Two quick side notes...First, the Norfolk Library is hosting a Farm Day on Saturday. They're screening the movie Greenhorns which is about the young agricultural movement, and offering a locally-sourced lunch. Then there'll be a panel discussion with a bunch of local farmers, myself included. Click the link for more information.
Second, Petunia had her very first litter of piglets at 3 am on Monday. So cute. If anyone is looking to buy piglets, they'll be ready to go at the end of April.
Ok, on to seeds...
I decided last year, after sowing seeds directly into the garden bed and not getting a great yield of crops, that I'd plan ahead this year and start seeds indoors. I'm going to write about it in case, by some chance, this works really well. Then I can look back on it next year and maybe it'll be helpful to people who read it.
Unfortunately, in Connecticut our growing season isn't very long, so plants really need the head start
of germinating and sprouting in March instead of waiting for the last frost, which is usually the end of May. I plan on moving them out into my new greenhouse (thanks, John!) in April, and getting them in the ground at the end of May (if this winter weather ever ends!).
I've never started seeds before, so I've been doing research all winter. I bought an edition of Mother Earth News and followed their advice pretty closely. Here's a link to the article: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/starting-seeds-indoors-zm0z12djzsor.aspx#axzz2vrES1Dcu. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on new equipment, and the author did a great job of paring down supplies to what you really need.
We have a lot of flat black trays from Kelley's experiment with fodder, which I hope to try again in the future. I used small paper bathroom cups as containers, which are the perfect size, cost next to nothing, and can be composted when I transplant the starts to bigger containers. (It's important to poke holes in the bottoms of the cups so excess water can drain). That's all the equipment I'll
need for the first week. Once the plants break through the soil, they need light for energy. I bought 48" 32W T8 fluorescent lights. Special grow lights can be expensive and they're not really necessary (I hope) if you're getting the starts under natural sunlight early enough. I'll post an update once I start using the lights.
I went with Miracle Grow organic soil and mixed in perlite, which keeps the soil from compacting, and vermiculite, which has lots of nutrients and absorbs water, keeping the soil moist. In the future I'd like to use our own compost, but we didn't have enough for this year.
The seed starting medium ended up being 8 parts soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part vermiculite.
I filled the paper cups about ¾ full and tapped them on the table to get rid of any air pockets. Then I put 2 seeds in each cup and covered them with about a tablespoon of the soil mixture. After lightly pressing down on the soil, I sprinkled on a layer of vermiculite and then a good dose of water. Once the tray was full, I covered it loosely with plastic wrap. Here's the end result.
I'm so excited for these to sprout! I only ended up getting to about half of the seeds I plan to start before I quit and went to bed. (John and I are up checking on our very pregnant sows a few times a night, so we are exhausted). I'll get to the rest tonight, and if I do anything differently I'll post an update.
"By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world - we change ourselves."
March is looking to be a busy month on the farm! The awesome turn out at the last farmer's market in Norfolk has allowed us to plan two more Spring markets. They will be held at Battell Chapel in Norfolk on Saturday, March 29 and Saturday, April 26 from 10:00 - 1:00. We will have plenty of beef and pork with us, and if you'd like to place an order ahead of time we can have it packaged and ready for you when you arrive. (We're now able to accept credit and debit cards, too.)
Also, we have a group of pigs scheduled for processing this month, so if anyone is interested in saving money with a bulk order, half or whole pig, please contact us for pricing.
I think I can speak for every last creature on the farm, John and myself included, when I say that we are more than ready for Spring. I'll be starting seeds for the garden this week - we can't wait to get back to our own supply of fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Here's a quote from the self-proclaimed "lunatic famer" Joel Salatin that really speaks volumes about why we farm the way we do: "We don't need a law against McDonalds or a law against slaughterhouse abuse - we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse." We hope you, as the consumer, can make the choice to pay a little more for food that is raised humanely, naturally, and responsibly, with respect and love for our animals.
(Don't forget to "Like" us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/howlingflats)
Real food enthusiast following nature's template