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CPBs

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[From 4-Aug-2012] Pre-squish: Brand new Colorado potato beetle, larva about the size of a match head, on eggplant. Around the leaf edge, older damage done by bigger CPBs. Recently, for whatever reason, they’ve been around but not in numbers enough to be a big problem. The crazily erratic weather of the last few fears seems to have obliterated regular pest cycles, so we just see ‘em and pick ‘em…whenever.

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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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50 TILFTF: #38 Use a pencil

50 Things I've Leaned from Tiny Farming: #38

See the growing list of 50 Things I’ve Learned from Tiny Farming:

#38 – Use a pencil: You can find no finer quick-planning and sketching technology than the PENCIL, combined with a crisp sheet of paper, a supporting clipboard, and a quality white eraser. There is a curious kind of commitment only a pencil can bring to the start of something. The impermanence, the erasability, the chance to begin now but make sweeping changes later, is the cool thing. Pencils are perfect for roughing out garden maps, preliminarily filling in tricky forms, and sketching all sorts of construction and fabrication projects, mobile chicken coops to better farm stand shelving (even crudely done, a picture is worth…a lot). Forget digital—lappies, tablets, smartphones, batteries, cables, formats and files—there’s nothing like good old straightforward no-frills paper and pencil (traditional or mechanical) for freeing you up to think!

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Good gloves

Good gloves for fall fieldwork

Used right, these gloves are quite fantastic. The different brands I’ve tried have all been pretty much the same: fairly heavy stretch fabric for warmth and a snug fit, and a rough-textured latex coating for waterproof protection and a good grip. Perfect for fall field work, when the temperature is around zero, and everything tends to be damp and cold. They’re close-fitting and not too thick, so the touch is sensitive enough for hand-harvesting of root crops in moist soil when you have to feel around, coiling muddy hoses, picking up various field debris. They’re also tough enough to use as work gloves, to move stuff like damp wood and metal. The trick is that they’re waterproof, and they also breathe, so your hands don’t sweat and freeze they way they would if they were completely waterproofed, but the tradeoff is, you can’t use them in water, only to grip wet things, the minute the fabric gets soaked, well, the fun is over. Most of the time, I choose bare hands: getting nicked, freezing, whatever, it’s usually worth it for that direct contact, and gloves are one less thing to keep track of. When I do decide to use gloves, having the right ones for the job is a little pleasure, and these guys have their place. Nice!

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Cold-grown salad

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[From 20-Nov-2013] Cold-grown: Tiny lettuce leaves, crisp, fresh and delicious…and grown oh so slowly, without cover, in the unheated greenhouse, through many freezing nights, some down to -15C. Still a while till it’s big enough to harvest, and it was seeded way back at the beginning of October: that’s already 50 days compared to the usual spring/summer 25-35 days for baby lettuce mix). Also, the cold effect gets trickier as the leaves get bigger. All in all, though, seeing food grow in the cold with a minimum of help is quite fantastic.

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TFB & the Web

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