• Attended a love and light-filled Solstice potluck gathering this evening at the home of our dear friends Katherine and Andy. So grateful for the fellowship and community this place offers. As those of us in the northern hemisphere shift into winter, and a return to light-filled days, sincerest wishes from our home to yours for health, happiness, and abundance in the months and new year ahead.
  • A winter's day, in a deep and dark December. Enjoyed a walk down our driveway earlier to gather holiday cards and gifts from the mail with my little fella. Happy almost solstice, friends.
  • Local friends-whatever your plans are for this evening, change them! Come join me instead at @rhubarbavl for their
  • Great burger and transcendent frites with a charred onion aioli at @kingjamesavl. Great vibe and an exceptional waitstaff, which deftly caught that Huxley was nearing meltdown mode, and saved the day with a lightening fast, perfect grilled cheese. Wonderful seeing Steven Goff and @samlg87!
  • Livin' in an Appalachian paradise. ??(view of Mt. Pisgah, from the top of our road).
  • The finale at last night's Sunday Supper @rhubarbavl was this Chocolate Coffee Tart with Vanilla Orange Marmalade from my book
  • What a surreal experience last night @rhubarbavl, being served your own recipes! Shown here: Chimichurri Deviled Eggs (
  • So much delicious decadence on display yesterday afternoon at my 7th Annual Ladies Cookie Exchange. Thanks to all you lovelies (and your littles!) that made it out! Such a wonderful community of women I'm surrounded by. We three Englishes won't have to bake any more this holiday season! *That's your girl waiting patiently for the sugar frenzy to begin, @littlecoffeebeans !
  • Put this down as a night to remember. Immeasurable gratitude to @rhubarbavl for hosting recipes from all 7 of my books at tonight's Sunday Supper. @glennbenglish couldn't have been more thrilled. Our favorite restaurant in Asheville now feels even more like our dining room away from home.
  • Asheville and vicinity friends, I want to let you in on a secret. @oldworldlevain is a baked goods goddess, a fascinating woman (she bakes AND teaches tango lessons!), and simply a lovely human being. This medley of deliciousness is a mere sampling of the tastiness she had on offer today at her pop-up inside of Wood & Spoon in west Asheville. You can order regularly from her though, and you should. Her goods are creative, imminently flavorful, and clearly lovingly made. Obviously, I am smitten.
  • All kinds of magic percolating up in here.
  • Last night this sweet, tiny elf wanted me to pick him up, and then asked
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Sowing the Seeds


What’s that you say? We should begin with Tears For Fears? Great idea!

Alright then. That’s better. So….

While our house is many splendid things (in my humble estimation), one thing it is decidedly not is bright. As in, it’s really, really dark inside. Our house faces north, and this architectural placement comes in really handy in the summer. The rest of the time, though, this means it stays pretty continually dark inside, making our space not very ideal when it comes to starting seeds indoors (or taking interior photos, to put it lightly).

I’ve fought against this for years, tempting fate and trying to start seeds inside anyways. To say my attempts have been met with limited success would be an understatement, at best. Sure, some seeds did well despite the limited light and kind of jerry-rigged set-up, but most, well, they gave it their best shot (cue Scotty from Star Trek: “I’m giving ‘er all she’s got, Captain!”)

This year, though, I was determined to do things right. Noticing the exposed beams in the upstairs bathroom with fresh, seed-starting eyes this past winter, I realized they’d make a great spot for hanging lights. That bathroom is also, admittedly, the brightest spot in the house during the day. The sunlight it already garners, coupled with supplemental light made that room the best candidate for setting up a seed-starting operation. Fate intervened, and cut me some slack. At last!

Glenn created a table from cut up 2×2′s, topped with two 2×4 sheets of plywood for putting the starting trays on (a 4×4 sheet would’ve worked, too, but it wouldn’t have fit in our car). The bottom frame is essentially a cube, to keep it light, making it easier to disassemble when the time comes to take it down for the season. He put furniture sliders on the bottom to easily slide the table around, if need be (you could also achieve the same results with casters).

The lights are basic shop lights, hung from bronze chain. I’ll adjust the height on them up as the plants grow. I topped off several of the plant trays with plastic tops, to trap and retain moisture, in order to encourage germination.

So far, so good! There’s a good deal of green bits and bobs poking their lovely heads up from the soil. This year, I opted to go with a full garden of Sow True Seed offerings. That owes partly to their generous gift of 25 seed packets of my choosing, and largely to my having been a fan of their open-pollinated, non-GMO, heirloom selection ever since they opened for business several years ago. Also, they’re a local company and I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses.

My garden plans this year are super ambitious. I’ve whittled down some things I used to grow (turns out we don’t really eat that much eggplant after all) and upped others, like lettuce and tomatoes. I’m exited to see how it all turns out, and I’ll keep you posted over the growing season, including detailed listings of each variety of veggie I’m growing.

What about you? How does your garden grow? Let the growing frenzy commence, peeps!



15 Responses to Sowing the Seeds

  • amanda (sweetpotatoclaire) says:

    we’ve got a similar setup in our basement at the moment. our compost screen (sifting screen) set up on sawhorses, with about 6 or 7 trays of seedlings on top, kept going by 3 grow lights. now that it’s warm and sunny most days, I take them out and put them outside during the day, then pop them back in there at night. some sow true seeds, but mostly fedco (huge fedco fan here). currently in the ground: garlic, all sorts of greens, carrots, parsnips, beets, potatoes, and peas. in the trays: onions, shallots, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, okra, zucchini, squash, cukes, basil, thai basil, parsley, romaine, tomatillos… I think that’s it. yay for spring! cheers from black mt~

  • KC says:

    That is super clever! Where do you store the grow lights when you are done as well? If I hadn’t just moved to France two weeks ago I would be planting peas, tomatoes, green beans, squashes, japanese eggplants, chili’s and lots of lupines and zinnias (from my friend Lisa). Maybe I’ll have time for a late summer garden….

  • Anja says:

    Great set-up, I do hope it works for you. I am quite lucky as my house as east and west facing windows making it quite light. My studio/work room has had an extra table added and I am planting cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers as well as kohlrabi seedlings in there at the moment. I have big plans for the garden too, this long winter and frost has pusheed all the plans way back though, before I start planting outside I need to build a fence this weekend so the dogs don’t destroy everything I plant… After that I am planning on planting onions, beans, peas, carrots, salat, radish, red cabbage, leaks, herbs. I have rhubard, cherry and apple trees, strawberries, rasberries, blackberries, back and red currents and gooseberries. Also planning on some potatoes and root crops for the rabbits. Can’t wait to get out and start digging yay for spring

  • Michelle says:

    Great idea, your bathroom must be huge to do this in!

    • It is a bit on the large side. When Glenn bought the house, he remodeled both bathrooms. The upstairs bathroom, the one shown here, was actually a former bedroom. Since it was on the small side for a bedroom, he figured it would make an idea bathroom, which it does!

  • Ashley says:

    Thanks, this is just the kick in the pants (motivation) that I needed to finish off this exact project from last year. I swear we are sistas from another mista! If I didn’t live so far from you I would love to sit and chat with a glass of cider. Canada is a little too far for a road trip…. ha ha

  • Anja says:

    After my earlier post I have to say, I went out to plant onions today… that was the plan but then I ended up planting the carrots, radish, peas, salad and root crops too, so much for waiting to build a fence on the weekend but I just had to get out and start digging… :)

  • Melanie J. says:

    Nice! We got another east/west exposure, but it’s not optimal on either side, thanks to the way the building is built and the big hill behind the place. So I’m thinking spare bedroom with overhead light on all the time to start. It WILL happen this week; glad to see I’m not the only one starting a bit late…hey, can’t put ‘em out for at least another month, right?

  • EcoGrrl says:

    totally lusting after this as my breakfast nook table is my seed sowing un-paradise. my basement is just itching for a setup like this!

  • The Barefoot Crofter says:

    What a great set up you have for your seed sowing. I am lucky to have good light here, and a south facing attic window where I set up the heated propagation. This year – this week in fact, we have put up a poly tunnel! I have gone seed crazy now. Tomatoes have to be grown under cover here, so I am growing lots of different varieties, chillis and sweet pepper too. This is the most wonderful time of the year!
    Jacqui x

  • Georgette A. Howington says:

    Nice set-up for propagation of seeds. I have a little grow light station in my garage and last year ended up with over a 100 tomato seedlings and about 200 other types of heirloom/organic seedlings for my garden. I raise vegetables in a community garden because my own yard is teeny tiny. One thing I started doing a few years ago was plant by the phases of the moon. Have you done this? The seeds pop in half the time. I buy my seeds from a variety of seed companies. Really like Baker Seeds, Peaceful Valley, among others. I am a catalog fiend…can’t wait to see your little seedlings. Have fun!

  • Lindsay says:

    I discovered the best place for my seeds is the window sill in my closet (weird placement, but I’m grateful now!) that gets southern exposure. I started my kale, peas and beets in egg cartons there last month. Those babies are happily growing in the garden now as Black from Tula tomatoes and Grey Mammoth sunflowers are sprouting in the closet-turned-growroom. I’m also using Sow True seeds this season! I love that the owner gives free advice with each purchase (whether you asked or not!) She turned me on to the right kind of carrots for mountain growing. Plus free sunflowers? Yay!!