Not much has gone on garden wise over the past few days, so no posts from me. Looks like no traffic either, which is ok. All the buzz a few years ago around my potato bins really kept the site hopping. Now it's down to a select few, which is fine since it's less teaching and more diary-like. If you do come here looking to learn, by all means check out the pages, or my first year. You'll learn TONS!
Anyway, since my last post, just about everything in my initial tray has sprouted, so that tray is under lights in my unheated beadroom upstairs, sitting at 60 degrees. What didn't germinate is on it's own. Next time I water up there, any soil block not germinated will be recycled and used for another seed. That'll show them. I was quite surprised how BADLY my salad bowl seed germinated. I put 2 seeds per block and maybe something's sprouted. That's 8 seeds that didn't work as well as any other lettuce variety. Sure it's 2008 vintage, but so is some of my others. /shrug
Also since my last post, the vacant spot on the TV was filled by my un-germinated tomatoes. I've tried a number of things to make them germinate faster. First off, they're in direct shot of my heat vent, so that helps. I've got a thermometer to tell temps, and with no help it's in the upper 70s just trying to heat the kitchen. Of course I first tried out my lamp with a 120 watt bulb to see what kind of heat it'd generate for chickens. I've heard one way to drop the temp in their brooder is not to raise the light but to lower the wattage bulb. Anyway, it clearly heated things up a bit. The temp was 90+ degrees before I knew it, a tad hot for seed germination. So that light you see is put away until some germinate and I need it with the CFL, a-la make-shift-light-system.
Everything else that's happened has been chicken related, so bear with my new obsession. First off, I finally made it through all 142 pages of the brooder thread on Backyard Chickens.com. It reinforced my plan to use an 18-gallon (think SWC) Rubbermaid tote for a brooder for the first month or so. Then I plan to ask Costco for a watermelon display box for the next month before they move out to the coop. It's a large octagonal box with 3+ foot high sides, strong enough to hold in hundreds of pounds of watermellon. Otherwise I'll be forced to use chicken wire and my kiddie pool. No comparison which is better.
I also spoke to my father-in-law, the carpenter, who used to have chickens before my wife was born (she doesn't remember them). He is excited to help lighten the coop design to the point that it's portable. I want to move it either to keep the land from becoming toxic, or to put it under my eve's during the fierce fall/winter storms that could blow it over.
Lastly, my brother, niece and I took a trip out to the Bothell Feed Center to check out the place, as well as ask some questions about getting chicks there. Seems they're putting on a raising chicks class on March 6th, so we signed up for that. I also found out that my plan to get chicks 2 weeks apart is bad for a number of reasons. One I knew, that the heat schedule of starting at 95 degrees and walking it down 5 degrees each week would be thrown off by introducing chicks that need it at 95 when you're at 90 or 85. The other I didn't know, that by the second week the pecking order would be in place and the new day-old chicks may very well be murdered by their sisters. Finally I found out that if you get chicks and then come back for more, bring the original chicks back so they can get accustomed to each other and get the warmth of each other on the ride home. Go figure.
So, my wife and I (mostly her, YAY!) researched the breeds that would be availalbe one week on either side of when others we wanted came in. In the end, we decided on the following four breeds; Gold Laced Wyandotte, Welsummer, Barred Rock and Buff Orpington. Each is a good dual purpose bird so my brother can have the meat when they stop laying, and they're all prolific layers, which meets my primary purpose. My secondary goal was to have 4 birds that look pretty and distinct. I am not sure I'd be able to tell them apart from their personality.
Well, that's it for my garden adventure this past week. I hope you enjoyed your garden!