Thursday, February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011

Well, I owe KitsapFG a word of thanks for making me figure out why I wasn't getting comments.  Seems you had to be registered, but you couldn't register yourself.  Double whammy.  How those boxes got checked I have no idea, but it's fixed now, so I welcome your coments!

Today was all about tomatoes.  In the end, out of the five cups I started with two seeds each, only three germinated anything.  I even dug around a bit to try to find a deep seed or something and found nothing but dirt.  Yuck, especially since one of the cups I'm out of seed for that variety.  No biggie, it allowed me to plant another cup of each of my new varieties.  I had already decided to plant tomatoes in one of my scrap SWCs, so I had two more plants to start. 

In digging around the cup, I found the dirt had settled a bit and was firmly packed, not very conducive toward roots forming.  So in when I replanted the failed germinating cups, I dumped out the compost mixture and added a bit more vermiculite to lighten it up.  I also added my mix of bloodmeal and 10-10-10ish tomato fertilizer.  Can't hurt I guess.  I didn't add much.

So, now that two of the cups have moved upstairs under lights, I filled their spots in the kitchen with two more cups.  One more is germinating, so once it stops being curled up and spreads it dew leaves, I'll move that up too.

Lastly, part of me wants to go upstairs and steal one of the ungerminated soil blocks and plant Green Wave mustard greens in it and start it germinating in the kitchen.  Unfortunately I have no idea when to plant that out.  Is it like lettuce, or something else?  First time growing for me.  All it says on Territorial's site is soil temps for germination, but since I'm starting it indoors it doesn't matter what that says.

On the chicken front, I'm just trying to work my way through Raising Chickens for Dummies... boy is that a comprehensive book compared to Idiots.  I'm so glad my brother had me read Idiots first.  Speaking of my brother, I may as well share our friendly debate that we've been having over flock management.  Specifically, what to feed the hens.  We agree on using starter feed for the first part, but when they reach maturity, I plan on using commercially produced feed that's balanced nutritionally for layers, supplementing with kitchen scraps and scratch.  My brother's gone to his local independent grocery store where he shops and spoke to the produce manager.  Seems they have about 10% loss for their produce.  That's stuff they can't even give away to food banks. Apparently the manager feeds it to his pigs, but said my brother could have some for his chickens, so my brother intends to go about 50/50 with feed and scraps.  Chapter 8 in Dummies makes quite the compelling argument against trying to manually get the right balance of protien, carbs and the like for your chickens.  Not only is it hard to do yourself, but the consequences for failing could be malnutrition, leading to poor egg production and even mortality.  That's just not a risk I'm willing to take.

Of course, that's just my brother for you.  He's trying to make it so his coop costs him as little as possible, using free materials whenever he can, and he hopes not to spend any money on caring for them either.  He even talked to a few mills or whatever, that generate wood chip waste.  About the best I plan on doing is talking to the arborist down the street.   He always has logs he's chopping up for firewood.  I'm pretty sure he still has a garbage can full of chain-saw dust.  A few years ago I made the mistake of putting a wheel barrow full of those wood chips into my compost pile.  They didn't break down for a year!.  I bet they'd make good bedding for my hens.  Something to consider.  I'm sure he'd be willing to part with as much as I wanted for a dozen eggs every once in a while.

Speaking of giving eggs to neighbors, I finally caught my former farmer neighbor today and spoke about getting chickens.  He was very cool with it, as I knew he would be.  He even told me that once upon a time, he could get a catch a chicken and put it in a pot for supper in 7 minutes flat.  I can't imagine doing everything it takes to cull and prepare a chicken for cooking in 7 hours let alone minutes.  Gotta love old farmers.  Now I just have to convince my other neighbor to not report me for noise violations every time they peep.

Well, that's enough for me.  Take care and enjoy your garden!


  1. You are off to the tomato races! I would go ahead and plant up the mustard greens. I have not grown them specifically but I imagine they would be on the same timetable and requirements as the other hardy greens and in our region if you start them now they would be ready to go out in a garden bed around mid March which usually is an okay time to plant out hardy items like kale, broccoli, etc.

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