Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Making do

Yesterday was a perfect day for catching up. I transplanted about 100 kale plants into a bed, soon to be known as the Bed O'Kale, or the BLD bed (for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is how I would eat kale).

It was also (drum roll please) tomato-planting day, and I decided to try something new. I used to have a soil block maker, but I got rid of it for reasons that are unclear to me now. Maybe something having to do with selling my lovely, beloved Diamant grain mill *at a substantial loss, never dreaming how the price would triple. . . Sigh. The decisions we make.

So I wasn't about to let a simple matter of not owning the right equipment stop me -- soil blocks it was going to be.

The first step was to moisten soil. Then I tried using a small drinking cup.

That seemed to work okay initially, but eventually the soil stuck really badly and they fell apart, even though I used my favorite bench scraper to convey them. I had to cast about for a better mold. Ideally, it would have some "eject" feature. Ah ha! Paper cup!A simple hole poked in the bottom would let me push the soil out.

They weren't perfect, by any means, but I figured they'd do okay.

Each one got two tomato seeds, since I was sowing fairly old seed. I'm sure, given my luck, that they'll grow perfectly and abundantly and I'll either feel like a murderer with nail scissors or spend a lot of time pulling them apart and transplanting them, ending up with way more tomatoes than I can handle. I'm trying to learn from experience! I don't want 25 tomatoes. . . 12 is plenty.

Each "block" (really a cone) got a bit of moist soil drizzled on the seeds, then lightly tapped to make contact. I covered the whole thing with a humidity dome and tucked it back under the lights. I have a mist attachment to a hose I could use to water, but it's only one flat; I'll probably use a spray bottle at first and then bottom-water them. They're sitting on a nursery flat, hopefully providing some bottom aeration without letting them completely collapse. It's an adventure, at least.

So if all goes well, we'll have a dozen San Marzano, a half dozen Roma VF, and enough tomato products to make ketchup and spaghetti sauce in addition to the regular canned tomato stuff I generally make. Now I have to keep the additional plantings to only ONE Cherokee Purple and ONE Early Girl.

Oh, and maybe two Principe Borghese. We're running low on dried tomatoes.

Today should be Pepper Day, but I wonder if there's enough room under the lights.

*If anyone is considering grain mill buying, this blog has some lovely and current reviews. I probably wouldn't get another Diamant based on it.


Erin said...

And so the season begins! I've got about 3-4 weeks yet, but should probably start locating all my "stuff" LOL

Daphne Gould said...

Wow tomato day won't happen here until early-mid April. I've got a long time to wait.

Prairie Cat said...

Good luck with your plantings! It is still way too early for me to start tomatoes, but onions and leeks are in my immediate future.

Annie*s Granny said...

I use a home made block maker. I have a small square, from a 2" plastic container with a plexiglass plunger, and a small round from a medicine bottle and smaller cap for a plunger. Directions for the medicine bottle ones can be found at:

http://toppertwo.tripod.com/soil_blocks.htm#Okay.. How to make your soil block makers

An acorn nut on the end of the plunger makes a perfect seed planting hole.

Anonymous said...

Do you need a soil blocker? Because I received one as a gift and I have never used it - you're welcome to it. Also, I have STILL not seen your garden, so it would give me an excuse...


Stefaneener said...

Erin, I may be rushing it, but not by much. It's good to have your stuff arranged ahead of time.

Daphne, we are in very very different climates. 12 weeks will put me. . . near the end of April. They can probably go out then. We usually get a bit of heat in May. We'll see how the spring goes.

Prairie Cat, welcome! I can almost grow winter crops year 'round, but the heat lovers need a bit of help. I never plant enough onions OR leeks. Hope you do.

Annie's Granny, I should look it up. It's probably better than my paper cup.

Birgitt, come! Let's get together. Want some kale seedlings?

Mr. H. said...

I like your soil block maker. We were thinking of using them for our herbs this year but I doubt if I will get around to finding a real block maker and might just have to try your paper cup method.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Mmmm...kale. Can never plant too much, at least not around here! I like your impromptu soil block maker, looks like it worked quite well. I haven't started tomato seeding yet, but the plan is get them going by Feb 14th. First I need to clear some space in the greenhouse LOL.

Becca said...

You seem a good planter...planting helps to lessen body stress and a good meditation.

Stefaneener said...

CVS -- I personally think "too much kale" is probably more like "not eating enough kale," so planting a gigantic bed of it makes sense. But what do I know? I had dozens of folks ask for transplants when I posted on Freecycle. Maybe I'll sell them next year.

Christina said...

Great directions on building soil blocks--thank you for sharing them.