Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January Deep

The long climb out of winter feels interminable. Here in Tennessee the winter is mild and bearable, others are not enjoying an easy winter this year. My woodpile is not gone yet, but then I have not been trying hard enough. I read yesterday that the sun calendar has today's twin at November 26. The upside is just as long as the downside.

I have ordered my obligatory seeds from the 20 pounds of seed catalogs that have arrived in the mail over the past three weeks. They know just how to get me. A few pretty pictures of cucumbers here, a few colorful pictures of tomatoes there, and I am happily ordering seed for plants that I cannot grow for another 3 months. THEY'VE GOT ME. These seed catalog companies have the marketing savvy of the best of the tobacco men. Give the garden groupies pictures of chlorophyll laden plants during the dead of winter, and we will order anything, even seeds for veggies we ourselves don't like to eat. It is a compulsion.

So much planning and plotting is going on. I have ordered (and am waiting to have to pay for) a LGD which is a Livestock Guardian Dog, Great Pyrenees to be exact. He/she will be the chickens' NBF. I have also ordered two splits of VRS honeybees, for pickup in May. All acronyms, all the time. Also waiting for the arrival of the shipment of turkey chicks in late March. These will be be Standard Bronze and Bourbon Reds. I feel that both breeds have a great context for this area of the country, and both are heritage breeds. And, unlike grocery store turkey breeds, these types are able to reproduce naturally. The turkeys you buy in the supermarket were all created via artificial insemination, the bird's breast is too big to allow...well you can get the picture. All I know is that I will hopefully have to only do the minimum to facilitate turkey nookie. The idea is to not have to keep buying livestock all the time. This is the definition of sustainable.

Last but not least, I am waiting for my order of soil blocker equipment for seed starting.
I am a dork, and I am not ashamed to say that I am very excited about the arrival of these garden tools. I have tried several methods of seed propagation over the years, and I am hopeful that this will be the best yet.

I have tried cell trays and peat pots. I have tried those fun but disappointing peat pucks that poof up when you soak them. I have tried bedding flats and hand picked the seedlings with an English made stainless steel Widger tool (it is an excellent propagation tool by the way), transplanting the seedlings into larger pots. This last method is a great space saver, but I loose some to transplant shock and damage, no matter how careful I try to be.

The idea with the soil block maker is that you load up the device with some potting soil and compress it into neat individual blocks ready for seed. No pot, no cells and supposedly the plant cannot get root bound since the sides of the block are just open to the air. Then, when the seedling is at the right size you simply deposit each mini-block, plant an all, into the well in the medium size block....and so on. Minimal transplant shock. Since I've noticed that even the "biodegradable" peat pots do NOT degrade after planting, I figure this is a great way to get my seeds started indoors this year, without wasting effort or money on "infrastructure". The soil block maker is a tool that can be used over and over. It will eventually pay for itself I hope.

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