Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Sunflower microgreens are a delicious addition to your recipe collection, and they’re easy to grow in your kitchen.


Once “mature,” you can harvest your sunflower microgreens, and their rich, nutty flavor and crunchy texture fit into every meal of the day. They pair particularly nicely with eggs at breakfast, soups, sandwiches, and wraps at lunch, and alongside meats and grains at dinner.


Chock full of vitamins, protein, and lecithin to break down fatty acids, sunflower microgreens are not only delicious, they also pack quite a nutritional punch. Growing them yourself is economical, satisfying, and fun. It’s an easy crop for children to plant and grow and makes a great addition to their favorite meals, including pizza, tacos, and alphabet soup.


An as an added bonus, your chickens, ducks, other poultry, and rabbits will also jump at the chance to down some sunflower microgreens as part of their diet (and you might even save some money at the same time!)


Are you ready to exercise your green thumb by growing your own sunflower microgreens this planting season? Follow these ten easy steps!


Start by purchasing quality sunflower sprouting seeds.


You don’t need to purchase the most expensive seeds, but you do want the black oil sunflower seed variety. Make sure the seeds you purchase are for sprouting – organic seeds are best so you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with harmful chemicals.


Click here to buy organic sunflower sprouting seeds on Amazon


Then purchase a growing pad, organic soilseedling tray, and plastic cover, and set them aside for later use. (You can make your own organic soil as well).


Soak the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours


Grab a mason jar and pour in enough seeds to cover your grow tray. Because we’re growing microgreens, space isn’t as big of an issue so be generous – you want a large enough harvest to make the effort worth it.


Be sure to keep the seeds covered as they soak to keep dust, bugs, etc out of the jar.  This will speed up germination, and let you harvest the sunflower microgreens faster. You’ll also waste less seeds.


If you don’t want to go through the soaking process, then you can just plant the seeds directly in the grow tray.


But if you want to soak your seeds, then…


Drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool water, then repeat the soaking process.


Again, use warm water and soak for an additional 12 hours. It’s very important to rinse the seeds thoroughly so they don’t get moldy.


At this point, you should start to see the seeds begin to sprout. It will look like they’re growing tiny tails.


Pour potting soil into your grow tray and spread the seeds very thickly.


You can cover the seeds very lightly with additional soil, but it’s not strictly necessary. Cover the tray with the plastic top so moisture is retained – make sure there is some ventilation, and remove the top if the seeds begin to mold.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy addition to any meal!

Water your sunflower microgreens by placing the tray inside a larger tray or tub.


This allows the seeds to receive water from the bottom without disturbing them from the top. You don’t want to displace any of the dirt or disturb the seedlings’ root structure.


As the seeds grow and start to push up, move them to a sunny spot (like a bright window) and continue to water them regularly.


You CAN use a grow light if you want, but it’s not strictly necessary, since your sunflower microgreens will be harvested in a few days.


In a week to a week and a half, the sunflower shoots should be about 4” tall.


Harvest your sunflower microgreens!


Once they’re about 4″ tall, it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor. Cut your sunflower microgreens right above soil level and store them in a sealable plastic bag.  They should last 4-5 days in your refrigerator.


To use them, pull out the amount you need for each recipe, and rinse them carefully under cool, running water.


Use this easy method to grow these tasty greens whenever you want them. Because they’re ready to harvest so quickly, they don’t require a ton of planning ahead, and because they last for 4-5 days when refrigerated, they can also be ready to use when you’re ready for them.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy snack!

Ideas to use your sunflower microgreens


Try your first harvest in a simple summer salad:

Mix sunflower microgreens with peeled and cubed blood oranges and avocados, peeled and shredded carrots, and chopped walnuts or pecans. Dress with a light vinaigrette dressing and add slices of crusty, homemade bread for a delicious summer meal.


I’d like to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to use sunflower microgreens? Leave a comment below!

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

All right, y’all. We made it past the holidays, and now we’re into big gardening time. So, you’re probably wondering, “What can you grow in January?”


What can you grow in January? Here's vegetable gardening for beginners ideas and when to plant your seeds!!




January is kind of a dull month. All the major holidays are over, we’ve all got sticker shock at how much we spent in the past couple months, and it’s freakin’ cold.


So, not much fun, which is where starting your seedlings comes in. The seed catalogues are rolling in, and it’s time to start figuring out what you’ll grow.


(this article is an excerpt from my bestselling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.  You can get a copy on Amazon or buy it directly from me which will save you 10% and you’ll get the digital copy for free.


Buy your copy right here)


What can you grow in January?

Now, there’s definitely some vegetable seedlings you can start indoors under lights, which you can eventually transition out to cold frames.


I show you in this article which vegetables do best in cold frames.


And there’s some things you can grow right in your kitchen, such as sunflower microgreens (tasty for you AND your chickens).


So, if you’re still wondering “what can you grow in January?” then hang onto your pants (please, do, really. No one wants to see you with your pants down), and check out the list below.


square foot gardening plant spacing

Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala)

My old friend kale does well in cold weather, and because of that, you can start it right now if the gardening itch is getting to you.


You can buy kale seeds from my favorite store Seeds Now.


Keep that grow light about 1-2 inches above the pots. I tend to broadcast kale and then thin because the seeds are so tiny.


My old eyes and cranky finger joints can’t handle the fiddly-ness of individual potting. If this sounds like you, then broadcast in trays filled with soil, and cover lightly with dirt.


In Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening, I show you how to care for kale, harvest it, and save the seeds. All important stuff for a self-sufficient garden!


square foot gardening plant spacing

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

So, confession time. I grow lettuce for my chickens and my rabbits because it’s fun watching them eat it, and I’m not a huge fan of lettuce personally.


You can get organic lettuce seeds for a reasonable price right here.


I started using this plan because I always wanted to grow in January, even though I’m not a huge fan of lettuce. But it works out, and the critters are happy with everything I grow for them (in January and the rest of the year, too).


So, lettuce isn’t that much different than kale, although it IS less cold loving.


Because we live in Missouri, and don’t have a spring, I start these in January. The rule of thumb is to start lettuce seeds indoors under lights about 6 weeks before the last spring frost date.


Go here if you want to grow in January based on the last spring frost date.


Lettuce seeds like a heat range of 45 – 75 degrees for germination, so if you’re startings seeds inside your house, you should be okay, but if you’re starting out in a garage, you might need a heat mat like this one.


If you care for your lettuce seedlings well enough, you should get quite a few early spring harvests out of them.


Just remember that your lettuce will be with you indoors through January and on into the later months before transplant, so they’ll need a bit of space – go with 6 inch pots to start them so they have plenty of room to grow.


square foot gardening plant spacing

Mustard (Brassica juncea)

Mustard is another one I start to grow in January. It’s best to start mustard 3 weeks before your last spring frost date, but in this neck of the woods, that can be very early.


In 2017, we had a series of very warm weeks in February and into March, and it never really cooled down again.


And mustard doesn’t like heat, so it shoots up, and I lose my crop. Which is why I start it under lights as early as January 15.


Like kale, mustard seeds are small and fiddly, so I broadcast in a tray and then thin.


Those seeds like temps at least 55 degrees, so again, if you’re starting them outside in a greenhouse or garage, use a heat mat.


You can also learn how to heat your off grid greenhouse, which is simpler than it seems.


Mustard seeds are another one I save. It’s easy, and I show you how to do it in Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.


Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions are a bit tricky, and if you want to grow in January and transplant, now is a good time to get going.


Now, fair warning: They need a lot of space and it’s easier to start them from sets. But if you’re dedicated, you can definitely have success starting them under lights in January. Onions need temps over 30 degrees to flourish, so just remember that when you start your grow tray.


square foot gardening plant spacing

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

I’ve never had much success growing spinach indoors since it doesn’t transplant well, but maybe you’ll have better luck.


You can buy organic spinach seeds here.


I prefer direct sowing, especially since it can survive light frosts (the plant, at least. The seedlings….that’s another story).


Spinach needs soil temps of at least 40 degrees to grow, but doesn’t do well if soil temps are above 70 degrees. So, this is a good one to start in a cold frame or in a garage under lights. Or a greenhouse!



You can start various herbs now for transplant in your garden in spring/early summer. If your house is warm enough, you can start them under lights without a heat mat (although it’s easier with the heat mat).


You can buy organic herb seeds here.


square foot gardening plant spacing

Use these tricks to starting seeds easier

There are some seeds that take a few extra steps to start (or, it can help them start better). In this article, I show you 2 easy tricks that should be in your master gardener toolkit to starting seeds from certain vegetables easier!


Wondering what can you grow in January for your chickens? Well, luckily, pretty much all the veggies we discuss in this article are great for chickens. Mine particularly like kale, herbs, and spinach!


square foot gardening plant spacing

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When to Start Seeds Indoors Planning Guide

When to Start Seeds Indoors Planning Guide

Ready to start your garden, and wondering when to start seeds indoors under lights?


Well, I got answers for you. And it won’t even cost you a dime.


This article is an excerpt from my best selling book, Organic By  Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. You can buy it on Amazon or directly from me (saves 20%, shipping is included, and get the digital version free).


When you start seeds indoors, it’s an effective and affordable way to get a good variety of plants budding in your garden.


Yes, you can buy starts, and sometimes, I even do that, especially with the more difficult to germinate varieties (looking at you, cauliflower.).


Indoor seed starting gives you a wide range of possibilities on how and what to grow, and knowing the basics and when to start seeds indoors will allow you to harvest organic crops earlier in the spring and into all summer long.


How to know when to start seeds indoors

Remember that when you’re planning to start seeds indoors, timing is everything.


It’s easy when all your seeds come in the mail and you’re still being bombarded with catalogues to feel like you have to get everything done ASAP.


Breathe. Pace yourself.


Keep a “when to start seeds indoors chart” handy and make a schedule and try to tackle just a couple tasks a day so you avoid feeling rushed (more on this below). 


A “when to start seeds indoors chart” will help you count back from your last expected frost date the indicated number of weeks growth is required for that particular seed before moving it outdoors.


Review your garden layout plans (if you haven’t done that, here’s my square foot gardening layout article) and have the right equipment handy.


square foot gardening plant spacing


Specifically, plan out the seeds that you’re trying to grow and what part of your garden you’ll grow them. Most seed companies include basic growing information on their packet labels.


Keep in mind that weather is unpredictable so “when to start seeds indoors” guides on your packets are just an approximate.


Review the “when to start seeds indoors chart” below for general guidance and Organic By Choice for specific guidance about the best time to start seeds in your area.


Some common dates for when to start seeds indoors

11 weeks before last frost date: Early greens like lettuce, spinach, mustard, collards, and kale. See my article “What seeds can you start in January?”

10 weeks: Herbs like basil and oregano, broccoli, onions, early greens

9 weeks: Pepper, onions, shallots, tomatoes, shallots

8 weeks: Peppers, tomatoes, leaf lettuce, cabbage

7 weeks: Lettuce, radicchio

6 weeks: All the above plus delicate herbs like calendula, thyme, and lemon balm

5 weeks: Tomatoes, melons, cucumber, squash


If you want a full chart plus expert growing tips, there’s a full encyclopedia in my book, Organic By Choice.


Additional tips to start seeds indoors with success


Find the right container

There are plenty of seed growing containers out there, such as peat pots, seedling flats, and even egg cartons.


You can still get a great harvest even if you're growing a garden in small spaces!


Pretty much, you can use anything as long as it can contain the growing medium for at least 2-3 inches deep, depending on the vegetable variety. (Don’t forget to poke some drainage holes and label them.)


However, the key is finding the right size container. For example, you’ll probably need a large growing container for lettuce, especially if you start it in January and plan to put it in your garden in April.


Take a look at your plants and decide how long they’ll be in pots indoors. This is an indicator of how big the growing pot should be.


square foot gardening plant spacing


Use an effective growing medium

A good seed-starting mix must be fresh and sterile with a light and fluffy texture (I show you how to make an organic seed mix in Organic By Choice.).


This allows the medium to hold enough moisture to aid in germination. You can choose to buy commercial bagged mixes, coconut husk fibers, or compressed pellets of peat that expand when wet.


Provide adequate light

It is important to make sure that your seedlings get the right amount of sunlight to grow after they germinate.


Window sills often cannot provide enough light for seeds, so most gardeners use artificial lighting for starting seeds indoors under lights.


You can also use plant lights with a timer system.


square foot gardening plant spacing

Five Steps To Start Seeds Indoors

There are five easy steps to start your seeds indoors and move them to the garden to grow fully.


Use an organic seed-starter mix

You can use a commercial starter mix, or make your own (you can read more about how to do this in Organic by Choice).


Remember that at this stage, you won’t need any compost (in fact, it can make things a bit difficult if it makes the soil very heavy).


Everything that your new babies need to grow is already in the seeds.


square foot gardening plant spacing


Know how deep you need to plant your seeds

Your seed packet will indicate when to start seeds indoors, but they might skip how DEEP to plant the seeds.


The rule of thumb is to plant seeds twice as deep as they are long. This works great for squash, cucumbers, etc, but what about tiny seeds like lettuce?


I tend to broadcast these seeds then thin because it’s faster and less eye strain (those seeds are TINY!).


If you’re braver than I am, you can plant 2-3 seeds and then thin. Similarly, plant 2-3 tomato seeds and then thin when the second set of leaves emerges so just the strongest seedling remains.


It’s best to moisten the potting soil before planting seeds so they’re not dislodged and disturbed.


Water seedlings only to keep the soil moist and not soggy

One favorite trick I use is to wait for the soil to slightly dry up in between watering sessions. A wet environment invites disease.


Feed with warmth and sun

As indicated above, using a light to start your seedlings and keep them going is a good idea. While seeds don’t need light to germinate, they do need warmth.


The trick is not each vegetable variety requires the same amount of warmth. They like to keep us on our toes.


For example, spinach won’t start if the soil temperature is over 70 degrees, but tomatoes won’t germinate if the soil temp us UNDER 70 degrees. Knowing the warmth needed to germinate is really important (and something I show you in detail in Organic By Choice).


As for light, you can use artificial light for starting seeds indoors under lights, or choose a south facing location.


Hardening off

Once you’ve managed to start seeds indoors, you’ll eventually want to put them outside in your garden. You can’t just slap them outside, or they’ll go into shock (especially if one day it’s 40 degrees, the next 70, and the next 40 again).


No vegetable has time for that.


Gradually transitioning your seed start to the outdoor weather is key.  


Knowing when when to start seeds indoors isn’t difficult, and following these steps, you’ll have more success starting an organic garden full of healthy vegetables!

square foot gardening plant spacing

13 Organic Gardening Supplies Every Woman Needs

13 Organic Gardening Supplies Every Woman Needs

Getting started with gardening this year? Feeling overwhelmed? (Or just want to get it right the first time?) You need help in choosing the right organic gardening supplies.


You can choose to grow organic for life and you can start today.


With the right tools, gardening becomes easy, enjoyable, and successful. Let’s do a quick rundown of the most basic organic farming supplies you need to have.


Basic Organic Gardening Supplies 


These organic gardening supplies make organic gardening for beginners super simple. Here's what every woman should have on hand when growing vegetables!


  1.    Classic Organic Gardening Tools

In planning every garden, you need to have the basic supplies to be able to fill your pots, till the soil, and maintain the growth of your crops.


Must have gear includes tillers, rakes, hoes (not that kind…the kind that help dig out naughty weeds that have sprung up where they shouldn’t).


When looking for rakes and hoes, be sure they’re the right height for you. I’ve purchased some supplies in the past that were too short; I ended up hunching over. Not fun.


  1. Apparel

You don’t want to get sunburned trying to grow fresh tomatoes or bummed because your toes are soaking wet, do you?


Essential organic gardening supplies include a hat and waterproof boots. Muck boots are great to keep your socks from getting soaked, and a hat will not only provide shade for your eyes, it’ll also catch sweat and keep you cooler when the temperature rises.


Gloves are another organic gardening supplies must-have. After a while, you’ll start to get blisters. Definitely not fun!


Any gloves you buy should be comfortable to wear and not rub you anywhere. These are your protection against cuts, blisters, prickers, and sunburns.


  1.    Pots & Other Containers

Some crops need a little extra time or babying before they can be transplanted. Pots are one of those organic gardening supplies you should always have on hand.


If you plan to grow herbs, then putting them in pots is a good idea; you can put them out when the weather is better (a lot of herbs are heat-loving) and bring them inside so you can still enjoy them when the weather turns cool again.


  1.    Starter Mixes

Starter mixes are part of the organic gardening supplies you need for seed starting. The nutrients support healthy seedling growth, and the right starter mix can make or break you.


You can also make your own starter mix (there’s a great recipe in my book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.)


  1.    Heat Mats

Successful gardening starts with successful germination. Any kind of vegetable seed will only take root when the soil temperature remains within that particular plant’s requirement. Some will need more warmth and in such cases, you should use a seedling heat mat.


  1.    Compost

If you want to grow organic for life, you need to fertilize your soil. The easiest and least expensive (and pretty much the best) way to do that is with compost.


It’s one of those must-have supplies, and you can either buy compost from a reliable supplier who you trust or make your own.


  1.    Row covers

As your organic garden grows, you need to provide extra care for your seedlings, especially in the early spring when your plants deal with a lot of temperature and weather changes. The plants are also at risk of being destroyed by pesky insects and animals.


Row covers will protect them, keep pests at bay, and overall are one of the best tools you can use to protect your babies from harsh conditions. Look for supplies from brands that feature UV resistant material with screened ventilation.


  1.    Netting

Nets act as temporary fences to protect your plants from thieving pests and other destructive elements. Deer or rabbits, for example, might try to snack on your young, tender, vegetable plants.


Netting will keep them away and snacking on something else. Keep calm and protect thy plants!


  1.    Twine

Garden twine help keep things under control in your garden, particularly tomato plants, if you plant to stake them (I didn’t do that last year trying to save a buck on cages. Very bad idea – my garden was a mess of tomato vines come August). Hemp twine is a good, all-natural twine.


  1.   Burlap

Something else to keep on hand, that most people overlook, is burlap. It can be used to wrap your plants (VERY handy if you need a quick row cover when the temperature suddenly drops), protect and screen your plants from harmful pests, prevent soil erosion, germinate seeds (great for lettuce and carrot seeds), among other ideas.


It is inexpensive and biodegradable, perfect to lay in your garden bed anytime.


  1.   Organic Insect Sprays

— And sprayers, of course. Experts say that what you spray and how you spray it creates a big difference in the outcome of your garden. Insecticides and herbicides should come from safe and natural ingredients. Look for high-quality garden sprays for better performance and good results.

You can learn how to make your own organic insect sprays in my book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.


  1.   Moisture Meter

Nothing is worse than either overwatering or underwatering your plants. These risks can be avoided with supplies like a moisture meter. It is one of the powerful gardening tools that measure the water in plants at the root level.


This list should give you the perfect head start in growing your first garden. The next you can do is to look for brand-specific organic gardening supplies that will match your expectations and budget. If you have other great gardening tools and tips that you can share, we encourage you to share them to help fellow gardeners to start going organic today!

Not Sure What Crops To Grow In May? Here’s Answers! [Planting Guide]

Not Sure What Crops To Grow In May? Here’s Answers! [Planting Guide]

It’s May, but for different areas of the country, that means different crops you can start!


Here in Zone 7, we’re well under way, and have already harvested our cool weather crops, and my tomato plants have had a sudden growth spurt.


My friends in Zones 3 and 4, however, are just getting started (and I have friends who are still under frozen tundra!)


In this article, we’ll discuss what to grow in USDA Zones 3-10, which covers most of the contiguous United States.


Zones 9 and 10

This is where you can find some early heat, so you won’t be able to plant a lot of seeds in this region. This is why you will have to focus on starting with some transplants.


You can use lima beans, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, jicama, okra, peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter and summer squash as well as watermelon and tomatillo. Edible cactuses are another option.


If you live in a desert area or if water is scarce, choose varieties that are drought resistant. Eggplants, for example, thrive in arid desert environments.


Make sure you water generously in the mornings or evening dusk (very morning will help your plants withstand the mid-day heat.


Zones 7 and 8

For these zones, you will be ok with planting lima beans, snap beans as well as sweet corn, cucumber, eggplants, okra, peppers, sweet potatoes, winter and summer squash as well as watermelons.


If you want watermelons, you may want to grow them early in the month, especially if you’re direct sowing with seeds. Cantaloupe is another option, be sure to allow it to trellis to keep it off the ground and away from critters.


If you have a cooler area of your property, you can still sneak in some radishes and baby lettuce in Zone 7, but kale and broccoli will bolt, as will lettuce if it’s not harvested at an early stage.


Zones 5 and 6

Here you may also want to opt for some specific seeds. These include watermelons, tomatoes, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, peppers, okra, lettuce, eggplants, sweet corn, cucumbers, cantaloupes as well as lima and snap beans!


What you have to note about these two zones is that they don’t’ have to deal with such a challenging weather as other regions do. This is why you can opt for a variety of crops. Thankfully, these can be planted throughout May, with little to no problems.


Zones 3 and 4

For these zones, you will see that you can easily plant a wide array of seeds, and the temperature is on your side. You can still start watermelon and cantaloupe inside a greenhouse.


Kale, radish, head and leaf lettuce, peas, chard, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets can all be started outdoors – if frost threatens the tender starts, be sure to cover with a cold frame.


When the ground is workable, you can plant your potatoes.


You can start hardening off your tomatoes, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, cantaloupe, cucumbers, but if frost threatens, leave them indoors. A frost will kill them, wasting your work.


This is quite an incredible investment and one that will almost certainly pay off very well in the end.


The idea here is to invest in crops that deliver a very good quality and which are easy to nurture and take care of. Most of them can be grown throughout May, although chard and leaf lettuce are better grown at the earliest parts of May to prevent bolting.


I’d like to hear from you!

Which of these vegetables and fruits are you growing? Leave a comment below!