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Picture Post – Taken 6/2/10

June 8, 2010

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May 28, 2010

Here is Kit modeling our new garden trellises.  This is the first trellis so far and it’s over 24′ total made up of dean’s purple beans on the right and then Macaslan Snap beans on the left.

The posts are 4″ x 8 cedar posts from the local feed store and they are anywhere from 20-26″ deep.  There is no cement or anything in the hole because we will have to rotate these trellises as their crops move around the garden.

The trellis is the Hortonova trellis found at Johnny’s Seeds.  I bought the biggest roll of this stuff they have and I hope to have nearly a lifetime supply.  I think the largest roll is 250′.  The trellis itself is 6.5′ tall.

There is a single strand of “sharpie pen size” cable on the top row and it’s looped around one end and crimped back on itself.  On the other end is a small 12-15″ loop with a high tensile fence tensioner on the end.  This is also fence stapled.  So the open end of the cable hooks into the high tensile tensioner and from there it’s just ratcheted down as necessary.   The netting is stapled tight to the posts with a normal staple gun.

The whole thing looks sturdy and the height is going to be much better this year.  Last year’s 5′ trellis got overrun massively by the beans and cucumbers.  This year should be much better and the crops will have more room to spread out.  Total costs were this:  $6.59 each for the posts, $2.49 for the tensioner, about $3 worth of cable, $0.15 worth of crimps, and $5.76 worth of trellis.  Total cost is $24.58 and I consider that reasonable considering the posts, cable, tensioner, and crimps should last 30+ years the trellis itself at least 3-4 seasons.  The uses for all this stuff is countless so this is a nice thing to have at hand regardless.

Here’s another good shot of Kit laying in our new grass/clover yard.  This is the side yard in the garden and it’s mostly clover.  I guess I have some hope the clover benefits the garden in some fashion.  She’s exhausted, obviously.

Update on soil blocks

May 1, 2010

Well, it’s 5/1 and I wanted to give a quick update on the soil blocks.  All in all everything went really well.  The blocks themselves were simple to make and the seeds seemed to get a good and quick start.  The potting up to the 2″ block was no big deal either.

So far we’ve been able to transplant everything except the tomatoes.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any peppers up and growing and that was a shame.  Luckily however I was able to pick up two 6 packs of nice organic starts at the Chattanooga Market for $3 apiece.

The basil starts were near perfect along with the kale, collards, and cabbage.  My only concern was for the bok choi and that was due to the fact that I started them too early.  A 2″ soil block is not very much dirt and the bok choi went to seed before I could transplant them.  Also, this relates to my only concern for the tomatoes and that is that they are looking a little yellow and starved for space.  I thought a good 2 month lead time would be perfect, but in reality that’s too long.  I think it won’t be much of a problem because as soon as I can get out and till up last fall’s cover crops the tomatoes will be planted.  It’s rainy the next couple of days here so it will still probably be a week or more before things dry out enough.

Also, one last update…I decided to use fish emulsion every 2 weeks for my starts.  The fish emulsion did seem to kick start things and keep everything green and lush.  I’ve never used the emulsion before and once you get past the rank smell it’s good stuff.  Also, it was dirt cheap at only $5 for a decent sized bottle and I should be able to use it all summer on my tomatoes.  A good product and I recommend it.

More Snow…

May 1, 2010

Snow is a big deal here in the most southeastern point of TN.  We do live on a part of the Appalachians, but still, we’re only at about 1,850′ elevation.  We have so far had snow 5 times.  Our first snow was back in early December, only an inch or so, but that’s really early for us.  Last winter we had no snow whatsoever.  In early January we had 2 minor snows with just a dusting, but then at the end of January we had 5-7″ and it was a mess.  The snow was wet with rain mixed in at times and it created a mini ice disaster.  We lost quite a bit of trees on the mountain and subsequently a lot of electricity.  Fast forward to last night and we’ve now had snow on the ground since Friday.  The temps probably haven’t gotten out of the 30’s lately and we ended up getting more snow last night.  I just talked to Cori and she’s reporting more snow as I write this.  To sum it up, here we were as of last night…

Soil Blocks

May 1, 2010

Here are my seed blocks, more to come when I get the time to post.  The basics are that these are from a mini 20 seed block maker, 3/4″ in size, and this is less than 72 hours after putting the seeds in.  The seeds that have already sprouted are cabbage, top right, kale, top left, and collards, bottom left.  The soil mix is straight Pro-Mix BX with a little added compost from our heap.  The blocks were simple to make and I’m misting them morning and night and adding a clear cover for heat and humidity.  Hard to argue with 72 hr sprouts.  I’ll pot these on to 2″ blocks once I see two leaves on each block.

UPDATE:  I wanted to quickly give my reasoning behind the soil blocks.  Last Spring I purchased a bunch of plastic trays and cell flats and a soilless grow mix.  The intention was to start seeds in the greenhouse, which is now defunct, and transplant almost everything except cucumbers.  Well, it didn’t work out so well for a number of reasons, mostly which were my own fault, but for the transplants that did make it, largely the butternut squash plants, it was an exercise in frustration.   There is essentially no way possible to extract a transplant from a plastic flat.  By way of a lot of cursing and shredding of the plastic flats I finally managed to extract the plants, but the flats were of course a lost cause.

For this season I initially decided to go back to the tried and true Jiffy peat pellets.  I pretty much had decided that 6 of the Jiffy greenhouse 72 peat cell systems would work.  Total cost there was about $30.  My next thought went to where I would move all 432 (hopeful) transplants and I could come up with nothing better than back to the plastic flats I already had.  And of course this would require another few bags of soil mix and the good stuff there is pricey.  I figured up that I would be in $30 for the Jiffy systems and then another $50 for soil mix, for a grand total of $80.  I wasn’t thrilled by this and therefore kept putting it off.

Well, when I was placing my recent Johnny’s order I clicked the link on the soil block makers and started doing some research.  It was quickly evident that this is the preferred method overall and the only real obstruction to doing it was the soil block maker itself.  Some more quick research, using this, and using Johnny’s as a comparison, it looked like the soil block makers would cost me about $60 for the mini 20 3/4″ unit and then the 2″ unit.  Adding to this would of course be the soilless mix and I had already scouted out Pro-Mix which goes for $24 here in Chattanooga.

I eventually decided on ordering the soil blocks with the idea being that it’s probably the best way to start transplants overall and the idea of not fighting with more plastic seemed like a win-win.  Quickly, the whole idea behind a soil block is that it doesn’t create root bound transplants which allows the plant to start growing immediately once placed in the garden.

So fast forward to today and I’ve now started 200 3/4″ soil blocks.  The actual making of the block was simple and they’re holding together well.  Like I said above, the cabbage, kale, and collards sprouted first, and now I have leeks and spinach starting to come up also.  The blocks are as wet today (6 days after starting them) as they were right after I made them.  I’m going to have to create some 2″ blocks to pot-on the cabbage, collards, and kale, and I will probably do that in the next 5 or 6 days.  I don’t expect any hassle out of the 2″ unit.  Also, the 3.8 cu ft bag of Pro-Mix looks like it’s going to be more than enough to start everything that I want to start.  Those first 200 blocks hardly used any soil at all.  I’d say I have probably 95% of the bag left in total.

My only concern now is that the 1.5″ soil blocker might be needed to ease the whole process.  I’m going to deal with just the 3/4″ and 2″ units this year, but I can see myself buying the 1.5″ unit after this season.  The 1.5″ unit won’t accept a 3/4″ block to pot on, and that’s the only reason I didn’t go with it initially.  For tomatoes and pepers, and other plants that must be started 8+ weeks before the last frost, the only real solution is to first use the 3/4″ block and then pot on to the 2″.  This allows for adequate space to grow a decent sized transplant.  However, for most other seeds, everything could be started directly in the 1.5″ block and never be moved.  This would be less hassle overall I think.  We’ll see how well everything does from here and then I’ll decide what to do.  Email me at rphagan3 at gmail dot com with any questions.

New Chickens

May 1, 2010

Here are the new chicks.  I’ll post more info as I get them.  The breeds are 1 french black copper maran, 2 welsummers, 3 rhode island reds, 1 turken (the silliest looking thing ever and Ella’s b-day chicken), and 3 barred rocks (the older and bigger chicks).  My brother in law hatched the Welsummer’s and French Black Copper Maran and decided to be ultra generous.   Here they are…

Snowy Valentine’s Day

May 1, 2010

We woke up this morning to the leftover snow from Friday afternoon coupled with the fresh snow that was falling.  It continued to snow until lunchtime and while there wasn’t much accumulation and it didn’t snow hard, it was still a nice morning to sit and watch it come down.  Our niece and nephew, Mike and Ella Grant, spent the previous night with us so Cori cooked a good breakfast for everyone.  I think everyone was getting a little bored so when Mike suggested we go for a hike at Signal Point it seemed like the right thing to do.

We had a big day planned, but considering it was cold and the snow was wet we figured we wouldn’t be out for more than an hour.  It probably took us longer to get everyone dressed than it did for the actual hike, but I think Mike nailed it, a little hike was perfect.  So here we were early this afternoon on the first big overlook on the Signal Point trail…

As you can see, Hank made it and had to be right in the middle of everything.  From left to right are Charlie, niece Ella, Hank, Cori, Kit, and nephew Mike III.

Our big plans for the day centered around picking up the chicken we promised Ella for her birthday along with a few others for our new flock.  More to come later…