Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Seed Starting Update

In years past I've started almost all of my seeds at once.  This year I decided that I would stagger starting them.  I'm hoping that this will spread out my harvest.  I don't want to have all of my tomatoes die at the same time like they did last year.  I started my first seeds on February 11.  I started additional seeds on the 18th and 25th.  I'm going to start more tomorrow (and continue each week until I until I put plants in the ground). 

Now is probably a good time to mention that last year I printed out a diagram of my garden and planned exactly what would go where.  That way I knew exactly what seeds to start and where the plants would end up.  It worked well.   I haven't done that this year.  I'm going back to my old seat-of-the-pants method of "starting a lot of seeds and planting where there's room". 

Anyway, what's the point of this post?  The first group of seeds that I started got big.  So I had to pot them up the other day.
I threw grow lights on top so they wouldn't strain for light.
I really should have labelled this stuff...
I found a container of soil in my yard and brought it into my garage to thaw out.  I filled the small pots with soil and moved the seedling (peat pod included) into the larger pot.
I moved the newly potted seedlings under my shop lights.
 Below is a wider shot of the area.  I'm still waiting for more seedlings to appear in the Jiffy Greenhouse.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Birthday baby bunnies!

We had another litter of rabbits today.  We put the rabbits together 30 days ago with hopes that they'd be born today, Saturday, February 28.  Like clockwork they arrived when they were due. 
There are 6 babies in total.  Two of them are black and 4 are brown.  We had 3 black and 2 brown last time

The doe went through a lot of hay this week.  I don't think she eat much of it at all.  Instead she took every bit she could get to build a nest.  This morning she pulled out a ton of hair.  I don't know how she has any left.  Then she went in her box for a while.  When we went out to check there were babies! 
I find this whole rabbit breeding thing very interesting.  Everyone has heard the saying, "They breed like rabbits."  We have found that rabbits are very eager to try to breed, but they're not so successful at producing offspring.  I've lost track of how many times we have put them together.  It's been at least 5-6 times, maybe more.  This is only our second litter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bunny breeding booster

Who knew bunnies didn't always reproduce like... well... bunnies?

With a track record of only 1 kindle of babies to 5 attempts at breeding, it was time to turn to the all-knowing internet for research.  There were all kinds of suggestions from diets to artificial lighting and heat.  Most seemed more costly and involved than we wanted to take on.  With only one breeding pair, it didn't seem worth it to put that much effort into getting them to breed.  Even without intervention, we figured it'd happen again eventually.  So we took the easier suggestions and ran with them.

First, about a week before the planned pairing, we started adding raw apple cider vinegar to the water given to both male and female.  We used Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Raw and "with the mother") which you can probably find at your local grocery store.


For reference, we have these waterers (32oz, click picture for Amazon link), and added the ACV at the rate of about a tablespoon every other day as we filled the water, which wasn't always completely empty at the time of refill:
 


The day before we put the rabbits together, I brewed up a cup of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Leaf tea.  We filled the female's waterer with fresh, new water (no vinegar) and added about 1/2 cup of the brewed tea to the 28 or so ounces of water.

The next day, we let the rabbits have a little "date" out in the yard on fresh grass.  Generally, we put the male in a collapsible pen, let him get oriented for a few minutes, and then introduce the female to the pen.  Things seemed to go well, and both bunnies were more mellow about the whole affair than in past meetings.

After that, we waited.... for about 3 weeks.
And two days ago, we noticed that our female is definitely nesting!  She's pulling out hair and piling it with pine shavings and hay in her box!

The kits are officially due this Saturday, so we'll be sure to post updates and let you know if our rabbit fertility treatments were truly successful!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Check your spare tire.

If you're like me, you probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about the spare tire in your car.  You assume that it's there and that it'll be fine when you need it.  Well, I was listening to a podcast last year when the speaker mentioned that it was a good idea to check the spare tire once in a while.  Most people don't.  So what happens when you actually need it and it's flat?  Shortly after that I checked the spare tires in both of my cars and wouldn't you know it, they were both very low.  Mine required 60 PSI and was around 30.  Since then I've put it on my to-do list.  I have it as a recurring task to do every 3 months.

Why do I mention all of this?  My wife was out the other day and when she got home she came in and said that one of the tires on the car was leaking.  As soon as I got to the door I could hear it.  The air was hissing out like crazy.  Thankfully she was able to get home. 
I took this picture at Firestone.  They said it was bad enough that they couldn't fix it and that it had to be replaced.
I called Firestone to see if they could get me in.  They said that it'd be a several hour wait.  Rather than rushing there with the hope that it wouldn't go flat on the way, I decided to put the spare on and take it in later in the week. 

By that time the tire was really low.  It wouldn't have made it to Firestone.  I had to put a pump on it to get the car high enough to put the jack under.  I removed the flat and installed the spare.  I checked the pressure in the spare (just in case) and it was right where it needed to be.  I got the car into Firestone and they replaced the tire the next day.  All is well again.

This is probably as good a time as any to mention car-related-preparedness-items.  I mentioned that I had to pump up the tire to get the jack under.  I keep a 12v pump in both of my vehicles.  Since it's 12v it can be run from the vehicle's 12v socket or attached directly to the 12v battery with this clip on adapter.  I also keep a LifeHammer (which I hope I never need) in the glove box along with extra glasses, matches, and a fire steel fire starter.  I the back of my car I have a first aid kit, fleece blanket, and some work gloves.  I'm not one of those people who stocks their car for the zombie apocalypse.  I just like keeping a few basic things around for the most likely scenarios (like being stuck on the side of the road for a few hours). 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let the 2015 gardening season begin!

I just checked the weather forecast and we're looking at lows in the teens over the next five days.  It doesn't feel like spring.  But, it is time to start thinking about this year's garden.  I need to start seeds now so I'll have plants to go in the ground in April. 

I pulled out my seed tray and some left over peat pods from last year.  
I placed several tomato seeds each of the pods in the first two rows.  I put one pepper seed in each of the pods in the next two rows.  I'm going to stagger starting tomatoes this year.  I started 8 today.  I plan to start 4 more next week and 4 more the week after that. 
I put the tray on the seed heating mat and covered it with the lid.

I pulled out my seeds tonight and found two bags of pepper seeds that I saved from peppers that I grew.  One of the bags was labeled 2012 and the other had no label.  I don't know how old they are. 
My attempt to keep peppers through the winter didn't work.  I cut the dead peppers off and scattered seeds all over the pot.  Then I moved the pots into my greenhouse


Since these seeds are old I have no idea how well they will germinate.  If they do end up doing well I'll let the strongest one survive and cut the rest off.   I normally just start seeds in my garage and then move them to the greenhouse.  I don't know if starting them in the greenhouse will work or not.  It'll be an interesting experiment.

I really need to print out a map of my garden and plan it out like I did last year.  That way I know how many plants I need.  Starting peppers and tomatoes now is good enough.  I can start everything else later. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Keeping peppers through winter.

A lot of people don't know it, but peppers are perennials.  It's possible to keep them growing all year long.  I've done it before.  They just have to be kept above freezing. 

I had a number of pepper plants in containers.  When it got cold I moved them to my garage and kept them under fluorescent lights.  They took up a lot of space.  It was pretty inconvenient.  This year I thought I'd try putting them in my greenhouse.
I have not gotten great results in the greenhouse.  My temperature control system has worked great.  It hasn't gotten below freezing in there even though we had some cold nights get into the teens.  I think the issue is humidity.  It's too humid in the greenhouse and the plants have gotten a brown hairy mold/fungus on them.  I tried pruning them but I don't think it helped.

I moved the plants out of the greenhouse once the arctic air passed.  It's too late for two of them, but the other two might have a chance.  I'll just have to wait and see...