Thursday, April 11, 2013

Starting seeds inside, and the garlic sprouting outside.

We begin today with the traditional bribery of cute rabbit photos before going on to talk about gardening later. The babies continue to do well, and are very sociable. They have definitely been harrying Twilight though, much to her frustration. At least she has stopped kicking them the entire length of the hutch as she goes by!
Yesterday evening the Lady of the House spotted that her front above her legs looked a bit off. We didn't get a photo of it because she was moving around so much trying to avoid her kits as they swarmed around the hutch. We checked her, and at the moment it just looks like her fur is a mess, perhaps from lack of time to groom enough because her babies are harassing her for milk if they are awake. Fortunately for all of us, her babies still have the "Cute" function activated. For those interested in the science side of it, they still have neonatal traits which induce the care instinct rather than the "I should beat you to death you annoying monster" instinct we have with teenagers when they act the same. I'm actually very much enjoying interacting with these kits. One of them has taken to coming up and licking me thoroughly while I'm working in the hutch, and after about 30 seconds  it starts trying to nibble on my finger. I am debating getting a salt lick for self defense.
I promised on Tuesday to talk about gardening and our first steps in starting seeds. The Lady of the House has been the one taking point on this, and on Sunday she set up the seed starting area you see Right. As you can probably guess from the blue on some of the popsicle sticks we used the popsicles she has been eating while sick to mark the seed rows. I don't actually know everything that is in the seed trays. There are a few variety of heritage and organic tomato plants starting, the amaranth from earlier, eggplant, sweet habanero, bok choy, and sunflowers. 

We have been trying to avoid powered solutions to gardening as much as possible. However with two cats, and one large light space taken up with our inside herb garden window space is limited. We obviously got a grow lamp, not too expensive to use one for such a small set up, but we will need to get another one for when we do another try of the same size. The trays are in the tank to reduce assault by cat which is just inevitable unfortunately if they are left out. The Lady of the House has been doing a lot of research on how to transition plants from inside to outside, including the practice of "Hardening". We are considering going down and volunteering at the "Hydro learning center" that Here We Grow in Hadley is opening soon since we have such a short growing season, and learning how to do indoor starting could really increase what we can grow without hugely impacting our costs.

Left is the garlic bed we planted last fall just before the first snow. Quite the opposite of starting inside and hardening the plants off, garlic just sits outside over the winter happily under the snow pack. As you can see, the snow has finally melted off much of the yard leaving our pile of dirt, manure, and what is left of the hay mulch we put down visible. It doesn't look like much from this distance. But if you get up close, the garlic has already sprouted within 2 days of the snow melting off the area finally. Below Left you can see a couple of the vibrantly green sprouts coming up out of the mulch and

poop. The Lady of the House was surprised just how fast the garlic was growing and looked it up, apparently it can grow as much as 1/2" a day in ideal conditions. I guess we have fairly good conditions for garlic despite the still somewhat rocky soil. Once the scapes have come up enough we will be harvesting them to eat as the garlic below grows. We are planning to let some of it go to seed so we can try breeding some of our own garlic. That is going to be something we will need to do research on obviously, but this is all about learning. Fortunately being that we are part of the local seed saving group, The Hilltown Seed Saving Network that we just started a Facebook page for. Having access to a group of people who are experienced gardeners and knowledgeable about not just planting, but seed saving in our specific region is a huge boon for us as we take our first steps.

Over the next few days and weeks before the last frost even I am going to be working with the ground any time it isn't frozen so hard I can't. I am going to be turning beds so when the time comes we can plant everything we are starting inside, and all of the seeds we have that have to be started in the soil. It is a bit of a daunting task while I'm still working constantly, but we will do what we can do! Our priority right now is to get a bed ready to plant radishes promptly. Apparently they go in the ground as soon as you can work it, and grow fast. Mind you not only have I never grown radishes, I've never eaten them so this will be an adventure all around, and we will keep you updated!

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