A few weeks back we promised an overview of how we start seeds. Here it is!
We start almost everything we grow from seed, and we plant those seeds in trays. (Exceptions: We plant carrot and radish seeds directly in the ground, not trays, and we plant garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and some onions from cloves/seed potatoes/slips/sets that we purchase.)
We currently mix up our own potting mix consisting of high quality compost, peat moss, perlite, an organic fertilizer blend, and one secret ingredient.
We think this organic fertilizer is really important because it helps create a healthy plant, versus a plant that is simply accustomed to chemical fertilizer. (The chemical fertilizer kills the biology in the soil, and is water soluble, resulting in four things: The plant has no biological source of health, what’s not killed and therefore remains is salt [not great for plants], and water soluble means the synthetic fertilizer runs out of the soil when watered and is therefore no longer present for the plant to feed on. The fourth and final result is that with an environment of just salt (after the biology is killed and the chemical fertilizer has drained out) the only choice in this line of thinking is to feed it more chemical fertilizer.
Secret ingredient? We also add a mycorrhizal inoculant to the potting mix.
Research has shown that plants and fungi work together to allow the plant to be stronger, and specifically able to take in more nutrients and water (as opposed to plants growing without the fungi present in the soil). This is particularly relevant for our climate, with our hot, dry summers. We need add only a small amount of the inoculant to the potting mix. It grows, and then continues to grow once the plant is transplanted into the ground. (This is a sales pitch for why we think our transplants are great for you to purchase for your garden.)
In past years we have used plastic trays for all of our seeding. We’re continuing to use some of these trays this year, especially for the plants that we make available to you for purchasing as starts for your garden. (Details below.)
We’re using a new method this year for seeds we’re using for transplanting here: Soil Blocks. This crazy contraption forms the soil-block shape:
A seed or seeds go into each little divet. To hold them, we fashioned these wooden trays out of scrap wood.
We’re trying this method because it allows for a plant that is even more ready at transplanting time. There is less shock when it arrives in its new home in the ground, as the roots haven’t gotten use to being in a container.
Within the next three weeks, we will have starts available for sale. Cabbage, Chard, Collards, Lettuce, Kale, Kohlrabi. They will be for sale via this ordering system, and we will begin vending at the South of the James market as soon as they are available.
Harvest available for Market Share customers this week includes:
Baby Turnip Greens, Baby Kale, Cilantro, Claytonia (a tender and tasty little salad green), Eggs, Mustard, Salad Mix, Spinach…and Multigrain Bread, Pepper Jelly (mild, medium, and hot).
Order your selection through our Online Store!
– Enter our store here. (If you want to set/reset your password, click on ‘set password.’)
– For complete details on how our sign-up and order system works, see the Feb 18th newsletter.
And 2 local events that we think deserve attention:
** TODAY the Senate is voting on the bill that will fund programs through the rest of 2013. Two riders have been slipped in that harm small family farms – one of which removes courts authority to review new GMO products before they are released on the market. We think this is a really bad thing and hope that you agree. Luckily Senator Tester has introduced two amendments that would remove these riders. But our Senators have to know we want them to vote for these amendments. Please call right now:
The message is simple and it’s easy to share your opinion. Call the numbers, press 1 for the option to leave a voice mail message stating your thoughts, such as:
“Please tell the Senator to vote for two amendments to the Continuing Resolution introduced by Senator Jon Tester of Montana that protect family farmers from abuses by the meat industry and support review of biotechnology products. These two amendments will stand up for family farmers, ensure that independent producers have a fair chance in the livestock market, and ensure that courts can review biotechnology products.”
** The application for a landfill amendment to accept potentially hazardous material one mile from our farm continues to warrant signatures on the petition opposing it. Please see the new website and new petition page. (I don’t understand why it’s a new petition page, but I hear that if you signed on the previous one, you should now sign on this one.) We are concerned about the threat to water and air quality, including harm to the pollinators that we depend upon to grow your vegetables. (See previous post with more info here.