Sunday, February 24, 2013

Starting seeds, day 8: growth!

Good progress now. They look a touch leggy... I really don't have a feel for how they should be at this stage. Clearly the lettuce fared better than the Spinach, which was from 2009. I should have over-planted those more. I did some more thinning after I took this picture.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Starting Seeds, day 2: first shoots!

It's only been 48 hours, but we have some shoots already!

(Look down in the lower right.) So awesome! This is the stage where, outside, half of them would get eaten by slugs. When it came to the water in the tray, I decided to just move the plants aside and pour it off. I haven't had to add any water. I did go ahead and get a heating pad. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Starting seeds indoors - the warm-up

I think I'm not much different from most gardeners when I say that the prospect of starting seeds indoors makes me anxious. I've dabbled in it in the past, but those efforts basically amounted to sticking some soil in a container, adding a seed, and leaving it on the kitchen counter. Needless to say nothing much ever came of it and I stuck with buying my starts from my friendly local nursery.

The problem with the friendly local nursery is that their selection is severely limited, and by the time you can actually put anything in the ground here in Oregon the ones you find in the greenhouses are rootbound (the roots are formed into a clump in the under-sized pot) and sometimes quite leggy (their stems are long because they've been reaching for the light).

So no more nursery plants for me! Sorry Roger's, we've enjoyed coming to your yard all these years but we're grown-up gardeners now.

No small part of my newfound confidence comes from the fact that starting seeds is this week's topic in my Master Gardener night class. I'm doing the best to emulate the method used by Master Gardener Cindy Wise, who makes it look easy. Here we go.

Founding the "Pilot Farm"

We bought this house in May of 2008. Having a big lot was a priority for us. When I first walked out the back door of the garage and looked down to the far end, I turned to Artie, our broker, and said, "Is that ALL in this lot?"

June rolled around, and we were eager to get our
garden in the ground. But we hadn't closed on the house yet. We didn't let that stop us. We came right in and planted our vegetables without even having the keys to the door.

A week later we started moving in, and Theo had no trouble keeping himself busy digging for worms in the new planter bed. Now, four years later, he still gets just as excited at every creepy crawly he finds out there.

This is what the garden looked like that first year. The corn didn't do too well - not enough of it to pollinate. And the artichoke was somewhat shocked from being moved. But everything else did amazingly!

Laying down roots

Hello, and welcome to Just Sprout! My name is JT Justman, and I have made this blog as a way to document and motivate myself on my way to my life's goal: to provide the majority of the food my family needs, and then some, from my own land, in a way that uses the appropriate level of resources.

Well, I've got a long way to go, but I'm kind of proud of the things I've done in the last few years:

  • Started buying a house with .18 acres of good soil
  • Converted several hundred square feet of grass, brambles and ornamental plants into plots for fruit and vegetables
  • Preserved many different kinds of food by freezing, canning, and storing
  • Grown more than 30 different kinds of fruit and vegetables
  • Started Oregon State University Extension Service's Master Gardener Program
What you can expect to see here is a pictorial journal of my projects, my schemes in detail, and the things I learn along the way.

Just for fun, here's a list from memory of all the things I've grown in the last four seasons: