Seed Starting Methods

It’s that time of year when I can barely contain my enthusiasm over the coming spring.  Not to mention the fact that it is tax refund time and bonus time while I still work off the farm.  However, the seed catalogs have been filling the mailbox for sometime now and I have perused the best websites for my seed selection.

I have already ordered some and germinated some of my earlier crops (brassicas) such as cabbage, spinach, some lettuce, broccoli, and herbs.

The seed starting trays are on a heating mat to provide the correct temperature for germination
The seed starting trays are on a heating mat to provide the correct temperature for germination.

I also have used a newer method ( new for me) in the greenhouse where I created a containment area with old unwanted hay bales and filled it with horse manure.  I then built a simple table frame with furring strips across the top to hold 1020 flats that have mostly soil blocks in them.  The table is covered by plastic which is supported by pvc hoops.  The heat contained within provides the temperature for seed germination.

 

How exciting.  I used this idea after watching a YouTube video of “Muddy Fingers Farm” in New York.  I believe there location is colder than mine here in Pennsylvania.

Now that the table is built in the greenhouse, this weekend will be consumed by soil preparation and soil block making to fill the table with the goodies that all the locals crave after a winter such as ours.

Filled with fresh horse manure, the table uses composting heat to aid in seed germination.
Filled with fresh horse manure, the table uses composting heat to aid in seed germination.

This year we are using the soil block maker purchased from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  The first time I used this I failed horribly and was discouraged.  But my second attempt after correcting for soil moisture content and screening my materials yielded very nice and uniform blocks.  My mixture consists of well composted horse manure, decomposed double-ground hardwood bark mulch, perlite, and a touch of vermicompost.  The ratios are not necessarily important so don’t get hung up on them.  You’ll know a good soil when it’s in your hands and if you don’t, keep trying until you do.  Make sure you have plenty of moisture so the blocks will form.

I bought two different sizes, 2 inch square and the 3/4 inch.  I also bought the dimple kit for the 2 inch square.  This makes a cube in the top instead of the dimple so that the smaller block can be “transplanted” into a larger block when the time comes.  Brilliant!

These soil blocks are handy to make and use and 50 fit nicely into a 1020 flat.
These soil blocks are handy to make and use and 50 fit nicely into a 1020 flat.

If you try any of these ideas let me know if you were successful. Have a great spring.  Just go out and plant something and play in the dirt.  It’s good for your soul.

 

 

What we do here

This morning I arose early and headed to my outbuilding office to get ‘online’ after deciding to telecommute.  I could not face the drive in today.  It should be in the sixties and is sunny.  Good decision.  What is required to make the trek into the office consumes the better part of two hours of each day.  This is time that is gone forever and I consider it unproductive.

As I decided to make of list of what to accomplish today, I merged workday job responsibility items in with personal items.  This is the blessing of telecommuting.  You can do laundry, kitchen cleanup, maybe some light yard work, etc.  Since we have purchased a farm, I can stretch a few more items onto the task list, like feeding the goats, potting up plants for sale, taking inventory of stock, etc.

 

Plants ready for sale.
Plants ready for sale.

Walking around the property, I cannot help but wonder of all the potential that exists here for us to make a successful life and business. Last night I noticed the trees as they are beginning to bud and leaf out.  Some of it will have to be removed like the multi-floral rose and the Russian olive.  Also we have abundant Eastern Red Cedars which I would like to cull and replace with mostly oak and maple with some hybrid poplar and nut trees such as pecans thrown in for good measure.  They are all large shade trees.  Only last week did I realize that God has a way of whispering to me in a special way when two different people I had spoken to mentioned Cedar Apple Rust (CAR).  I had ordered about 25 apple trees from a nursery in New York State and was told that they would quickly be infected and the apples would rot due to the Cedar Apple Rust.  After some research, I found this to be only partially true.  I needed to alter my order to a more disease resistant variety of apples like the MacIntosh, Liberty, and Red Delicious.  They are more for personal consumption than sale, so it was not such a problem for me.

140410_girl_goats

There is so much to do here and I do all these tasks with great enthusiasm.  Tomorrow we are going to Moyers hatchery to pick up two dozen fertile chicken eggs for incubation. (Note: Another telecommuting day.)  The incubator, purchased at Tractor Supply is ready and awaits the eggs.  This is a home school project for the little ones and I hope to make video documentation which can be put online for others to enjoy and hopefully learn from our experience.  I must say that researching chickens has been an experience in itself as the myriad information on the internet often contradicts itself.  My solution is to remember that my grandparents raised chickens for food and eggs and it seemed simple to them.  We have a tendency to complicate our own lives.  Again, God whispers.

Incubator ready to use.
Incubator ready to use.

Every day we have here is a blessing.  I am only trying to remember that more and that makes the difference for me.  Each plant we grow and sell will hopefully bring energy and joy to the person who buys it from us.  Our farm is full of life and goodness.  We are thankful for the abundance we have received and the opportunity to share this with our loved ones.

We will have many more exciting projects here that will be documented as time allows.  We hope to provide a learning experience to anyone interested in returning to a simple way of life.  Hope to see you all back here real soon.