Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Seed Sowing, Seed Sharing, Chicks + Carl

The GRGers met this week to thwart sub-zero temps by trading seeds and discussing the coming growing season. Debbie is clearly one of the weak-for-seeds brigade. 

Check out her fine selection here, along with two tiny determinate tomato starts she gifted us with (we've never grown one--this will be fun), along with a pound cake (mmm). Up for sharing were long beans, melons, and myriad tomatoes.

While I made tea, she got to work sorting seeds while Bruce revealed his priorities by focusing on pound cake.

During our meet, Debbie told me about winter sowing. Can't believe I'd never heard of this technique, which mimics the action of the hearty volunteer seeds that come up in an in-ground garden each spring.  For winter sowing, you plant cold-hearty seeds in a punctured covered container and set it outside, venting when the sun starts warming up the soil. Like planting in a cold frame or under a cloche, it makes good sense.

She pointed me to for the basics and I gathered some seeds we harvested last year and also some left over from the past several years.

Using the ubiquitous Earthbound Farm baby spinach containers (these are from years ago--I'd guess they never decompose), I put drain holes in the bottom and filled with a mix of moistened coir and compost we brought in last fall. Then I planted arugula, kale, mustard, tatsoi, baby bok choy, and beets.

Sprinkled with water, put on the covers, and used a carpet knife to cut air vents in the top.

Now they're in the backyard, ready for whatever mother nature brings.  We'll crack them open to get some air when it warms up. And keep you posted on the outcome.

One reason I thought this would be fun is that Bruce is starting our cool-weather greens indoors today, under lights and in controlled warmth. The winter-sown seeds won't be ready in the four weeks his will be, but they should provide a succession of seedings for the roof and in-ground garden.
I walked to Bruce's today to drop off some chard seeds and visit his menagerie. Can you see Carl peeking over the chicken brooder? He gets a little jealous when a visitor's attention is drawn to peeping cheeping bits of fluff. It's fun to see their adult feathers emerging.

Bruce encouraged me to take a palm-full of feed and set my hand into the brooder. The chicks hopped right up--they're becoming nicely acclimated.

Carl is growing too. His paws seem a lot larger now that just a week ago. He's very smart, knowing when he's being naughty with his needle-sharp teeth but barely able to control his puppy self. Bruce is bringing a lot of tough love, a good thing since Carl may one day outweigh me.

Pasty butt--click for all the action. When a rear end dries out and plugs up, hands-on help is required.

Cheeping heartily during the procedure...

...and patiently getting dried off.

Carl loves the space heater that runs alongside the brooder.

I'm king of mountain (click to enlarge). Only in Chicago would 40 degrees F feel like spring.

1 comment:

Neeli said...

What a great idea (and now outcome!) I'm going to file this one away. I've been saving veg containers to make some mini SIP for herbs.