Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Has Arrived! ... Well, sort of.

Although this winter was "mild" compared to what Al and I used to enjoy in central Europe, it has lingered on and it seems like it will be forever until we have consistent sunny warm days.  All winter we have been thinking about and preparing ourselves for this time of year and what is to come.

We have been reading our gardening books, building our compost pile, and preparing the beds for this year's "harvest" since we moved in.  Today however, I had the opportunity to learn some things from our Gardening Guru from Ted's Last Stand Farm and Gardens who just happens to be our neighbor.  I learned how to use a soil blocker for the purpose of planting seedlings.  This is an alternative to using those plastic containers that you see around.  Instead of a cell in which the seedling must be taken out of later on, the soil blocks to me seem easier to transplant to the garden as there is no pulling or breaking the roots.  You simply pick up the block and transplant it when it's time.

The blockers are about $30+ on Amazon, but it was recommended that I try it out before I went and spent money on one for myself.  From what I have learned about gardening so far, it is really up to the individual to see what works and what doesn't, and to find what you like.  So far, I like the soil blocks.  I used the "Magic-Sparkle" option on my camera ;)

This soil was recommended for it's consistency.

Mix the soil with enough water so that you can clump it in your hand
without water draining out.

Loosen the soil in the bucket.  Press the soil blocker firmly into the
soil so that all the cells are filled with dirt.  You might need to press
the soil further into the cells with your hand.  Level it off.

Move the blocker to your "destination".  Squeeze the handle,
releasing the individual soil blocks into your tray.

Put 1 seed into each block and cover it just a little with the soil.
Be sure to label what's what!  These seed packets are just for the picture.
You can label the side of your tray, or  the advice of Ted's Last Stand,
simply draw a diagram in your gardening notes!

Today in the freezing 40 degree weather (with a wind chill), I seeded:
  • Orange Bell Peppers
  • Czechoslovakian Black Peppers
  • Old Virginia Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Egglplant, Long Purple and Rosita varieties
  • Broccoli
Later on when the soil is warmer we will sow directly into the garden:
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans, Fordhook Limas
  • Peas, Northern Southern and Queen Mary Blackeye
  • Sweet Corn
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce 
We will also be seeding and directly sowing later on:
  • Green Cabbage, Flat Dutch
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Winter Butternut Squash
  • Broccoli
I may have forgotten some things, but I think for two people it is plenty!  We will be learning to can or freeze any veg that we can't eat or give away.  I can't remember when I was so excited about gardening.  Here's to a successful 1st season!