Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pounds of Peaches

Today we finished harvesting and freezing our peach crop. Today's haul, shown above, was probably at least 40 pounds, even after sharing a generous amount with our neighbor. This was the work of an entire day; from about 11:15 AM until after 5 PM. The sad thing is that after we removed the skins and pits we ended up with only about 6 quarts of peaches. We used to get about 15 quarts, but over the years we've lost several branches off the tree. This year our yield was further decimated by our oldest son. He made a "peach picker" for me a couple days ago (a board with two nails at one end to grab the high peaches) and was so excited about it he went out and picked several green peaches with no hope of ripening. I ended up throwing those away.

The peach tree is a source of both pride and frustration for me. The tree I originally planted was a dwarf early season Hale Haven. The week I planted it our dog chewed it to the ground. I was sure it was dead, but it came back strong and began to bear fruit the next year. Unfortunately, the dog had chewed past the graft and the tree came back as a full size, regular season cling peach. So now it's way too close to our house and to the climbing roses and the peaches ripen right when I didn't want, on the July 4th week when we're often away. So I always have to pick them slightly before they're fully ripe. I've also had to remove many branches scraping the house and I get cut to ribbons on the roses climbing the ladder to harvest them. I plan to plant new trees elsewhere in the yard and cut this one down when they begin to produce. I have to feel grateful to the tree, though; the chest freezer in our garage is half full of peaches from other years and I never have to buy them. I am so tired from climbing up and down the ladder in the 100 degree weather, so humid it was like working in hot bath water, and standing processing the peaches for freezing (3 hours!), I can barely keep my eyes open. The stupid fitbit says I've only walked 3000 steps all day, but that certainly doesn't take all the activity into account. That peach picker weighs a ton! So, I'll be off to bed early!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Little Madeline in Paris & Mandaline in Firenze

My Friend Becky as Madeline with the book that inspired her outfit.

A side view of the doll
Becky's original dress

The past few days have largely been devoted to the decidedly not creative act of doing laundry, as well as peach and blackberry picking and preservation. I did, however, manage to squeeze in this little project: My Friend Becky as Madeline!

Becky makes a perfect Madeline, so cute and with brushable, rather than yarn, hair. My daughter has a yarn-haired Madeline and has been eyeing this one greedily. I pointed out she could dress her own Becky as Madeline and she lost interest!

This Becky was quite grimy overall, so I washed her first in the washer and then with a Mr Clean eraser for the stubborn dirt. She has a few tiny spots here and there, such as one on her hairline and one on the back of her name, but they are very faint. Her original dress, which is included in the set, was tearing away where the apron is attached, so I resewed it and cleaned it and now it looks good as new!

I do enjoy these little design projects! I can design fashions without using much fabric! I made the pattern for the dress myself, combining pieces from various vintage Sasha and My Friend patterns to get the look I wanted. I used felt for the hat. The brim is double-layer felt that you can position with the brim up or down. If you've ever paid attention, Madeline's hat changes throughout the books; sometimes it has a flat brim and other times the brim is up-turned. If Sasha were to wear the dress you'd need to include bloomers or undies because it's so short, but since the My Friend dolls have their attached cloth "teddies" it's fine the way it is. The only thing I didn't do were the socks. The shoes, which are old Horsman stock but new from the package, are too snug to fit over socks. I had cleaned the doll and knew I was doing Madeline when I stumbled across the Madeline's Rescue book in new condition at the thrift store! It was a happy find!

I don't remember reading the Madeline books as a child. I was introduced to them (I think) when my oldest was a baby. At the time PBS had a Madeline series in cartoon on t.v. and he loved it. He was maybe 18 months old and he would watch Madeline and say "She's so pretty!", which we thought was hilarious, as Madeline is just a smiley face! My mother bought the whole series for us and we really enjoyed them.

One of my college majors was illustration, so I was immediately struck by how well and how accurately Paris is portrayed by Ludwig Bemelmans, despite his splashy illustrations. You can recognize the landmarks so well that the back of the books tell you where to go in Paris to find them. Bemelmans was not from France, I don't believe. I seem to remember he was an ex-patriot who came to Paris and fell in love with the city.

I know the feeling well. I have had my own love affair with the city of Firenze (what we call Florence), Italy. I traveled to Italy on a 2-week tour with my Latin class in high school. I remember that even from the air above the Venice airport, I felt I was coming home. As soon as I stepped off the plane I was sure I had arrived where I belong. I think the similarity of the climate and appearance of Italy and Northern California, where I was born, triggered this response. We traveled all over Italy, but my favorite place was Firenze, so when I had a chance to work there as an intern for the summer of 1995 I jumped at it! I still cherish that time. When we were married 14 years ago my husband promised to take me back someday and in 2009 he did! It was just as wonderful as I remember, and even better because I could share it with him!

Mandaline at San Lorenzo in Firenze, a place where I used to go on my lunch break.

Mandy & Jerry in Firenze

Back "home", with the Duomo and the city of Firenze behind me. This was taken in Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace

I have long thought I should write a Madeline-type book but set it in Firenze. However, recently Bemelmans grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano, wrote a Madeline book set in Rome! So, I guess I'd better get on it! I bought the new book and we do like it. I love looking for the landmarks, as I'm more familiar with Rome than Paris, but the plot is sort of all over the place. That happens sometimes  in the original books, too, and Marciano did a great job keeping the feel and look of the first books. So, keep watching, I guess...maybe one day I'll write MANDALINE in Firenze!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to make your own flannel diapers & burp cloths

These flannel diapers, in tattoo art and truck prints, can also be used as burp cloths

Yesterday when it was so smoky outside due to the wildfire on the coast I sewed all day and was able to knock out some new burp cloths for my son. Thank the Lord for Sister West of the LDS Church Garner Ward! She taught me this fast and easy pattern last summer when we were about to travel to China to pick up our youngest son. He was born with a cleft lip and palate which was not repaired when we adopted him, so he was a very drooly boy for a while! Anticipating that, I made four burp cloths to take with us.

Boy, was I glad I had them! Our son had been placed from the time he was a few days old with a wonderful foster family. In the foster home he slept with a washcloth and liked to rub the edges to put himself to sleep. He also slept in a family bed with his foster mother and had never slept alone. So, as you might imagine, the transition to a new family when he was 19 months old, sleeping in a crib, air-conditioning, speaking English, etc, was quite traumatic for him! We had all kinds of stuffed animals, security blankets, musical nighttime toys, but all he wanted was a burp cloth!

He still cannot sleep without at least one of those burp cloths; we don't even try to put him down without one! They are drug all over the house and town all day, riding in the car, wrapping up stuffed animals, lying next to him on the table at lunch and they get fantastically dirty! Since we only have four, we have had anxious moments waiting in front of the dryer for them to come out. It reminds me of the stories about one of my uncles, who had to stand by the clothes line holding his blanket and sucking his thumb as the blanket dried! So, new burp cloths were long overdue. It was actually the 30 minute drive (each way) to the fabric store that prevented these from being sewn earlier. I actually knocked out all four in less than an hour. I thought the tattoo art print was just too funny! It's not as soft as the truck print, though. The baby loved the truck print and was very cute: he grabbed the entire bolt and ran up to the cutting counter with it himself! All my children are well-versed in fabric store protocol from an early age!

So, as I mentioned, these are super fast and easy and can be used as a diaper or burp cloth. You can make them smaller or larger, but I am giving the instructions for a half-yard size. When I made the first ones they were actually smaller because I bought remnant flannel and just used what I had. If you are going to use these as diapers and fit is important make sure to pre-wash and dry your flannel so it shrinks before sewing and fitting.

To start, buy one yard of 45 inch flannel in your choice of print. Each yard will make two cloths. Fold the flannel in half width-wise, joining the cut edges with the selvages (finished edges) parallel to one another. Cut along the fold line so you have two half-yard pieces. Now fold each piece in half again in the same manner. Cut along each fold line. Now you will have four quarter yard pieces.

Fold each piece again width-wise with right,or printed, sides together. You will have a rectangle with the wrong, or unprinted, side facing out. Pin around the edges and sew, using about a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving a turning hole large enough to put your hand through. Turn each rectangle right side out. Press so the unfinished edges of the turning hole are folded under with the seam allowance. If desired slipstitch the opening by hand, or just leave it pressed under to finish later when you do the decorative stitching. Repeat until you have four rectangles.

Take one rectangle and fold in half lengthwise this time, joining the longer edges. Press to crease the center. Open and lay flat. Take a second rectangle and lay it on top of the first, lining one long edge of the second rectangle up with the center crease of the first. You should have a large rectangle made of two offset smaller rectangles (see the open cloth in the photo). This will make a thicker center for use as a diaper or very absorbent burp cloth. Pin the rectangle and stitch around the outside edges and center seams with the decorative stitch of your choice. You can do this by hand, but I prefer to use the machine as it is much faster. You will see I used a variety of stitches. I couldn't resist the heart pattern on the tattoo art print, though that thick pattern uses a lot of thread and takes longer. Now you are done! Repeat with the remaining two rectangles to create two burp cloths! For a newborn diaper size you will want to make them much smaller. I would recommend cutting them again in the beginning so you have 8 rectangles rather than four and making four diapers from each yard.

This is a wonderful baby gift as well as a useful item for new, or in my case, not-so-new mothers! I got flannel on sale for $3 a yard, so these cost me only $1.50 each! They are super thick and very durable for use as a blanket, diaper, or burp cloth. I am sure you will love and use them as much as we do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

July 4th Fashion

The July 4th outfit I made my daughter with the pattern I used
 I thought this was just the cutest pattern from McCall's and spent the day sewing an outfit for my daughter to wear to the 4th of July celebrations. Amazingly, I didn't even see anything I wanted to change! My husband is always laughing at me because I never just make a straight pattern; I almost always have to tweak it a bunch. But this one, by designer LolaLou, was just perfect. And it was so easy it only took me about 3 hours to make the dress and only about a half hour to make the shorts!

I have been sewing all day because a huge wildfire in Pender County has produced so much smoke it is filling the air here. I went outside earlier and my throat was burning. Even being indoors all day, I still have really bad allergies. It is not good for the Fitbit; I've hardly walked at all today! But I've been the top step-logging person three weeks in a row; someone else can win for a change. My sleeves feel tight on my arms, though. If I have a day where I sit a lot it's like I can FEEL myself getting fatter! Does that ever happen to anyone else? My older children returned today from a trip to the mountains with two loaves of sweet bread, a cake, a batch of cookies, and some fudge, so that won't help!

I know it seems silly, but I feel as if I can sew all my own summer vacation memories into an outfit for my daughter! Roasting marshmallows on the lake shore campfire, running wild with my cousins, twirling sparklers, staying up late to see the fireworks and feeling my eyelids heavy with drowsiness once they finally started. I hope the summer is as long and full of wonder for my children as it always was for me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bits & Pieces

Wild blackberries

Today's harvest with a future melon.

A waterlily in our pond.
My hiatus from the blogosphere can be explained, for the most part, in one short story. It begins with a series of terraces constructed by my husband and our oldest son. The terraces needed to be filled. Add a pile of mulch taller than me and you get the picture! Shovel by shovel-full we filled the terraces. Last night they, and the French drain beneath them, were tested by a hard downpour. The terraces were meant to keep the side yard from washing away as it has been doing for nine years. I am happy to say it all worked; not a crumb of mulch was displaced this morning!

We did need that rain; we haven't had more than a handful of drops for a month now. The vegetables are doing well in spite of it. I picked a foot-long zucchini today, as well as some peppers. The melons that self-seeded, which I wrote about in an earlier post, have tiny fuzzy melon babies growing now. Watermelon or cantaloupe? I can't tell yet. That, as I mentioned, is the main trouble with my compost seed-saving method! A gorgeous waterlily is blooming in the koi pond. My daughter used to call waterlilies "frog pads"!

The blackberries are another story all together. We have wild blackberries growing in the very back of our yard. I am quite proud of the photo I took of those! They would come up all over, but they are quite sharp and invasive, so I only allow them in the back. This becomes a problem when they are ripe and I wish for a greater yield. Last night I walked along the sewer line behind our neighborhood looking for more. I know that sounds disgusting, but it is really a lovely mowed area through the woods which the city uses to maintain the lines. It winds through a dappled wood, down a gentle hill to what I believe is Panther Creek, a Neuse River feeder. I didn't find any berries, but the solitude and beauty of that walk were exactly what I needed. I remembered how I used to love to walk every day through the woods on the sewer line behind my parents' house.

Across the street from the woods and creek is a vacant field. If the ruined and abandoned staircase and toppled and sectioned oak are any indication, it once was the site of a farmhouse under a giant sheltering tree. Now the ruin sits in a chest-high amber sea of grass. Along one entire side of the field tumble waves of brambles, each shaft bearing clumps of berries in red, purple, and glistening black. I picked a pint at least and left many unripe for another day. I can't say how much I love the vacant, forgotten places. Bedecked with kudzu they beckon. On the way home I decided to visit my parents' house today and walk again along the path I trod so often as a teenager impatient for my "real" life to begin.

So I put on long pants (a lesson learned painfully last night amid the thorns and bugs) and set out this morning, a gallon ice cream bucket over my arm. Well the woods of my youth were filled with berries, but today I got maybe a half-cup. It was very disappointing after sidling along slippery banks dropping into the creek and gingerly picking my way through marshes, always watching for snakes. I found one great blackberry patch, but as I reached over to one side I caught sight of the tail end of a snake as thick as my forearm sliding away, so I left those!

In my mother's front yard a turtle was giving birth to eggs in a hole she'd dug. Why, right next to the road? My mother guessed perhaps it is akin to having your baby in the car on the way to the hospital. A crow had opened the nest later and eaten at least one egg. The poor turtle! Life on Earth, so abundant and so cruel. So very beautiful! I did do some sewing today and will be posting more projects very soon.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Friend Becky's new identities

My Friend Becky restored as Annie
Now here is a creation that unites two of the great passions of my childhood...dolls and Annie, the musical! I was a great singer as a child and had big dreams of performing on Broadway one day. I played the Annie record shown at least five times a day and sang along with all my heart. The neighbors who walked by our house would come to tell my mom how sorry they were for her, as she had to listen to about 8 hours of Annie a day played loudly enough to be discernible from the street! I can still remember the thrill of being taken to Dayton to watch the musical in person; it was my first musical! The only thing I loved more than Annie and my dolls was my giant barn full of Breyer horses. The barn is visible in many of my pictures, including the Little House and Wizard of Oz posts. My grandfather built it for me and I played with it (sometimes with my dolls inside) every day.

I've done a couple of these Becky as Annie dolls and they are probably my most popular. I get lots of requests for Becky in different guises as well. What's her allure? Is it the red hair? The dimples? I just ordered and received a new Becky. She's dirty, but that's easy enough to fix. This time I'm thinking Madeline, per a suggestion from one of my customers! I got a new Madeline book at the thrift store during my run this week, so I think I'll do a doll and book lot.

I'm way behind this week; in fact, except for the Dorothy doll I haven't done anything. Those of you following this blog know that's due in part to my new Fitbit, which tells me how long I am sedentary each day. But guess who walked the most steps of any Fitbit user last week? That's right, ME, even though I didn't even get mine until Tuesday afternoon. It confirms what I've long thought, which is that I hardly ever get to sit down for more than a minute or two at a time. Jerry, my husband, was laughing at my graph, which shows a lot of up-down, up-down movement all day. Each day I walk like 6 or 7 miles, but the pace is something like a 154 minute mile!

Anyway, now another hitch in my make-one-thing-a day plan: we are relisting our house for sale. We had the house on the market for a year before we adopted our son and were unable to sell. It's a really nice house, but the market is just SO bad. I am for just waiting another 3 years or so, but it really is cramped. Our oldest son is living in my office, which doesn't have a closet, so we're hanging his clothes on the back of the door. Our bedroom is a colossal mess, since that's where I'm working. Last week, we went to my sister's new house for a birthday party and Jerry came home and announced we are going to try to sell!

So, yesterday I began the clean-up to meet with the Realtor. First, I cleaned the kitchen and swept the floor. While I did that the baby went into the living room and threw blocks and pillows all over the floor. I went to clean that up and the baby got a bunch of food out of the fridge and scattered it around. Once I cleaned up the living room I cleaned the birdcage. The baby went into the dining room, where we keep school supplies in a drawer of our sideboard, and threw erasers and folders all over, as well as cut and tore papers all over the floor. So, I cleaned that up and started making lunch. The baby came in the kitchen and hit me with the tv remote, which means he wants to watch Curious George. So I went in the kitchen and turned on the tv. While I was in there the baby pulled his bowl of cereal and bananas, which he had not eaten, off the counter. It flew across the floor, scattering wet granola and banana all over the kitchen, sunroom, and living room (we have an open floor plan), so I was back to square one! All that cleaning, and the house is actually messier than yesterday! After dinner last night, despite all my cleaning, the baby pulled an old piece of toast out from under the couch and began nibbling on it. One of his charming habits is to hide food for later! So, it doesn't look good for the creative process! It's taking houses around here 2-3 years to sell. I don't know if I can take it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Friend Mandy as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz

My Friend Mandy as Dorothy and Build-A-Bear's Brown Sugar Puppy as Toto

Mandy's new one-piece Teddie hides the holes in her body. Her arm still has some ink spots I couldn't remove.

Her cheek paint is a little scratched, but she's still cute!
This post continues the restoration of the vinyl My Friend Mandy doll first introduced in the How to ReWig a vinyl doll post. It took me longer than I thought to finish this doll because I bought myself a Fitbit with my birthday money and I can't sit down very much! A Fitbit is a high-tech pedometer-type device that uses Wii remote technology to detect even the slightest movements you make and give you the exact amount of calories you're burning each day so you know what to eat in order to lose weight. That's great, but it also gives you a pie chart showing what percent of each day you were sedentary! It's awful if your pie chart shows you were loafing all day, so I've been making sure I move. As a result, I've lost a pound in the week I've had it, our house is much cleaner, and I'm behind on my projects!

This doll started as a My Friend Mandy who had multiple issues. Her hair had been cut to the head in front, she had marker and pen on her vinyl limbs, holes in her cloth body, and is missing her tush tag. I cleaned her first in the washing machine and then with Mr Clean Magic Eraser and then with Goof Off to remove the ink. If you use either of those be very careful around the face, as both will remove the face paint. Then to neutralize the Goof Off I hand washed her in dish soap and water. I replaced her hair with a wig, as shown in the earlier post. I was unable to completely remove the marks on one arm, so I hid them using the basket ribbon and her dress sleeve. Remember in restoration that clothing and hats can hide a multitude of sins! No Dorothy would be complete without "ruby slippers", so I coated new Horsman doll shoes with tacky glue and glittered them. They are still shedding quite a bit, but that should improve with time.

Repairing the cloth body was trickier. Replacing the body entirely would require a special sewing machine used by shoe repairmen and would incur additional cost. I am already into this doll more than is practical, as it was described as being in excellent condition by the seller and then I had to buy a wig. I could have used iron-on tape over the holes, but I was afraid it wouldn't stand up to play. So I decided to sew a "chemise" or "Teddie" one-piece undergarment directly to her body in the style of the old 20s and 30s French dolls. The doll will still fit the original clothing by Fisher Price, though, alas, her butt is rather big, so you might have to help a child fit them over the lace pants.

The idea to do the doll as Dorothy started with a trip to the fabric store with my daughter. She is very into the Wizard of Oz movie and she begged for the checked satin she saw on the remnant table. It wasn't enough to make a Dorothy dress for her, but plenty for a doll or two. I recalled I had a brown wig at home and remembered the very disheveled Mandy I had put away, thinking it so damaged I might not be able to repair it. A lucky trip to the thrift store turned up the tiny basket and little dog.

This doll is obviously based on the movie, not the Oz books. As a child I loved the books and the antique pen and ink illustrations. Dorothy is shown there as a blond with a turn-of- the-century or early 20s bob and short dress. The very short dress on this doll is a nod to the original Dorothy. Incidentally, have you seen those new Barbie and Moxie Girlz dolls whose heads you can replace? Every time I see one I think of the beautiful and evil witch in the Oz books who keeps all the heads of her victims in glass cases in her dressing room and simply puts on a new head each day! That story so fascinated and terrified me as a girl; I would read it over and over and shudder! Evidently the new doll designers either never read those books or weren't frightened by them!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Norwegian Finery

Sasha and her doll in Norwegian traditional costumes.

The underdress with Hardanger hem.
Around 100 years ago my great-grandfather, just 17 years old and speaking no English, boarded a ship for America. Now we, his many descendants, have mostly lost our Norwegian. This is really sad to me; my grandfather spoke Norwegian in the home as a child and retained it until his death at the age of 91. But he felt his children should be "real" Americans and speak only English. We do evidently retain our accent to some extent. One of my sorority sisters, upon meeting my mother said, "NOW I know why you talk so funny!"

I do regret the loss of so much of that heritage. Of course it gets diluted here in America. I am less than half Norwegian, around half Swiss, and the rest consists of no less than five known nationalities! Which one would you choose? I am descended from the Vikings, but also from the family of Joan of Arc! We are certainly closest to the Norwegian side, as we still have cousins living there. In the 1980s my grandparents went for a visit and brought back the little doll Sasha holds. They also brought back several stunning examples of Hardanger cloth made by my aunt? cousin?, Gerd.

Hardanger is white cutwork embroidery named for the region in Norway where it originated. It is similar to some English whitework, except that it features more geometric patterns. So ingrained into the Norwegian homelife, Hardanger is featured on everything from tablecloths to curtains to clothing. As an adult I was fascinated to find even the tiny tourist doll shown has an apron featuring a Hardanger hem. I decided, despite the difficulty, to try to teach myself Hardanger. Incredibly, I actually came across several instruction books in Norwegian here in a Garner fabric store around 20 years ago. Picking my way through the Norwegian, which I cannot speak, I taught myself by producing the doll dress shown with a Hardanger hem. I was unable to find Hardanger cloth, so it was doubly hard, as Hardanger is a counted cutwork embroidery. Recently, again in Garner, I ran across some Hardanger cloth, so look for more projects to come!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Super Easy Seed Saving

In the foreground are tomatoes that self-seeded in compost.
Today's post is another departure into gardening. I did work on a doll today but it isn't done and most of my labor this time of year is in the garden. I have been growing fruits and vegetables for many years now. Besides the obvious cost savings, there is a peace of mind in knowing exactly where your food has come from and what it was fed and watered with. The Ecoli nightmare in Germany right now couldn't be a better illustration! I am feeling so terrible for the people there, particularly the parents. They must be in such a state of fear. That the very thing nourishing us, the healthiest fuel for your children, can kill them is terrifying. I was wishing today, while buying produce, that my own veggies were ready. It won't be long for the cabbages, leeks, and peppers; just a matter of a week or so. The tomatoes will come soon after. Of course we have our strawberries and blackberries ready now, as well as oregano, basil, sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, stevia, peppermint, and lemon balm. The climate here definitely favors herbs, which naturalize and grow like weeds!

These herbs are the very thing that inspired my super easy seed saving method. I should also say this is a virtually FREE gardening technique; who wouldn't welcome that?! You start by composting. You can compost unused vegetables and fruits, as well as discarded peels, etc. You can also compost junk mail (paper, not plastic), coffee filters and tea bags, coffee grounds and tea leaves, paper towels, napkins, paper or cardboard egg or other cartons, and on and on. For this method you must NOT use a fancy wheel composter that gets hot enough to kill weed seeds or a worm composter. You may use a traditional compost pile, an old trash can with holes drilled in it, or a compost bin that drops the finished compost down to be removed at the bottom. You don't want the compost getting too hot. This kind of compost will take longer, but I feel it is worth it.

Normally you would remove any seeds before composting fruits and vegetables. However, with my method you may leave any seeds you want. Say when you seed a pepper or tomato (before cooking), just place the seeds in your compost. Or when cleaning the pulp form a melon or pumpkin, put the seeds in. You could also do flower seeds, but I recommend doing that in a separate bin. Let the compost set as usual and in the mid-winter to early spring spread your compost only where you wish the plants to grow. If you wish to compost all over the yard, then keep a seed-free bin for beds without vegetables.

In spring you will find seeds growing up where you spread the compost. The main problem I have with this method is identification. It takes a while to recognize the different seedlings. Some tomatoes and peppers can be very similar, as can melons, cucumbers, and other curcurbits. However, you will get the hang of it. Once you can recognize the seedlings, just pull out any plants you don't want. When the seeds come up they may be very close together. Just thin them about 6-18 inches apart, depending on the adult plant size.

I find the seeds that sow themselves this way tend to be healthier and require less fertilizer and pesticide. I think this is because the seeds choose the optimal spot to sprout. I only use organic products, but  they are still expensive and I still don't want to spray pesticides all over the food my children eat, organic or not! I noticed my herbs seed themselves all over and often choose a better environment than I would have.

In the photo you will see tomatoes of all varieties coming up in one of my seeded compost beds. They are rather over-exposed, but you can tell they have really gotten tall pretty fast. I spread the compost out later than usual here, in late March or early April, so I would have a second harvest after my earlier plants had reached the end of their harvest. Another plant, which may be either cucumbers or melons is also sprouting there. In that spot those were the only two types to sprout out of all the compost, so I assume this was the best spot for them. Just behind the bed are some parsley, Black-Eyed Susan, and flowers of my prize August Beauty gardenia (which now blooms in May and June, I guess due to global warming). That shrub is 10 feet tall! The smell is indescribably wonderful. The parsley and Black-Eyed Susan self-seed in the wind.

I hope this "wild" technique works for you! It's free, at least after you buy or grow the original produce, and it couldn't be easier! Happy gardening!