Posts filed under ‘February 2011’
Today I did some more sowing of seeds – both in the cold frame and in some newspaper pots to put under shop lights in the basement. I sowed marigolds (I’m trying a 60 day variety to see if they will actually flower in time to help out my early veggies), parsley and beets in newspaper pots. I decided not to heat the seeds in the basement to see if it makes a difference – I normally use Christmas lights under the trays – I’m too cheap to spend the $40 on a heating mat (so far).
In the cold frame I sowed some lettuce, leeks and parsley. The soil temperature has reached 50F, so hopefully some of the seeds I sowed earlier will start germinating now too. (Still only the arugula showing any signs of life.)
Anyhow, I thought it was about time to prune the apple trees – I missed “late winter” last year because I didn’t quite know when that was. I think about now is good though (late Feb) – the buds are starting to open – or at least are showing signs of life. I got stuck on the pruning though – I had my written instructions in one hand and pruning shears in the other, but couldn’t work out which branches I was supposed to trim. After staring and walking around the tree for quite a while (must have looked a strange sight!), I decided I didn’t know whether (or which) competing “central leader” to take out – so I took a photo instead and will seek some professional help!
As part of the Soil Management course, we learned how to determine what type of soil texture and structure we have. We used samples in the class to look at sand, clay and silty soils. So whilst I had a good lot of soil (from the sampling) on hand I decided to see what I had.
You take a small palm full of soil and wet it – if you can form a snake-like structure that doesn’t crack when it is bent – you have clay soil. That is basically what I have – maybe a bit of silt in there too, since it did crack a little. I used to think that clay soil was all bad, but reading up on it, it seems that clay soils have an advantage (if you can get them to drain) since they have a lot of negatively charged sites for nutrients to adsorb onto. So that made me happier!
I sent off a soil sample for a soil nutrient test today – takes me back to my contaminated land survey days – arrrgh! I used to moan that I hadn’t done a Masters to end up putting soil into jars at the end of a long, normally damp and cold, day on-site. What fond memories!
I am taking a class on Soil Management at the local Extension office and by the end of it apparently we will be able to mix our own organic fertilizers based on the needs of our particular soil. I’m looking forward to that – I remember getting advice on fertilizer requirements in 2009 when I put my fruit trees in and wanted to use organic fertilizer but had no idea how to convert chemical fertilizer requirements 10-10-10 into organic amendments. Well, by this Thursday I should know how – watch this space!
Exciting news from the cold frame. I checked it yesterday – gave it a bit of water and guess what – there were three little Arugula seedlings poking their little leaves up through the soil! The soil temperature has dropped to around 40F, so I’m not sure there is going to be much action with the other seeds – but we will see – nature is just one miracle after another!
The cosmos seedlings were floundering in the south-facing window, so I bit the bullet and put them under the lights in the basement – amazing what a bit of light from above can do – they are much happier now!
I’m afraid to report that the sweet potato slips are not doing very well – I keep changing the water and even turned one upside down to see if would make a difference, but I’m not holding out much hope for these. I did order some, so I fear that will have to be it for this year..
OK, this one has nothing to do with local food or organically grown veggies – but it tastes soo good! Marcus (my youngest son) & I made a flourless chocolate cake for valentine’s day for Dad (plus a personal sized portion for a friend’s birthday).
It is the Chocolate Pave from Alice Water’s “The Art of Simple Cooking”, made with dark organic chocolate (of course), eggs and sugar. Making it is a very sensual process – first the smell of the chocolate melting, then the color of the bright yellow egg yolks (mixed with sugar) going into the dark brown chocolate (see above), the careful folding of the fluffy egg whites into the mixture.. then to top it all, whilst baking, the delicious chocolate aroma permeating the whole house. Lastly the wait for it to cool in anticipation of the first taste (with lashings of cream and ice cream)..mmmm
Wow, what a wind today – gusts up to 60 mph! When its windy like this, it makes me glad I don’t live in a hurricane zone. I had to do some cold frame maintenance – the second light kept lifting so I put some small logs on top to stop it. The soil temperature is has fallen to 45F – even after our mini respite into Spring the last couple of days (hit 60F yesterday – all the snow melted). I am thinking of covering it overnight – just have to get my creative juices going as to how best to do that. It is not such an issue right now, but once some of the seeds have germinated, I don’t think it shouldn’t get below freezing in there.