Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Transferring seedlings, seedling station, and a dog encounter in this busy spring.

As is expected for spring a huge amount is going on around the homestead. Some of it expected and some unexpected. As you can see the babies are growing well and rapidly, but a couple of them had a scary adventure yesterday morning!

Our nearest neighbors, about a quarter of a mile away down the hill have an old cattledog mix. We've expressed concern a number of times that their dog comes up all the time, especially given that she tends to snarl and bark at me, poop everywhere, and lead our dog to the road at every opportunity. We've been working on training with the dog angle, but we've been concerned about the potential dangers involved with livestock and a loose dog. Our fears were lessened when we realized that dog lives with a loose house rabbit in the house, but we were reminded, how a dog acts in the house and outside are two very different things.

It looks like from what I saw and figured out later that the downhill dog came up, went after Twilight's hutch and scared her enough she broke through the turning piece of wood we've been using as a latch. She and two of the babies, one white and one black, ended up out and on the ground running around. After we scared the dog off who was digging under the porch after them, we spent 30 minutes getting them back. Again no traps, just the fact that they are for the most part trusting of us, and came up to us. No major injuries, and all of the minor limping injuries probably came from a hard landing by the white kit. A stressful morning for all involved, and thus we unsurprisingly didn't get the weight check done Monday morning. We did today though, and they are doing fine. With the latch repaired and reinforced with a barrel latch we don't think such a thing will happen again, but we're obviously now more concerned about the dog down the hill. Our next step is talking to the dog's owner again.

That said, as interesting as the dog situation is, the main thing that has been going on involves seedlings and gardening in general! As you may remember we started seeds a while back for the things that needed to start inside for some time before going in to the ground. Well, they have been growing, and in general growing fairly well. Right you can see the flat we started seeds in with sunflowers wobbling everywhere on the left, and tomatoes taking up a lot of air space on the right. In between there are eggplants, sweet habeneros, amaranth, and others that are too small to see, but still starting to crowd their seedling cups. So, it was time to do some transferring for the larger ones and  pricking out for the cups with multiple seedlings. I'm not kidding, that''s the real term, and here's a quick little photo how to by growveg.com. The Lady of the House did most of the work on this so you'll have to forgive the photos since I'm the one that took them.
As you can see the sunflower needed to move, but if you look closely you can see crowded amaranth in a seedling pot we didn't plant it in. We've taken to calling that "Illegitimate amaranth" and nurturing it all the same. One of the things that came up in our transferring and pricking out day is that since we only grabbed Popsicle sticks from what we've eaten or taken we didn't have enough for all of the seedlings in individual pots or trays. The Lady of the House had a really brilliant idea on this.

Left is a closer photos of the Lady of the House working, and you can see the tip of the marker stick is purple. That is the marker for the Cherokee Purple tomatoes we have. What we did was mark the stick with a color and then mark toothpicks with that color and place them in each seedling tray. Not a perfect solution by any means, but it does work for this situation. As you can see she in these photos is gently sticking a knife into the soil, carefully lifting the seedling in question, and will be placing it in a larger pot with new soil. Ok, so that's great, and fortunately we have lots of seedling trays and small pots from the free glass find the Lady of the House made in October .

Fortunately the next problem is one we'd thought ahead about. Light and space. Where can we put the seedlings we can't put outside yet so they get enough light. We haven't built a greenhouse yet, and we don't have enough windows to get them solid light for enough of the day. We also don't have enough clamp lamps to give them enough space.

Well, fortunately I'd been inspired by an old friend of mine's set up, I don't have the link to the photo that inspired me, but if you are interested in the mac side of computer tech work you should look at his blog. http://alexkaloostian.wordpress.com/
His set up was a work light over a table, what we are trying at the moment is a work light over a cement tub full of seedlings using steel kitchen shelving to hold it all and give us some flexibility. We will write more about this set up if it does well, and I think it will. So far the plants have already perked up but we want to make sure we aren't saying "Look at this awesome thing!" if it ends up stupid in the long run.

Edited to add: Alex opened up the facebook image so it's public. This is the picture that inspired our strange contraption above.

So for now I just want to show how the outside gardening is going. Over all, it is going quite well. The garlic is growing fast, and we will soon be taking garlic scapes. Kale is starting to sprout, and radishes and lettuce are coming up. Left you can see some of the radish seedlings that haven't been mulched yet because of how little they are. Soon they will be getting mulch over the entire bed rather than just a little bit in between the rows. We will also be thinning them soon.

As you can see between a couple of the rows we have the start of the mulch that will be going in the whole bed as soon as we can. Something you probably can't see from the picture right is an interesting thing the Lady of the House spotted this morning. I would have missed it because I don't really get closer to the gardens than this unless weeding, mulching, or I assume in the future harvesting. But the Lady of the House has been examining everything every day it seems.

So let's look a little closer. See all of those little things Left and Below? Those are spring tails or snow fleas.  There isn't a huge amount of information about them readily available, but they are actually a good thing to see. Apparently you see them in rich soil, and they eat fungal spores.One rarely sees them outside of winter where they stand out against the snow, but they break down decomposing organic matter. In other words, exactly what we want to happen to the mulch. So another happy thing to see as spring progresses.

Finally a photo of a chickadee demanding we feed it sunflower seeds. Over the winter we keep a feeder going, but with spring around and the bears awake, no more seed goes to the bird. So now we just get harassed by gutsy little birds every morning informing us that we have forgotten to feed them.

Thursday I will probably be talking more about the seedling growing station unless something else crazy comes up in the mean time, which it may!

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