If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pushing Spring

When I was a young girl, I loved all the seasons equally and reveled in each. 

Then, as I got older, I decided that I didn't really like fall because it seemed like everything was dying - warmer days, leaves on the trees, flowers...  I really sort of liked winter a lot because it was a time of hunkering down.  We spent more time indoors.  There was more time for my favorite pastime - reading books.  We were all together more.  When we got snow, it blanketed even the eyesores with beauty.  One can always layer on more clothing and get warm - unlike summer when only so much can come off and it still is sweaty.  I cannot say that I liked spring all that much because it usually brought on more chores and longer work hours and summer meant we had loads of work to do on the farm and it was unbearably hot.  The only saving grace for summer was that there was no school.

As I'm aging, I like winter less and less.  The cold weather fosters more aches and pains in my creaking joints and bones.  It does bring the hubby into the house earlier and we share more time together in leisure, though.  Spring, however, is a time when things seem to take on new life.  Everything outside looks greener, brighter, fresher, more cheerful.  So, I'm catching myself more and more at pushing spring. 

Today I really gave it a concerted push because I was inspired by a project Mike began last week.  He brought in a little cheap inexpensive plastic tray with these little peat/soil nuggets and poked some tomato seeds down inside.  I've watched eagerly for a little sprout every morning and every afternoon and so has he.  I think he has almost given up hope.  However, I was inspired.

So, yesterday afternoon when I went out to the barn, I poked around in his stuff out there and brought in three more of those plastic trays.  I had stopped by Bonnie's Barnyard to pick up a few packets of vegetable seeds on my way home and today I started our garden! 

I took these little plastic trays out onto the deck to prepare some seeds in hopes that we will have little plants for transplanting in a month when the weather cooperates.
containers and soil pellets

Each of the little 'grow-kits' came with a dozen little soil pellets that are wrapped in a biodegradable netting.  The directions say to slowly add warm water to the pellets in the tray until they are dark brown, soft, and expanded to about one-and-a-half-inches in height. 
soil pellets expanding

The shot above shows one pellet after the tray has absorbed a half-cup of water and the other after a whole cup of water is absorbed.  (I forgot to take a photo of the completely dry ones!)  I wound up adding one-and-a-half-cups of water in all and only had to pour off a little bit that wasn't absorbed. 
exposing the soil

Next, you tear and spread the netting back away from the top to expose the soil.  The netting and the plastic tray keep everything tidy and I even prepared one of these on my kitchen counter and had no dirt spillage.

I pulled out my seed packets.  I have yellow crookneck squash, yellow straightneck squash, pickling cucumbers, and okra that I started today.
sowing seeds

The directions said to place three seeds on top of each pellet.  I did this with the crookneck squash but I decided to only go with two seeds in the tray with the straightneck because we still have some squash in the freezer from last summer.  At this point I took a little painter's tape and labeled each tray.  I knew that all of these plants are going to look sort of alike at first and Mike and I like to organize our garden in a particular order.  Knowing that I don't plan to make a lot of pickles and don't particularly care to eat raw cucumbers, I only planted half a dozen pellets with them and planted okra in the other half.  I figure we will have a few transplanted plants of okra which will mature early and a row that will be later which will be sown directly in the garden. 

After I tapped a wee bit of peat atop each pellet, I set the clear top on each tray and set them in a sunny window of the kitchen. 
mini greenhouses

We will have something to watch for the next couple of weeks now in hopes of having our own transplants for the garden.  I think I've got about six or eight dollars invested in the seeds and the little trays are something Mike has had in the barn for years. 

The directions which came with the little trays say:  "When half of seeds have sprouted, remove dome and place in a cool, sunny spot or below a fluorescent light.  When the first true leaf appears, snip out the two smallest seedlings from each pellet.  Begin feeding with an all-purpose fertilizer and plant each pellet directly into the garden when all danger of frost is past."  Hmmm...  I'm not sure I'll follow the directions explicitly but I am looking forward to having my own transplants. 

Maybe we will turn this passion into a retirement hobby when the time comes!  (If we still are able to dig and plant and pick by then!)  For now, though, we are just pushing spring.