MaryE's blog

2023 #142 I see onions!
Posted on Feb 3, 2023 4:31 PM

Yesterday, just 5 days after planting the onion seeds and putting the tray on a heat mat, I already have a lot of sprouts! Yesterday I planted another tray full of pots and put them on a second mat. Onions are usually very slow, these were fast although the seed was 2 years old. Today I will plant more lettuce, beets, kale, chard and spinach for my greenhouse salad garden. The first planting is ready for snipping a leaf here and a leaf there. Last year I did not replant and later was sorry because the plants wanted to go to seed and they got bitter. I tried cutting the plants down to force new leaves but they were also bitter. Learned that the hard way!

I need to start trimming back the geraniums that grew in the whiskey barrels last summer, plus those in pots that are small enough to move around. The whiskey barrel plants were just rudely popped out of the ground and placed in boxes to rest, but now it is time to wake them up and get them growing new stems and tops for this year. Usually I do that job before now but there is time for them to grow and be blooming before about June 1 when they can finally be put outside for the summer. That's 4 months from now.

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2023 #141 Planted onion seeds!
Posted on Jan 29, 2023 5:38 PM

I guess I could say this is the first day of the 2023 gardening season because I filled enough 4x4 pots to fill a plastic greenhouse tray and planted yellow onion seeds. The tray is on a heat mat and covered loosely with a sheet of plastic since I couldn't find the clear plastic cover that fits the tray. The greenhouse is drafty because it isn't a tight building and the wind is strong today. And cold! The temperature is in the upper teens and will go below zero tonight. The propane furnace will keep the temperature in the greenhouse at around 50 degrees.

A week or two ago one of my jade plants started to bloom so on a mild day I carried it into the house. We have enjoyed it and when it finishes I will take it back to the greenhouse. I have others but none have bloomed. Maybe the plant needs to be pretty old before it will bloom. Two of the younger plants were started from leaves on little stems that I picked up when we were in San Diego in 2010. These plants are very common there and there were a lot of pieces lying on the ground. So I rescued some. They are a different variety. My old ones have green leaves, the newer ones have red edges. I have no idea what the blooms will be like.

Our farm store has seeds and things for starting seeds already! In January! Pretty early for our northern climate. And of course the seed catalogs have started arriving. I got the first one about a month ago. I need to buy another heat mat. The one I have is too big for one tray and too small for two, so if I have two mats I will have room for 3 trays.

What else is going on here at the farm? Not much. We keep the wood stove stoked and the driveway plowed and wait for spring.

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2022 #140 Leaves: Report from the crazy leaf lady
Posted on Nov 25, 2022 8:42 AM

I had arranged to get bags of leaves from a senior apartment complex in town and WOW! Last week I got 39 bags and there will be more. Now they have all been unloaded and the bags are sitting in groups near the garden. I thought they might already be moist because they were so heavy but my moisture meter says DRY, so I watered each bag from the top. This is probably more than I need but I did say I would pick up the rest of them which the maintenance guy said will be about 10 more. The dry leaves I could see at the tops of the bags could not account for the weight so it seems that maybe the leaves were collected by a mower and chopped, bagged in the mower bag and transferred to garbage bags. I should open one and look.

These leaves will slowly break down in the bags. Moisture, freezing and thawing, plus time and whatever grass clippings are in the mixture will work slowly through the winter. I had planned to make a bin from t-posts and plastic fencing that comes in a roll and is similar to that orange stuff they use at construction sites to keep people out. This is black. My injured shoulder prevented building of the bin so the bags will sit through the winter and maybe the bin will be built in the spring so I can see what is happening. Mold and various bacteria types will do some work even in the cold temperatures. I have been watching U-tube videos about composting leaves and one in particular tells about some of the helpful critters quite specifically that work at low, medium and higher temperatures. The centers of the bags might have work going on in them all winter!

We have had some nice days and now the forecast is for snow in the next few days. Two weeks ago some if our family and a couple of our neighbors got together and cut two and a half cords of firewood for us. The trees were all dead and dry but mostly still standing and the landowner wanted them removed before they fell over fences. Dead trees are a problem and their removal is a good thing. We are very thankful to have a good firewood supply and have had help to get it.

The Christmas cactus has a lot of buds now and a few are showing color. One might open today or tomorrow.

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2022 #139 Little storms, more moisture
Posted on Nov 5, 2022 6:45 PM

A storm brought us between 1 and 2 10ths of an inch of sloppy, wet snow. It covered the ground and then froze in place overnight and melted yesterday. All good.

Our neighbor's cattle are still here grazing. I prefer not to turn my horse out with them because when they need to be moved it is easier to not have to deal with the wrong animal going through the gate. My hay supply was getting very low so I asked the neighbor to bring me more. The bales he delivers are big and heavy, probably weighing around 900 pounds. It's very nice grass hay. My horse is retired so he doesn't need anything but hay, however I do give him a little grain every 2 or 3 days as a treat. He also gets apple peelings and cores, and carrot peelings. On days when he doesn't get a treat he just looks at me when I put the hay in his feeder as if to say "is this all?"

Burdock is one of the noxious weeds in our area and the burrs on it can stick to animals and be carried here and there. They are also very hard to comb out of manes and tails so I have been going around with a feed sack and clippers to collect them as carefully as possible along with thistle heads and a red weed that makes a huge amount of seeds. The goal is to remove as many as possible without loosing the seeds and then burn them in our burn barrel. If I put them on the burn pile the cattle would scatter them before the pile is burned. It's a slow job and a cold one!

Early this morning our low temperature was about 20. The high today will be near 40.

******************* A couple of days later

More snow and more rain put 9/10ths of an inch of moisture in the rain gauge over the past two days! It's adding up to a respectable amount this fall. The snow started as rain late in the evening and changed to snow overnight and most of the following day. We had about 3 inches of snow by late yesterday afternoon. Overnight it rained more and soaked into the ground. What a blessing after months of dry! Another storm is coming at us so who knows what we will see in by morning.

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2022 #138 Garlic planting is finished
Posted on Nov 1, 2022 6:45 PM

All of the garlic that was worth planting is in the ground now and yesterday I mulched it all with straw and watered it to form a mat that the wind won't blow away. Most of the tools have been brought up the hill to the shed. The rototiller will be ready to store away after the tire that keeps loosing air is repaired and put back on it. Better to deal with it now than have to fiddle around putting air into it multiple times next season.

It looks like my plans for a no till garden will not happen next year because when I gather leaves this fall they will be tilled into the rows next spring to help with that excessive nitrogen problem. Meanwhile, I am leaving the big manure fork in the garden so that I can work on cleaning roots out of the rows so they won't be chopped into itty bitty pieces when I run the tiller. And maybe after next year I will be able to go the no-till route. I would like to get that hard clay layer broken up under all of the rows.

I'm still having to be careful using my right arm. While not as painful as it was, it is still uncomfortable and I am hoping if I take care of it now the discomfort will be gone and my strength will return over the winter with careful use. Meanwhile, my left arm works just fine and I have learned to do some things left handed.

Today we took the shade cloth off the greenhouse. My baby plants in the salad bed will be happier with more light.

A storm is blowing in and I hope it will bring us rain or snow. It rained in town today but we didn't get any of it. The rain plus the wind will help bring the leaves down from the trees and soon I will be bringing home bags of them.

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