Saturday, January 17, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I started a little project in a "dead zone" of my new garden. The soil wasn't great, and a gigantic mulberry tree shades this 10 X 12 area most of the day during growing season.
I decided last year to throw my extra leaves etc. on a pile and just let it compost itself. This spring, I had need for some compost so I scraped some of the composted material up and put it into my wheelbarrow. There were big "fish worms" all over the place. It was then that I thought of digging a "compost trench - spade wide by spade deep. Then ever few days take the kitchen potato peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, vegey cutoffs, onion skins etc. out to the trench; throw it in and fill that small area with dirt from the trench making. A few weeks later when I was laying down another trench -about 5 foot long and 10 inches wide by 8 inches deep - I accidentally dug into "last weeks" trench beside it. The worms were rampant!
Now - here it is, January 14, in zone 7,(Arbor Day Hardiness Map) and I am still dumping vegetable garbage in those trenches. Hopefully, we will get a little moisture before spring to help things along and keep the worms happy. If it starts to get dry, I will wet the area down a little. The soil should be rejuvenated too.
I will borrow from this area and replace for an additive to my potted plant mix. And, I should have a ton of fish worms for what ever reason. (There is a small lake just 2 blocks away that is kept well stocked with Catfish.) Now, I'm afraid to chop down that mulberry tree. What will happen to my worms and my compost endevors? Next I plan to add a little scoopful of store-bought cattle manure whenever I add the kitchen scraps. I understand worms love it! Hope it works for you folks.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
And I can kill several stones at one time. Test the Greenhouse. Test the growth slowing properties of alcohol on tomato seedlings, and if they survive; perhaps have a bunch of tomato plants to plunk in my garden come springtime! And you can watch me succeed with this little experiment, or watch me fall on my kyster. [What language is that word anyway??]
Mainly, with this "growing machine", I can start seedlings - outside - in a semi-protected environment. A garage, non-heated shed, or barn. At little cost. Later the plants can be trans-
fered to a cold-bed in early spring when they start outgrowing the Mini-Greenhouse. At the present time, I am using 4 regular 60 watt bulbs for growing lights, and 4 - 60 watt bulbs for heat. I could replace this with a small electric heater but we shall see. Or increase the bulb wattage. Or, if the electricity goes out and I can still heat water, the heat chamber is made to accommodate several milk jugs, 2 liter bottles etc. containing hot water.
[Last winter I tested this out in an non-heated garage, in a cardboard box with baby tomatoes inside. The box was given extra insulation with a couple bath towels draped over. The sloped front has a simple clear plastic covering to allow sunlight to enter when it's set outside. The box retained enough heat (40 degrees) from the hot water bottles to keep the small plants alive for at least 1o hours or over night. Then a new set of 6 water bottles replaced the cooled ones. I carried the box out to the picnic table on sunny days so the baby tomatoes could catch some rays. Sometimes it was less than 30 degrees outside. That's part of that story. The rest may come later if there is enough interest. "A Cardboard Greenhouse" - anyone can build -for nothing.]
Back to the Mini-Greenhouse Experiment. At this point the heat lights are on a timer but I am working on a thermostat control. I hope to write about the results as the winter wears on here in zone 7. [see new /Arbor Day Hardiness Map upgraded for your zone]. The present temperature is 36 degrees at 10:22PM. with a predicted low of 21 degrees - Wind chill 11 degrees -Fahrenheit.
Below is a picture of the little tomatoes as of today:
The tomato plants on the right half of the picture were watered with plain tap water 7 days ago.
The tomato plants on the left half of the picture were watered with 5% alcohol mix. These also have Red toothpicks inserted to identify them. The regular watered plants have blue toothpicks.
Can you see the difference? In about a week, if they grow and prosper, I will make a statistical analyses of the average height on the left as opposed to the average height on the right. I love experimenting with plants. If you do too, you might suggest some experiments we could try together and prepare notes.
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