Springing Forward

The Micro-Farm is really starting to take shape after winter.  I have removed 90 per cent of the old plants.  I have enjoyed taking a few minutes to enjoy the hard work that has gone into the micro-farm over the past four years.  While ever farm is a place of constant change there are goals I have hoped to achieve.  This spring I feel good about where the micro-farm is and where the next steps will take it.

I attempted to sift the compost piles a month ago.  After removing the first layers on both piles I ran into two compost ice cubes.  After stabbing both piles with a shovel I quickly realized I needed a few warm days before any sifting was going to take place.  Two weeks later I took the weekend and dedicated it to compost sifting.  I do not enjoy the sifting very much but the end product is great.  I filled almost two lawn tractor trailers.

I have also been doing some planting.  It may seem crazy, but there are some really crazy plants that do not mind the cold.  I planted over twenty-five pea plants, beets, a few leafy greens, onion seedlings, and turnips.   Many have sprouted and are, slowly, growing.  The garlic planted last fall has come up and is about six inches tall.  A couple of frosts have slowed the garlic down but it is still going strong.

The garlic a couple of weeks ago.

The garlic (37 plants)  a couple of    weeks ago.

We have a very tall pine tree near the garden beds.  In the fall it sheds a lot of needles.  Without a better plan last fall, I mounded the pine needles around a planter box.  I have been spreading the needles around and using them for mulch in my garden walkways and paths.

The other side of the growing beds

The growing beds when I was beginning to put down needles and before compost

Beds with new compost and needles in paths

Beds with new compost and needles in paths

I like the way they look, feel, and smell.  They also do a good job with keeping the weeds down.  Possibly most important the price: free, all around pretty good.

Last growing season the grass and weeds took over my pea bed.  I fought them for a while, but eventually they won.  I worked hard on last year’s pea bed, this year’s cucumber bed, to clean out the weeds and grass.

Now it is cleaned out and ready for cucumbers

Now it is cleaned out and ready for cucumbers

When I was in middle school NASA gave students tomato seeds that had spent time either on the Space Shuttle or on the space station.  I totally loved it. Seeds from space!  They even came in a Mylar seed packet.  I asked to keep information on how they progressed.  I have no idea what happened to those plants.  Most likely, they dried up or were choked out by weeds.  I have felt a little guilty for those plants.

Now I have a sense of redemption.  I am growing turnip seeds for Seed Savers Exchange’s M-Gen program.  I am asked to keep details and records on how they are doing.  So far I have been keeping everything up-to-date.  I planted twenty seeds a week ago.

The bed on the left has been planted.

The bed on the left has been planted.

This weekend I have seen a few seedling popping up.  Next Saturday I hope to plant another twenty seeds in the bed on the right.  I am really looking forward to this project.  You will see further reports as the season goes along.

You can see a lot has been happening.  I also should report that I lost my second thyme seedlings.  For the third try I moved them to the kitchen where they get southern sun and have a higher, and more consistent, temperature.  I have about five times more seedlings and they are growing well.  The third time is the charm.

I hope you are enjoying your spring clean up and planting.  Please share what you are doing it motivates me.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Not This Thyme

Waking up to snow covering your lawn this time of year is a bummer.  It will melt quickly, but it is tough for those of us who want to be playing in the soil.

The weather this week looks promising.  So I will get outside and do more clean up from last year.  If I am really lucky the ground will thaw enough for me to pull some of last year’s plants from the ground.

Many of the seedlings are doing well.  True leaves are starting to appear on everyone. Even my tiny strawberry plants have started to develop true leaves.

The second crop of peppers

The second crop of peppers

My first rosemary seedling

My first rosemary seedling

It was exciting to see the rosemary seedling this morning.  Rosemary takes a long time to germinate.  So after almost a month one plant is up.  Maybe there will be more, but I am pleased to at least see one.

Last week I show how well my thyme was doing.  You can see and read about it here. Somewhere in the middle of the week the thyme dried up and almost all died.  I was really surprised because the soil looked damp, but I did not look close enough.  A few are still surviving so that will be ok.

The surviving thyme.

The surviving thyme.

I also planted a few Pruden’s Purple tomatoes.  Pruden’s Purple is an heirloom tomato.  It is similar to a beef-steak style tomato but bigger and meatier.  It has become one of my favorite varieties.

The Pruden's Purple seed trays.  They should be up this weekend.

The Pruden’s Purple seed trays. They should be up next weekend.

Until everything thaws most of my work is watering seedling and making sure they are doing well.  Quickly re-planting if I make a mistake.

What are you doing?  How are your seedlings?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.