Sunday, February 27, 2011

They're Getting Bigger...

Part of our daily routine during this part of the year, is to take care of our seedlings. Most of them need to be watered every day, and as they get bigger we will need to thin some of them out. In our first entry about planting seeds we talked about planting several seeds in each plug to ensure we get good germination. Sometimes we get GREAT germination, and we have to pinch off some of the plants so that the ones we keep will grow bigger and stronger.
As they get bigger, we gently run our hands along them to help strengthen the stems. This simulates the breeze they would be resisting if they were outdoors, the resistance is what triggers them to thicken their stems. Some people set up oscillating fans for this which works really well too.
Our seedlings have grown quite a bit since our last entry. And our grow room is getting super full.



Red Russian Kale

Siberian Dwarf Kale


It won't be too much longer till we get these little guys in the ground!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jack and the Baby Goat

Jack, my nephew, spends 3 days a week at the farm. With his mom in Annapolis for business, he spent the night with Pa and Gramma last night. This morning, Gramma and I decided it would be fun to take Jack to see Abby's newest addition to her goat family.
If you remember, she had her four Nigerian Dwarf goats bred last fall and one of them gave birth this week! All baby animals are cute, but baby goats have to be some of the cutest. Jack had a really good time meeting all the goats, but he loved the baby the most (of course).
Clearly Stardust had to say hi first, she leaned out to take a good look at him and he waved and called out "HIIII!"
She was very curious about him, she took a little sniff and lick right away. He asked, "bite?" We assured him she wouldn't bite him and from then on he was very comfortable around them.
Then Abby brought out the baby. He was practically shaking out of excitement. (Please note the cable-knit sweater the baby is wearing, it fits perfectly - Abby is so good at knitting!)

It wasn't long before Jack asked to go inside the barn. Here he is pointing to the hair on Stardust's head and saying "brown hair".
He had a lot of fun chasing them back and forth in the barn. They appeared to be having fun! They were all very gentile with him.

Stardust followed Jack around the whole time. She kept trying to give him kisses and maybe nibble a little on his hat.

I imagine this is what it looks like from Jack's point of view.

Back to the baby - this time he wanted to hold her. We put him in the stall with Abby and the mom and baby.

What is cuter than a small child holding a baby animal? A small child kissing a baby animal:

When it was time to go it was really hard to say goodbye to that little face!

Stardust didn't want us to leave either.
We had a great time at Folktale Farm, we'll have to bring Jack and his sister, Mia, back when the rest of the babies are born.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

At least it feels like spring somewhere.... the grow-room! Just 3 days after planting, we have some sprouts: kohlrabi, kale, and cabbage.




Jaxxy is very excited about the seedlings.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Starting the Season

Yesterday was such a beautiful day to officially start off the season. It was sunny and by mid-day it was just above 40 degrees! After so much freezing cold weather, it actually felt really warm. We cleaned out the "grow-room" (where we start all our seeds under lights) to prepare for the 35 flats we needed to plant.
We got most of our seeds in the mail a week or two ago (yay!) and organized them in groups: greens, roots, beans, nightshade family, brassica family, etc. A lot of Fedco seeds come in paper packets, so we store the packets in plastic bags to keep them from getting wet. Storing them in groups makes it a lot easier to find the seeds we need when its time to plant.

After we cleaned out the grow-room, we were ready to get started. We decided to work in the high-tunnel since it was 80 degrees inside - with the sun shining through it almost felt like summer. First, we mixed up a batch of potting soil. We make our own because, for the quantity we use, its much cheaper than bagged potting mixes. Plus, we know exactly what goes into it and exactly how much. The bulk of it is compost, peat moss, and perlite. We also add some amendments for balanced nutrients.
Once the potting soil is mixed, we get it wet. If you fill the flats with dry soil, seed them and then try to water them, the seeds will float to the top and the soil compacts and shrinks. It's not good.
We fill the flats with the moist soil and then carefully place seeds into each plug. For most things, we use plug trays that hold 72 plugs. This one was ready to be planted with red cabbage. We poke a shallow hole in each plug, put 2 - 3 seeds in the center, and cover them up.
Its important to put more than one seed per plug because not every seed is going to germinate. It saves a lot of time to double up rather than having to go back and re-seed the empty plugs.
Abby and Daniel stopped by to help out - this is Abby seeding some kohlrabi:
We ended up planting cabbage, kale, celery, onions, leeks, kohlrabi, parsley, mint, sage, lemon balm, rosemary, chives, and thyme. The veggies will go in the ground in March and the herbs will be sold at plant sales, the Go Local Fair, and the first few farmers markets. Now if spring could just hurry up and get here!