Posts filed under ‘February 2011’

Gardener’s Journal – 2/26/11

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.)

March 1, 2011 at 12:47 am Leave a comment

Pruning the Apple Trees

I have one Jonathan apple tree and a Granny Smith that I planted in 2009 – neither have done that well so far, but I am perservering!

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!

March 1, 2011 at 12:37 am Leave a comment

Soil Testing – Part 2

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!

March 1, 2011 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

Soil Testing – Part 1

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!

February 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 2/24/11

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..

February 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

Sumptuous Chocolate Cake!

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

February 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 2/19/11

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.

February 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

Two-Story Worm Bin

This morning I added a new layer to my worm bin, I may have left it a bit too long.  I have a Worm Factory 360 and started it in October – the worm population seems to have reduced somewhat and it is getting a little smelly.  This should do the trick though, I put 3/4 brick of coir (coconut fiber) mixed with water and some newspaper into the second story and placed it on top of the first one.  I will take a peek tomorrow to see if any of the worms have moved upward.  There seems to be rather a lot of paper left in the bottom layer, but I guess that will rot eventually.

February 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 2/15/11

OK, so today was the big day.. I actually sowed some seeds in the cold frame – kale, arugula, mache, spring onions, beets and carrots.  I am a bit worried about the fact that I filled a lot of  the “head space” with growing medium – but I figure, by the time they are that tall, it will be time to take off the lid anyhow (hopefully!).

I was checking out the temperature inside the cold frame and of the soil itself – it was 30F outside today (with a nasty cold wind), but once the sun came out it was 80F inside the frame!  (It probably would have got even hotter, but the automatic opener had done its job and was ventilating the frame – cool!).  The soil is 50F – just warm enough to germinate those seeds I sowed today – but with a 65F day on the way, I think this is likely to rise (at least temporarily – it is not spring yet!).

February 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 2/13/11

“Installing” cold frame

Today it warmed up slightly, and I had dug out the snow covering the site for the new cold frame a couple of days ago, so it was nicely thawed and grass was visible.  Torri and I dragged the 2 x (2cuft) bags of Gardener’s Gold Soil Amendment and 1 x (2 cuft) bag of Potting Soil down the hill on a couple of sleds.  Then we aerated the sod and covered the ground with two layers of fabric weedblock.  Unfortunately, the bagged compost had frozen somewhat in the garage, but we managed to get it into the cold frame without incident.  (The cold frame is made from polycarbonate, which is supposed to be very strong, but seems a little flimsy – no complaints yet though).  Anyhow, I then put the outdoor thermometer into the frame to see what kind of temperatures it will reach when the sun comes out and how warm it keeps during the night.  It is supposed to warm up dramatically in the few days, so that will help with seed germination, when I get to that later this week.

February 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

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