Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Transplanting Seedlings and Local Conditions

The time came to transplant some of our seedlings so I set to work with 2 hours of uninterrupted time yesterday when the three younger kids were at Art class.  The new little plants just weren't thriving ~ they seemed to be struggling to hold their own.  I wonder if they are getting too hot in our sunny window?  As our temperatures have skyrocketed, that bright window actually gets HOT by midday.  Some of the first leaves were a little dried up and crispy but the first true leaves were okay.  I'll keep a closer eye on that in the coming days and adjust the window shades accordingly at midday.

I am nearly out of plastic pots, so I'll have to see if I can source some on freecycle this week.  I picked the strongest of the seedlings to transplant, tossing the weak and weary looking ones into the compost.  That is a very hard thing for me to do as my nature is to keep every lame, struggling plant and give it lots of TLC to help it along.  Is anyone else like that?  It's a tough urge to resist :)   The seedlings will stay indoors for a while yet, as we are still getting hard frost most nights out here in the country.  Daytime temperatures are lovely and warm, with lots of sunshine, however!

The seeds that I planted in the cold frames a week ago are finally starting to pop up!   I'll be succession sowing some more of them to ensure a steady supply of greens until the main garden is producing.  I'm so eager to taste a lovely tender salad made from homegrown greens ~ what a treat compared to what is available in the stores all winter.  Once we have our south facing greenhouse built, I'm hoping to be harvesting greens from it right up until December and as early as March.  A girl can dream :)

Kelly is busy putting together some portable hoop houses for me (more on those in a few days) so that I can get the many seedling trays outside and take back our living room :)   The hoop houses will do nicely to extend the growing season into the fall as well, perhaps allowing us to leave tomatoes on the vine a little longer without the threat of frost and heavy dew causing mildew.   I've just realized (literally, right now) this means I need to plant the tomatoes strategically to accommodate fitting the hoop houses overtop them.... hmmmmm....   back to the plot plan...

Most of our fruit trees and berry canes are confirmed "Alive" which thrills me to no end!  I was worried about that as our winter was exceptionally cold, much snowier and considerably longer than usual.   I was fretting about losing the investment (and also the years growth) not to mention the gruelling hard work of planting!  The soil around them is at last drying out and as weeds and grass are already growing rapidly at the bases, this proves the richness of the loamy soil around their little trunks.  When we planted the trees, we used some incredible soil that was dug from the bottom of an old dried up pond.  What a find!  It was very nutrient rich and incredibly loamy - absolutely perfect soil in every way.  Oh, to have a load of that soil again.  As you can see, I MUST get that grass pulled from under those trees as soon as I can or it will spell trouble for those young fruit trees.

A thought on my mind about current local conditions...  We have massive (and in some cases catastrophic) flooding here in agricultural fields and pastures as a result of the melt of our heavy winter snowfall.  We've not had trouble on our property with standing water (other than some near the fruit trees for a few days), but certainly in many fields, the flooding is significant.  It actually looks like we have a lake across our country road (the land is an agricultural field).  I am told that planting canola (a main agricultural crop here) is now not possible for many farmers due to these conditions persisting so late into Spring.

It occurred to me today, that *maybe* the use of chemical fertilizers has contributed indirectly to the flooding.  Generally speaking, most "conventional"/modern day farmers here use these substances instead of amending the land with manure and tilling in fall crops to add fertility to the soil.  While these chemicals may add manufactured nutrients (chemically) to the land, they do nothing to improve the condition and texture of the soil which therefore improves the water retention of said soil.  I've seen myself how amended soil absorbs water like a sponge whereas depleted soil does not have that capability - the water runs off or stands on top.  We actually receive less snow now than we did a generation ago, so I'm not sure that the amount of snow is the true big picture problem.  I'm guessing (and it is only a guess) that the soil is simply not able to absorb the water because it had lost it's ability to do so effectively.  I am curious about my unscientific and uneducated conclusion.  Again, I am not a farmer, nor am I schooled in this field.  This is simply my thought upon observation as a lowly organic home gardener. Thoughts?

Off to enjoy a homemade blueberry muffin.  They never last long, so I'll enjoy it with a strong cup of coffee while I can :)

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