I want to share a post that I worked on for the School of Living website. The post is about growing turmeric and ginger and is our first SkillShare entry. Take a look and grow some ginger! Here’s the link! OUR FIRST SKILLSHARE: GROWING GINGER AND TURMERIC
Yes! This IS the beginning of our seed starting season! What a great activity to get into on a frigid near single digit day. With a little elbow grease, we’ve transformed the chicken brooder into a plant nursery in our spare not-yet-renovated bedroom. (In all honesty, NONE of the bedrooms are, yet, renovated.) I have a seed starter spreadsheet that I use. I plug in my last frost date and it will calculate when I should start the seeds for transplants. I’m using May 1st as my last frost date which is very conservative.
I continue to use soil blocks. They, consistently, carry our transplants, in good health, to the garden bed. In the following images, Hannah is making the soil blocks that have indentations in the mold to hold the seed. The medium needs to be wetted well enough so that the blocker can form cubes that will hold together. We have used Organic Mechanics and we have used Promix for the seed starting medium with good results. The Organic Mechanics is a little less fine and it is not unusual to find larger chunks of organic material in the mix. It does not deter germination or development of the plant. It is just a little less smooth in the block-making. After the seed is dropped onto the block; we, very gently, press each seed to ensure that the seed is making good contact with the medium. We mist the seeds and, then, sprinkle a thin layer of soil-less material over the top: vermiculite, perlite, or, as in this session; rice hulls. Then, we do another light misting and make sure the trays are kept moist. Once the seeds begin to germinate, I will put on the lights that we have hanging above the tables. Go seeds!
Transformations: Bedroom to Chicken Brooder to Plant Nursery
Making Soil Blocks…
…with help from a friend…
One of our very best friends!
Placing seeds in each block: Chives and leeks, today!
We thought that we’d like to have a visual screen between our farm and a neighboring property. My dog, Ginkgo, watches, diligently, over HER land (her boundaries go, frustratingly, beyond ours.) She can sit near J’s office and look downslope to the southeast, south, and southwest with little obstruction to her view. She watches for any activity and will, enthusiastically, announce the presence of our neighbor, our neighbor’s car, our neighbor’s guests, the buzzards and hawks that fly over the neighbor’s house, the cats in our neighbor’s yard; and, indeed, the neighbor’s Fed Ex deliveries. It, also, means that she can catch, with her sensitive nose; the presence of any delectable contribution to the neighbor’s compost pile. Oye! I thought that a hedge might reduce her easy view (sniff?) of the territory. However, I am, particularly, interested in transforming this area of mowed grass to meadow. This hedge of shrubs and trees will be the eastern edge of that meadow. Once a bit established, additional understory perennials will be planted and, over time with work, the meadow will expand out towards the west.
I decided to begin with, what I’m calling, a honey hedge. The trees and shrubs were picked with consideration for honey bee forage, general pollinator habitat, wildlife, beauty, and form. Some plants were chosen because they could, additionally, provide edibles for us. Plant needs; moisture, light, and soil conditions, were researched and, hopefully, met. I’d like to use successful plants for propagation material. I have little experience with most of these plants and have, yet, to see how they function. Need for adjustments are expected as we grow along. Here is a schematic of the hedge. The top of the page is EAST, with NORTH to the left and SOUTH to the right.
I started with laying out some flags. I had a big load of mushroom compost that was spread to visualize the shape and to mulch the area. I followed with cutting three rows with a single shank subsoiler parallel to the line of the plantings to break up compacted soil and to improve drainage. Then, I designed and marked out the plantings and ordered the plants (Cold Stream Farm and ForestFarm.) I made use of buttonbush and sumac that I had propagated myself. I mulched a portion of the plantings with cardboard and straw. It became clear that I had to protect the tiny plants when I started noticing that they were being nibbled by, I believe, bunnies. Hannah took care of cutting and placing scrap tubing and hardware cloth that we found in the barn around the plants. The following image shows just the beginning of planting. The tubes that you see in the photo are not part of the designed honey hedge. I have many new trees and shrubs planted in other areas that I hope will help our honeybees including Sourgum, American and Littleleaf Linden, Spicebush, Sourwood, BeeBee Trees, Hop Hornbeam, Pussywillow, and brambles to name a few. Now, we just have to wait until spring to see what happens next!