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Mid-March: Work, mostly in greenhouse, with seedlings

Though it’s still spitting winter/spring/winter/spring, with the seedlings needing to be protected at night (fire in greenhouse, coverings for peas) they are growing anyhow, most of them. However, the poor peas . . . Not sure how many will make it. Here’s Justin, watering them cheerfully, while they only barely manage to breathe hello.

The other seedlings, however, are doing very well in the greenhouse.

We’ve held two work parties since last I posted, first with Dan and Solan —

— then with a larger crew, including Solan, Gabby, Dan, and Eliot, a visitor.Notice the grey skies. That’s been the situation. Amazing the seedlings still get (enough?) sunlight through the clouds.

Work Parties, February: clean-up, plus plantings, compost — and one “oops”!

Let’s do the “oops” first. On February 10, during that extremely cold spell, Solan noticed that the person whom he had told to put the tomato trays on a shelf in the sunlight the day before had NOT put them back on the heat pad that night. HIs fault, he said. He should have checked, and actually, he didn’t tell the person to do it, so he should have done it. Plus, Andreas was supposed to build a fire in the greenhouse for overnight, but since he had never built a fire before, and so would need supervision, Rebecca told him to forget it, the seedlings would be fine so long as they were on the heat pad. Well . . . Yep. That’s the oops! Because of numerous people not going in the greenhouse that evening  for various reasons and inattention, the sweet delicate little seedling tomatoes all died. . . But then, Dan and his friend Emily stepped up to the plate and planted them again that very same day. Luckily, it’s not too late. Live and learn!

Actually, ever since Rebecca left, a few weeks ago, except for morning and evening watering of seedlings and regular caring for chickens, our work parties have been slacking off . . . Rebecca is also slacking off, deliberately, having driven all the way to Nevada, where she is glamping for a month or so in a glorious new Queen of Sheba tent with her two dogs in a desert campground near Las Vegas, where she can go work as a Uber driver, when she needs money. Unfortunately, I can’t find a pic of the tent.

But today, work parties resumed with gusto, four of us, plus Camden, who has been coming to dinner and wanted to join work parties too. The goals: to clean up the chicken yard, plant the peas, and make a new compost pile. All done!

Clean up chicken yard

Justin with chicken wire, lots of it, which we rolled and stacked. The pile beyond on the right is actually the beginnings of a new hugelkultur bed, however, so we didn’t touch it. Notice the new fence!

Plant the Peas

Here they are, on the right front, next to the beets at the end, ready to go out.

 

Solan, director of this work party, plants.

 

Camden overlooks Andreas and Justin planting, his water bucket full and ready.

 

Done! And notice the sticks inserted on the left for the peas to climb. The other side has wire for that same purpose. The peas will have to be covered, with both ground cover and tarp, every time it goes below freezing at night. We found those and stacked them next to the bed.

Making a New Compost Bed

I didn’t stay for this operation, and Justin had to go to class, leaving Solan, Justin and Camden to do it. I did go out to check on their progress mid-way through. It took about an hour altogether, layering leaves, food scraps, chicken poop infested hay, and spent grains which we get from a brewery. No manure for this bed, unfortunately, so it won’t compost quite as fast. Our three houses, with nine people total, all contribute food scraps, so we have lots of buckets. Half way through the operation, these had already been emptied.

And these awaited emptying.

Here we go.

Adding the leaves . . .

The pile slowly grows, layer by layer.

It’s 4:30, time to do my daily yoga, chi kung, and tai chi, then get ready for this week’s Community Dinner, to be held in our regular rotation, at the second DeKist house this evening. Tomorrow I will do a blogpost on that dinner, plus two other dinners from February. Tomorrow we march into March! YES!

The 2019 growing cycle begins, on the coldest day of the new year . . .

10° outside, but the greenhouse was plenty cozy —

— thanks to the fire, which will keep first the seeds, then the seedlings, equipped with a heat mat underneath, all night long if needed.

Photos by Gabrielle.  Solan and Josh, directors of the project, with podmates Gabrielle, Justin, Andreas, and Dan.

Lots of varieties of tomato seed. Also planted a few peppers and eggplant.

Andreas concentrates on coaxing down each itsy bitsy tomato seed . . .

 

Egglplant

A VERY hot pepper.

Dan takes time off to wrestle with Hank (otherwise known as “Satan,” or “Demon Dog”).

 

BTW: Justin wants to grow avocados . .  .

 

(What? In this climate, this zone?) So he filled five planters and planted the pits. Hmmm. I just looked it up, avos thrive in cold-intolerant zone 8, and I think we’re zone 4 now here in south central Indiana. Oh well! We learn by doing.

The seeds all into the soil blocks, Josh sprays to water them, so as not to disturb them from their tiny holes on top of the soil of the soil blocks. Notice the heat mat underneath.

 

Done!

 

The reward? Omelets, for a group brunch.

 

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