Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Making plans and actually doing some work

Lately I’ve spent more time making plans than doing real work.  There’s not much choice, the weather just hasn’t been conducive to outdoor work.  At this point several seedings of radishes should be in the ground and the first set of cole crops in the greenhouse bed, but they're not.

Tuesday the weather was decent enough to get outside and turn over the soil in the beds that will be planted this month.  Two 4’x8’ beds will be planted in about 10 days with the onion seedlings that are in the mobile greenhouse right now.  These beds will also get some parsnips, carrots and beans.  These were the first two beds I built in 2008 and rebuilt last fall.  After 5 years of adding compost the soil in these beds is easy to turn over with a shovel.  I’ll let it rest for a week then hoe and rake before planting the onions.  I took a picture this morning after a light dusting of snow overnight.     

Last year I tried seeding some fall green manure mix in the bed that will get brassicas (cabbage family) this year.  The mix of grasses and legumes grew up thick and some of it winterkilled but a thick mat of vegetation overwintered.  After an hour and a half shoveling into a thick mat of roots and attempting to turn the chunks over I’m thinking I don’t like the green manure approach much.  I did notice that this bed has a healthy population of earthworms. In a week I’ll turn this over again with a shovel to break up the roots a little more, then hoe and rake it.  The soil won’t have to be superfine since all of the bed will be planted with brassica seedlings not seeds. 

The cool March weather has set everything behind schedule.  There’s a set of brassica seedlings that are nearly 4 weeks old and ready to go out into the bed with the plastic greenhouse over it.  It’s not much, two broccoli, a tatsoi, a cabbage and some kohlrabi.  Wednesday will be very cool, about 15 degrees below normal.  I’m hoping to get them into the bed on Thursday when the weather warms up.     

The new four light system looks like a success.  The addition of two more bulbs was discussed in an earlier post:  Lights, action. . .   The light fixture now has two GroLux bulbs and two 8000K bulbs.  Until a few days ago the onions were inside under the lights.  In order to fit the onions all the trays were set crossways under the lights and the lights raised to illuminate all the seedlings.  The light timer was set on a cycle to match sunrise and sunset, about 12 hours so the onions wouldn't be exposed to long day conditions yet.  Even in those less than ideal light conditions the brassicas are still stockier and leafier than they were in years past.   Now that the onions have been set into the cold frame the lights over the seedlings in the remaining two trays have been lowered just over the seedlings and the timer set to a 14 hour cycle.  I’m anxious to see how well the seedlings grow under these conditions.

Next post:  the plan.

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