Well, today's the day. My brother had better be done procrastinating with his seed order, because I'm done waiting. I've got tomatoes to plant!
Speaking of which. Yesterday was all about the garden and family, as a weekend should be. I got to spend some quality time with both my boys individually at two different swimming pools in the area, so that was cool. But I also found some time to plant some tomato seeds. I went through all my seed packets and determined which of the remaining varieties I wanted to plant.
As you can see, almost all of the varieties I chose were graciously given to me by gardening buddies over the years. Some of the seed is from 2008, but I'm hopeful that it will still germinate. I decided on 5 of may available varieties, not so much for their flavor, because some of them I've never tried because last summer was so crappy for tomatoes. The number of varieties was based on my existing SWC containers and the upcoming seed order. I have room for at least 8 plants in my 4 SWCs, unless I use the scrap bins. After choosing the varieties, I got my trusty seed planting setup ready. Have you ever noticed that my indoor work space doubles as the lid of my chest freezer, hehe. Don't tell my wife, I'm not sure she realizes how it gets dirty.
Above you see I've filled five 9-oz. cups with my old compost mix. Still not sure if it's in the best shape, but I am not sure my compost pile is finished. Of course my compost is never "finished" like you see in composting videos. I always have twigs and leaves in it, so what. I digress. You also see the popsicle sticks that I use to label each cup. I also labeled the cups with sticker labels, but as I reuse the non-recyclable cups year after year, it gets pretty confusing. Also, I can just move the stick from container to container when I pot them up in a few weeks.
Above are the finished tomato starts. I went with Black Cherry, ILDI yellow cherry, Bloody Butcher, Gardener's Delight and Sunset Red Horizon. Notice I am using a Costco salad green container as a holding bin. That way I can put an inch of water in the tub and let them bottom water. Also, they won't fall over as easy with the high sides. I kept these containers, knowing they'd come in handy some day. Unfortunately the container wouldn't fit on the tray in the kitchen with the rest of my soil blocks, so it went on top of the fridge.
That project done, I had just enough winter sunlight to get outside and do some preliminary prep work for the chickens. The picture of the area where I want the semi-permanent run was covered in leaves. I wanted to save the grass for the chicks. I also wanted to use the leaves as a start for this year's compost pile. So I simply raked them into the open bin. I never touched them with my hands.
As you can see, the area's not that well covered with grass to begin with. Long ago it was a low spot in my yard. So when we were taking out sod from someplace else in my yard, I placed it grass down in this area to try to raise it up. I never went back and reseeded grass here, so it's mostly just crab grass and weeds. The chickens will love it.
Speaking of chickens, I've been doing more research on them online. I'm trying to figure out the best way to keep them in my yard. I really don't want to fence off my tomatoes or my blueberry/strawberry bed, so I am likely going to have to tractor the chickens. Not quite the free range I was hoping for, but it may only be during the peak growing season. Not sure yet. So most of my research last night was on tractors. I don't think I'll combine the coop with the tractor, but that means more stuff in my yard and buying two sets of water and feed containers. Not very frugal of me, I know. See, I'm still working through all this information.
As for the chickens themselves, Fred of Fredsfinefowl.com over at the Garden Girl's forum made me consider the frugality of heavy breeds. Apparently they eat a ton compared to the lighter breeds. He recommended Leghorns for their production yet smaller feed consumption ratio. That's something more to research. Maybe it's in Dummies, but I haven't finished it yet. More reading is in order.
Overall it was a rewarding weekend. I hope you had a chance to enjoy your garden!