Monday, March 16, 2009

First Seeds of the Season

It's mid-March. Temps in the upper 40s, sun shining the past few days. Makes the maple sap run and the seed companies busy. There's still a pretty serious chill in the air and snow in shady spots, so it's not quite warm enough for a full-blown spring fever. But I think it may be warm enough in my greenhouse to start some seeds.

I recently picked up a list of when to plant specific seeds at the
Gardners' Supply retail store in Williston. Following their advice, I planted 4 eggplant and 20 bell and hot pepper seeds this past weekend.

I also planted some lettuce and spinach in a hydroponic growing system. And some cat grass just for fun. Challenge is that I'm not sure the greenhouse will stay warm enough for the seeds to germinate. During a sunny day, the greenhouse is warmer than my regular house, but at night, outside temps are in the 20s and 30s, so I'm not sure how much of the day heat will hold at night or when cloud cover is heavy.

I have electricity in the greenhouse, so I could use heat mats, but they're a bit on the spendy side. I also have fluorescent grow lights, but Husband isn't interested in "heating the outside" all night. (I tend toward agreeing with him, which I why I haven't turned the lights on.) I will need to turn them on for a few hours each day once the seeds sprout, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

In the past, I started seeds in the house and moved them into the greenhouse when they germinated. This year, I'm trying to use the greenhouse as it's intended. So I'm chalking this year's seeding up to an experiment. If I'm too early, then I'll obviously be purchasing my vegetable plants this year.


Over in the hen house, we've let our three hens free range in the yard the past few days. Husband let them out because one is being pecked, so he thinks they're bored after a long winter in the coop. Letting them roam is a bit risky for them; we have quite a few predators that hang around our neighborhood -- fox, fisher cats, owls, hawks, bobcats. But the hens do seem happy wandering around, and they're good bug and weed control.

As far as the hens earning their keep, their egg laying has been rather prolific after a dry spell this winter; we get 2-3 a day, giving us more eggs than we can use. One of the hens is laying strangely oblong eggs right now -- they're even too tall to fit in an egg carton. I don't know what makes that happen -- or how long it will continue, as the eggs seem to change shape and color over time.

So with a few seeds and a long egg, I inaugurate the Zone 4 Dirt Chronicles.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your new gardening blog. I have to admit I'm a little jealous up here in Alaska of your greenhouse, compost, and esp. henhouse! I'd love to raise chickens, but the wildlife here has a way of thinking of them as a free buffet -- and I love living where there are still bears and lynx around (just saw one near here the other day-- I was so tickled!).
    So for now I will stick to my limited garden, and will definitely enjoy reading what you're doing and learning!
    Thanks for sharing.