Tiny farming: Seed starting

Catalogs!

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This year’s seed catalogs! Haven’t kept on the mailing lists for the dozen or more I used to get. I do always look around online, but for the hard copy, and the main seed ordering, it’s reduced to two, one main seed supplier and a backup. The more you know, the less you need? I like the sound of that! :)

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Pea vs drought

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[From 7-Jun-2012] Pea vs drought: Sad and scary when plants die from lack of water. Seems way worse to me than being ravaged by pests. Kinda makes you realize how vulnerable we are. This isn’t a full-on drought, just an extended dry spell with no rain for a couple of weeks and counting. Most crops are doing fine, and only a few shallowly buried peas are getting toasted, so really, it’s all good!

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Shrouded against the cold

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[From 11-May-2013] Shrouded against the cold: Not much to look at, but nice for the tomatoes, peppers and other seedlings on the tables underneath. It’s a double layer of medium weight floating row cover, tried and true, a familiar spring sight in the unheated greenhouse, good for a few degrees of protection in the forecast overnight near-freeze. Three days of chilly nights, they say.

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Seed store

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[From 27-Jun-2012] My current seed bank is around 60 Ziploc freezer bags. In alphabetical order. I haven’t been as careful lately with storage conditions as at times in the past, these plastic bins with lids (there is third one with bigger bags of larger seed, like beans and peas) are kept out of sunlight and away from heat. I could do a lot more, but I’m not going for long term storage, and most of the time there seems to be no critical difference in germination time and rate for seed 1-2 years old, which is longest I keep anything in any sort of quantity. Fresh seed may pop up a little quicker, but with the many other variables based mainly on the weather, it all seems to even out by the time harvest day rolls around!

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When the well runs dry

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[From 2-Jul-2012] End of the line: what it looks like when your well bottoms out and the water stops flowing. Just like a power failure… We’ve  been watching the level in the dug well we’re using, and the refresh rate is pretty dismal. Today, while watering in newly seeded beds, the water finally stopped. After last fall’s failed well drilling, figuring out short and longer term water solution is big here now. The water will come back eventually in this well, but the water table drops as the winter reserves go, and at this point, the well won’t refill high enough or quickly enough to be useful even for seedlings. Water barrels filled from the house well and distributed by watering can is a possible labor-intensive emergency measure. And of course, there is always…rain.

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Rock, pebble, stone

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[From 8-May-2013] Imagine a world of soil without stones… In the three farming locations I’ve fully worked, they’ve been everywhere and in all sizes. You get used to them: collecting heavier, smoother specimens for weighting row cover, moving even bigger ones to avoid breaking tines on the rototillers, piling up the grapefruit and orange-sized rocks by the tractor bucket load, and raking the smallest out of the way of the seeders. I have experimented a bit with how much I can leave and still have the seeders not bounce around and lay down seed unevenly. Raking as the last step of bed preparation is still the way we go.

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