Friday, February 18, 2011

My new soil blocker

I was late planting seeds indoors.  My peat pellets gave up the ghost and would not rehydrate into puffy little mesh balls.  What was I thinking?  They are over 7 years old and have seen a lot of temperature changes.  Frugal me, I broke the peat pellets up and re-hydrated them outside of their little protective sheaves enough to create wonderful peat again.  It was snowy outside so I did this in the living room with my wife glaring at me and my daughter "helping" me.  It was worth it.  Now to make homes for my seed.  I choose to invest in a soil blocker that makes pot-less seed starts.  After hemming and hawing, I ordered and received my tiny new tool.  It makes twenty 3/4" sugar cubes with dimples for the seeds.

To the peat, I added 1 to 3 parts composted rabbit manure from my backyard warren, a handful of greensand, limestone dust, and. rock phosphorus.  I now have enough for a batch of seeds, a few more batches later and maybe for the 2" cubes that I will transplant these 3/4" cubes into with their specially made dimples.  I love the engineering mind that went into this system.

360 cubes fit on one tray.  I would love to have one of those mesh plant trays for good drainage, but I will wait until one finds its way to me.  Until then, a storage bin lid with a plastic bag over it will work as a humid environment for germination.  I do have a plant heating pad that I sit on a towel for insulation.

Here is the list of veggies and herbs that go in this first batch 6 to 8 weeks before last frost:

Leek Varna (Peaceful Valley)
Anise Hyssop (Seeds of Change) statified in the freezer for one month.
Brussel Sprouts (Ferry Morse)
Sage (Peaceful Valley)
Tomato Yellow Pear (Organic Burpee)
Tomato Cherry Chadwick (Peaceful Valley)
Tomato Cherokee Purple (Peaceful Valley)
Tomato Roma Pompeii (Renee's Garden)
Tomato Mexican Heirloom (bought a Whole Foods Tomato)
Pepper Jalapeno (Renee's Garden)
Pepper New Mexico Joe Parker (Renee's Garden)
Pepper Ancho San Luis (Renee's Garden)
Bell Pepper Crimson, Gold and Orange (Renee's Garden)
Bell Pepper Carnival Mix (Organic Burpee)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Of igloos and rosemary

I spent the better part of this morning in an igloo.  The snow has long since melted  here, but my daughter still has her "igloo" tent up in the parlor room.  She has it stuffed full of animals and books and loves to have me sit in the bean bag chair inside while showing me all her stuff.  That would be more entertaining if I were not over 6 feet tall and the igloo was under 3 foot tall.  Or maybe that image is exactly the entertaining part.  I watched her closely while Mommy is running errands.  The last time Mommy went out, she bought back two little rosemary plants on sale at the grocery store.  They weren't in bad shape, so I planted them on either side of what will be out picket fence gate.  I figured it is just as good as any time to plant herbs.  They obstensively say "Rosemary Hardy" and are labeled Rosemarious Officianalis, which I take to mean that they do not know what variety they are.  Should I really plant herbs outside in February?  Just go for it, I tell myself.  That's me saying to the heavens that we do not need another winter storm this year!!!  Just in case, I have some milk jugs handy with their bottoms cut out to be little versions of daughter's igloo.  Actually, I have dozens of them handy as I get ready for early spring planting.  Weather in the central valleys of Arkansas have been so unpredictable that I dread a surprise heavy visit from Jack Frost.

Igloos inside and igloos outside at the ready.  Spring cometh soon enough.

Moving the roots.

I love Valentines Day!  We planted fruit trees years ago on the land. It was a good time to do it. (See older posts)  It was especially fitting for Valentine's weekend to move them to our urban homestead.  The deer have really taken a toll on them, gnawing and grubbing them.  Now they are replanted as bare root trees in the back property line of our house.  The Fuyu Persimmon, I planted on the front yard picket fence for its showy fruits.

The list includes:
Red Delicious Apple
Golden Delicious Apple
Elberta Peach
Balwin Pear
Spalding Pear
and two more I really can't identify, which is why I am writing these ones I know down in the blog, so I can possibly remember later.

The trip out to the land was wonderful.  We picked up some redwood pickets I have been saving and stockpiling for use on our new picket fence.  We spent a wonderful time with a picnic on the old quartz rock and dreaming of our house and ranch.  After many design changes, it is no surprise we came back with a new idea.  This time we are taking a very direct approach to the house design.  Let's get on the land as fast as possible by building a straight forward farmhouse directly on the site pad we have cleared, no twists, no complexities...  Ok, we'll try.  As two architects working together on their own home, simplicity is the hardest approach.  But the day was so spring like that we had a hard time leaving the land and were willing to do anything to settle on a design.  We snuggled on the sofa that night going through Google images of rustic farmhouses and scouring our architecture library for ideas and discussion points.

Meanwhile, the fruit trees will look great in our urban lot this spring when buds and blooms blossom.  I'll take pictures once they open.  And we will do without the deer's attempts at fine pruning.  We fully intend to re-transplant the trees once the farmhouse is built.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Redirected energies.

We have had the most snow now for many seasons, and it's about to dump a record amount tomorrow.  I guess I'll trust the weatherman enough this time to set my schedule aside for a snow day. Glorious white landscapes remind me of blank paper. Maybe it will give me time to express our little homestead's fate and write a bit.  Yes, it's been a long time since posts.  The land is pristine and practically untouched, while we have been working hard to prepare.  Ok,  no, that's not entirely true... we have setup a table and two chairs in the middle of the forest.  They look insignificant.  The enormity of the task ahead has daunted me.

The truth is we have bought a little house in the city of Little Rock instead and started our garden there.  Our energies have been redirected to build my construction and architecture business, to gather our strength, and to focus on ourselves.  Our goals are the same.  It has taken me this long to realize that our efforts on this urban lot has still been part and parcel of our homesteading effort and worthy for mention in this blog.  That silly little movie of Pixar's called "Up" may have helped me see this. The main character realizes his greatest adventure is and always will be dreaming with his wife and being with her.  The grand adventurer is not the one who goes to the ends of the earth, but the one who sees the people around him and spends time with them, supports them, and laughs with them.  In the same token, my devotion to wife and daughter drives me to make home where the hearth is. 

Our efforts for our family to be strong, our environment to be cleaner and our food to be nutritious is the core of our homesteading efforts, and as such belongs in this blog.  Maybe I can write now of our urban remodeling and gardening.  Christi has made huge strides in protecting us from our toxic world and taking us into a new awareness of nutrition.  My green business has taken off and we plan continuously of stepping onto the 60 acres with more knowledge and planning than ever before.

So, the blog shall continue with new emphasis.  Our Griffin House Farm is on 6000 sq ft presently.  The seeds are ready to start and so am I.