Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tomatoes and Cucurbits

The tomatoes are bursting out of their pots, the Luffa is large and rough, and a few squash seedlings are ready to be transplanted from starting mix into soil.

Experimental results:

Tomatoes started in seed starting mix are far smaller than those started in potting soil (2" compared to 5"). They are ready to be fertilized, to be sure, but I also think the tomatoes that were started directly in potting soil (Miracle Gro Moisture Control) were accessing the fertility in the soil right from the beginning. I am going to pot up all the starts today. For the larger tomato starts in the 4" pots I may just have to thin to one plant per pot (as opposed to 4-5 that are in each one now), rather than prick them out--they're just not seedlings anymore, and the potting soil (in particular this moisture control stuff) doesn't look like it's going to come apart as easily as the light, loose seed starting mix.

Luffa had a very low germination rate, only one pot had more than one come up. The tomatoes had a very good germination rate--I think almost every one came up.

Chard seedlings are coming along very slowly. I'm keeping them off the heat pad and starting to harden them off.

"Fruit Quartets"

For dense plantings of heavily-pruned fruit trees providing a staggered harvest. From this entry by Erica at the Northwest Edible Life blog. Also features videos of Dave Wilson demoing the method.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Transplanting Worms into Infertile Areas

From "Temperate Permaculture Strategies" with Bill Mollison. Starting at 1 minute 55 seconds:

Take up a piece of sod with lots of worms. Put it grass down on top of other grass. Spread about a square meter of dolomite lime over it, all around it. Put these worm colonies every ten meters apart. In seven years the whole paddock will be completely covered at the rate of 4 million worms an acre.

More Seeds

Last weekend (April 4) I started tomatoes (Red Siberian and Yellow Pear) from my own saved seed, cucurbits (Luffa and Waltham squash), and a few days later started chard (Fordhook giant) and Elana's cherry tomatoes under lights. Planted some of each in sterile seed starter mix (after bleaching out the pots) and potting soil (Miracle Gro Moisture Control). Planted 2-3 seeds in each small container, and 5 or so in each 4" container (except the Luffa, only 3 per 4" container). The tomatoes and cucurbits are on a heating pad that goes off at night with the lights.

Paul Gautschi on Woodchips (and God)

Lay down newspaper not cardboard for killing weeds - when newspaper gets wet, it adheres to the soil and smothers weeds; cardboard doesn't. Then: woodchips. Lots of woodchips. 4", 6", a foot. Use it all the time. NOT bark, NOT sawdust. Don't till the woodchips in, just put them on top. Rake them aside to plant.

My idea for controlling slugs: Slug "habitat" nearby, full of things slugs love to eat, that come up before spring veggies. Let the slugs go at it, then bring ducks through to decimate the population before the slugs lay eggs. Note: slugs sometimes lay multiple batches of eggs in a season, so bring the ducks through a couple times.

From this podcast with Paul Gautschi.

(photo from

Friday, April 1, 2011

Eliot Coleman lays down what it takes to have a farm that won't wear out

Starting at about 17 minutes here. For "the perfect little farm and garden."

Basically, have 6 times the amount of land you want to plant in crops. Rotate your field through it, a new place each year. Have the remainder either mowed for compost or grazed by animals whose manure is used for compost.