Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seed Starting

   Sorry it has been a while since my last post.  I think I am going through seasonal affective disorder.  Are you as sick of winter as I. am?  I'm a bit jealous of those folks down south who can be outside tending their gardens.  I have been browsing seed catalogs for almost three months now and have made all my orders.  Some of them haven't come in yet as they were trees and bushes and they would probably not make it till frost scare is gone.
     Though this winter has been long here in MN it has not gone without homestead gardening work.  These long winters give us northern gardeners a LONG time to plan what they will plant and where they will plant it.  I read a book last winter called Carrots Love Tomatoes and it gave me a TON of great information on companion planting.  I will have a better idea on what to plant together as some plants perform better when they have a companion.  Some also do worse if they have the wrong plant planted next to them.  I'm not going to go into what goes with what in this blog but if I have peaked your interest check the book out.
     Today I started two flats full of tomatoes and peppers.  I have ten varieties of peppers and five of tomatoes.  I have 4 more flats to start but the potting soil that was in my garage all winter is FROZEN on the bottom.  Tomorrow it should be thawed out enough to finish the rest.  I have broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and artichoke-that one is an experiment, to finish staring.  These plants I will be starting will make up about 30% of my garden for this year as I have popcorn, melons(5 varieties), beans, cucumber, carrot, parsnip, and peas to directly sow into the soil.  I also plan on planting small grains as another experiment.  These consist of flax, 2 varieties of wheat, and amaranth.  Oh yeah before I forget I'm planting some forage crops this year too.  I hope to fence off a few different areas in my yard to plant crimson clover and hairy vetch.  These are cover crops that pull nitrogen out of the air and (fix) it to their roots.  I want to have maybe 3 different fenced off areas of these plants to use as chicken food.  Apparently chickens love the same forage crops that bovine animals and deer love.  This will maybe save me some money on chicken feed, and a bit of work.  I will let the birds in on maybe one section a week and rotate them so they don't eat everything to the ground. Can you say sustainability??  The fencing may cost a bit at first but if I purchase quality stuff it should last almost a lifetime.
     Yeah, spring could be a busy time for me as I have to do all the initial tilling on my land and lots of perennial planting also.  I'm experimenting with blueberries and goji berries this year as well.  My first born daughter will be joining our family around April 1, so I may have a bit of non-gardening work to do as well.  I never meant for this blog to be just about gardening but this time of year its all I think about.  Having a daughter on the way has put everything in perspective for me too.  I want to build a property that can give back to us as we take care of it.  If I don't have any kind of monetary inheritance for her, a food forest might even provide more than money can buy.  Her name is Lily........I like flowers too!!

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