Archive for January, 2009

Old broadcast seeder

Antique broadcast seeder

Found this antique broadcast seeder hanging on a nail in the drive shed, the Cyclone Seed Sower, made in Urbana, Indiana, sometime way back when (patented 1925). The canvas is torn, but it’s otherwise in good working order. Dunno exactly when it was last used, in the last decade or two. With a little patching—in a hurry, even duct tape would work—and a few drops of oil, it’d be good to go. In this case, time hasn’t improved on design: this seeder is essentially identical to the modern version I use, except the cloth and wood and most of the metal have been replaced by plastic. Operation is simple: fill the bag with seed, adjust the size of the opening, and start walking while cranking the handle—seed hits the  plate and gets flung out by the ribs (here’s a more detailed description). Simple, then and now!

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Another snow day

Greenhouse and snow

More snow. A few inches, I guess. I don’t pay attention any more, unless there’s too much snow to get out the door… I trudged out into the field, snow up to my knees, to check the greenhouse. It’s doing fine as usual, fully inflated (it has two layers of plastic, with a fan blowing air between) and shedding snow with ease. The greenhouse (and the veggie stand behind it) won’t be moved to the new farm until the snow clears and it’s easy to get at, hopefully sometime in March. I hope dismantling it doesn’t make it fall apart. The plastic is rated for four years, which means the UV resistance should be giving out any time now. I suppose the plastic will start to disintegrate. I don’t really know what happens when greenhouse plastic expires. Guess I’ll find out. Until then, I expect it to last forever! :)

Snowbound greenhouse

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Main order done!

Set up for the main seed order

Five hours and done! This year’s main seed order was a first: finished in one session! Usually, it takes two. My head was starting to spin a little, but I felt COMPELLED by the late date to keep going (although I don’t think I’ve ever been much earlier, I always just plan to be). Guess I’m getting…better. A small order went in a while ago, for early starters like onions. This is all the rest!

It’s a comfortably familiar routine. I cleared an end of a work table and set things out. A couple of clipboards, one with the always-handy, slightly magical  seed calculator sheet. Catalogs from the main two seed houses I use. A scale for weighing heavier seed, and seed in larger quantities. A seed scoop for checking what’s left in packets (pour out, pour back!). Tiny (3/4″/19mm) bulldog clips, great for clipping together packets. And sitting by the table, three Rubbermaid bins that hold the precious seed inventory in freezer-weight ziploc storage bags.

First, I weighed the bulkier stuff: beans, peas, larger quantites of beets, radish, and so on, stored in their own bags. Then, I settled in, going through ziplocs, more or less alphabetically, from arugula to tomatoes. See what’s left, decide what more I need. Check the catalogs, try not to go wild with extra packets of stuff, “just to try”—the amount of seed needed per veggie is already worked out on that calculator sheet. A few of the ziploc bags have only a couple of packets of seed, each a different variety, like the Brussels sprouts in the pic. Most have 10-20. Tomatoes are getting near 200. It’s a lot to go through, but it’s like hooking up again with old friends. Easy. Fun. And I’m done!

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A favorite tree…

Black locust

It’s not hard to like the aged, half-dead black locust tree right in front of the farmhouse, ’cause it always looks good. It’s gnarled and sinister, kinda hypnotic, particularly on flat, grey days (I wonder if the creepy feel is a cultural thing, or if it looks that way to everyone). With the new farm move only a few days away now, a couple of weeks at most, I’m making a bit of a last-minute effort to round out the old farm snapshot collection…

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New seedling room: getting there!

New seedling room: the last wall

It’s slow and steady with the new seedling room. I’ve only managed to commute to the new farm for one or two days a week this month. It’s a little frustrating, watching the time go by, but I guess it’s good for building up energy for all the stuff to come in the next three months—meanwhile, I’m working on the garden map and other plans at the old farm end! Today, it was more building, with Bob lending his old school, all-purpose expertise, and we got a lot done. A good day! The last wall, the open one (the other three are against concrete block), is in and covered with Typar weather wrap (above). This finally makes four walls to keep a little HEAT in. Now, instead of working in subzero temperatures, we can work in the comfort of a few degrees above. It really makes a difference! So, the wall framing is done, with only the ceiling to go.

Enlarging a barn doorway

Doors and windows? One of the two doors is hung. The other one was a bit of a concern. A standard door was still a couple of inches (5cm) too high. Choices: either build a door, pay hundreds of dollars for a custom built one, OR, bash the concrete sill, made of concrete blocks filled with concrete and stones, to make the extra height. We chose option #3. It actually didn’t take too long to sledgehammer and clean with a masonry chisel, maybe half an hour, and now we have a good 6 inches (15cm) to play with. The openings for the two windows are fine, they’re framed, the windows have to be shimmed and screwed in place. Two or three more good work days, and the new seedling room will be snug enough to set up the light racks and start some onions! And leek!

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Drive shed revisited

The drive shed

Here’s a view of the west-facing side of the drive shed that I seldom notice, although it’s right beside the gate to the market garden field—during the growing season, I walk by it several times a day. It’s the little window that I always find mysterious, and that I might or might not remember… The upper level of the drive shed is a dim jumble of well-picked-over storage, stuff gathered over the decades, including some old, horse-drawn plowing gear. I haven’t been up there much, no need. It’s like that for a few areas of the farm. I’ve only been through the woods and down to the natural pond a handful of times (well, it is kinda boggy for most of the year). I’ve yet to explore the unused silo. And there are just so many ANGLES to view the place from, that I didn’t get to much in the daily market garden routines—other spots I’ve walked by literally thousands of times. As this farm gets set to move into new hands, I figure it’s a good idea to intentionally snap a few extra photos. For the record!

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