Branching Out's Seeds and Sprouts

Branching Out

Deeply Rooted
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The weather was pleasant for two days in a row (yay!) so I uncovered part of one of the vegetable beds and popped in a bunch of seedlings. Previously the soil in this area was horrible, with no texture and very little organic matter. Each spring I would battle a water logged mat of dense weeds. Out of desperation, last November I had sprinkled a sack of alfalfa pellets over this area and then buried it under a thick blanket of leaves. When I pulled back those leaves today there earth underneath was in fine shape-- there is definitely some organic matter developing, and it was dark and fine textured. And no weeds either as the leaves acted like a mulch over the winter. I will definitely be trying this technique again in the future.
 

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digitS'

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I have been a little reluctant to say it publicly but it takes some time to establish decent soil for garden plants on new ground. The plants have been with us for generations, on farms and gardens. It is something of a partnership because of their requirements.

Perhaps realizing that relationship helps anyone thinking about starting a first garden from feeling discouraged if I say that it has taken me about 3 growing seasons to reach some comfortable level of garden soil quality on new ground. It has always been worth the effort on lawn, hayfield or forest clearing. And, I hasten to add, that's here where those seasons are quite short. So, others' cultivation time and mileage may be shorter ;).

Branching Out, in one flower garden, I deliberately grew larkspur for only one year (I think it was), and they came back year after year. I appreciated them filling in here and there but, finally, the dahlias squeezed them out.

Steve
 

Branching Out

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A month ago I sowed five different varieties of peppers for me and the neighbours to share. The germination rates on these was off the charts, thanks to my friend tending them with what is clearly a magic touch. Lucky for us, he has a green thumb--and a heated greenhouse too. Today I bumped the seedlings up to 4" pots so the peppers can move from his grow light cupboard (he has a neat set up that is kind of like a bookshelf with heat mats, lights, and glass doors) to outdoors, under glass. He has given them some sort of root stimulator and do they ever look healthy.

I used his labeling system, which is to assign a number to each variety and then put that number on the pot. It worked like a charm. Early Jalapenos were #6, Stocky Red Roaster #7, Santa Fe #8, etc. I put a sticky label with a number on each pot, and then popped in the corresponding pepper plant. Where possible I used different shaped or different coloured pots as well, just in case the label gets lost. 32 in all.
 

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heirloomgal

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The weather was pleasant for two days in a row (yay!) so I uncovered part of one of the vegetable beds and popped in a bunch of seedlings. Previously the soil in this area was horrible, with no texture and very little organic matter. Each spring I would battle a water logged mat of dense weeds. Out of desperation, last November I had sprinkled a sack of alfalfa pellets over this area and then buried it under a thick blanket of leaves. When I pulled back those leaves today there earth underneath was in fine shape-- there is definitely some organic matter developing, and it was dark and fine textured. And no weeds either as the leaves acted like a mulch over the winter. I will definitely be trying this technique again in the future.
I've used alfalfa meal, but never pellets. I wonder if the pellets are more cost effective?
 

Branching Out

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I've used alfalfa meal, but never pellets. I wonder if the pellets are more cost effective?
I can't recall with certainty, but each were inexpensive. Does $16 for 50 lbs sound right?? There is a supply chain issue here, so we have not been able to get alfalfa meal for over a year. Kind of weird that you can buy pellets-- but not meal. Turns out the pellets are easy to use, so it has worked out okay. In some ways it's better because there is no dust; you just scatter the clean, shiny pellets over the surface and then scratch them in. I am loving moving towards organic amendments, but I often have to put a mask on to limit their dustiness.

Today I added alfalfa meal (that I had leftover in a bulk bin) to the pepper seedlings that I was bumping up. They say it has a rooting hormone that is especially beneficial for seedlings, so that that is where I will use the remainder of my limited alfalfa meal. Once it is gone I am thinking that I will just add a pellet or two to each seedling that I bump up.
 
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ducks4you

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Except for burying kitchen waste and using grass clippings, every amendment will $cost you, OR cost you time.
You would think that my property, previously 5/~50 acres of a farm begun at the end of the 19th century, would be well fertilized. Nope. The soil under the lawn is straight clay, therefore my garden beds began as straight clay. They are better bc I have amended them. This year I dumped EDIT: 14 wheelbarrows full of fresh manure/straw/urine soaked straw and some urine soaked pine pellets. They currently peak at 2 ft high. I am expecting them to leach out with every rain and add more enzymes and feed microbes and worms. I have these piles weathering between fence#1 and fence #2, and between fence #2 and fence #3 in my big garden, 12 ft wide. Over the season they will all settle lower. If I don't disturb them I can direct plant something there in 2024.
I am not afraid of burning out the garlic that is growing from 2022 planting on the south sides of fence #1 and fence #2. There is a 6 inch gap between the garlic and the piles.
The English "common" was a rotating plot of farmland allowed to go fallow for a full season and grow grasses which fed livestock which fertilized it before the next 6-7 years of crops.
This is on the north side of my big garden and it has had fertility problems and I am fixing that.
Whatever you try should help your soil and your crops.
 
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Branching Out

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The English "common" was a rotating plot of farmland allowed to go fallow for a full season and grow grasses which fed livestock which fertilized it before the next 6-7 years of crops.
Recently I read about farmers partnering up with ranchers, so the rancher's herd grazes on the farmland of a neighbouring family. The livestock are able to forage, and in return the farmer gets manure pressed in to the field by the animals' hooves. That is interesting that the English had a similar system many years ago. I sure wish my neighbours had cows that could come fertilize my yard. :)
 

Branching Out

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Another day, and yet another experiment with soil blocking. A week ago I made a tray of 5 x 20 mini blocks and then popped the whole tray in the freezer. Two days ago I pulled the tray out of the freezer to thaw, and then yesterday morning I sowed five different kinds of seeds: Green Wave mustard, German Thyme, Vibrant Joy Bok Choy, Baltic Red Kale, and an herb that is new to me called Horehound. Once the seeds were firmed in the covered tray went in the refrigerator overnight, to see if the cool moist environment would assist the seeds to imbibe and hydrate. The tray is now out of the fridge, and it will sit in a sunny window with the plastic lid lifted up about an inch so the soil blocks stay moist-- but hopefully not moist enough to mold. A couple of weeks ago I had a tray that grew white furry mold, and I do not want a repeat of THAT.
 

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heirloomgal

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Funny you should mention about mold; I uncovered some of the seeds I recently planted that were on the germination mat. I use plastic baggies with an elastic for covers, and for a few of them there was some fuzzy grey covering the top of the soil surface. The only difference in those from the others, which weren't doing this, was I had added a bit of alfalfa meal to that soil batch as I was transplanting the bigger peppers at the same time. I think it was a bad idea! I've never used the meal on seedlings/seeds before and it's the first time this has happened! Works great outside for me, but I don't think I'll risk doing it again in indoors conditions.
 
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