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Archive for March, 2011

Planting Peppers

March 30, 2011 2 comments
Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

I was very happy with last years Pepper harvest, and in an effort to duplicate the results again this year, I’m planting my peppers a few days early. I’m changing my methods a little however, In the past I grew almost exclusively Non- Hybrid plants so that I could save the seeds from one year to the next. I figured with these saveable seeds, I’d have a way to continue planting if something should happen where I would be unable to purchase new seeds. This year I’m scrapping that mindset, and rolling out the best of what I hope is some great pepper lineage. I grew Chablis peppers last year, and I was exceptionally happy with the volume and timing of the peppers. I picked my first Chablis pepper on July 9th, just 39 days after moving a seedling out of the greenhouse.

Other Seedlings

Other Seedlings

I’ve also planted artichokes, eggplant, brussels sprouts and celery in the last few weeks. My celery seedlings look like very thin wires sticking out of the soil with tiny leaves on top, while the artichokes are growing much like a cucumber seedling. I’m planning on re-planting brussel sprouts as they have become very long and spindly.

Photo-Credit: The large pepper photos are from Totally Tomatoes, the smaller images are from PineTree Seeds.

New Chicken Coop Foundation

March 28, 2011 1 comment
Old Chicken Coop

Old Chicken Coop

In the fall of last year, I decided that my chicken coop was too small. I gave all of my chickens to my sister Sandy while I tore down the old coop, and started construction of a bigger model. I’ve been pondering how many chickens to keep, since they are more or less pets rather then food at this point, and I keep them “just in case”.

I’ve often found myself worried about the future, and what it might hold. Since I’ve heard so much about the Great Depression from my father, I’ve made it a point to always be prepared in case something similar were to happen today. This is actually why I became a gardener. I wanted to grow my own food while I was hearing some of the doom and gloom predictions about the Mortgage Mess, and generally un-desirable economic conditions.

While I’ve stopped worrying so much, and I tend to ignore the news as much as possible, I’d still like to keep a few chickens for eggs, and for those odd days when I start worrying again. I’m sure the world will be fine, but it’s nice to have an insurance policy just in case, and who doesn’t like Free Eggs ?

Beginning Foundation

Beginning Foundation

I found some more Landscape Timbers in a pile in George’s yard, and I’ll be using them for the floor of the structure just like I’ve learned from the Greenhouse. This foundation will sit above the ground to eliminate work digging out a level spot.  I’ve settled on constructing a 12 x 16 foot building, far larger then I need.

In the photo above, I’m about half way through the leveling process.  Since taking the photo, I’ve nailed down the second layer of boards. Next, I’ll build a 2×4 floor on top of the timbers, and continue construction with 16 inch centered 2 x 4s.

Truck Full of Recycled Wood

Truck Full of Recycled Wood

I’ve received several truck loads of recycled wood, which I hope to use rather then purchasing new boards. I’m hoping that I can complete the majority of this project with recycled materials to save money, and also to prevent additional logging demand. Each of the boards has at least a few nails in them, which will need to be removed, or bent over. This will create some additional work, but ultimately, it may save a small pine forest.

I have enough 2 x 4s to build the majority of the walls, and I may even have enough 2 x 6 boards for roof rafters. I’ll need to purchase some nails, and perhaps a few boards, but for the most part this will be a recycled building.  Now If I can complete the rest of the structure without smashing my fingers again, I’ll be very happy.

Chard: Under Cover

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment
Swiss Chard - Grown Under a Row Cover

Swiss Chard - Grown Under a Row Cover

I’ve decided that 2011 will be the year I finally move my gardening habit into the cooler weather seasons. I’ve gotten a start from a row of Swiss Chard that was planted in the spring of last year. I noticed at the tail end of February that these plants were still setting new growth, and I decided to cover the row as a way to help the plants produce earlier in the season.

This is the first time I’ve used a row cover to get a jump on the season, and I’m fairly surprised at how easy it is, and how well it works. I also wanted to show the difference between the plants which have been protected, and the ones which have felt the full brunt of the late winter snow.

Swiss Chard - Fully Exposed to Weather

Swiss Chard - Fully Exposed to Weather

The exposed chard isn’t looking too good. Many of the leaves are wilted, and I doubt they are edible, never mind tasty. There is one small leaf in the photo which might sustain a cricket for a day, but It would be nearly useless for a human snack.

Now…. To find more plastic to use as a row cover for some soon to be planted lettuce.

I should also note that I’ve planted my Artichoke and Brussels Sprouts seeds on March 14th.

It’s Begun

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment
Celery Seeds in Dirt

Celery Seeds in Dirt

I’ve been waiting patiently, restraining myself from starting any seeds till the time is right, and that time is now. The season begins for me with Celery, which should be started 11 weeks before the last frost, several weeks before most other seeds will be started.

This is only my second attempt at growing the crispy garden snack, and last year didn’t go so well. I was not aware of the long amount of time required by Celery for Germination, gave up on the seedlings too soon, and re-used the dirt for other seeds. Later in the season, I found one celery plant by luck.

Chard Under Cover

Chard Under Cover

I ventured out to check on my chard cover over the weekend, taking a few pictures in the dark. I set my flashlight at the end of the small hoop-house, pointing the light towards the opposite end of the tunnel.

View from the Side

View from the Side

This tunnel setup is working so well that I may use it next winter in an attempt to grow Chard year round. The leaves which are not covered by the tunnel are wilting when they are covered with snow, but the plants under the protective cover are starting lots of new shoots, which should be edible in a week or two.

Concord Grape Canes

Concord Grape Canes

I finally got around to cloning a few grape vines. Jenny and I clipped a few canes from two vines on the farm, and I planted the clippings in these small ceramic pots. In the past I would have gotten carried away and started dozens of grape vines, but this year I’m trying to be more realistic, so I’ve only started a few. If your interested in the process for cloning your own vines, check out this post.

Grape Graft

Grape Graft

I’m always trying new things as I figure if I do this enough times, I’m bound to figure out some pretty neat tricks. Since I’ve read about grafting fruit trees, and I’ve heard that the root stock will color the flavor of fruit which the scion bears, I thought I’d try something similar with grape vines. I started with two clippings, from two different vines, and fused them together as a apple scion would be fused to root stock. I used some candle wax to seal the bond, and prevent air from drying out the canes. I’m hoping the difference in the two types of grape vines will cause the grapes to have a very interesting flavor.

Fruit Experiment

Fruit Experiment

Above is my latest experiment with cloning fruit trees. I put this together in haste, and it shows as my taping is very sloppy. You can see the buds beginning to open on the peach canes, and all of the other clippings are showing growth when you look close. I’ve gotten this far in the past, but I remain hopeful for this batch as I’m shielding the roots from light this time. Soon the clippings will deploy new leaves, and with some luck, they will grow new roots, which would be a step forward for my experiment.

My Inner Geek

March 2, 2011 Leave a comment
Perl Programs

Perl Programs

I’ve been asked to write up a guest post for a co-workers blog, about a project we’ve worked on to map addresses. If your interested, you can check it by clicking here. I try to keep anything computer related off of this blog, but I couldn’t stop myself from posting a link, and giving you a glimpse of My Inner Geek.

 

Categories: My Inner Geek