Archive | Garden Starts

Spring is almost here! Planting successful starts in your Togetherfarm Blocks.

You can use your Togetherfarm Blocks as seed or starter planters!

You can use your Togetherfarm Blocks as seed or starter planters! Just flip them over, plant your seeds or starts with potting seed mix, water and put in a warm place.

Spring is finally almost here, but in many parts of the world (including ours in the Pacific Northwest of America), we have quite a few months to go before it is safe to put many plants directly in our raised Togetherfarm Block beds because of the danger of low temps, late frost and hail.

March is the perfect month to start plants and seeds indoors that require a long growing season (like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and broccoli) so that when the later Spring months of May and June roll around, they already have a good start on their growth, and you can move them in your Togetherfarm Blocks raised bed.

Depending on the area you are planting in, you may start your seeds for different plants earlier or later. This handy planting calculator can help determine when to plant your seeds and starts according to your zip code.

Easy way to sanitize your Togetherfarm Blocks for planting seedlings and plant starts!

Easy way to sanitize your Togetherfarm Blocks for planting seedlings and plant starts!

Using sanitized seed planters is key to disease-free starts
Seeds and small plant starts are especially prone to contracting bacteria or harmful plant disease that may be left over from an earlier season in your planting pots. To avoid transmitting disease to your seeds and starts, just toss your Togetherfarm Blocks into the dishwasher for one cycle–the Blocks can be safely sanitized in the dishwasher and then ready for use year after year.

Light exposure and warmth
There is little as frustrating as trying to get a strong start from a seed, but ending up with a weak and spindly stalk that cannot “weather” the transfer to an outdoor climate. The secret to a strong start begins with the amount of light it is exposed to each day. Here are some tips on getting the most light for your seeds and starts–even in the dead of winter when light is scarce.

1. Choose a south facing window and put your starts in a place without shade and make sure if it is close to a window that the environment is warm enough to get the seeds going. Ideal temperature is between 70-85 degrees.

2. Head to a hardware store and pick up a fluorescent light, and keep the light pointing at the tops of your plants and planter. The light should not be very far away from the planter—2-3″ above them at most. The plants should be exposed to this light for 10-12 hours per day for best results.

Soil and moisture
Small starts, and especially seeds require a very light soil (organic seedling potting soil works best) as the heavier potting soil for mature plants is too heavy and will not allow the small seeds to push up to the light. When covering your seeds with the potting mix, be sure to go no deeper than 1/8″ inch, and in some cases even less, depending on the size of the seed.

Water your seeds and starts every day, preferably with a sprayer so that you do not disturb the seedlings growing process. Never allow your seeds or starts to dry out! A consistent even moist (but not drowned!) environment is ideal.

Don’t fertilize your seeds with anything until 2 or more leaves have formed on a stem. With your small starts, you may start fertilizing them with a light to medium strength, lower nitrogen organic fertilizer such as sea kelp liquid or fish emulsion. When your seeds have formed 2 leaves, fertilize the plants once a week to help form a strong root system.

Transferring your starts from potting container to outdoor raised bed safely
After you have gotten your seeds and starts to a state in which they are ready to be transferred to your raised bed, you must first “condition” them to a colder overnight climate than what they have been used to in the indoor environment they were grown in. This process is called “hardening off” and it is essential to a smooth transition and for survival of your seed starts.

About 10 days to two weeks before the time to move the plants outdoors, start by putting the plants in a shaded, cool place on your porch or patio that is protected from the wind. You can leave them for up to 2 weeks, and then move them to a shady area in your garden close to the area that holds your raised bed. Leave them in this area for another 7-10 days and then if the ground is warm and there is no frost forecast, plant them in your Togetherfarm Blocks raised bed. You can shield them further from wind, birds, squirrels, etc by placing a barrier such as a milk carton with the ends cut off around them until they are sprouting at least 2-3 bunches of leaves off of one stem.

If frost is forecast, bring them in for the night to protect them or until frost danger has passed.




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Benefits of Growing and Eating Kale

Benefits of Growing and Eating Kale

Ornamental Kale looks beautiful in the garden and is also edible.

Kale is one of those garden plants that is packed full of all kinds of nutrients and benefits for your body. In addition, it is really easy to grow and is hardy in lots of different climates. This article will tell you how to grow kale as well as explain some of the benefits to eating kale.

How to Grow Kale

Kale is really easy to grow. All you need is a portion of your garden that gets lots of good sunlight and where the nutrient rich soil is at least 6-12″ deep. Kale is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts which all require soil that is rich in nitrogen. You can buy kale starts at most places where vegetable starts are sold however, kale is also easy to start from seed. The past few years I have done a combination of purchasing a few starts to give me some kale earlier in the year and then started a few kale plants from seed. Once the kale plant has established itself, water it 1-2 times per week when the temperatures are under 80°F and every other day for warmer climates. When the plant has several leaves on it, you can start picking and eating the bottom leaves. The plant will continue to grow and produce more and more leaves that can be eaten. I had one summer where my kale plants had gotten to about 4 feet tall and we had so much kale that we were sharing with all of our neighbors.

Benefits of Growing and Eating Kale

Ornamental Kale can survive freezes as low as 20°F.

If you live in a colder environment or if you want to grow kale in the winter, many varieties do well in near freezing whether. In addition, some of the ornamental kale can withstand temperatures down to 20°F. The ornamental kale is edible but doesn’t taste quite as good as regular kale.

One of the garden pests to watch out for with kale is aphids. If you have a problem with aphids on your kale, check out this article for some organic ways to get rid of aphids in your garden.

Benefits of Eating Kale

Kale is full of incredible nutrients. It is high in Vitamins A, C, and K. It also has lots of calcium, potassium, folic acid, lutein, and antioxidants. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and 10x more vitamin C than spinach. Wow! That’s a lot of wholesome goodness in one plant. So what is all that good for? Well, these nutrients help with eye health, skin health, reduction of the risk of heart disease and cancer. Kale also contributes to weight loss, lower cholesterol, and healthier bones.

Here is a fantastic info graphic that sums all of this up, courtesy of Juice Generation:

Why you should eat kale and health benefits of kale

Do you grow kale? How do you like to eat your kale? Share your favorite recipe in the comments.

Eat Kale, Stay Healthy


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Behind the Scenes at Thicket


Today we thought we’d create a short photo essay taking you behind the scenes at Thicket – our local gardening center.  We showed up to create a quick video for our Kickstarter project but – as luck would have it – we were quickly hit with a classic Portland downpour.  Does this mean summer is officially over?

Here are some great shots of her space from the shoot:


We really like the recycled materials used to create this unique gardening center.  Note the blank chalkboard wiped clean by a few minutes of rain.


This gardening center took over a vacant lot and has transformed this space into a thriving neighborhood destination.


Adria Sparhawk, the owner of Thicket, has so many unique and wonderful plants; many I haven’t seen elsewhere.


Another unique plant in a very unique space.

Here’s a link to our Facebook page with a short video giving you an idea of how much rain came down on us:


And another short video (sideways – sorry about the iPhone malfunction) showing a cup filled by the downpour:


If you are in Portland, I highly encourage you to stop by and see Adria’s shop.  But be careful:  You can spend a lot of time looking at all of the amazing plants and garden accessories she has.  Oh, and bring an umbrella!

About Thicket:

Thicket is a garden boutique filled with a lush selection of flowers and plants along with a clever assortment of vintage ephemera and modern craft curated to inspire life lived in the garden.

Spring has sprung! We are now open
Thursday-Monday 11:00am-6:00pm

Address: 4933 NE 23rd Ave PDX 97211

TogetherFarm Blocks:  Kickstarter update!

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

The TogetherFarm Team has been hard at work the past 4 weeks getting the word out about TogetherFarm Blocks. Our Kickstarter campaign continues to progress towards being fully funded and there’s still time for you to pledge and receive a garden kit of your own. The Kickstarter Campaign will end on September 23rd at about 9pm. So, hurry on over to the TogetherFarm Kickstarter page and make your pledge before it is too late. Be a part of a movement that is empowering more people to grow their own produce. Follow this link to make your pledge now:



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How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

This article will show you how to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant by grafting a tomato plant onto a potato plant. As summer slowly rolls to an end, we often find ourselves with an abundance of tomatos.  Many of the fruit remains green and not fully ripened.  I typically find myself asking, “What can I do different next year to get more fruit for my effort?”


It turns out there is an answer:  grafting tomato plants to potatoes.

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

Grafted Plant Diagram (click image to see image source)

Over the centuries, smart gardeners and farmers have developed successful methods to use potato root stock to support tomatoes that may not otherwise be well suited to poor soil conditions in your garden.


This is a great way to save space in your garden!  You can start your potatoes early in the growing season to let them mature.  Leave some of the potato plants in place and perform the following grafting process to give your tomato plants a head start!


The process:

  1. Taking the potato plant (called the “stock”) cut the stem about 1-inch above the ground and split the stem in a V-shape.
  2. At the tomato plant (called a “scion”), cut the stem with at least 6 to 8 inches of length with a straight across cut.  I recommend choosing a tomato plant that has a stem roughly the same diameter as the potato plant rootstock.
  3. Shape the cut end of the tomato plant to a wedge shape so that it will fit into the potato plant stem’s V-shape cut.
  4. Carefully slide the tomato plant stem onto the potato rootstock.
  5. Wrap the graft location with grafting tape in order to hold the two plants together.
  6. The grafting tape needs to remain in place until the tomato plant begins to show new growth.


Here is an illustration of the grafting steps described above:

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

Grafting Scion Section to Stock (click image to see image source)

Why does this grafting process work?  Tomato plants and potato plants are part of the family of plants called “nightshades”.  Both plants contain alkaloids that help protect the plants from insects (they can even be used to make an organic liquid pest control solution for aphids: Organic Aphid Control)


A point of caution, grafting can potentially affect the flavor of the tomato fruit.  Also, grafted plants may yield less fruit than two separate plants grown from seeds.  On the other hand, a major benefit is the grafting process will save you a lot of time and space!

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

Tomato-Potato Graft Plant Starts (click image to see image source)

If you end up trying this next year, or plant to grow potatoes in general, we have the perfect garden box for potatoes (and for lots of other things too). We call it TogetherFarm Blocks. This is a modular garden box system made from 100% recycled, food-grade plastic that can be put together in any shape or size. Because it is modular, it is perfect for growing potatoes and tomatoes. Tomatoes will send out roots at any point that the stem is below the  surface of the soil. So, as the plant grows, you can add additional layers onto your modular garden box to give the plant even more strength and fruitfulness. With the potatoes, TogetherFarm Blocks makes it simple at harvest time. Simply pull apart the blocks to be able to get to all the potatoes underground. So cool! We are currently in the last few days of a Kickstarter Campaign to get these blocks to market. If you pledge now, we will ship you a kit at the end of January of next year – just in time for next year’s growing season. Here is a link to TogetherFarm Blocks on Kickstarter as well as a picture of an assembled box. Help us reach our goal and get incredible rewards. Pledge now!

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

TogetherFarm Blocks – an eco-friendly and easy way to build a garden box


Happy Gardening,

Matt and the TogetherFarm Produce Evangelists

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