Archive for January, 2010

Just when you think I’m beginning to understand this game, pow, I fumble.

Starting seeds is not new for us, we’ve done it successful for a while now.  This year I made a huge rookie mistake.  I didn’t pay attention.  And I’m paying for it.

Not realizing how fast the new seed mats would work, I didn’t pay attention to the seed trays for the first several days.  The seeds sprouted in about half the expected time and had stretched to reach the light.  Now, all my seedlings are overstretched.  Some I can save, but some will have to be started over.  No one’s fault but mine.  My negligence may cost me up to $50.  We’ll see.  B and I are going to do some transplanting today to see what we can save.  I’ll update later.  Foul on me.

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Even in Georgia, there are days when the weather just doesn’t permit much work.  Especially rainy, dark days in mid winter.  During the down times, we love to read.  There are websites, books and magazines that we find invaluable.  Sometimes it’s for the great information.  Sometimes its just for fun.  Yes, reading for fun is ok.

Today, I’ll just highlight three magazines we look at:

The first is, “Urban Farms”.  UF is produced by the same publishers as “Hobby Farms”.  It is a brand new production, only two issues so far, but it’s been fun for B and me to see what other sustainable, urban and suburban farmers are up to.  We find it encouraging.  The articles aren’t deep or world changing, but it does make us feel connected to the bigger movement.

The second is UF’s parent, “Hobby Farms”.  We’ve subscribed to Hobby Farms for several years.  HF was our introduction to a small scale sustainable lifestyle.  Like most magazines, the articles will only scratch the surface of issues and ideas.  But then again, that’s one of the reasons I read magazines, to introduce me to ideas and people that I can research further on my own.

Finally (for this post), “Mother Earth News”, the mamma of them all.  When I was young, I thought of MEN as a publication for hippies, oddballs and people who eschewed things like deodorant and civilization.  I don’t know whether they changed, if I have or if we met in the middle.  But I enjoy every issue.  Even though I still think the political leaning of the publication is way left of me, they are not nearly as overt as years gone by.  And I have become more tolerant in my dotage.  “Mother Earth News” should be on the coffee table (or in the bathroom, lets be honest) of everyone who is interested in sustainable living.

In future posts, I’ll talk about some books and websites, but right now I need to get ready for work.  Where does the time go?

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Announcing the arrival of www.east-of-eden-farms.com.  “Our Edible Suburb” is nestled nicely into it’s new home there.  Big thanks to daughter for the design and son in law for the development.  We love it.

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On the surface, it looks kind of like an electric door mat.  But it’s so much more.  It’s like steroids for seeds, but in a good way.  I’m talking about a simple seedling heat mat.

There is no rocket science involved.  The contraption is basically a flat waterproof heating pad.  You simply set the seed trays on it and let the heat from the pad warm the seed bed.  This is our first year using one and the results are amazing.  Last year my Jolokia peppers took 6 weeks to sprout, this year, 10 days, tops.  We had melons, cukes and squash sprout in two days.  TWO DAYS!   I’m loving it.

There are a variety of manufacturers.  The one we bought is made by ‘Hydrofarm’.  We bought it off Amazon.  The picture here is the small one, but we bought one that holds 4 large (72 section) trays.  You can even spend a couple extra bucks and get a timer to use with them.  I’m cheap.  I just unplug it the old fashioned way.

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B and I spent a couple hours last night catching up on our seed starting.  Besides some new varieties, like the bi-colored Northern Lights tomato and tomatillos, we are starting a few of our squash, cucumber, melon and pumpkin plants inside and will transplant them.  I have no

Northern Lights Tomatoes

idea how well that will work, but the idea is that starting some inside, then planting seeds in the garden as well, should stagger and extend the harvest a bit.  I guess time will tell.

We have chosen all open pollinated varieties this year, with the exception of onions.  Growing onions from seeds was a last minute decisions, so I just picked up a couple packets of Ferry Morris seeds at Home Depot.

Last night we sowed 7 varieties of tomatoes (plus tomatillos), broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, straight neck and patty pan squash, zucchini, marrow, three kinds of cucumber, cantaloupe, two kinds of pumpkin and butternut squash.  We also put in a second batch of peppers.  Peppers seem to be our specialty.

We have a wide selection of lettuces and greens, but we won’t start them inside.  We’ll create some kind of cold frame and get them outside, probably in March.

I truly love planting.  I enjoy harvesting, too.  The only piece I find tiresome is transplanting the seedlings from their trays to grow cups.  That is tedious.  The boredom is offset a little by giving the plants their first feeding of nutrients and watching them take a growth spurt. 

So, the basement is beginning to fill up with tables, seed trays and grow lights.  All is right with the world again.

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New Fruit Varities For 2010

We’re adding some new fruit to our garden this year.  In addition to expanding our blueberry, strawberry and raspberry collections, we will add some exciting and surprising twists as well.

Since our focus is planting fruits and vegetables that anyone can grow in a suburban or urban setting, we are careful to choose varieties that grow equally well in the ground or in containers.

First up, single stem apples.  We found these beauties and just had to have them.  They are ideal for smaller or cramped yards.  We found both golden and red apples and best of all, they will pollinate each other.

Next is the cutest little peach tree.  This little beauty will grow up to about 5 feet in a tub.  It is self pollinating and produces nearly half a bushel of peaches.

We found an asian pear and a cherry tree that have three varieties each, ensuring self pollination.

Last year we bought some black currants and this year we are bringing in it’s red, white and champaigne cousins.

We also ordered a dwarf quince, but I forgot to download a photograph.

Any, or all of these, would make an attractive, tasty and nutritious addition to any edible landscape.

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Signs of life

The heat mat is doing its job perfectly!  Most of our pepper plants have germinated and are stretching their tiny green heads toward the light.  Won’t be long before these new little seedlings will have multiple sets of leaves on them and will be demanding a transplant into their starter cups.  These first signs of life are so welcomed, especially after this frigid cold snap we’ve had.  The miracle of creation is so wonderful to behold.

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