Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Season Starts

We have started the earliest of the early transplants for the 2011 growing season.

It felt good to get my hands in some unfrozen soil. Ah...

We have to sift everything that goes into the soil blocks so there's no lumps.
We used a new method to start our seeds, soil blocks, and we our growing them in a brand new wood heated greenhouse that Scott built.

The plastic curtain keeps the side with the starts extra warm.
This is good stuff.

The soil blocks are a wonderful time and money saver because they eliminate the need for us to order and store a million peat pots and to spend time filling said peat pots with soil.

First we make mini blocks from a mixture of peat, worm castings (aka worm poop) and perlite with a bit of wood ash, bone meal, and kelp meal to balance the pH and add nutrients.

We start one seed per block.

When the seeds germinate the mini blocks are potted up into larger blocks, where they grow until they are ready to be transplanted into the ground.

The act of seed starting is now somewhere between playing with playdough and building a sugar cube castle. In other words, it is awesome. An excellent way to start the season.

We've started around 1500 seeds so far. Mostly tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants but also basil and parsley as well as sorrel.

Most of the starts are destined for the hoophouse. They will be transplanted into the house early May so that we can maximize our season for these heat loving vegetables. We'll also grow some of the shorter season varieties outside but, with our unpredictable summer weather, the only way to be sure of harvesting tomatoes in the U.P. is to grow them under plastic (or glass if you're fancy)

The hoophouse in winter.
Views in the hoophouse during the growing season. Soon.

The plants that won't be going in the hoophouse are the sorrel, which can go out in the field in the very early spring, and the parsley, which we start early because it will take forever to germinate and can also handle chilly spring soil.

Life is good!