Summer Seeds, Winter Temps

Yesterday I planted 4 trays with a total of 244 cells. Lots of everything:

  • 8 tomato varieties
  • 6 pepper varieties
  • Eggplants
  • Pickles
  • Okra
  • Watermelon
  • Annual herbs
  • Various flowers

I soaked many of the seeds overnight, using a handy dandy styrofoam egg carton. It worked great, but you have to be very careful not to overfill or slosh the carton around otherwise everything could easily get mixed up.

I filled the cells a little more than halfway with regular potting soil and soaked them as best as I could, first by bottom watering overnight (fail) then by drizzling a gallon of water over them.

Next came the seed starting mix, which is difficult to wet in the little pots and shrinks substantially when you finally do get it wet. So I filled a plastic 3 quart container with the mix, watered it down, stirred it around, and repeated until the container was full. Each tray needed an entire container. I ran out of my new Jiffy professional organic mix and was happy to find my leftover Burpee organic mix. (But the Jiffy seemed a bit nicer to mess with…less stringy coconut crap).

Then came the seedy fun.

So it only took about 4 hours or so, but all the babies are tucked in ready to rock and roll!

I’ve got this shit all figured out!


I was running late this morning so I didn’t stick the babies out in the sun. And really, they don’t need any sun yet.

But it’s really very cool outside and in the basement. Doesn’t feel much like spring at all. So out of curiosity I stuck a digital meat thermometer in the soil. I got readings between 55 and 57 degrees. A quick google search let me know that ain’t going to cut it. (I don’t got this shit fugured out apparently.)

My 2017 germination issues make a lot of sense now.

Babies got moved upstairs for the night.


I scored 6 new varieties of heirloom seeds from Park today for $1 each with no shipping. Dreams of infinite seeds and plants from that $6 investment stoked the fire in my farmer’s heart and oiled the gears of my calculating mind. Then that huge oversight of required germination temperature reminded me that I’m still a very young student. But like some chick on this documentary I watched one time said, “If you grow for 30 years, it’s only 30 tries. Imagine trying to be an expert musician after 30 tries.” Or something like that.

Next year when I’m a farmer I’ll buy some heat mats.


I bought some heat mats from Amazon with same-day shipping.  🙂

Only the Brave

To invest in something – your money, your time, your learning, your effort and care – and then to take risks with it, is either stupid or brave or maybe it’s science. Well whatever it is, it happens every single go-round with this gardening thing.  

You do your research, plan your steps, make your purchases, set it all up for success. But once you actually begin and cross that threshold, shit happens. It’s inevitable and so therefore is the risk factor. What to do now? Something or nothing?  It’s a risk either way. And so here you are: weeks into a project where time really matters, staring into the face of a likely failure that could definitely affect everything going forward into the season.

Gardening is not for the faint of heart.

If you gardened your whole adult life, from the time you are 25 to the time you are 75, you would only get 50 practice runs. Imagine that in the context of a musician or an athlete. Nobody would be any good. So here we are, the make it or break it lot, the do or die bunch, the “eh fuck it, there’s always next year” sort. 

There will be failure, death (of the plant sort), trial and oh-so-much error. It’s just how it goes. In order to do it, you have to be willing to lose what you’ve worked for because chances are pretty good that you may.

So here I am. Brave woman. Disturbing roots and replanting seedlings deeply. Hoping my Chinese Cabbage doesn’t immediately bolt when I put it into the garden (I read that was a thing). Hoping my skinny leggy mustard greens and bok choy don’t rot when I bury them better.

I don’t think these floppy guys could continue like this

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But truth be told, I’ve never had any problems with transplanting anything. The good broccoli plants I have now (that did survive the ice and snow, by the way) were initially leggy newborns that I re-planted up to their scrawny necks. So maybe I’m not that risky and brave. Maybe I have a bit of experience on my side. Either way, this old lady gets a feeling that teeters between exhilaration and terror during these dealings. 

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To elaborate on the ice/snow storm frozen broccoli/brussels outcome, we have some burned leaves but that seems to be it. Maybe the ice coating protected my green babies, but we got down to 12 degrees F two nights in a row and everything survived.

(Notice how healthy and green the weeds look. Wtf.)

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Back to my present endeavors.

Three trays now hold various brassicas, herbs, and flowers. Here’s what I’ve got going so far:

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And here is their normal home:

My basement “greenhouse”

I was working with two lights initially and just added the other three a few days ago.  Hopefully it helps with future legginess because I estimate having three more 50 cell trays before spring comes.

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Here Come the Dinosaurs!

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Chicken Garden and the Almost Over Christmas Staycation

I honestly planned on spending most of the day on the couch today. It’s staycation day 4 of 4 and I wasn’t going to cook or anything – maybe just play with some seeds along with cuddling with kiddos. But my brave little chickens have been leaving the yard and when I went to hunt them down, I couldn’t in good conscience waste the beautiful warm weather. So with Silas’ help, I built the chicken garden. 

The chicken garden’s purpose is to beautify the chicken coop / herb garden area while providing a place to grow things the chickens may like to eat. It surrounds the coop on three sides. I used about 120 reclaimed bricks that we are fortunate enough to have lying around, and soil from last summer’s potted vegetable garden. 

I placed the large-holed bricks near the coop, in hopes that I can grow a single climbing edible in each (like a snow pea or nasturtium), to nourish and entertain the girls while they are confined. 

Then, because I’m all into fermenting these days and because apparently fermented chicken feed has magical properties, I mixed up a batch to “cook”.

This concoction is their normal feed crumbles, black oil sunflower seeds, and some flax seeds. I covered it with water and I’m going to wait for it to start bubbling, adding water when it expands. 

And now I’m going to play with seeds. My new journal for 2017 came today, so let the planning begin!

xoxoxo

Saving Seeds – Fermenting

Heirloom tomato seeds. It’s early in the season yet to be planning for next spring, but my Djeena golden plant is dead.  I got exactly 3 tomatoes,  all of which were first chewed by a big fat horn worm, before her stem rotted for some reason.

3 Djeena Lees

Here is one of them all ripe and pretty (and slightly wilted) on the right:

Maybe it’s because of the scarcity, but the Golden Girl tasted so tart and delicious. And it wasn’t just me. Gordon and Eddie thought she was yummy too.

So I saved her. I think.  Unless I let her seeds germinate by fermenting too long. But I think they’re ok. Nice and fuzzy like the random seeds I bought in the rainbow packet originally.

Pretty yellow in the sun
Eeewwww. Fermenting. Silas loves the smell. My boy.
Rinsed the keepers clean

Drying and hoping they’ll sprout next year