly weathered layer of the bedrock.

The Bed rock: This is the R horizon where the bedrock formation settles.

Now a plants root system is desinged to spread across the top soil in search of nutrients and minerals while the tap root drills down in search of water. By isolating the location of nutrients minerals and water nature makes the roots spread there by giving the plants a stable place above the ground.

Its always interesting to know natures design. To cut the long story short I have just given you a basic understanding on soil layers. While it is not important to design the same formation in our raised beds, pots or grow bags, it is important that we design a basic setup for the plants to thrive. This is called the “sandwich soil” layering method. The above information would help you understand why we need to prepare the soil layers in our pots

Will write about the method sandwich soil layering method next.

Happy gardening folks

Crazy Gardener

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