Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20, 2012

Five rows 25-ft. long each sowed with 'Bloomsdale Long Standing' spinach seed
It's that time of year again - spinach!  Cold-weather seeds can be planted as soon as ground can be worked. Grab a handful of soil and squeeze it together: if it crumbles apart when you let go, it's ready to cultivate.  Here's a hint:  garden loam which has plenty of organic humus will be ready to work sooner than unconditioned soil.  This is our second season growing in this bed - last year we grew red clover and sweet corn here; we acidified it with iron sulfate and spread a load of composted manure over before tilling.  The tiller cut through it like butter - wow, what a difference from last year!  800 seeds have been sown down five, 25-foot rows and watered, so we're hoping to see a great harvest in April.

Seedling heat mat warming a cell pack sown with peppers.
Sterilized seed-starting mix greatly improves the viability of seeds started indoors.  Most seed-starting mix is not sterile, but it can be sterilized in a big roasting pot placed in the oven and baked at 300 degrees F for about an hour.  We did this before starting our sweet bell peppers indoors; we use heat mats underneath to create an ideal germinating temperature, and we cover with plastic to keep humidity high until they sprout.  Seeds germinate in half the expected time using this method.

It wouldn't be too early to plant carrot seed and onion sets outdoors.  This garlic has obviously enjoyed a mild winter and is a little more than half-way through its growing cycle.
White hardneck garlic plants.

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (