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First sprouts!

Brown mustard seed, wintersown on Februray 6th.

The red wigglers arrived on Friday so we plopped ‘em in their new home.  Shipping took five days so they had a bit of jet lag and are still recovering.  Looks like a healthy wad of worms, though, so we’re hopeful that they’ll settle in and do their thing quickly.  They’ve already made themselves at home and are spreading throughout the goop.

Appetizing, don’t you think?  Actually, I think I’ve lived in apartments that look and smell about the same.

After dumping in new scraps, we topped it off with torn up cardboard and moistened it.  (Yes, they’re living in the master bathtub.  That sucker is huge and takes too long to run a bath in so we use the normal tub in the other room or the shower in the master.)

Remember me whining about my finger being infected for the past month?  And it was impossible for me to do much of anything related to gardening and too painful and slow to type?  It’s finally healing over enough for things to get back to normal.  Yay!  Of course, that means I have to tackle the built-up laundry pile.  Boo!  Pic from today, getting all better now (and this is all from a hangnail, it goes clear around the other side of my finger!):

Now where was I?

I’ve had a wee bit of an infection in my right hand for the past couple of weeks and have been stuck doing the one-handed typing thing.  I’m behind on emails, blog entries, and all sorts of things.  Patience, Grasshopper.  Patience.  I’ll catch up eventually.  Or not.

So what have I missed?  Let’s see…

We ordered this year’s chicks.  100 meat birds and 30 layers, due to arrive the middle of June.  That means we’ll be building some chicken tractors and additional pens before then.  We’ve always ordered earlier, spring chicks before but we need the extra time to prepare this year.  Plus, maybe we’ll be able to skimp on the heat lamping since it should be toasty warm already.  Six-ish weeks later, we’ll butcher all of those meat birds.  Boy, won’t that be a fun time for all?

We ordered a bunch of fruit trees a while back, to be shipped in March.  Those will be planted around the perimeter of the garden.  Also, in March, we’ll kidnap Susan, a.k.a. The Tree Chick, and head down to Stark Bros Nursery (only an hour or so from here!  How lucky are we?!) and buy some more fruit trees for the front yard.  That’s a lot of holes to dig.

Then there’s that whole getting-the-garden-ready thing.  The dirt in the garden spot has been farmed hard for years, pretty much sucking all of the life out of it.  It’ll be fairly easy to bring it back but it’s going to take some time and a lot of work in the beginning.

Those previous three things mean another pressing thing on the to-do list:  fence.  Lots of fence.  Fence around the garden.  Fence around the chicken runs.  Fence around the yard.  Deer are a gardener’s enemy here and a pretty frequent one so we’re going to fence like we mean it.

Oh, and the bees.  Because we don’t have enough to do already, we figured we all needed a hobby.  It’s Charlie’s fault.  He started obsessing over bees, reading up on beekeeping, and, before we knew what hit us, he had us convinced we needed bees.  We found and attended a beginning beekeeping class put on at the extension office in Quincy.  We’re ordering two blobs of bees this week and they should be here mid-April.  That means we need to make a little day trip to the bee supply store and load up on the necessary hive equipment and get it all set up before they arrive.

I almost forgot the worms.  One pound of red wigglers should be delivered in the next couple of days.  We made a vermicomposting bin over the weekend in anticipation of their arrival.  Again, this is Charlie’s fault.  I’ve been talked into keeping worms in my kitchen and it’s all Charlie’s fault.

Can you believe I typed all of this one-handed?  I’ll find a way to blame that on Charlie, too.

Gathering notes on growing TPS

I was going to email these links to Kristin (from yesterday’s comments) but decided to put them all here in case someone else might need them.  Plus, it makes them easier for me to find later when I blow up my computer.  I’ll also add in links I’ve put in previous posts, just so they’re all together.

New World Seeds and Tubers This is Tom Wagners store & blog, where you can buy seed potatoes as well as True Potato Seeds and mini-tubers.  He also has seeds for several other veggies.

Joseph Lofthouse’s Growing Open Pollinated Potatoes from True Seeds.

Video series in which Tom Wagner discusses growing from TPS.

Daughter of the Soil blog on Sowing Potatoes from TPS.

Tom Wagner’s old blog.  If you go back through old entries, you can get some good info.

Curzio’s Growing Potato Starting with True Seed.

Oh, wait, here’s what I was looking for — from which I found many of the above links.  Go to The Helpful Gardener’s thread on TPS and look for TZ-OH6’s posts.  Amazing amount of material there.

And, of course, Tom Wagner’s message board.

As I find more links and info, I’ll not only stick them in the newest posts so Kristin and others can see them, but I’ll come back and add them to this post as well.

Tomatoville has some good TPS info — just use their search function.

Obsessions: Not always a bad thing.

Occasionally, they lead to broadening your horizons.  And driving your family and friends insane.  Or both.

I’m doing lots of reading on potatoes this year and came across this page on True Potato Seeds.  Then I clicked on the page about Adaptivar Landraces.

Oh, my.

While I’ve known that people do this (and have done this for eons), I’ve just never sat down and intentionally thought about it.  Really, truly thought about it.  I’ve always been so persnickety about keeping things distinct, I could not grok the landrace thing.  Not really.  Until today.  I can feel my skull cracking and my brain creaking as it s.t.r.e.t.c.h.e.s bit by bit to accept it as a good thing.  Maybe even something I’d like to experiment with?  Hmm…

Yes, I think I will.  I will step bravely into new (to me) territory this year.  In fact, I’ve opened my mind to quite a few new gardening-related things this year.  Things most people would snicker at like, um, DUH, is that such a big deal?  I do like to experiment and always have… but only within my comfort zone, with things I (can delude myself into thinking that I) can fully control.  This landrace thing, though. Huge.

Quit laughing!  Okay, go ahead and laugh.  I’d hate for you to choke on your tongue trying to pretend you’re not laughing.

Bonus tidbit:  Found these free ebooks that, upon superficial scanning, seem to be very cool.  I’m already reading a couple of other books so I’ll dig fully into these after I’ve finished.  I am referring to the ones by Raoul, by the way, but wanted to link you to the page where it has a little intro on him.

More on True Potato Seeds

Today’s mail brought me a wonderful package of seeds from a gardening buddy, Jay.  Among other things, he sent some TPS, a variety called “9 Dings”.


I’m still looking over Tom Wagner’s new site, New World Seeds & Tubers and will probably order a pack or two.  To show my support for what he’s doing, of course.  Not because I have any issues with, say… seed addictions or anything.  Not at all.  I’m just trying to help the gardening world, you see.  I’m selfless like that.

I’ve been so busy this afternoon obsessively reading all I can find on TPS that I didn’t get any planting done today.  I did, however, grab a couple of great links to pass on to you if you’re intrigued by the whole TPS thing.

A great series of videos:  Tom Wagner on Growing and Saving True Potato Seeds (TPS)

From Daughter of the Soil:  Sowing Potatoes from TPS

And just a really cool potato pic from Roots for Life.

More Wintersowing

Today’s plantings include one jug each of the following in ProMix BX:

  • Chives
  • Garlic Chives
  • Leek, Bleu of Solaise
  • Onion, spring, Barletta
  • Scallions, white
  • Basil, Mrs. Burns Lemon
  • Basil, Napolitano Bolioso
  • Basil, sweet
  • Black sesame
  • Brown Mustard Seed
  • Chamomile, German
  • Cilantro
  • Dill, Bouquet
  • Dill, Mammoth
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Grass
  • Oregano, Greek
  • Oregano, vulgare
  • Sage

I know some of those are questionable for wintersowing, or at least I’ve not found anything concrete as to their success, but I felt like experimenting with new-to-me things.  I’ve reserved plenty of each to sow in the traditional manner as well.

Ahh, that feels better.

I finally got to do some wintersowing today.  I planted one jug each of the following in ProMix BX.  (Sorry, Carol.  I even went looking for potting soil today while in Hannibal but nobody had any yet.  I’ll see what Quincy has when I’m in there next week.)

  • Alpine Strawberry, Ruegen
  • Alpine Strawberry, White Soul
  • Alpine Strawberry, Yellow Wonder
  • Alpine Strawberry, unnamed variety
  • Rhubarb, Glaskins
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Asparagus, UC157
  • Asparagus, Mary Washington

I’m trying a couple of different things this year:

I am writing labels directly on the outside of the jugs with both a paint pen and an eyeliner pencil.  (Thanks, Ilene for the eyeliner pencil idea!)  Inside of the jugs, I have my usual mini-blind slat labels.  One side has regular pencil writing and the other has the eyeliner pencil.  I’ll see which holds up the best through all of the elements.

In other years, I cut a “window” into each milk jug so that there was a flap on each side.  The jugs held their strength that way so I could easily pick them up and move them around.  However, it was a pain to wash them out for saving from year to year and it was very difficult to remove the plants for transplanting without cutting the jug apart.  This year, I’ve done a cut all the way around the jug but left it attached at the handle area.  Then, on the opposite corner, I punched a hole in both top and bottom, then closed with wire ties.  That will make it possible to remove plants and clean them at the end of the wintersowing season and save them for next year.  I don’t want to have to make these suckers every single year.  I’m lazy, you know.

(FYI:  I’m going to try to keep a journal of sorts on here about the garden this year, documenting planting dates & methods, notes on varieties, etc.  I’ve done a little bit of that here before but nowhere near enough for me to use as a reference down the road.  I will this year.  Just warning ya…)

True Potato Seeds and Snuggles

Have you heard of True Potato Seeds?  If not and you’re a crazy, gardening fool like me, do some reading up on it!  Very interesting stuff!  Growing potatoes from TPS for the first time is the one single thing I am most excited about!  Ever!

Whew.  That was a lot of exclamation marks.  I can’t help it.  I’m excited.  Tom Wagner just opened his new seed store, New World Seeds & Tubers.  Not only is he the TPS guru but he’s also a tomato guru.  Check out some of his breeding projects.  Very cool.  Since his store has just opened, there’s not yet many tomatoes.  I bet he’ll probably be listing new varieties for quite a while.

Did I mention I’m excited??

Take a deep breath, Diane.  Calm down.

In other, less exciting news, there’s been a lot of snuggling going on around here lately to stay warm.

Sister snuggling.

Chicken snuggling:  With temps down to -10 F plus some nasty wind chills bringing it down to -20 to -25 F, I must admit I got a little nervous about the fresh-air chicken house.  We gave them a little extra corn to “burn” for body heat and they did great!

And stinky, furry snuggling:  Kong was fine outside in the weather with his double fur coat, he really was.  The kids, however, got upset when he’d sit down for a bit too long and get snow starting to cover him.  I couldn’t take those poor puppy eyes (from the kids) so we let him in for a couple of nights.  He behaved perfectly well.  Good Kong!

(Yes, that’s a big wet spot on Isaac’s bed.  Dog fur + snow = soggy mess even if you attempt to towel dry him.)

Back on the path to wintersowing…

Continuing the wintersowing journey of 2011:

So I got the ProMix but still didn’t have nearly enough milk jugs.  Last weekend, Steve hit up Starbucks in Quincy and came home with 50 jugs (and three garbage bags of coffee grounds).  Yay for all of you who pay an arm & leg for foo-foo caffeinated drinks!

After a very long day of washing, cutting, and twist-tying the jugs, I was finally ready to wintersow:

Or was I?  The ProMix is in the basement.  Under all of that snow.  Doh.

Yesterday was spent getting the driveway somewhat cleared so digging out the basement didn’t happen until today.  By the time I was done, I decided that baking a cake sounded more appealing than playing with mud in the basement & digging out the spot where I’ll put the jugs.

P.S. & FYI:  Whiteouts don’t really make for interesting photos.

Preparing to WinterSow

It’s that time again.  Time to plant some seeds!  If you don’t already know about it, go to wintersown.org and read, read, read!

Have seeds:  Check.

Have potting soil:  Check.

Have “pen” set up for containers:  Check.

Ignore the overturned chair I was too lazy to pick up:  Check.

Have milk jugs for containers:  Um.  Let me get back to you on that one.

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