Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 31, 2008

End of the month scrambling at work, but by the time I got home (late) I had the best surprise waiting for me. I opened the door from the garage to find both kids and my wife standing in the doorway yelling SURPRISE!  What a great way to end the day and start quality time with my family.

So while I'm making dinner, my 4 year old comes in and politely asks if we can please look at the garden.  So I get down the lettuce... nothing yet. 

Onions, nothing either.  Broccoli/Cauliflower.  TADA!  All 8 seeds sprouted!


Hehe, I made the picture very big because the poor little sprouts are sooooo tiny.  Only my son could count them all with his eagle eyes.

Anyway, I had the all important conversation with the big guy... no not the birds and the bees, that's this summer when we talk about pollination and bird netting... what did you think I was talking about... come on he's 4 for goodness sake.  No the discussion about him letting me put our plants in his room on his window sill.  Oh, and he can't ever touch the plants without Daddy there.  So, now all my sprouts will move to their new home.

I moved Owen's crib out of arm's reach of the window sill and have room for all my starts (so far).  When the plants sprout, this ledge will get more and more crowded.  Let's hope 70 degrees and 6-8 hours of direct sunlight helps these little guys.

On a separate note, I have a pipe dream.  Ok, I know I'm getting WAY ahead of myself, but eventually I could turn my second and third largest beds into a seasonal mini-greenhouse.  My thinking is that the garage would act as the structural wall...


Then I could build a square 2x2 frame for the roof and top it with opaque corrugated plastic.  I could attach it on the garage above the window and angle it down toward the fence to take advantage of the winter sun.  The supports in the path could be out of say, 2x3s for stability in the wind and rain.  Then the walls could be made of heavy mil clear plastic stapled at the bottom to 2x2s for weight.  The door in the front at the path between the two beds could be simply overlapping plastic that you part like a curtain.  To take it down, the walls could roll up using the 2x2s as a spool and the top could be stored with the support boards behind my shed in the back yard.  I certainly wouldn't want it up all year, but I really want to grow veggies year round.  Hehe, finally, I could actually heat the place by heating my garage (I just ran gas out there for a wall heater) and open the window, letting heat out into the greenhouse.  Ok, now I'm just being silly.  The things cruising the boards makes you think about.

I was just cruising the boards and read a thread on ant problems with gardens (mostly in the South).  One of the posts though mentioned that carpenter ants were destructive.  GREAT... grrr. I have problems on that side of the house with carpenter ants.  We've figured they are coming from the wetland behind my house but they forage for up to 1/4 mile and we've found them in my attic (I've got ant poison up there where I think they're getting in and haven't seen any in a while).  So my new garden has potential problems from a WIDE range of critters.  Of course there's birds, we've got a Starling Jay (Blue Jay to us non-bird people) and various other NW birds that may like my veggies.  Then we've got a family of raccoons that have always used my yard as a pathway from the street to the wetland, so much so that there's literally a worn path in my grass.  It's a whole family of fiveish raccoons that aren't scared by anything.  Their path goes right past my blueberry bushes.  Now there's the potential that carpenter ants could ruin my garden.  All I can say is they better not. 

I saw a good pic of a chicken wire cage to put over the beds, but it lacked a frame so I bet the raccoons would just flatten it in one pounce and eat what they wanted through the holes.  Then I thought back to one recent late night binge on vacation, watching hour after hour of GardengirlTV's Urban Sustainability videos.  Note I have no interest in becoming self sufficient, but boy are these videos addictive.  Anyway, she spent six segments building a Chicken Tractor. I don't have chickens (and don't want them), but boy was it fun to watch.  So since that tractor is essentially a 2x2 box with chicken wire over it, I thought I could build one sturdy enough to keep out birds and raccoons alike.  That and some judicious application of ant poison around the outside of my garden area could stem off ants.  Just another thought.  I could be a VERY busy boy this year.


  1. Hi Richard -- yeah, those lettuce seeds sometimes take a while to germinate in comparison with other vegetable seeds. I'm not surprised about the broccoli sprouting so fast. It seems like all those little round seeds like turnips, mustard greens, broccoli and even radish germinate very quickly.

    Good luck with your critters! I think that the chicken tractor (without the chickens) is probably the way to go LOL!


  2. Well good luck with the bugs. I'd mention you'll have to watch for squirrels and cats too. I live on Beacon Hill in Seattle and the squirrel (yeah I think it was just one) last year just decimated my sunflowers. On top of that the neighbor cats think freshly turned soil is an outhouse.

    I ended up putting bird netting over the square foot garden for when I was starting seeds and that seems to have helped. Something to think about anyway. I'm going to take it off once the plants start to push through it. Raccoons though might be too good with their hands to have the net stop them.

    I also seem to have a very hearty population of both slugs and snails. They are no fun at all as they seem to be able to devour a few square feet of seedlings in just one night. I guess next year I'll have to do more starts inside. They ate most of my broccoli that I sowed this February. They seem to be doing a number on my pea sprouts too.

    Oh and I read another post you had about broccoli, my daughter seems to love the stuff and I think it is in part due to us growing it in the garden. She's three in May and seems to like almost anything from the garden while stuff from the store is not as exciting for her.

    Well good luck. Oh and I'd be interested in hear how your broccoli turns out. Last year I got a great crop but it was ruined by aphids. Or rather it looked great but there were so many aphids on it when I harvested them that we just couldn't eat em. If you have a way to stop the aphids or wash them off it'd be nice to know about it. If you run into the same thing, you can at least plant a fall crop. We are still eating the ones that overwintered from last fall (it's nearly April now!). :)