Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pressurized Carrots

If you live in the area you know that this weekend was beautiful. Just when you think that winter will never end you get a little glimpse of spring. So we spent pretty much the whole day outside. Naomi and I worked in the garden, worked the hives, messed with the chickens and pruned the apple tree.

In the fall i planted some winter rye as an experiment to see how it would do as a cover crop. The year before I planted rye grass found at the local store in the grass section. It turns out that winter rye and rye grass are not the same. the rye grass grew everywhere, and was really hard to turn over. Luckily the heats of june and july gave it a what-for.

This year, I was equipped with the right kind and it grew real well and covered a few of my beds hopefully choking out the weeds that were left from the summer. After it got growing for awhile we decided it would be nice for those nasty chickens to get to run the yard, so we let them out of the run. The first thing they did was head for my rye grass, they love it, they love it so much that they ate it down to the ground. However, I have to say that the rye grass held its own and was still there, until this weekend. Naomi and I turned it all over to get ready for the pea planting, which I hope to do this week some time. While we were turning we found a bunch of carrots left over from the fall crop, the chickens had kept the greens down to the ground so we didn't know that we had any out there, (Lacey claims she knew they were there).

Carrots in from the garden my favorite variety "Nantes"

So after a little more diggin we came into the house with a big bag full of carrots. Naomi rinsed them and we sent them all through a little gift from heaven I like to call the "magic bullet express" to get ready for canning them. We inherited a pressure cooker from some friends and I have been wanting to give it a try. So we fired it up last night and canned ten pints of carrots.
There are two ways that you can, can carrots one is raw and one is cooked like what you would get from the cafeteria. I like things fresh so I went with the raw method. Although in retrospect it would be nice to be able to have cooked carrots too.

We started the process at about 7:30 and we were done around 10:00 so it really didn't take all that long. Below are the steps we took.

Slice carrots and place them in jars with about 1" of head room.

Pour boiling water into jars and then place lids on them
One of these funnels things makes it a lot easier

Place all the jars into the canner, you can double stack as long as the lid can close and you have something between the layers. I used a dumpling steamer for the second layer.

Pressure cook according to directions, final product after 25mins at 11 pounds of pressure. Some of the jars were still boiling after I took them out.

Do you have any canning recipes worth sharing? please let us know.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Operation New Lighting

The seedlings have been growing for a little while now and things are not looking so well. In my professional opinion the seedlings seem to be getting stringy. Stringy plants make for weak plants. I am not sure if it is to late now or not but I am changing up the lighting a little in hopes that it will strengthen the plants.

I went to Lowe's today and got everything that I needed minus the wood to make a grow light setup with two, two foot grow lights. This will hopefully give them adequate light. The light bulbs are in a green wrapper and call aquarium/ plant bulbs, and the baluns are in the electrical just get the cheap one and then get an extension cord with out a female end just bare wire and you will be good to go.

The artichoke and spinach is just now starting to come up so we will see how they do as they didn't have to suffer under the inadequate light.

Artichoke seedlings just emerging

spindly lettuce, bok choi, and spinach

Spinach seedlings

Sunday, February 14, 2010

They Are Growing

Here comes the real test. This is where I always get to and where it always goes wrong. The seedlings are now all sprouting up. The Spinach is just breaking the surface and the artichoke has not come up yet but everything else has.

Today we thined out all the extra seedlings so that there is one seedling per pot. This will help the plants grow stronger.

The next step is we wait for the secondary leaves. Once we get those it will be time to fertilize with an organic fertilizer.

Broccoli and Brussels starting to come up

Lettuce Seedlings

Spinach just starting to come up

Lettuce and Bok Choi, the middle is Artichoke which hasn't come up yet.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Starting Seeds for the Urban Farm

We offically put our house on the market last week with For Sale by Owner. However, I dont know if you have heard but the housing market is not doing so well right now.

starting seeds indoors, seed started kit
So we are initiating plan "B" which is also know as plan "staying sane while we wait". We are getting ready for spring time, which means getting seeds started. Which is also a valuable farm skill. For as many years as I have been gardening I have never really been that successful with seedlings.

The main downfalls and ultimately deaths of my seedlings have been as follows.
1: They grow great but then get real long and spindly
2: If they make it past 1 then i forget to water them and a bright sunny day "melts" them.
3: the few and the strong that make it past 1 and 2 are then transplanted outside. once outside they die from the shock and most likely from all of the stress that their little young lives have seen.
4: and from 1,2, and 3 that survive, which is probably about 1% some thing eats them or the frost gets them.

The best way to succeed is to know your weakness and plan for it. I am pretty confident that the real problem is the starting of the seeds. Generally once a plant is outside in the dirt and in good condition I can get it to thrive. Today we started some seeds and after much research I have found a few errors in previous seed rearing years.
1: not enough light. seedlings need about 14 hours of light and setting them next to a window will not working in the winter they need more light than that and stronger light.
Solution- I am going with two 60w grow light set on a timer for 14 hours a day. away from a window.
2:No fertilizer. We are big about the whole organic thing. i have two big piles of compost out there in the garden waiting for the spring garden and I never use miracle grow, it is just
wrong. But I have never tried fertilizing the seedlings.
Solution- Use an organic fertilizer when the secondary leaves start coming out.

grow lights, starting seeds indoors, spring garden, organic garden
I think that with these two corrections the little seedling stand a much better chance. I am going to give the spring seeds these corrections and see how it goes that way hopefully in a month when it is time to start the summer seeds I will know what to correct.

Here are the steps that I and my expert helper took today.

picking out the seeds, getting the pellets ready, starting seeds, organic seeds
Insert Pellets, make sure they are standing up.

organic garden, starting seeds, urban farm
Water the Pellets

urban orgainc farm
Watch them grow

flatten out the soil, make sure it is above the edge of the pots (this will cut down on fungus)


select seeds (make sure they will work for the time of year and location that you are planning on planting them in. take a look at this
the seeds of choice for starting indoors: brussel sprouts, broccoli, bok choi, spinach, artichokes, and lettuce assortment.
the seeds of choice for direct sowing out doors will be: carrots, peas (sugar and pod), and kale

plant the seeds

I like to put two in each pot, later I will remove the weaker one
Cover the seeds with dirt, then lay the germination plastic over the seeds until they sprout.

Put them under the grow lights and wait for the magic. they shouldn't need any light until the actual seeds sprout. ( I think I am going to give mine some light anyhow)

Here is a fun little video too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

at a stand-off

it feels like we're not making any forward motions...what to do. We did have this idea about selling our house to Drew's business & making it a rental, we've already had a few nibbles in hopes that we would consider a renting option. Anyone have experience with this?
Something to throw at the business accountant anyway.

That's all for now, aside from a few spam texts.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The House is on the List

Well, not really. It's on the For Sale By Owner list, which isn't exactly the MLS list which might get us more coverage...but, we'll see. We're going to try & take advantage of every other internet option before paying for a silly number.

Here it is. There's an update to the before picture from before.

Contact the Owner



Also try 336-669-8173

Or E-mail the Owner

or you can visit the website.