East Sac Edible


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Seedling and Garden Updates

DSC_0725 DSC_0726DSC_0732 DSC_0733 DSC_0734A few weeks ago, my seed starting operation was in full swing and I was at a tipping point of having too many seedlings and nowhere to put them! I have a heat mat which can hold four trays of seeds. Each tray can hold 8 six-packs of seeds although I only use space for 7 for easier watering access. I start fast growing things such as lettuces, spinach, kales in six-packs. I start bigger plants in larger containers mainly because I want to do as little up-potting as I can before the plants go out in the ground.

At the beginning of March, my problem was that I have three trays on my grow light system and it was filled to the max. This means I had to do a lot of shuffling around when my newly sprouted seeds come indoors to the grow lights. My top tray is for seedlings in their first week of life and as the plants grow bigger they get kicked down to the medium tray and finally to the bottom tray. I have rigged the lights on each level at various heights. Now the problem lies with the lowest tray which has the tallest plants. These plants look big enough to be transplanted outside but one always worries about the impending last frost (that may or may not happen). So a few plants are now bravely outside.

DSC_0735Last weekend, I finally got out and added some plants into the ground. I first sifted my large compost pile and dug big holes into the ground. I put in a huge bucketful of my compost into each hole, added egg shell powder and some E.B. Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food into each hole. DSC_0723DSC_0740DSC_0741DSC_0742DSC_0743DSC_0744DSC_0745DSC_0746

After preparing the soil, I planted some tomatoes. My front yard has a little strip of land between my driveway and my neighbor’s. This would normally would be non-productive grass but I converted the space to be one of my main tomato beds. Amongst the lavender and fruit trees I planted 5 tomato plants. I used one of my raised beds in my backyard for the rest of the tomatoes.

Here are the varieties of tomatoes I have in the ground so far:

  • Hillbilly
  • Fox Cherry
  • John Baer
  • Better Bush
  • Moonglow
  • Persimmon (2)
  • Big Boy
  • German Pink
  • beefsteak
  • Black Krim

I interplanted tomatoes with basil, borage and nasturtiums. I am really hopeful that this year is my year for tomatoes since last year was so pathetic. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress. Wish me luck!

Here are a few photos from my garden today:

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I haven’t been good about my garden tally lately but February was a one-veggie-harvest. All I harvested was kale! I have been eating about 4 cups of kale a day in my delicious kale caesar salad which has completely stripped my Lacinato plant bare. I had to give it a rest and let it grow a bit so it was the first month I actually had to BUY kale. All to feed my kale habit. March added lettuces and strawberries to the harvest. I’m looking forward to my upcoming harvests!

 

 

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Seed Saving: Lacinato Kale Part 2

I went into the garden this evening to do a few things here and there… add a bucket of compost in some of the beds here… train up my cucumber on the trellis over there. Sometimes there are things in the garden that you just keep putting off. You really should get to it but you just can’t get around to it. Well awhile ago I posted about saving my Lacinato Kale seed but the thing is I only did a little seed saving and I left the monster plant with thousands of seeds in the garden. The other day when I was in the garden I noticed small seeds all over my path so I knew I needed to tackle the rest of this task. Well today was the day and after an hour in the garden the monster is gone! DSC_1658 DSC_1660

First I started by pulling up the plant. Then I cut smaller branches off so it would fit into a 5 gallon bucket. In the bucket I scrunched up the seed pods with my hands, releasing the seeds into the bottom of the bucket. I took the bigger pieces of seed pods and put those into the compost. Then I grabbed a small pan and my compost sifter. DSC_1661

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The first pass through the compost sifter really helped separate the bigger remnants of the seed pods but the holes in the compost sifter were still too large. I passed the seeds through the compost sifter one more time before using a mesh with smaller holes. I then folded my mesh in half to make even smaller holes for the seeds to pass. I hope I can make some screens in the future to help me with the winnowing process! DSC_1665 DSC_1667 DSC_1668 DSC_1669

Almost all the bigger pieces were sifted out of the seeds. The rest of the debris I separated by a combination of blowing, using a fan and gravity to separate the seeds and chaff. We don’t have electric fan which would have made this job much easier so we used the low tech method. DSC_1671 DSC_1672

I wasn’t able to get all of the debris away from the seeds but it still was pretty good. Look at how many seeds I saved! That is a half pint jam jar almost full of seeds! I have so many that I will have to give a lot away! DSC_1677 DSC_1680