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Rain watch begins

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The season’s weekly rain watch begins. Weeks start on Monday. The big 25 on the rain gauge is the magic 25mm/1″ mark, the rule-of-thumb ideal for a week—an inch of slow and steady rain over a few hours, and of course all the rest, sunshine, that’s just…beautiful. A 1/2″ is an OK minimum for a bit. More than an inch a week ongoing for a while can be troublesome, depending on the crop and stage its—disease, small seed washed out, bigger seed rotting, whatnot, it is all possible :)—and it does occasionally happen. So far this week, 18mm here and 20mm total, so, doing fine!

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Rock garden

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Rocks, rocks, as far as the eye can see. This is how the market garden field looks, before the post-winter work up. Months of snow and rain, have washed the surface rocks clean, so it looks worse than it is. Still, a lotta rocks, pushing up fresh each year.

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Bare-root transplant

Bare-root tomato transplant

It’s out of the moist paper germination environment, and into the wilder world of the cellpak. This is a baby golden cherry tomato—can’t you tell?!—going into standard sterile seedling mix of equal parts perlite, vermiculite and peat. As long as the root hasn’t gotten too long, I just plunk ‘em down, cover and water in, letting the roots find their own way down (a few years back, I probably would have made tiny holes and painstakingly inserted each one, but really, they seem to do that work a lot more efficiently). On a side note, I think I heard that perlite or vermiculite (maybe both) have made it into some people’s not-so-environmentally correct category, along with peat. So complicated—I will look into that. :)

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Eggplant!

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Eggplant pushing up, for the first time probably ever in my tiny farming career, in real sun, not those kinda ghastly (but effective enough) fluorescent lights. This is part of the current season’s unusual start-up, split between two farm locations (where I live and where I grow, about a mile apart, eight minutes by bike!), and smaller and way later than usual, and than the crazy weather allowed. These guys, along with peppers and tomatoes, are in 200- and 128-cell trays, seeded from bareroot germination into a smaller cell size than the usual 72, to make the most of window space. They’ll soon be off to the seedling room on the other farm, and 14-hour days of indoor lighting. Meanwhile, they seem to like it like this—raise your hands in the air! :)

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Mixing greens

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Measuring seed for lettuce and Asian greens mixes, using a digital gram scale from the local headshop. It works well, except I wish the auto-shutoff didn’t happen so quick. I was quite amazed by the selection of digital scales available, starting at, I think it was $20, and going up in $5 increments for a whole slew of models. Didn’t realize so many people were into making their own small-batch seasoning blends and custom salad mixes. Wow. Hahaha. The mixes are basically trial and error. For salad mix, it’s about color and texture at this point: frillier, greener, redder, crisper (baby Romaine is nice in there)—check the results, adjust the percentages for next round. For the Asian greens, it is more about taste, which so far has mostly come down to how much mustard to put in. Of course, how quickly they each grow is quite critically important, all varieties should grow at the same rate, in a fairly wide range of conditions. The lettuces are easier, and I started with some varieties recommended for baby leaf production for just that reason: fast-growing. The Asian greens, all brassicas at this point, are trickier. For example, tatsoi was included in our first runs, but it consistently grew lower than the rest, the leaves were a nice size, but when cutting, they tended to fall halfway below the blade. So, out goes the tatsoi, for now. It’s all about simple experimentation and adjusting things a bit as you go! (BTW, the knife is there just to slice open seed packs; for no real reason, that’s how I always do it…)

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Garlic check-in

Garlic

Yep, the garlic is growing steady, unfazed by 25°C/77°F days tumbling to sub-freezing nights, still apparently unappetizing to deer in spite of their almost unnaturally healthy green standout glow against the hay and straw mulch. Very nice! The difference between larger cloves, planted in the middle bed, and the smaller ones on either side, set up by Tracy and Jesse, is still quite noticeable. We’ll see how they catch up.

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