Thursday, February 16, 2012

driving into lettuce

Friday Driving might be a new thing here at Cold Antler. Heading to Patty's Farm to hitch up with Steel again and hopefully have some amazing photos to share. After we're done working her Perch we plan to come back to CAF to work with Jasper. It takes two people to get him started ground driving (one leading at the halter, one with the lines behind him) and hopefully the training will go well. As much fun as it is to learn the ropes with Steel, it will be a lot more gratifying getting my own boy back in harness. We'll also measure him for a proper collar, a better tool for his farm work than his light breast harness.

I've got salad on my mind. This mild winter is going to have me getting my thumb greener earlier than usual. I bought one of those 4-shelf bookcase style "greenhouses" on sale for 19.99 at the farm store and two bags of garden soil. I have some pretty shifty plans to make some seed starters and try to get some super-early greens going on the south side of the house. It's plan A in an A-D plan of sneaking in gardening before I have any business doing so outdoors.

Plan A: Try this little cheap greenhouse out, start some seeds in it on the south side of the house.
Plan B: Set up a South-Sider from Convertible Greenhouses to expand the operation.
Plan C: Once the meat birds are done with their hay coop, fill that somebitch with garden soil, cover it with windows, and turn the entire once-chicken coop into a giant cold frame. Hello KALE!
Plan D: Start the new garden outside behind the barn. Scare deer with fences of glory.


Blogger Jamie said...

I was hoping to get outside myself this weekend and build some garden beds. I want to have enough time to redo if I'm not happy with my first attempts. I'm curious to see how the bookshelf works for you.

February 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 16, 2012 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger windhaven farm said...

I just bought myself 3 packets of zinnias to start... after I passed up the little greenhouse like you got! I never have good luck with starting seeds inside because of kitties and dark house and all that, but EVERY stinking year I feel the need to try... AGain... haha... you've got me thinking I need to do some veggies too.... haha... oh, always hoping to get my garden in sooner than I do!!!

February 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Victoria Nidetch said...

I am so looking at seed books to see what I can plant this spring.

February 16, 2012 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yay! Vegetable farming! The soil warmers are heating up the soil, the T5 fluorescents are serving as even as we speak!

Hopefully, tomorrow morning the seed starting begins, including Kale!

February 16, 2012 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I just received my seeds from one of your sponsors (Annie's Heirloom Seeds) today - ordered them Sunday! I mentioned your website on my order, maybe that helped on the unbelievably quick delivery.

Here is something for you to consider for starting your seeds.

I took 3/4" PVC (or whatever the water pipe version is called) and cut it into 1 1/2" pieces. I fill these with my homemade compost and a seed. I bundle them in groups of 5 with rubber bands so it's easier/quicker to move them. I put these in trays (salvaged 5 gal water buckets from a local office water delivery service). I add water to the tubs until the soil won't absorb any more. I wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and set them on our radiators - terrarium style. Once the seedlings emerge, I cut off the plastic wrap and put them under my grow lights. When the time comes, I transplant them into "pots" that I make out of newspaper with a little gizmo I made (design stolen from web - they wanted $20 for it, I used an old wooden baseball bat).

I did make a greenhouse out of some salvaged stuff and I also use a hay bale cold frame at times. I've had good luck with this - I grow and sell about 1000 seedlings a year with this method.

Maybe some of this will give you some ideas.

February 16, 2012 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

More pictures of/with Steel??? HURRAY!! :D Bring 'em on!

February 16, 2012 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

We managed to salvage some big metal 4 foot long shelving and I bought my mom a few 4 foot shop lights (that actually have real outlet plugs) and daylight florescent bulbs. She's hoping to hang all the lights from the bottom of each shelf to start seeds in the living room. She put chicken wire around the bottom 2/3 of the shelving to hopefully keep out nosy kitties. We'll see!!
Many moons ago, when we lived in a house in the 'burbs of the city, dad had built several "plant incubators" in the basement. Single shelf tables with small shop lights and plastic sheeting covering the whole thing. Mom grew lots of seedlings that way. I LOVE the idea of using old xmas lights in sand to jumpstart cold seeds. I've seen that mentioned several times.

February 16, 2012 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

A plan in a plan--Lettuce-ception.

It has been a nice mild winter. And I've been thinking about salads as well. The difference, here, is I am quite lazy and do not have a farm, and will likely just go to the store. Or the winter farmer's market next Saturday, though I don't know if they'll have lettuce.

February 16, 2012 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I have 130 onions, 40 leeks, half dozen cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage under the lights now. All of those can go out in a few weeks down here. Just started artichokes inside and planted sugar snap peas outside today.

I'm not usually in a big hurry for the seasons to change, but this year Spring just couldn't come fast enough. It's been kind of a non-winter here to... feels like limbo. I'm looking forward to salad!

February 17, 2012 at 1:37 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

I have a couple of those seed stacks and they are brilliant. The only problem I've ever had with them was when I left the front flap rolled up and found one of the cats sunbathing using a seed tray as a bed! We have a south-facing yard and I was thinking to myself this week I could get stuff started off soon because of our mild winter (though we did have a cold snap the past couple of weeks, which generously waited until we had run out of heating oil!!!)

February 17, 2012 at 5:05 AM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

I know I have suggested it before, but if you could sign up for a clinic with Buck Brannamen, or one of the people who use his techniques, for ground work, I bet you find that Jasper is much much easier to handle.

February 17, 2012 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yeah! I'm craving fresh greens right now! Love that south-sider but I think I'd have to be content with your little "greenhouse". :)
Thanks for a little taste of spring.

February 17, 2012 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Lynnanne said...

love the cold-frame idea. i've been wanting one around here for several years.... fresh-cut greens for a salad today sounds delish.

February 17, 2012 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Jamie! I got your email, I am just so behind on emails... this is what I meant but bookshelf greenhouse, it was on sale at TSC for 19.99

February 17, 2012 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

CJ that is genuis!

February 17, 2012 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

CJ that is genuis!

February 17, 2012 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

A Buck workshop would be Heaven! if he is EVER within a few hours (under 3) from here I will do my level best. He could also turn Jasper into a puppy in seconds, I am certain.

February 17, 2012 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Ruby said...

What are fences with glory?

February 17, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

a really big f-ing fence

February 17, 2012 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Friday is the best day for horses! I love ending my work week with a one hour trail ride- helps the world to make sense again.

February 17, 2012 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger singinggardengirl said...

I use a wire shelving unit (48x18- 5 shelves) with t8 shop fixtures and some daylight and some grow bulbs and heat mats (check$65 as opposed to $80 everywhere else).I'm hoping to get some started this weekend myself.

February 17, 2012 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger wooden wonders said...

yum kale! good luck with jasper also, i know how stubborn horses can be. my gelding is a pain, and it gets frustrated but keep at it!

February 17, 2012 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Heather Ann said...

On thinking about scaring away deer: I'd love to see you try the motion activated sprinkler to shoo em off, I just think it would be sooo funny! I'm sure you've heard of this and would hate to waste water, but just think - more entertainment!

February 17, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

That sounds like an awesome plan! Been thinking of getting some microgreens going indoors this weekend.

February 17, 2012 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Are you kidding me? I paid $50 for the same unit here in RI.


February 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I'd go straight to plan C! We did that with some old bay windows one year and had fresh salad all winter with no extra work - it was fabulous! Until we had a hail storm and they broke. Ah well.

I'm itching to put some seeds in dirt too - only containers for me this year, though. Can't get up off the ground anymore with the baby belly! I want to get a bunch of stuff going in pots now, but I'm terrified we'll have a late freeze and it will all have been for nothing. Luckily I don't have too much longer to wait - our last frost date is generally around mid-March.

February 17, 2012 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

@Windhaven - try a couple of fluorescent bulbs. You don't need special "grow lights". We found we could get a hanging fluorescent fixture for about $8 and a box of tube-bulbs for pretty cheap as well and they do a great job getting light to your little seedlings. Since they're cool, you can put them just about right on top of them, and just gradually raise them as the plants grow taller. They work a treat, and don't cost much.

February 17, 2012 at 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have one of those cheap greenhouses. It's held up pretty well the last couple of years. The plastic covering tends to tear easily though, so be careful with it (if that's the kind you have). They aren't that difficult to replace, though. Good luck!

February 17, 2012 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

I don't have a deer problem with our gardens, but I've heard that fishing line is a very good deterrent. The reasoning was given that they can't see the barrier so when they unsuspectingly walk into it, it scares them away

February 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Cat Eye Cottage said...

Make sure you weigh down that greenhouse. I have one and came home one day to it on its side and all of my seedlings destroyed. They are prone to topple in the wind. I put a heavy brick on the bottom shelf of mine.

February 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Coco said...

I was reading an article about seed saving the other day and they mentioned the folks at the Hudson Seed Library -

Thought it sounded like a group you'd like to know about.

Good luck with the salad!

February 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

@singing girl garden:

Do you really have good luck with the T-8s?

I have one T5 fixture which set me back $100, but it gets the job done. It sure sure would be more efficient to use.

Well, space is an issue, but it looks like I'm going to have 4fters on a three foot rack, but if I put a table next to it I should be able to keep growing.


February 17, 2012 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger singinggardengirl said...

@JD-Yeah, the T8s with daylight bulbs work just fine.T5s are more efficient, though. The 4 ft, 4-light T8 fixtures were ~$50 at Lowe's. I don't remember how much they cost to run last year.
I'm trying some T12 bulbs in them this year. I hope I don't burn them up.

@ Tara- Where did you find an $8 fixture???
I'm still trying to figure out what I'm really going to be able to grow because of the baby belly, too. And I'm due right in the middle of my main harvesting season.

February 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

@Tara: Lowe's has the 2 bulb fixture for $14.98. The two pack bulbs were 7.98. I didn't get daylight bulbs because I thought they were short on blue spectrum. We'll see.

February 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger polly said...

fyi - i read on another blog something about kale chips... they sound yummo:

February 17, 2012 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I think you need to change the ballast on the fixture to accommodate the T12s. Someone told me an incorrect ballast can fry your fixture.

Maybe check with someone first?

February 17, 2012 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Jenna, no worries! The greenhouse looks so cool! V and I may have to make a trip this weekend to our tractor supply store :) Thanks!!

February 17, 2012 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

P.s. CJ, I completely agree with you about the fishing wire. One of my friends had great luck with it. There's also the trick of strategically planting throw away plants that deer like around the perimeter of your garden (the idea being the deer will eat those first and be full before they get to your vegetables. Not sure how successful it is though...

February 17, 2012 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

We got our fixtures at Lowes, and yeah, they hold 2 bulbs each and come with chains for hanging. We use big metal shelving units and just hang them from the shelf above. It's been over a year since we bought them - maybe they've gone up in price. We bought bulbs in a 10-pack, because we got several of the fixtures. Can't recall now whether they were daylight bulbs or some other type. In any case, they did a great job for not much money.

And I'm due in late May, so yeah, right during prime harvest & maintenance time! I'm just going to plant small amounts of things in containers and keep them really close to the house (and up off the ground). We won't yield as much as usual, but we'll still have some fresh stuff and I hopefully can keep my effort to a minimum.

February 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

Scare deer with fences of glory. Ha. Love it.

I believ this year I'll be learning how to build an string anti-moose electrical fences around the garden!

February 17, 2012 at 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the hay bale idea! It's so simple. And I love old windows! Just yesterday, I bought the same kind of bookcase greenhouse. I have huge plans for LOTS of tomatoes this year. Farmer's Almanac says we (NW) are actually due for a hot and dry summer.

February 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger maplestory said...

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February 27, 2012 at 1:11 AM  

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