Wednesday, March 18, 2020

February of 2020 Overview

Crazy Ass Icicles
Crazy Ass Icicles

The month of February are when things start ramping up for the urban farm.  I usually try and start the first seedlings of the year during the first few weeks of February depending on what else I have going on in my life.  The peppers need to get started first since they take the longest to grow but as a result of laziness combined with striving to be as efficient as possible this year I started as many seedlings as I could along with the peppers.  I definitely try and limit it to the things that take a while to grow (peppers take ffffooorrrrreevvvveeeerrrr to grow) since my laundry room only has so much space for seedlings.  In years past I've started seeds in the small 1x1 seed blocks that you commonly see at garden stores.  I've grown to dislike using these as you have to transplant the seedlings to a bigger pot fairly fast or else the plant growth gets stunted and that seems to happen anyways when you transplant them.  Last year I started using 3x3 containers (also found at garden stores) and I loved them so this year I'm only using 3x3 containers to start seeds in and I might not need to transplant any of the plants until they're ready to go outside which saves me time and the plants will be happier.  I use normal potting soil (natural as possible and with added microbes) to start my seeds, I don't see the point in using seed starting specific soil as such a thing doesn't exist outside in nature and I've never had any trouble just using normal soil to start seeds in.  As far as I can tell seed starting soil is just a ploy by the gardening industry to get you to buy more product so they can make more money off of you which boosts consumerism.  Whether that's actually the case I don't have the slightest idea, I'm sure I'll find out as I read more and more about soil health and everything soil related this year.  If you use seed starting soil you have to transplant the seedlings fairly quickly to more nutritious soil so the plants continue to grow properly, so why not just them start off in normal soil and bigger pots?

3x3 Tray for Starting Seeds
3x3 Tray for Starting Seeds

First Weekend of February
 - The first of the garlic, which has been planted outside since around October, started sprouting!  The weather was really nice outside and there was snow in the forecast for the future so I planted with the garlic:
  • Mixed Orach
  • Mizuna Beni Houshi
  • Lettuce- Landis Winter
  • Spinach - Bloomsdale Long Standing
  • Russian Red Kale
In 2 rows after the garlic I planted the following (not growing in conjunction with the garlic):
  • Radish 18 Jours
  • Radish Saxa 2
  • Lettuce - Tennis Ball
  • Celtuce Red Mountain
Then we had a good two (maybe three) weeks of sporadic snow and cold weather, which I was quite excited by since I had just put seeds in the ground.  With a little bit of luck there will be two weeks of sunshine and warmish weather where these will sprout up and maybe I'll get some early fresh food!  I don't currently have anything to cover plants with though so if a good snow or cold snap rolls in it may destroy these early seedlings (the garlic will be just fine though).  But these are all cold weather plants so they may be okay, that just depends on how much snow rolls in along with how cold it actually gets.

The first seedlings were started inside on the second weekend in February:
  • Pepper - Aji Charapita - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Craigs Grande Jalapeno - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Anaheim - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Poblano - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Cayenne Long Thin - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Shishito - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Corbaci - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Orange Bell - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Lilac Bell - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Califonria Wonder - 6 seeds
  • Pepper - Horizon Orange - 6 seeds
  • Tomato - Black Cherry - 6 seeds
  • Tomato - Brads Atomic Grape - 3 seeds
  • Tomato - Mushroom Basket - 3 seeds
  • Tomato - Orange Icicle - 3 seeds
  • Ground Cherry - Aunt Mollys - 3 seeds
  • Cape Gooseberry - 3 seeds
  • Cabbage - Brunswick - 12 seeds
  • Cabbage - Early Jersey Wakefield - 12 seeds
  • Cauliflower - Purple of Sicily -6 seeds
  • Broccoli - Romanseso Italia - 6 seeds
  • Broccoli - Waltham 29 - 6 seeds
  • Lettuce - Little Gem - 3 seeds
  • Lettuce - Landis Winter - 3 seeds
  • Lettuce - Tennis Ball - 3 seeds
  • Lettuce - Buttercrunch
  • Spinach - Bloomsdale Long Standing - 3 seeds
  • Red Mountain Celtuce - 3 seeds
144 seeds started

Seeds Have Been Started in the Laundry Room
Seeds Have Been Started in the Laundry Room
The second round of seedlings were started on the third weekend in February:
  • Eggplant - Listada Den Gandia - 6 seeds
  • Eggplant - Little Fingers - 6 seeds
  • Eggplant - Japanese White Egg - 6 seeds
  • Onion - Yellow Sweet Spanish - 6 seeds
  • Onion - Southport Red Globe - 6 seeds
  • Onion - Bunching - He Shi Ko - 6 seeds
36 additional seeds started, bringing the total amount of seedlings in my laundry room to 180.  I'm not sure why my neighbors think I'm crazy.

More Seeds Have Been Started
More Seeds Have Been Started
I've never had any luck with starting onions inside, they always seem to die on me, but that won't keep me from trying again and again and again.

You may notice that this is an early start for a lot of these plants.  I'm a fairly non-traditional person and I like to do my own thing and experiment to see what actually works best.  I don't like doing things the way it's always been done just because that's what has worked for other people in the past.  I want to see what works best for me and go from there.  For all of these items that I started inside from seed, I'll also plant more of them from seed outside at the same time (or around it) that I transplant these seedlings from inside to outside then compare how they do in relation to each other to see if there's any advantage to starting the seeds inside early on or if I'm just wasting my time and electricity.  In past years I haven't noticed any advantage for tomatoes, the ones I start outside from seed have always caught up to the inside seedlings at Olympic sprinting speeds.  At the same time I've always stunted the growth of the inside tomato seedlings by not moving them to bigger pots when I should have combined with over-watering them so I want to give it another shot and see what happens.  My hope is that I'll get tomatoes very early on in the season and the plants will keep producing all summer long which will result in me swimming in tomatoes.  I really don't even like tomatoes that much (Black Cherry tomatoes are the exception) but I do like growing them and I LOVE salsa and tomato sauce, both of which I want to make a bunch of this year.

As you read through this list one thing that you're likely wondering is, "What the hell is a Ground Cherry and who is Aunt Molly?"  Ground Cherries are probably my second favorite thing to grow right behind garlic.  They look like mini tomatillos and are basically marble sized tomato looking things wrapped in a paper husk and they just so happen to taste like Pineapple.  They're natures candy, are amazing, and there should be a global law mandating that these shall be grown in every single garden in the world in the climates and/or regions where they can grow.  They are that good!  I don't have the slightest idea who this Aunt Molly lady is but she makes a mean Ground Cherry thing-a-ma-jig!

Things that I should have started from seed in February but didn't because I completely forgot that I had them (epic fail):
  • Artichoke - Colorado Red
  • Celery - Chinese Pink
  • Huckleberry - Garden
  • Cabbage - Violaceo Di Verona (yes, I need more cabbage)
  • Turnip - Tokinashi (I'm not happy that I forgot about these, they're very tasty)
These are next up to be planted / started whenever I find time to do so.

Other notable events in February:

The Great Gnat War of 2020 was well underway - I over-watered one of my houseplants continuously for a few weeks and I didn't realize it until gnats had built a nice home in the soil of said houseplant.  These gnats aggressively expanded to several houseplants (only a select few though, the more moist ones).  It turns out that gnats are a pain the ass to get rid of once they've made a nice home.  Through a combination of insect sticky traps, steel wool, and Neem oil as a last resort, I did manage to get rid of them (as far as I can tell anyways).  Neem oil is one of those fun "Certified Organic" chemicals that I would never use on my vegetables, anything I want to eat, or anything that's going to go into the compost.  But my houseplants are aesthetic, I'm never going to eat them, and I've made a mental note to not put the houseplant soil in the compost.  What's wrong with using a Certified Organic chemical on plants you want to eat you may ask?  I'll let you decide that, read the following warning label that's on the back of the Certified Organic Neem Oil bottle and then ask yourself, "Do I want to eat food that this has been used on?"  Keep in mind this is a Certified Organic chemical so this very well could have been used on your beloved Organic produce that you just bought in the grocery store that you're currently feeding your family with.  This is one of the many problems with the Organic label along with why it's stupid and useless in my personal opinion (but the intention behind it is good).

Certified Organic Neem Oil Label
Certified Organic Neem Oil Label
Winter Folk Music Festival - I was so excited when I found out about this, a month long music event in Longmont, a mile and a half from my house?!?!  A mix of local and well known artists put on 12 nights of shows total, all of which was a fundraising event for the Future Arts Foundation of Colorado.  This organization provides musical instruments and art classes for students all across Colorado, which is something that I'm more than happy to support.  I had the pleasure of seeing performances by: Brett Dennen, Kingdom Jasmine, Elephant Collective, Esme Patterson, Willie Watson, Otis Taylor, Adam Aijala, Ben Kaufmann, and Andy Thorn just to name a few.  The best part is I walked from my house to these shows and back each night!  This isn't a style of music that I normally listen to but it was ridiculously fun to see live as these artists are extremely talented in their own ways.  I'll likely listen to both We Dream Dawn and Kingdom Jasmine regularly as those were very notable performances.  Anyone else I'd likely see them live again in a heartbeat.

Winter Folk Music in Longmont, CO
Winter Folk Music in Longmont, CO

Dr. Dog Concert - There were a lot of music events this month!  I had to check out Dr. Dog.  I did see Dr. Dog live last summer at Red Rocks where they opened for Shakey Graves (that was an epic concert).  It was fun to see them perform in a smaller, more intimate venue.  Needless to say it was a blast, I did have to drive to Fort Collins for this one but I did carpool with some friends.

Dr. Dog Performing in Fort Collins, CO
Dr. Dog Performing in Fort Collins, CO
African Violet Propagation Experiment - I have a giant African Violet plant that has a ton of leaves and hasn't grown any flowers in probably two years.  It has grown very comfortable and while I like the plant, I would love for it to grow some flowers again dammit!!  I've never tried propagating plants before but there isn't any time like the present so I chopped a bunch of the leaves off and jostled the plant around a bit to try and shock it into growing flowers again.  The leaves I cut off I put into some soil to try and propagate more African Violet plants!  If they all take I won't have room for them but I'll give them away to whoever wants them and try and spread some plant love!

African Violet Propagation Experiment
African Violet Propagation Experiment
Flower Bulbs Outside Started Popping -  Before the winter I planted more flower bulbs in the wild flower yard.  Some of them starting poking their heads out of the ground in February, which is fantastic to see and has been getting me very excited for Spring to arrive.

Flower Bulb Popping Out of the Ground!
Flower Bulb Popping Out of the Ground!

Crazy, Gravity Defying Icicles Formed - There was about a two week period where I had some really crazy ass icicles forming on the patio covering.  I've never seen icicles quite like these before, aside from videos of scientists making these form in climate controlled labs.  There wasn't any significant wind when these formed so that didn't cause these.  The current theory is that it's a result of some pretty dramatic temperature changes that happened within a short time frame.  I have no idea if that's accurate or not though (I'm not a scientist), I'm still waiting for some science type person to verify this or present a different theory.  Needless to say, there's never a dull moment on the urban farm!

Icicles Parallel with the Ground
Icicles Parallel with the Ground

Icicles Defying Gravity
Icicles Defying Gravity

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