Edible Landscape • Wildlife Habitat • Backyard Chickens & Bees • Local Food
Getting my hands on a Crop Circle seed felt a lot like buying raw milk—some vague emails and meeting in a parking lot to do the hand off! Since Crop Circles tend to upset the public when they “mysteriously” appear, Crop Circle seeds are not legal to buy, sell or exchange. But it’s not illegal to have one. So hey, we garden geeks do what we have to do and as for my new and valuable seed, let just say it “fell off a truck” and call it a day on where I got it.
In case you haven’t seen a crop circle, here’s are pics of several varieties (google images pic):
They are beautiful! But very slow growing. You plant the seed in spring, about six weeks before the last frost date for your region. While it’s called a “seed” it is really a spore. Once planted, when the weather conditions are right it will bloom like the photos above. Though it could be up to five years before yours blooms. Amazing!
Like mushrooms, blooms often occur just after a rain. If they reseed, they do so on nearby rocks, like the one I now have.
So while I can’t tell you how to get your own Crop Circle seed, I wish you luck! I’ll be planting mine later this week.
I love it when the delivery driver brings new plants! It’s a thrill nearly as good as picking up a box of baby chicks (or a new queen bee) at the post office. Ok, the chicks win that contest, but new plants still rock. Today’s arrivals:
1. Illinois Everbearing Mulberry Tree – an old favorite.
2. Elderberries – love them!
3. Cornelian-Cherry Dogwood – an early spring yellow bloom. The wild card of this batch. Trying it out for early bloom for pollinators.
4. Enterprise Apple. Disease resistant. Tasty. And the new farm is called “Five Apple”after all. Even though it could have fifteen by the time I’m done…
Let me send a shout out to Stark Brothers Nursery of Missouri. I’ve bought mail-order plants and trees from them for years and have been very pleased at the size and vigor of the plants. I don’t own stock and they have not paid me to say this. (However, if Stark Brothers wants to zap a gift certificate my way I’d happily elaborate on my favorite purchases!! ha ha! )
P. S. Being a total geek, I started a Pinterest board to keep up with what I’ve planted so far at Five Apple Farm as well as a To Plant – Wish List for the future. In reality, it helps me cope with a flaky memory. Have you ever made a list of all that you have planted at your home or farm? Try it, it’s inspiring!
–—A Larrapin Garden…recently re-settled back home in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Posts on this blog may be boom or bust depending on the season, but if you subscribe here you’ll get one weekly email—usually on Wednesdays—to let you know what’s new. You are also invited to get garden related miscellany at the Facebook page or on Twitter. Larrapin Pinterest boards are here.
Sometimes you need to get away to come back ready to begin. The quick getaway to the South Carolina shore for Mendy’s birthday, besides being great fun all around, was just what this gardener needed. The warm breezes reminded me that spring is working its way slowly (very slowly) but surely up the mountains.
I’m just about ready to begin the first gardening season in my new home. It’s been a long time coming and I feel ready. I still feel a tiny bit daunted to begin what I consider my life masterwork – turning this big rolling property into the lush, edible garden and lively little farm I envision. It’s a project that will take several years before I even begin to see the outlines, and several more before it hits its stride. For now, I’ll be starting with a little veggie patch out back and a burst of plantings for bees and birds this first spring. If I’m lucky I’ll get to have a long journey with this land, letting it shape and guide the continuing conversation.
I returned from the beach ready to start the first steps of that journey. How happy I was to see the road home.
Interested in learning beekeeping? Class at Mayland coming up taught by Rick Harty: Basic Beekeeping: A Hobby or a Business (24 Hours) Students will enjoy learning the process of beekeeping, how to start a colony of bees, the relationship of honeybees and food, the threats to a colony, and how to sell products from the hive. 2/6- 3/27, TH, 6:00-9:00PM Harty $70 MCC Mitchell Campus 828-766-1207 or register here:http://www.mayland.edu/
ASAP’s Business of Farming Conference is a day of learning and networking for those involved in local food and farming. Each year, approximately 250 area farmers, agriculture professionals, and business and marketing specialists attend tailored 90-minute workshops, meet with restaurant and wholesale buyers, tour Warren Wilson’s farm and garden, and celebrate the start of the season. If you’re currently farming or seriously considering farming as a profession, you won’t want to miss our 2014 conference! When: Saturday, February 22, 2014 (8:00 am- 5:30 pm) Where: Warren Wilson College: 701 Warren Wilson Road, Swannanoa, NC 28778 Cost: $40 per person or $60 for two farm partners by Jan. 31; $60 per person or $90 for two farm partners Feb. 1 and later Questions: Call us at 828-236-1282. http://asapconnections.org/events/business-of-farming-conference/
(photo by Leigh, barn at Mountain Farm in Celo)
The light table has turned out to be one of the most important tools for the garden for me. I can get to “gardening” over a month before it’s reasonable to start stuff out in the garden. That is really good for my mental health during that long wait till planting time. Double that now that my mountain frost date is a month later than the past eight years in the Ozarks! Now you see why I went ahead and built the new light table in the basement workshop last night.
Another benefit is starting with big healthy seedlings in your garden beds vs seeds is the major jump start you get to dinner-sized plants. While the overall time from germination to yield is going to be roughly the same, the weeks spent on the light table are weeks your garden beds can be can be doing something else, like allowing another crop to finish up…or allowing winter to finish up. You can get a lot more growing out the same amount of space by starting with seedlings vs seeds, not just by time, but also by spacing of the plants, which for me is a lot more erratic when I direct seed. Also, at least in the gardens I’ve had, it was much more difficult to protect a seedbed and keep it carefully watered out in the garden vs on the light table.
Of course you could do some of the same things in a greenhouse without electric light, but I don’t have one yet. And even when I do have a greenhouse I won’t want to heat it — which probably makes it a hoophouse rather than green house — but anyway, the light table will still give me that early-season head start. I look forward to that future greenhouse to move my seedlings off the light table and out in the real light on the way to the garden though! Once the weather temp in the future-greenhouse is no longer a danger to the seedlings, no doubt I’ll do some of this seed starting in the greenhouse, but again, it’s those early cold months where the light table shines.
The components of this light table are easy and fairly cheap. I used a metal shelving unit from Lowe’s this time because it was on sale. Last time I found one at Target for about $40 bucks. It does not have to be terribly heavy duty as the trays of seedlings aren’t that heavy compared to the weights these shelves can hold. When you first build the unit, allow plenty of space between the shelves even if you don’t use all the shelves that come in the box. You need room for your trays, the light fixture, and room to reach in and adjust the chain above the light even when your tomato seedlings get big!. Each shelf is adjustable down to the inch, but not so easy to adjust once everything is built.
The metal shelving allows for easy connection of the chains that hang the standard 4 foot shop lights which are about 10 each at Lowe’s. You’ll need two light fixtures (4 bulbs) per shelf for strong seedlings. I just used the regular cool bulbs from Lowe’s (vs the expensive full spectrum bulbs) and plants have grown beautifully. If you can only get two lights for your set up, put them on the same shelf. The chains are just the cheap kind used for hanging decorative stuff (you can open the links on with pliers to make the length you want) but it’s really important to be able to locate the lights about an inch above your seedlings and move it up as they grow. That sounds crazy close, but the sun gives off SO much light compared to bulbs! You have to make up for that in closeness to the plant as well as extending the time you have the lights on — I had good results putting them on a timer for 16 even 18 hours a day depending on the plant. Locate it somewhere all that light won’t bother you.
Back at Larrapin West I built one that lived in the barely-heated storage room of an outbuilding. I had some leftover silver bubble wrap from an insulation project I used as reflective surface. You could also use aluminum foil as you really want to wring every bit of light out of those bulbs you can. I hung plastic drapes around the whole unit to keep it warmish. It was a free leftover roll from a party store that was shocking yellow. Plants didn’t mind, not sure about Ada the farm dog. The shop lights put off more heat than I would have thought – so it was pretty warm inside the unit. Later in the season when it was warmer I opened the drapes and added a tiny little desk fan to keep the air moving around the plants.
This time I used the silver bubble wrap stuff again for refection but left it hanging loose at the bottom both for air circulation as well as to allow the trays to stick out a bit over the shelf which allows me to put four full sized trays on one shelf. It’s in a basement workshop that is partly heated so just the heat of the lights should keep everything toasty. I have an old seed starting heat mat too, but if the lights are in use on the shelf below, the heat of the lamps make plenty of warmth to start most seeds.
So there it is – the seedling machine for jump starting your garden. You will LOVE it. If you have any questions on this project leave it in the comments and I’ll answer.
—A Larrapin Garden…recently re-settled in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Posts on this blog may be boom or bust depending on the season, but if you subscribe here you’ll get one weekly email—usually on Wednesdays—to let you know what’s new. You are also invited to get garden related miscellany at the Facebook page or on Twitter. The Pinterest boards (Pinterest should carry a habit-forming warning label by the way) are here.
Saw this info and wanted to pass it on:
Some of the topics covered include:
* What to do before you get your bees
* Costs involved/equipment needed
* Terminology, the language of beekeepers
* Pollination and floral sources of nectar
* The colony as a Super-organism
* Honey and other products of the hive
* Keeping your hives healthy
* Beekeepers’ chores by the season
* Resources and where you can learn more
Via ASAP: http://fromhere.org/event/2014-beginners-bee-school/
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