Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26 Seed planting time

February 26

Two days ago I started Broccoli (Early Green), Kale (Red Russian) and Lettuce (Cimmaron and Red Vouge). I started the seeds in wet paper towel in front of the heat register. The broccoli and Kale are sprouted, the Lettuce seed is just splitting.

So I had to scrounge in the garage and get the flats. The compost I had dug and put in cat food bags last fall need to unfreeze in the warm house. I insist that the seeds will not damp off in compost, even though I don't sterilize the soil, because of the balance of bacteria in the compost.

I have had damping off problems in the past. Herein I will keep the records of what soil I used, and how it was treated, in order to study what seeds need what types of soil. I have shied away from sterilizing soil in the microwave or other such technology. I'd like to think that complexity in soil bacteria will prevent a crash in soils like complexity of species buffers ecosystems and preponderance of good bacteria buffers health in the intestines.

I will buy sterile soil if I have to use it. Buying soil opens up many issues about where the soil has been.

Another possible solution that has worked in the past for me (no documentation of this) is using slightly acid water; which will counter certain alkaline loving microorganisms or tea, which has antioxidants. I assume here that the damping off organism or organisms are mold as opposed to bacteria. I think I read this somewhere, but have not kept up on the latest. I assume there is ongoing research about every aspect of horticulture.

The broccoli will go the porch tomorrow in a flat. It will be slightly leggy by the time it is ready to put out under the spun polyester. Maybe I'll get lights this year, maybe not.

I have yet to locate any pepper seeds saved from last year. Maybe I will have to order them this year. I hope I can at least locate Tri-Fetti, as Pinetree seeds has discontinued it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

18 Feb Life and Death after freezing

19 February Death and life after freezing

Interesting when it got so cold what froze on the porch. I don't have a min/max thermometer out there but I did see a reading of 29 degrees. The Amerigus Lily seems to have survived as well as the Carasula. Many scented geraniums have lost some leaves and I will get out there and prune them off. Rosemary is fine as is the Bay Laurel. Christmas Cactus, that lost a lot of leaves being outside in the fall when it got very cold has held up. New Flax plants are happy. The kalenkahoe has not totally died, but the other aloe types are gone.

It is February, time to trim. I have to get out and trim the Espaliered Apple and Green Gage Plum now that the weather has let up some. I got out the feeder and the birds have been coming regularly to it. Big responsibility, had to pick up seed Friday, as I don't dare run out now that we have snow cover and cold.

Order seeds and plants from Wildtype or Ann Arbor native plants nursery. I also need some vegetable seeds. I will order them from Pinetree or Johnny's.

Greening of Detroit is sponsoring a tree and shrub sale, Order deadline- March 13. I'm looking at their prices and thinking of ordering directly from nurseries for my own personal house garden. I'm also thinking of doing a church garden with the kids. That would involve a lot more politics and smoozing and making plans. I am psyching myself up for this aspect of the work. Meantime, I can do my own garden, my own little eden that I don't have to get others on board with, just to stick a shovel in the dirt. I also have a garden by the church parking lot that I have some by honestly, as the Building and grounds committee asked. I put in a few unauthorized geraniums by the entrance to the sanctuary, as there was nothing there, last year. Nobody complained.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Grow Zone- the workshop

Practical Grow Zones- the Workshop

There were park stewards, people responsible for maintenance of large areas of parkland and acres of grass who need to accomplish the impossible with few tools and even less budget, spin straw in to gold, as it were.

Protocols for planting large areas of Grow Zones in a short time, making grow zones palatable to section of the population who have wildly different interests, who like things a certain way and have political clout were presented.

I do not use Round Up on my property. I have chemical sensitivity issues and have been an organic gardener for many years.

People in charge of large public areas tend to have to show results on a reduced time line. They are likely to use round up, till, and use round up again before they plant to reduce the number of seeds from invasives that tend to take over in disturbed areas.

Disturbed areas don't have the complexity and Biodiversity to buffer the invasion of foreign and invasive species. Yes I am talking about buckthorn and garlic mustard, also crabgrass and dandelions, those weeds we all know from our childhoods. Getting rid of the pests takes time and lots of tilling to expose the seeds, smothering and tilling or weed killer and one tilling.

All of the pesticide application and tilling takes money. Grants have been obtained.

Wayne county parks has 26 acres in Grow Zones. Up from 24 acres in 2006.

The workshop had information on how to plant buffers around detention ponds and clean them up. A lot of detention ponds have that been built and are getting clogged and smelly. Good information.

There are local nurseries that provide plant material and seed for native plantings.

15 February Grow zones

Grow Zone:

Stop mowing an area. See what happens.

What happens will be different for each area. When we stopped mowing our back forty, a hill before a flood plain, then a river, things grew there. I had hoped for Jewel weed, as that is what was growing there when we first bought the property, in 1986. I understand that Jewel Weed, while native, is invasive. There are areas that have tough specks and need a tough plant. My riparian strip floods, has extreme hydrology issues, as it is downstream from many impervious surfaces.

When we moved in, that summer we chopped down the Jewel weed and played in the flood plain. When we stopped mowing, we went down to one or two mowings a year. The self propelling mechanism went out on the mower. We liked to mow once in the fall so the kids could sled. In later they sledded on Toni's hill. Brambles, black and red raspberries started to grow on the hill. Dale cuts out the trees and unwanted branches at least once a summer. We get a lot of buchthorn and tree of heaven, these would take over the raspberries in a few years if we let them.

We declare this the year of the shrub. I am ordering native shrubs for the hill, hope to plant where the leaves have been laid down thickly. It will mean watering from time to time, especially on the higher bermed areas. I have put blueberries there and they have died. Last year I put a Redbud in. Redbuds don't need acid soil, but do need water the first year, when newly transplanted.

Old Man Willow, our ancient willow tree takes a lot of water from the area. I love that old Willow but think from time to time about saying goodbye to it. It is hard to think about cutting down a tree that is so large and has been alive for so long.