Tag Archives: seeds

Winter Work Day

The calendar says it is winter.  It was gray and bleak, but 55ºf and much to do outside before the heavy rain started Saturday night and continues through Monday.  We have already been issued flood warnings along the creeks and rivers.

At the beginning of fall, after the garden was bedded down, I opened the lower end of the garden, that I had never gotten a handle on last summer, to the chickens.  For spring, I want that area to be sowed with oats and flowers to attract bees and Monarchs, so the afternoon was spent working outdoors.

A bale of straw had been purchased after our Saturday morning outing to breakfast and the Farmers Market.  There are still vendors with meat, bread, pasta, coffee, and one vendor who actually had kale, collards, Asian greens, salad, turnips, beets, and carrots that were growing in his gardens and greenhouses.  It was nice to get some fresh greens this time of year. We got some pork, bagels, soft pretzels, and a loaf of sour dough bread too.

Once home, some of the straw was added in a deep layer in the coop that had been cleaned on Friday.

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I closed off the back of the chicken run so they can no longer get into that garden area as they have stirred up the surface with their scratching.  I will go into that part of the garden and pull out the old rotting row markers and planting boxes,  weed the blueberries and re-mulch them and then run a tiller in there in the spring.  Once it is warm enough, I will seed it with the oats and flowers to keep the weeds down and hopefully attract some bees and butterflies. The oats will be useful for the chickens next fall with the sunflower seed that  I will probably mix  into that blend as well.  A mulched path to the blueberries will be left unseeded.  The oat straw can be used in the coop  once dry next fall and the patch reseeded with oats or another cover crop for next winter.  Maybe that area can be reclaimed for garden a bit at a time.

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Confused chickens wondering why they can’t get through there anymore.  They are 30 feet away from me here, so they still have a 10 foot by 40 foot run with their coop in the corner.

The cull coop run never sprouted grass after we killed the chickens at Thanksgiving and the straw that I had scattered over the bare spots was mostly gone.  I started breaking up what was left of the large round bale of spoiled hay that was near the coop, scattered a new layer over the bare muddy ground, hoping to stop or at least slow erosion there over the next few days.

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Fence lines above the garden were heavily mulched. Each layer of hay pulled off the bale revealed more grubs and the chickens were having a feast as I tossed them into their run a few at a time.  They soon forgot that their run was reduced.  More hay was added in their run, taking it all the way back to the new barrier. Pear and apple trees were pruned.

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But there is still this peach tree that needs a lot of attention.

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You can see the dried up peaches that we never saw on the tree last summer.  It is too tall and too thick.  But that is another day, after the rain and when it is warm enough to erect a ladder and attack the tree with a pruning saw and shears.  Maybe we will actually get some peaches next year after a severe pruning to get it more manageable.

The rain began as predicted right after dark.  The dark rainy evening was spent making a seed order and tweaking the garden plan.

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That is what winter nights are for.

Let the fun begin!

On my way home from taking N to preschool this morning, I stopped first at the natural foods store that sells the local organic, heirloom seed and picked up some of what I needed, they were out of tomatillo seed, plus I added two packets of flowers.  Every garden needs a mix of veggies, herbs, and flowers.

From there, diagonally across the street to the local hardware store, hoping to score some seed starter flats.  They had peat pots and seed starter mix and I knew that there were trays at home, so I settled for that.

On to our local village store, I purchased a sack full of yellow onion sets and finally headed home.  The trays were dug out of the garage and I realize that though I have half a dozen trays and a bonus of about 8 six cell starter mini starter pots, I only have one clear cover.  I guess I will have to try to find some clear plastic for the other trays. The box of stored and new seed packets were brought down and re-inventoried, pulling out the peas, turnips, kale and adding the newly purchased of packet of Easter Egg radishes and they were set aside with the onion sets for a planting later today or maybe tomorrow, as rain is due on the weekend to give them a good soaking in.

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The peat pots were lined up in one tray and 5 Black Krim tomatoes plus 9 Hungarian Paste tomatoes were started.  I am going to start with them and plant a few direct sown seed in mid May of each of those as an experiment.  A second tray with 5 of the six cell starter pots of set with 6 each Jalapeno, Habanero, Anaheim, Comfrey, and a new to us heirloom Black Hungarian Hot Pepper.  They were watered in and covered, set in the breezeway window sill.

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Once I get the tomatillo seed, I will plant another tray with tomatillos, Calendula, and some herb starts.

When the sprouts are all up, I am going to make a temporary hoop house with 12 foot flexible fiberglass poles and heavy plastic and set the flats on a thick bed of hay inside the hoop house and see how they do that way.  Even with a grow light as close as I can set it, I always get most of my indoor started plants too leggy.  I really need to build a cold frame or small green house against the stone wall on the south side of the house for starts and to extend the growing season with some greens in the fall.

It is exciting to be beginning the growing season.  I was reminded yesterday that our average last frost date is April 29, not Mother’s Day, so I have about 7 weeks to get my plants up to garden size.

Now to pull out the companion planting chart to finish figuring out where to plant the cold weather seed.  We will be eating radishes and kale in a few short weeks and peas by the time the peppers and tomatoes are ready for the garden.

We Have Spring

At least the weather says we have it.  The calendar is still a couple of weeks off and I know that we don’t have frost free days until Mother’s Day here, but for this week, it is superb.  It is so nice today, that Mountaingdad took the Big Bad Harley out for a ride, realizing as he was getting ready to go that he had a back running light out, he rode to “the big city” an hour away to get it replaced and to get a hot dog.  The one thing he really misses about Virginia Beach is Famous Uncle Al’s.  They grilled Boar’s Head all beef hot dogs and have the best french fries ever, hot and crisp.  No where in this university town or the surrounding towns has he been able to find a “good” hot dog.  There is a place near the HD dealer that has ones he finds acceptable.  I’m glad he could get out.  Maybe tomorrow too.

When eldest son and grandson #1 came in on early Saturday morning, T tasked L to look under the bus seats to be sure they hadn’t left anything.  Once in my car on the way to the house, he reached for his hat and uh-oh, no hat.  This was a nice wool hat that I had knit two Christmases ago to go with a Moebius Scarf for him.  If the weather is chilly, due to his short haircut and thinning top, he wears a hat.  I try to keep him in knit hats.  Sometimes, without him nearby, they end up too short for him to fold the brim.  One of his last remaining ones, has numerous holes held together by safety pins, OK for around the house, but not too professional on the bus ride to work or the walk across campus to his office.  He was disappointed in it’s loss, but I had recently determined that I might have better luck selling hand spun, hand knit scarves and hats than I was having selling the hand spun yarn, so I pulled a skein of local undyed Dorset lamb yarn and two small skeins of dark undyed Shetland to make him a new one.  As he drives my car to his house when I return them home after a visit, because I have to drive home alone the next day, I tucked the yarn in my purse as we were leaving Sunday afternoon.  I cast on the hat, knit the ribbed brim as we drove north and began the color work part in the dark after dinner.  I had hoped to finish it on the drive and while there, but we arrived at 9:30 p.m. and having to get up at 4:30 a.m. Monday to take them to the Metro for their mini vacation, I didn’t get it done.  Yesterday, I was too foggy from the short night followed by the long drive home, the chores needed once here, I didn’t get but a couple of more rows done.  I realized that I had less of the cocoa color than I thought and had to pull out about 8 rows to change the design to accommodate the shortfall.  This morning, I finished it.

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It has been washed and is blocking, once dry, I will mail it to him, knowing that in spite of this week’s beautiful spring weather, he will likely need it for a bit longer until it gets warm and stays warm.  This is the first hat I have ever made with my hand spun yarn.  It is thick, warm and generous.  I hope he likes it.

The spring like week lured me to put the kitchen floor potted herbs out on the deck.  This allowed me to clean up the dog hair, live and dead stink bugs, and a few dead wasps that were lurking between the pots.  I know that they will have to spend some more days and nights in the house before they can summer out, but they are out for now.

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This is probably the last time I will have the large pots on the floor in the kitchen as I have learned how easy it is to root Rosemary and so the Rosemary plants are going to be planted in the garden this year and cuttings taken and rooted for the window sill pots at the end of summer.  The cuttings will overwinter in the sill and be planted in the garden again next  year, it just doesn’t overwinter here in the mountains of Virginia.  The mint is going to be cut and rooted for a window sill pot as well, along with the other window sill herbs.  I have been toying with the idea of finding a small wagon that can be waterproofed inside that will hold several smaller pots so that I can perhaps expand the winter herb garden to include a few more herbs like bush basil and maybe a small sage.  It could then be rolled out of the way to clean under it, rolled out in the sun on nice days and stored for the summer when the garden has the herbs growing in it.

The excitement of seeing leaves, flowers, and vegetables growing again is swelling.  I still need a few seed packets, but the seeds I purchase are from a Virginia company and many of them are sold in the local natural foods store.  I just need to pull my list together and get in there to get them before they sell out.  It is approaching the time to start my tomato, tomatillo, and pepper starts.  They can’t go out until mid May and I don’t want them to get too tall and leggy before then, so I will likely wait another week or two to start them.  Everything else gets direct planted.  I have thought about direct planting them as well.  The volunteer tomatoes and tomatillos are always the strongest and best plants out there.