spring time catchup

My recent visit to the west coast set me back on my spring schedule and I have been catching up.

Foremost was to get my tomato seeds going.  Last year I collected seed from good heirloom tomato plants and this year, for the first time, I did not purchase any tomato seed.  Though I did buy “Surround” (Kaolin clay) which I will spray on my apple trees when the blossoms have set fruit, and the supplier included gratis, seeds for  Rainbow and Cherry tomatoes.  Plus I had some 2014 and 2015 packets most of which are viable.  Although last year I clustered the tomato plants by variety I am sure some were cross pollinated with other varieties so it will be interesting to see what emerges.

my 2" and o.5" soil block moulds
my 2″ and o.5″ soil block moulds

Preparing the 0.5″ soil blocks is quick since I use purchased seed starter mixture.  More work is required for the 2″ soil blocks for which I use topsoil, my compost and peat (all manually sieved) and to which I add building sand and lime (to offset the peat ph).  When the seeds have germinated and grown about 0.5″ I transplant them to the 2″ soil blocks.  And later I will transplant the tomato soil blocks into 32 oz yogurt containers.   For maximum sun exposure and monitoring I grow the tomatoes in my greenhouse until they are ready for the outdoor raised beds.

I also germinated from 0.5″ soil blocks lots of other vegetables – the common such as lettuce, broccoli, kale as well as peppers, cucumbers and herbs.

Additionally I have been preparing the raised beds with weeding, composting, dusting with ash from the wood stove and seeding with lettuce, mustard, radish, kale etc.  This all takes time and work but the weather is pleasant, I enjoy physical labor and, for the first time, I am using headphones attached to my iPhone and listening to my podcasts.

Each day I carefully collect in a yogurt container the ladybugs which appear in our bathroom and, if the collection exceeds 10 or so, I transport them to the vegetable area where they will work beneficially until again in the fall taking refuge in the bathroom.  This they have done consistently for several years, like salmon returning to their breeding grounds.

My chickens are free range and I notice Randa (the most intelligent) standing beside the closed greenhouse door.  Flashback to when I discovered last year she had made a nest out of sight in the greenhouse with >10 eggs.  I open the door for her and when I come back an hour later, she has laid an egg in a little nest she has fashioned.  What to do?  Initial thought is to keep her out of the greenhouse.  On reflection this is not a solution since she will probably then make a nest somewhere hidden in the surrounding growth, as she did 2 years ago and accumulated 16 eggs.  So now I leave the door ajar and she lays an egg each day in the green house which I collect at day’s end, together with all the other eggs laid by the normal chickens in the nest box in the coop.

Randa entering the greenhouse
Randa entering the greenhouse

And on Saturday I took delivery and installed 2 packages of bees from our local professional beekeeper who maintains >500 hives and is the oracle of our local bee club.

So now I am fully into the swing of spring.

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