Monday, January 25

Starting to think about seeds again

Seed catalogs are filling up my mailbox again, it must be January!

I tend to get excited thinking about all the new varieties of plants I'll grow each summer, and make a list that is twice as long as possible and four times longer than practical. Then, after much agony, I pare down the list to a few dozen plants and order those seeds I still need.

In my efforts to make a more scientific approach to this garden stuff, I'm expanding the garden planner spreadsheet that I wrote about last winter and many of you have (and hopefully are using). I hope, before too long, to have the small spreadsheet available on a host site for public downloading.

What should we start first? I expect by mid-February to be starting some herbs, some flowers, and a select few vegetables. If all goes well, I'll have a few more projects completed prior to the big seed-starting months of March and April:
  • root-view grow box (for the kids - see what your carrots are doing under the soil surface)
  • improved design of the garden hod - I have learned a few things from this first attempt that I should change before I make them as gifts. I still have several to make and send out to gardeners this May, so the kinks need to be worked through
  • cold frame - I've wanted a cold frame for ages, and I think this may be the year to build it, a small one, 2 feet by 4 feet, but that should be large enough for experimenting
  • row cover frames - haven't quite figured out how these will look, but I want something that is collapsible but will hold row cover material over a 30" x 4 foot section, give or take. The first experiment will be for broccoli and cole crops, which are forever becoming a smorgasbord for the local cabbage butterfly population. Perhaps it would make a good cold blanket for tender plants during the late frosts (June! :|)
  • more seed tapes, with a very busy year planned, I want to have easy to seed carrots, lettuce, and the like. I hardly ever get succession planting correct, so this year I hope to improve my chances.
New tools this year?
I have some money to spend on my garden, so I'm going to buy a digital heat mat thermostat, since my basement room is hardly ever the right temperature.

Monday, January 18

Garden Harvest Basket / Garden Hod - completed

I'd posted in September about a harvest basket / garden hod that I was planning to build. Now that the holidays have settled down and cedar lumber has been acquired, I have gotten down to building it.

1x10 - (about 2 feet needed)
1x2 - (about 5 1/2 feet needed)
pvc-coated wire mesh (1/2 inch grid, 18" x 22" or thereabouts)
exterior screws 1 1/2" & 2 1/2" (bigger or smaller will work with adaptations)
staple gun and 1/2" or 5/8" staples

Cut three 18" lengths of 1x2 (handle and rails)
Cut two 7 1/2" lengths of 1x2 (feet)
Cut two 7 3/4" lengths of 1x10 (ends), taper upper corners, notch sides for rails, and trim points off lower corners.

When attaching wood, pre-drill the holes for the screws to combat splitting of the wood. I glued any place where wood met wood, but that is up to you. I used long screws (2 1/2") for the handle and foot attachment, as these will be load-bearing points in the basket. The rails are mostly for keeping everything square and holding the mesh in place.

Assemble in this order:
Attach handle to two end pieces
Find center of wire mesh and temporarily staple to the bottom of the basket, attach feet such that the screws hold the mesh in place.
Bend mesh up sides of the basket, trimming as necessary to fit. Wrap around the interior of the rails and staple in place. Use a hammer if the staples didn't seat all the way.
Attach rails to end pieces.

I'll be sanding the handle some, as I don't like the rough side of the cedar, and I want to soften the corners when I carry it around.