Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New gadgets

Androo, my intern, and I will be planting our first batch of pepper seeds on Friday after 9 am.  That's when the biodynamic calendar turns over to planting "fruit."  Since we eat the fruit of the pepper plant - not the leaf, the root or the flower - then we plant the seeds on a day when the planets and moon are properly aligned to send the energy to the fruit, the part of the plant we will harvest.  For lettuce, we plant our seeds on leaf days.  The onion seeds went in on a root day, and the broccoli seeds on a flower day.

I have been planting by the biodynamic calendar for years, and I am pretty convinced that there is something to it.  I use the Kimberton Hills versions of the calendar.  If you are an avid gardener and would like to try it, you can buy the calendar here:  Stella Natura biodynamic planting calendar  It's full of wonderful essays as well as the planting guide.  And if you are from the South Bend area, there is one calendar left for sale at my booth. 

At the farmers market where I sell my organic plants, my peppers are always behind Mary's.  She has these big beautiful plants that make mine look so pitiful!  Mine are fine, will bear great fruit, but from a marketing standpoint, I felt something had to be done.  For one thing, Mary plants VERY early.  But she has several greenhouses, so she can afford to heat just one to get the plant starts going for all of the greenhouses.  I have one small greenhouse, and I can't heat the whole thing for a few starts.  So this year, we are starting seeds in my atrium, which is on the south side of my house.  Since it is unheated, except for the sunlight (when we get it - not often in February in Indiana) and a little residual heat from the house, I dug out some old gardener's heating mats and put them under the onion seeds that we planted two weeks ago.  But they are not really very good, some old things that my realtor got from someone who was throwing them away when moving.  The onions are germinating, but the peppers will need more than that.

In comes my new gadget.  I bought a new heating mat and a separate thermostat so that I can control the temp.  Seeds from different plants need different germination temperatures, e.g. peppers need 85º, spinach needs 70º.   Both of these are slow to germinate, and the extra help from the mat should improve germination. I can get four seedling trays on it, which is a total of 976 plants.  We will plant the first of the pepper seeds on Friday.  Hopefully, by March 1, when I will fire up the furnace in the greenhouse, they will be tall enough to pot up into the 2" pots, their final resting place until my customers pop them into their gardens.  As soon as they germinate, I can devote the mat to spinach, parsley, lettuces, and of course, tomatoes.

Perhaps this year my pepper plants will hold their own in the looks department with Mary's giant peppers!

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