2 acre farm: January 2010

2 acre farm

The experiences, trials, and lives on a small farm in rural Illinois.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cozy Cold Frame

It has been dropping into the teens at night still but it is time to start hardening off the onions and making room for new seedlings under the lights, time to put the cold frames to the test. I put the onions out in the afternoon when the cold frames would be at their warmest. I let them get one hour of light and then covered with a doubled up sheet. I will keep adding an hour a day to their light regiment for four days then they are on their own. I think I will keep pinning the sheet down at night though as long as it stays this cold to hold in the heat. It has been three days now since I moved them out and they look good (pictures are from today).
I also seeded fifty pepper plants which include thirty King of the North's, ten Shishito, and ten unknown jumbo pepper seed passed along from my dad. All of the peppers are bells but the Shishito is supposed to have a spice to it. It was a freebie from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (they are good for that) and the description reads:

"A favorite old Japanese variety which produces 3" long, slightly wrinkled fruit that are perfect for making tempura and other traditional recipes. Fruit is emerald green color, mildly flavored with a just bit of spice; it really is superb. It is the standard with many chefs."

I also seeded a flat of celery 'broadcast' style. The variety of celery is Tall Utah which is a standard in the celery biz from what I gather and since I am new to celery I like the idea of going with a proven variety.
Next up is everything else that gets seeded inside: tomatoes, asparagus, ground cherries, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other things I am forgetting I am sure. Although I may start the asparagus before all that so I can harden them off and make room for the mass planting since the asparagus won’t get harvested this year anyhow and the timing is less critical.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

First Green of The Year!

Only nine days later and the onions are up! They actually started emerging about three days ago but I wanted them to be photosynthesizing for the big picture day (they look less pretty when they are white stemmed).

Right now they are growing away under the fluorescent lights but they can’t stay there forever. I have limited light space and they need to be hardened off anyhow. There is still space for one more flat which will contain celery and peppers but once the end of February arrives and the big planting goes in the onions will have to move out to the cold frames and start toughening up for the real world. Shortly after that when hard freezes are a thing of the past in about late March they will get moved to the garden. For now they get to hang out in the comfortable basement under the forgiving glow of the fluorescent tubes.

Everything starts moving fast this time of year when you start your own seedlings. It is still mid winter and the garden is already growing.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

16 Weeks and Counting

Today was the first day of planting! It really feels good to touch soil and open seed packs. I can hardly wait for spring but I suppose I don't have much choice. Nobody ever ask me when spring should arrive.

I planted three varieties of onion which are Mustang F1 Hybrid, Red Wing F1 Hybrid, and Evergreen Hardy Bunching onions. I tried to order more heirlooms and open pollinated vegetables this year but I am new to growing onion from seed so I decided to put the odds in my favor by using hybrids. I don't have anything against hybrids in fact there are many I love but I do like the idea of supporting traditional vegetables when they are productive and disease resistant enough for my needs.

I planted them in flat trays in a 'broadcast' fashion. I have them under two sets of fluorescent tubes and underneath I have two heat lamps to warm the soil. Now it is time to wait two weeks and see what happens. Hopefully I can report back with pictures of seedlings.

At the end of the month I will also be sowing celery and peppers. Then at the end of February I will plant the biggest crop to be started indoors which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, ground cherries, and asparagus. The title refers to the last day of frost. For my area it is May first which means on Saturday it will be sixteen weeks away. Hopefully by then I will already have potatoes, onions, and many greens in the ground.

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