Growing and Warming Up

Indoor Plants

Everything is looking good. The edamame is really taking off. I may have to re-pot them as they can’t go into the ground until May 15. I’m waiting for the melons and leeks we planted last week.

I have eight vegetables yet to plant: beets, carrots, stringless beans, scarlet emperor beans, corn, zucchini, scallions, and parsley. All the rest are either in pots or in the outdoor beds.

Outdoor Plants

Lots have been planted, some are coming up. There are definitely sprouts in the first bed but I’m not sure which are weeds and which are plants. Several sprouts are almost certainly weeds but I only weeded the most obvious ones. I think there’s overlap of seeds, especially in the bottom row, too.

Above is a grid of photos that recreate the square foot grid in my first raised bed.

My poly cover is ripping in the wind and rough handling. I posted a request for free plastic on the Buy Nothing Facebook page. After pricing it out, covers for all eleven beds, or even half, would be rather expensive.

I am saving milk and soda bottles to use as free wall-o-water heat retention for the tender plants that move outside. I’ve heard it works though not as well as the commercially designed ones.

Chicks

The chicks are looking well feathered and it in the high 60s so they’re spending more and more time outside. I’m thinking of housing them in a dog crate within the metal shed to keep the a little safer. I’m not sure how many would fit happily into the XL dog crate. I’d probably need two. And, they are not insulated so it feels like a temporary solution.

Newly sprouted: radishes, peas?, lettuce?, kale?

 

More Seeds, More Growing

I dug and planted a second 4’x4′ bed. This time I amended it with free compost from the county ecostation. It certainly looks richer than the other bed.

I planted 4 squares each of broccoli (one per square), pok Choi (4/sq), spinach (9/sq) and swiss chard (4/sq), from left to right if you’re standing with your back to the fence.

I watered the two beds with some root fertilizer added in. I don’t think much fertilizer got out of the container though.

There may be sprouts in the first bed but nothing confirmed. I’m a little disappointed the radishes aren’t clearly sprouting yet. All the others I don’t expect much out of.

Inside, Elliot and I planted watermelon (about 6), cantaloupe (about 6), and leeks (12, in cans).

The edame seeds are really taking off. And the cilantro is starting to look like real cilantro. Even Elliot’s flowers seem to be sprouting.

The chicks are getting big too. They’ve been spending time “free ranging” in the back yard. They stay put pretty well. Graham is scared cats will hurt them but I think they’re big enough to defend themselves. Though, Graham definitely knows cats better than I.

Newly planted outside: broccoli, pak choi, spinach, swiss chard

Newly planted inside: cantaloupe, watermelon, leeks

Planting in the First Cold Bed

Some quick notes. I did my best planting. I have some old fertilizer for root growth that I intend to put on in the next day or two. I found I’ve lost all but a couple of my broccoli seeds (?!) so I just planted those. I put a bunch of stuff in the same bed to see how it goes. Most I still have plenty of seeds left. I should see growth in 7-10 days on most of the plants.

IMG_6409.JPG
a very precise diagram of the bed

Newly planted (outside): peas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, lettuce, radishes

Newly sprouted: butternut squash

Outdoor Planting

Setting Up the Cold Beds

Well that was a nice warm spell. It’s still low 50sF but cloudy with a drizzly rain and darn cool.

I set up a garden bed for cold plants.

Not too much to it. Husband, toddler and I dug up the grass in it, turned the dirt, pulled what looked like iris rhizomes and raked it smooth. I used two pieces of plastic tubing about 5 feet long to make arches and put cheap painter’s tarp plastic over it. The plastic I had laying around was only 3′ wide so I sewed it together (with my Hello Kitty sewing machine because I didn’t want to ruin my good machine.) It was getting a little windy so I did more of a half-assed job than I like but I’m beginning to get used to that with two kids and one of them always crying. (Right now it’s the little one.)

Tomorrow I’ll plant lettuce, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts or chard in there.

Permaculture Class


I enrolled in a free Permaculture class. Getting back to my alternative agriculture phase I went through in college on “Ag Hall”.
And Chick Pics…




Warm Spell

Seeds are a-growin’

The weather here has been New-Mexico-sunny and in the 50’s so I’ve been experimenting with moving things outside.

The mini greenhouse is on the porch with a thermometer in it to see what tonight’s predicted low of 37F looks like inside the greenhouse plastic. It got up to 100F+ in the heat of today’s sun. I had most of the seeds in it for the warmest part of the day. I moved them in to a shelf by the SE window as it cooled. I think everything is showing seedlings except for the butternut squash. the edamame sprouts are dramatic and impressive– big and fat compared to some of the more delicate ones like eggplant or cilantro.

I’m hoping all the sunlight will curb the spindliness of my tomato and bell pepper sprouts and prevent it in my new sprouts.

I got an email today from a service I signed up for from The Old Farmer’s Almanac website. They send you a list of the plants that need planting in the next two weeks or so. According to them I need to start my lettuce, peas, broccoli and brussel sprouts “under cover or indoors” which is great because that’s what I’ve been thinking too. Tomorrow is busy but after that I’ll start covering, prepping and putting seeds in the beds. I am thinking I’ll use a semi transparent plastic by day and maybe a blanket at night? More research needed.

Chicks are a-chickin’

I’m happy to report the chicks are growing nicely. They are feathering out more and more. They heads and bellies are still chick down but the rest of them is a scruffy mix of old and new feathers.

Having chickens in my office is getting old. The smell and amount of poop they kick out of the enclosure is the worst part. This morning I got it into my head I was going to move them somewhere else. First it was the storage room, then, as the sun warmed up, it was to the backyard for the warm part of the day. I eventually came to my senses — they only have about three more weeks til they should be feathered enough to start transitioning outside–and decided to make do with what I have. I stapled cardboard to the outside of their pen to keep the poop in and changed their litter.

I did take them outside and let them wander in a jury rigged pen consisting of plastic sheeting taped to screen door screening and help up with three dowels and an old broom driven into the ground. High class, I know. It seemed like a successful outing for them and they are sleeping well tonight.

I put a stick in their pen to see if they were interested in roosting on it. Nope. They prefer the 2x4s holding the floor of their cage together. None of them are sleeping in close proximity to the heat lamp so I’m pondering how much longer we have to keep it on.

The Wynadotte is getting pushier. I’m hoping its the breed not the sex of the bird showing through.

Newly sprouted: cilantro, edamame

Spindly Starts

Who Knew Growing Plants in the Dark is a Bad Idea

Life got in the way and I left my seedlings in the dark too long. (Isn’t that a song by Merle Haggard?) Their spindly-ness seems to indicate they are working too hard to get some sunlight.

I brought them in and set them up in sunlight without their “greenhouse” plastic cover. We have windows all over the house so I’m not sure what type of exposure will be best so I’ve put them in two different windows-with NE and SW exposures to see what seems to work well.

Making Pots Because I’m Cheap

I found an interesting way to make newspaper pots so I don’t have to buy more. They have the added benefit of letting the plant avoid some degree of replanting shock because they can be planted along with the seedling.

They take a minute or two to make, which quickly adds up, and they require a tray to hold them. I’ll make a few and see how they go. I’ll try tin cans too. I see people using egg cartons but they seem so shallow. The egg cartons, not the people.

Newly sprouted: eggplant, edamame

Things Are Growing

Yay, Growth!

My seedlings are starting for the 100 Hybrid and Best Boy tomatoes, red bell peppers, and basil. The eggplant and cilantro haven’t come up yet. I need to start thinking of moving they to a place with better light than the workshop. I want to rig a plastic lined box to contain the water from the mini greenhouse and bring them inside. I still need to find something to replace the lost shelves too.

Some Planting Too

I planted 18 Edamame and 24 Waltham Butternut Squash starts. I didn’t soak or do any preparation for them come to think of it. Am I supposed to? I don’t see anything about it in this article from Mother Earth News about edamame and they don’t mention soaking so I’ll take their word for it. I’m starting both of these because they have such long growing seasons of 90 and 100 days so I am guessing they’ll need a head start in our Hardiness Zone 6a where the last frost is around Mother’s Day.

I’m excited about the squash because my baby has just started eating food and seems to love butternut squash. I suppose all that could change in 100 days though.

And Look at These Chicks Grow!

Our chicks are starting to look a lot more chicken-y, with real feathers and chicken attitudes.The Wyandotte, or Flapper as our son has Christened her, seems to be the most aggressive, but they all seem to be doing their share of chasing and intimidating one another. Yesterday I saw they are starting to sleep with their heads tucked into a wing, and they like to roost on the 2 x 4 bumps in their cage.

They seem less bound to the heater lamp, too, spending most of their time racing around or under the shelter of the dining room chair.

We’ve started giving them small amounts of scraps. A toddler-handful of peas, leftover spaghetti. They also had a chance to try zucchini, a Goldfish cracker, and a banana peel but these didn’t seem to appeal to them.

And, damn, do they stink. I guess it’s been several days since I have changed their bedding and need to do so. They have a tarp, a blanket, then pine needles down on the floor of the cage. I want to wash the blanket but the dryer is conveniently broken and it’s too cold to dry things outdoors. Plus, I’m lazy. So I have our air filter running full tilt in my office/the chick room.

Solar Power?

We’re also looking into getting a solar system for our house. We are arranging a free estimate from Positive Energy Solar to see how viable it is. I’m excited to find out how much prices have gone down since I last looked into solar about ten years ago. Tax credits, baby!

Newly planted: butternut squash starts, edamame starts

Newly sprouted: basil, red bell pepper, cherry tomato, best boy tomato

Chick Box, continued

Here it is. I abandoned the floorboard box disaster and created the upside down table disaster. The upside down table seems to contain the chicken and hasn’t injured anyone yet. With 1/2″ staples and a lot of cursing I stapled chicken wire around 3/4 of the table’s sides before I ran out. I stapled cardboard to the the side against the wall. Lined it with an old tarp, a blanket and pine needles from the back yard.

I hate chicken wire. I need to do a little research before using it again. Either there’s a trick to it I don’t know or I want to find another product. It’s a pain in the ass.

We had trouble finding a way to hang the light at a good height, hence the dining room chair. I may screw a board into two of the legs but not this morning.

The goal was to have a place for them they can’t escape as we go to Santa Fe today and I think we met that goal. I wish I didn’t lose my temper a dozen times in doing it, but you can’t have everything.

Seeds

It was freezing today — flakes of snow in the air, down-coat sort of cold — so I’m glad to report I did no outdoor planting. I bought Miracle Gro Potting Mix and planting some soon to be seedlings for some of the plants that have longer growing seasons and are tender.

I hate spending money on dirt but the bags of soil we have were bone dry and didn’t look like they would be conducive to germination. The actual planting took about 45 minutes but there were countless hours of a toddler getting in the way and picking up the surprisingly high number of things he could hurt himself with. He did put dirt in a few of the seed trays so that counts as me being a nurturing mom, right?

I spent a lot of time sorting the seeds I bought from the local hardware store, deciding what to plant when. I planted 36 starts of the eggplant, tomato, and bell peppers. The cilantro and basil got 27 starts and the 100 Hybrid cherry tomatoes only had enough seeds for about 18 starts.

I’m hoping to keep some of the basil and cilantro inside and plant the rest in a raised bed when the time comes.

Thirty six eggplants sounds like a lot but I imagine some won’t make it to maturity. And we do have a seedling swap in mid-March I could take extras to.

So excited to have actually planted things. I hope the warm air and moisture-trapping enclosure will help the seeds grow.

Next will be some of the cold hardy plants like my kale and peas directly into a bed with a plastic cover.

Newly planted: 100 Hybrid tomato, best boy tomato, black beauty eggplant, red bell pepper, cilantro, basil

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