Making salad mix

Combining varieties of lettuce seed for salad mix

Adding a pinch (5g) of fairly pricey Rushmore (a beautifully deep-red oakleaf) to a batch of salad mix. This is the basic all-lettuce summer blend: seven varieties, selected mainly for color (greens to reds), texture (flat to frilly), and to some degree, seed cost (the price range of lettuce varieties is quite extreme). This inexpensive digital gram scale makes it easy to add relatively small quantities of certain varieties, and keep each batch consistent. Weigh out, shake up in bottle, ready to go. Here: 100g – that’s a lot of little lettuce!

Weed ID-ing in the Digital Age

Weed ID app photo

Wormwood of some sort, this weed from the greenhouse, according to our best guess from a selection of possibilities offered up by the smart smartphone plant identification app I’ve been playing with/trying out. There are several such apps for Android: this one’s called Like That Garden—”See a plant, take a photo, and find out what it is – instantly!” It got the highest ratings, and is free, so I grabbed it.

Like the advertising says, it’s that simple to use. With the app, you take a snapshot of the mystery plant that’s saved as a low rez image (above) and sent off into the ether where it’s checked against a vast plant photo database, several possibilities soon return, with multiple images for each, and you pick the one most likely (I suppose in some cases, only one choice comes back, but so far, that hasn’t happened). The technology is all about advanced image recognition and visual searches, very…digital. Trying it out on a few plants, it’s worked quite well.

While this app is doing fine, I have a great (effective) weed book as well. Is the app a novelty toy, or a serious tiny farming tool? Or will the smartphone be accidentally dropped in a puddle and destroyed before we get a chance to decide? Only time will tell…

Rain barrel runneth over

Rain into rain barrel

[From 23 Jun 2012] The Weather recently: three weeks of hot-no-rain, followed by a couple of days of intense rain, 2″ each, then, three days of sweltering heat wave, a couple more days of intense 2″ rain, now, three days of perfect balmy summer, with the forecast for the next few days calling for cool to cold and cloudy. The rain barrels filled up several times over (the pic is from the last bout of heavy rain, three days ago). Interesting!

Spring begins with the weather!

Two-week weather forecast

There’s official calendar Spring, and then there’s spring in the field, that ignores exact dates and goes by the weather, marking winter as over whenever the freezing temperatures end. If today’s two-week weather forecast is anything to go by—it is, in this case, when being off by ±5-10°C (14-23°F) either way isn’t a big concern—market garden spring starts now. For the moment, I’m mainly concerned about overnight lows in the unheated greenhouse, and whether row cover is necessary. If it stays above -15-20°C, my safe-with-no-cover cutoff, it should be fine to pull back the covers and let the sun shine in (prepared, of course, to put it right back if there’s a sudden severe dip, which we hope doesn’t happen). Nothing complicated, just a little of the gambling that’s called working with the seasons!

Excellent soil building book

Building Soils for Better Crops

A reminder: Building Soils for Better Crops: Sustainable Soil Management is an excellent, book about soil for growers, free to download, or you can buy a hard copy. Follow the link, or read a bit more where I posted about it quite a while ago. The image above is cropped from the cover, a very specific type of old school farm view and set-up, which happens to be the one I’m familiar with; where you are may be totally different, as may be the soil, but the idea of growing is the same, and chances are this book is useful!

Great gloves get a little better!

Good fieldwork gloves for fall and winter

How excited can you get about a pair of gloves that you use to work in the field? Quite! Although enthusiastic may be the better word. This style of glove I’ve used for a while, for fall and winter, in cold weather. I wrote about their many fine features a while back—this particular version is the best yet, with the grippy, waterproof coating extending just far enough down the back so that they don’t get wet during normal handling of soggy stuff, while allowing enough open, breathable area so your hands don’t sweat. What more can I say?!