This post is a bit “Dear Diary”. Sorry, there is a lot to squeeze in. It has been a busy month, much of it spent kid- and chicken-wrangling and wasting time installing crown molding, Geocaching and searching for the Emerald City Search medallion (tune back in Oct 21st). Now that I have my life back …
This month’s Urban Farm Handbook challenge theme is gardening:
- The Seed Starting Challenge- Erica Strauss, NW Edible: start a new variety of seed
Last year I charted a seed starting spreadsheet to outline when I needed to start things.
Even though I’m way off ‘schedule’, I have been transplanting seedlings much earlier, just after the first cotyledons appear. I think the spreadsheet will help me more in the summer, when planning for winter crops, which I started too late last year.
I have expanded my seed starting to include more perennials, obtained from unusual seeds provided by the HPSW’s seed exchange. This year I’m trying Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandalff’ successfully, and gosh, way too many things unsuccessfully. It is probably due to older seed.
Plant at least 1/2 of the entire seed packet in a 4″ pot instead of just one or two seeds in several small pots. It just wastes your time to make many labels, and keep the pots together when watering or moving outside. Additionally, if something needs a cold-period, or many months to germinate, it is much easier to track one pot.
- The Natural Pest Prevention challenge- Colin McCrate, Seattle Urban Farm Co-op
Our biggest pests are
the kidscutworms and birds. For several years, I’ve been finding a lot of these nasties, but only just connected what the pupa looked like to the cutworm. I have since discovered that they make tasty chicken-treats! I tend not to cover my crops and let the critters have what they will, but last summer was my first chicken-season, so I am starting to install new movable fencing and hope to construct a couple of chicken tractors soon.
- The Trellis challenge- Willi Galloway, Diggin Food: support a climber
I hadn’t intended on building any trellising this year, but I happened to be dumpster diving at the Center for Urban Horticulture and found some lovely green willow. Our HPSW group made some pretty patterned willow wattle panels at the NW Flower and Garden Show, so I made some hurdles for my peas.
- The Chicken Gardens challenge- Jessi Bloom: find alternate sources for chicken food.I’m a little ambivalent about feeding my chickens kitchen scraps since the diagnosis of Fatty Liver Disease (which was fatal) in our favorite chicken. Our chickens don’t eat the dandelions I toss into the run (but then again they’re mainly free range, so perhaps they’re picky eaters), and they love to eat worms when I till or weed a new bed. Our chickens loved the sunflowers I grew last year, but I think it would take a lot of them to make a serious crop … hmm, that bed on the south side of the house that I want the chickens to till? A good place for sunflowers.
- The Be Lazy challenge- Annette Cottrell, Sustainable Eats
This one is the hardest … I rarely have lazy time.