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Archive for March, 2010

Chicks are hatching !

March 31, 2010 1 comment
Isn't It Cute !

Isn't It Cute !

Isn’t It Cute ! Five chicks have climbed out, looks like 9 more are trying. More Pics tomorrow !

Categories: Chickens

Waiting on Chicks…

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment
Three Chicks Working on Getting Out

Three Chicks Working on Getting Out

Here they are at last ! I’ve been turning these little guys everyday now for about 3 weeks, and I almost thought they were all lost. See, I put the eggs in the incubator late at night, and so on the 21st day when there was no activity, I was worried.  There was also a problem with the thermometer I was using. It was reading 104 F for a day, so I turned the heat way down. Turns out the thermometer was broken. When I relized the thermometer was reading wrong, I got my eggs back up to 101 F. This really had me worried, as chicks over 103 F might as well be hard boiled, and chicks below 99 F would tend to stall in development.

 On day 22 they started poking holes in there shells, and now the holes have grown to the point where I can see a beak ! I hope to start moving these guys from the Incubator to their new home. So far seven eggs have the mark of chicks trying to break free.

Chicks New Home

Chicks New Home

Here is the chicks new home. The base is made from recycled plywood, and the portion holding up the light is constructed out of left over trim. The base has a layer of unsused newsprint( no ink on the paper), covered with pine shavings. Since taking this picture, I’ve made several improvements:

1.) Added a heat lamp, since the Fluorescent lights shown didn’t give off much heat. I calibrated the height of the lamp to keep the chicks 100 F. If they get cold, they will huddle under the light, which is my que to lower the light a bit. If they get too warm, well there’s plenty of room to get away from the heat lamp.

2.) Placed some rocks into the water feeder. Newborn chicks are attracted to water so much so that they could drown themselves. The rocks will prevent them from getting access to too much water.

3.) Filled the metal food container with  medicated chick feed. It will help protect the chicks in there early days.

4.) Covered the pine shavings with another layer of unused newsprint. This will keep the curious chicks from attempting to eat the pine shavings. It will be removed after the chicks are a few days old.

Categories: Chickens

Planting Pepper Seeds

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment
From Top Left: NuMex, Chablis, Merlot, Lilac, Cayenne and Rainbow Mix.

From Top Left: NuMex, Chablis, Merlot, Lilac, Cayenne and Rainbow Mix.

I’ve been stocking up on appealing pepper seeds all winter, and now it’s time to get them into some Miracle Grow.  I started out by collecting some Styrofoam cups that I used last year. The idea is to reuse cups that had holes poked into the base, and let the plants soak up water from a waterproof container that holds the  cups. Reusing the cups is far better for the planet, and easier on me. I don’t have to poke all new holes, and I won’t be contributing to already full garbage dumps.

Here is the list of seeds I’ve placed today:

1. ) California Wonder (not shown above).

2.) Numex Sunrise

3.) Chablis

4.) Merlot

5.) Gourmet Rainbow

6.) Cayenne

7.) Lilac.

All of these varieties are new to me, except the California Wonder, which I grew last year.

144 Peppers Planted

144 Peppers Planted

So here is what I have done in a hour or two. 144 seeds in dirt. If my results from last year are repeated, 90% of these cups will have healthy pepper plants in 8 weeks, ready to be planted into the garden.

Other happenings this weekend: Kim and I finished digging up the soil, and planting Stuttgarter Onions. I’ve also planted some Broccoli for Mom.

Spring Planting Calendar

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

When planting in the past, I would ask local gardeners, and plant crops when they do.  This always works well, and I have yet to plant a major crop too early or too late, but I was looking for a more rigid way of planning out my planting times; I was looking for something I could sit down with a calendar, and plot out the whole season. I could ask the local gardeners for a list of planting dates, but I’d rather not bother anyone with such a list. Luckily, I stumbled onto such a calculator on a blog I was reading: Skippy’s Vegetable Garden blog.

This wonderful tool will tell you when you should plant seedlings, based on the Last Frost Date that you enter, so it should be good for most of the Middle/Northern States, and I would imagine Europe too.

So, Now I have my rigid timeline to adhere too. I hope it helps everyone as much as it has helped me.

Categories: General, How To's, Technology, Tools

Spring Onions

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment
Various Onion Sets

Various Onion Sets

I started the weekend with plans to plant some Onion Sets, and so Friday, I was wondering where I could get some Sets. (If your new to gardening, Onion Sets should be thought of as Onion Seeds. You could grow onions from seed, but I’ve found it easier to buy sets.) I was thinking about the sets I planted last year, and decided I would find somewhere else to purchase them this year. Luckily, I was in Lucinda a few weeks ago, and remembered a sign that advertised Onion Sets. The sign turned out to be at Landers General Store.  The store has a friendly atmosphere, and a long forgotten charm. I found just what I was looking for: a Healthy, and Diverse selections of Sets. That turned out to be the easy part.

I began turning the soil by hand with a shovel. I would dig down about 8 inches, and till the soil that way generations of farmers have: by hand. You see, I have a rototiller guy lined up to till the soil, but he is not scheduled to come for a few weeks. I made beds about 50 feet long and 2 feet wide. I dug three beds over the weekend, and was quite sore from my work.

Making Holes for the Sets

Making Holes for the Sets

After me and the kids broke the soil up and made it loose, it was time to make holes for the Onions. At first we were using sticks to make small holes, but I soon noticed the lazy part of my brain thinking about an easier way to get this done. I found some old PVC pipe, about 3/4 inch, and glued some pieces together to make this  crude hole puncher. It worked really well, and made the process much faster.

The view from the Garden

The view from the Garden

While taking one of my many breaks, I snapped this picture of the farm. Half of the fun of gardening is being outside, and enjoying the weather, and the view. I love the location of my home and garden. Trees wrap nearly the entire perimeter of the farm, and the hills holding the valley can block out the entire world. With so many issues facing our nation and world, it is always nice to unplug, unwind, and be free, if only for the weekend.

Working the soil by hand

Working the soil by hand

 It was a beautiful weekend, and I actually had fun doing so much work. The kids where a huge help with smashing the soil up, and a great distraction here and there. The work is not yet done, as there are still 6 Lbs of Stuttgarter onions to be planted, but that’s for another row, on another day. Thanks Kids !

Categories: How To's, Onions, People, Tools

Goldy, The Greenhouse Tomato

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment
Goldy, The Greenhouse Tomato

Goldy, The Greenhouse Tomato

Every winter since I started gardening, I get the urge to plant things way too early. I’ve managed to restrain myself to starting 8 tomatoes this year. I’ve comically named the plant above “Goldy” since it is a Golden Girl Yellow tomato. I have a Roma tomato in my living room, and the rest in my kitchen. Doing this each year tends to lift my spirits in the midst of winter.

So my plan is to water Goldy, and place her out in the greenhouse each day. The tempurature in there hovers well above 80 degrees daily, and I’m using this plant as a measuring tool of sorts. If it can grow, and be healthy, then I don’t need to worry about the tempurature when there are hundreds of plants in the greenhouse. I’m also hoping that “she” sets some tomatoes before July.

Another Attempt to Clone Fruit Trees…

March 16, 2010 4 comments
Latest attempt to Clone Fruit Trees

Latest attempt to Clone Fruit Trees

I’ve been a bit obsessed with cloning Fruit trees this winter, and I’ve tried many, many methods. Just before trying the method shown in the picture, I tried  the exact same setup, with paper cups. The result was gross…. Mold grew all over the cups, and eventually killed the clippings. So, I’m trying it again, with steril plastic cups, and a small scale steril greenhouse of sorts. I’m using a brand new plastic shoebox that has been washed out with soap and hot water.  The lid of the shoebox is my base, and I’m using the transparent portion to shield the fragile plants from mold spores, and other dangers that might be lurking in the air.  I’m treating the whole setup as if it is a microchip in a clean room.

These are all pear clones except the cup with a small piece of blue styrofoam on it. That plant is a plum tree.

So here is the process that I have used to get this far:

1.) I start by pruning the undesired portion of fruit trees. There are many videos on youtube about this.

2.) I “plant” the clippings in Miracle Grow Potting soil, which is compacted around the base of the plants. Then, I take the pot of soil, and the clipping, and place it into about an inch of water.

3.) The clippings buds will open, and begin to grow. Most of the buds will open up around the same time, but I’ve given them a few weeks of time to grow. When one of the buds leaves begin to die, or dry up, I take a very sharp knife, and cut off the small green shoots, taking care to leave about a 1/16 to an 1/8 inch of brown bark on the base. I then dipped this bark portion in water, and then into some heavy duty rooting hormone. 

4.) Finally I place the cutting into the plastic cup filled with some Miracle Grow and Peat Moss.

5.) Pour enough water into the plastic cup to keep the plant from drying out.

6.) Cover the plants to keep out…. anything bad. I’m not sure what is killing my previous attempts, but covering them shouldn’t hurt.

If this doesn’t work, maybe I’ll find some root stock, and start grafting trees instead.

Edit: 4/6/10 This attempt did not work, although the trees lived longer with this method. I think this could work if some steps are added, such as a mister or tempurature controlled enviroment.