Real food tomography guides gardeners from sowing to planting

Published: May 31, 2022 08:00 AM

Newtown’s Real Food CT (formerly Real Food Share) hosted the Grow Your Own Garden: Starting and Planting Seeds Workshop Series at Sticks and Stones Farm on Saturday, May 14.

The nonprofit organization maintains Giving Garden Farm, and produces fresh produce for the FAITH Food Pantry in Newtown and similar organizations throughout Connecticut.

The Grow Your Own Garden workshop series is part of Real Food CT’s monthly programming to help bring the indoor grower out of everyone – and get them started realizing their gardening dreams.

Real Food CT member Nancy Zik and CT Master Gardener led the May session, which attracted about half a dozen local gardeners.

I first discussed the process of filling out a metal gardening tool called a soil mold maker for starting seeds.

“What we do is we have the seed and compost mixture. You have to get the right moisture level, so if you squeeze it, you only have one or two drops of water left. You don’t want it saturated, you don’t want it too dry,” Zychek explained.

Then the soil can be packed into the square sections of the device and released to give the desired block shape for sowing. The tool comes in different sizes depending on the plant.

“This way, you’re not dealing with all the plastic and the roots will get a lot of air,” she added.

The seedlings can then be easily transplanted into the garden.

Zychek recommended people try using a liquid called Quantum Growth when watering plants.

“Instead of using Miracle-Gro fertilizer, if you want to be really organic, it has a lot of things that are good for the soil microbiome,” she said. “You just need a little, read the instructions. When we use it, we put about a teaspoon into the watering jug. It’s great to water your plants and give them a little watering.”

Zychek noted that purchasing a gallon container of Quantum Growth would easily last a person throughout the growing season.

Another tip I gave was not to take an indoor plant right away and plant it outside.

“If you start plants indoors, you have to acclimate them to the outside before you stick them in your garden. You want to put them in the sun for a few hours…and then the next day for a little bit longer. After three or four days you can leave them outside all night.”

She usually does this process for about a week for her own plants.

In addition to giving Zychek a tutorial on starting and planting seeds, attendees were also able to ask a variety of questions specific to their home gardens to get her advice.

Upcoming workshops

Real Food CT’s Grow Your Own Garden workshop series will continue next month with a program on garden maintenance on Saturday, June 11. According to Real Food CT, the event will “cover natural weed and pest control, how to check for diseases and what to do about it, row coverings, and watering.”

On Saturday, July 9, attendees can learn all about the harvest. Their website description says, “This workshop focuses on how to care for your plants as they begin to produce. We show pruning, lodging, and how to tell when vegetables are ready to harvest. We also talk about how often to harvest to keep your plants productive, and how to clean and store your produce.

Then on Saturday, August 13, there will be talk of succession cultivation. The website details, “August is a great month to fill in harvested empty spaces with successive plants to take you through the next few months. We suggest fast-growing plants that you can still harvest before the end of the growing season. We’ll also show cool frames you can set up to extend the growing season into cooler weather.” .”

The Grow Your Own Garden workshop series will conclude the season with an event on Saturday 10 September on planning a spring harvest and another on Saturday 8 October on putting your garden to sleep for the winter.

All workshops are free to attend and take place at Sticks and Stones Farm, 197 Huntingtown Street, from 11 a.m. to noon.

To learn more about Real Food CT’s upcoming programs, visit

Reporter Alyssa Silber can be contacted at [email protected]

Real Food CT member and CT Master Gardener Nancy Zychek holds a metal gardening tool called a soil block maker that creates small square clumps of soil in which seeds can be placed. The soil retains its shape and makes it suitable for cultivation. In front of her are seedlings of zinnia and castoreum, which were grown using the device. —Bee Tyre, Silber
Nancy Zecchik holds a zinnia seedling to show its roots growing in the soil bed during Real Food CT’s Grow Your Own Garden workshop series: Starting and Sowing Seeds May 14.
There are two garden beds in front of the entrance to Sticks and Stones Farm’s Giving Garden, on Huntingtown Road, where seedlings from the Real Food CT workshop show will later be planted to help pollinators.

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