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Seas of seedlings

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An endless sea of sweet pepper seedlings, out from under the fluorescent lamps, getting used to the sun. Well, not endless, a few hundred plants, mostly red, yellow and orange bell type. If all goes well, that should be…plenty!

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Toothpick timekeeping!

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Toothpick timekeeping system. Two toothpicks means two days hardening off in the sun. Simple and, I suspect, sustainabls – a single box of toothpicks could probably be made to last a lifetime. For when you’re not doing everything at once…

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Tape time!

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Tape time again, measuring out this year’s market garden. I’ve come up with various schemes to do away with this step as an annual thing, but end up wanting to move things around, or accidentally tilling under a critical stake or two left from the year before. The method is pretty primitive:  walk around with a 200′ reel tape measure, trying to keep things square (the 3-4-5 trick!), staking an outline that can be used later to easily line up smaller sections as needed. That’s Rochelle at the other end, doing this two-person is the preferred way to go. The eventual result: a new garden map

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Ice storm

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Ice storm. Some strange, quick mix of rain and freezing cold that puts a thick coating of ice on everything, and creates thick little icicles wherever water drips (like, above, from the 3-point hitch that’s attaching the rototiller to the tiny tractor. Quite amazing, and a little alarming as well when you pass under big trees drooping and sagging under the extra weight. Massive branches falling and whole trees toppling are taking out power lines all over, it’s already been out for 12 hours in places around here, and the radio’s saying it might not be restored for another 24 hours. Back to the Stone Age. The Ice Age. At least, the pre-Electric Era. No Internet at night? Light a candle, or use your long-lasting LED headlamp, and read a book!

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New plug sheets

72-cell plug sheets for seed starting

Picked up a small shipment of new plug sheets and webbed trays at the post office. I really stretch ‘em out, have some going for years—they’re reusable, but not incredibly tough, especially when you take them into the field for transplanting. Handle with care and all that, and replace as needed! These are 72-cell sheets, my basic standby. Bigger is generally better here (my other standby is 38-cells), but there’s only so much room under the lights: if you keep the timing tight, don’t leave things in there too long, they’re fine for just about any small seed. Waste no space! 

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The refractometer has arrived!

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Yep, the refractometer has arrived by mail! It’s quite exciting. This one is calibrated for the Brix scale—it indicates the amount of sugar and other dissolved solids in water. Drip a couple of drops of juice from the veg of your choice onto the screen, point at light, and peer through eyepiece to find out how nutrient-dense it really is (it’s a tool to see if we can measure results from this season’s remineralization plans). As easy and meaningful as it sounds? Well, we’ll see!

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