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Happenings Around the Homestead

Every year about this time I fool myself into thinking spring is right around the corner.  We get a few warm days, and for some reason I believe winter is over.  Well, it is not!  It hit yesterday afternoon (Saturday) with a vengeance, and the temperature dropped several degrees in just a very short period of time.  This morning it is bitter cold outside, and they are saying we may get snow tonight!  My favorite weather forecaster, Beau Dodson, is saying the snow is very likely, as are some bitter cold temperatures mid week.

We attempted to cover the chicken coop with the tarp yesterday, but the wind was so strong it was merely an exercise in futility.

UPDATE: as of 4:30 AM on Monday morning, we have just over 3″ of snow.  We were also able to cover the chicken coop yesterday to keep it a little better insulated.  The chickens sure are enjoying having the new extended run though, as it allows them to get out in the sun, even when the rest is covered.  We’ll see how they like that today with a big snow.  😀

Speaking of snow, I have long said that we get a real whopper of a snow storm (don’t laugh my New England friends) about every decade.  A local weather enthusiast, Jason Darnell, did some research that backs this up.  We have only had four single day snowfalls of greater than 8 inches, but look at the spacing:

  • December 22, 2004: 14 inches
  • February 15, 1993: 7.9 inches (yes, I know this is just under 8 inches, but it was followed 11 days later with another 7.3 inches).
  • January 16, 1978: 11 inches
  • March 6, 1967: 8 inches

As you can see, other than a 15 year span one time, we get an 8″ or greater snowfall about every decade.

As an interesting addition to this, in 1984 there was a two day snowfall of 8.2 inches and a one day snowfall of 7.1 inches, so we didn’t really skip that decade, we just had a five year snow prior to that.  Actually, it looks like prior to 1984 we had a span of bigger snowfalls every five years, with a few interspersed one to three year big snows:

  • 1984: one day snow of 7.1 inches and a separate two day snowfall of 8.2 inches
  • 1979: three day snowfall of 8 inches
  • 1978: 11 inches
  • 1975: one day snowfall of 5 inches
  • 1970:  two day snowfall of 7 inches
  • 1967: 8 inches
  • 1965: two day snowfall of 7 inches

This week I did get the first round of winter sowing done.  Here let me share a little bit about that.

The principle is this: instead of using grow lights and having to harden of your plants, you begin by planting outside in mini-greenhouses.  During the winter the varying weather causes the seeds to freeze and thaw, expand and contract, and eventually grow.  The mini-greenhouse offers enough protection to keep the plants alive, and also keeps you from having to harden them off, as that happens naturally.  It made sense to me, after all, this is more how it happens in nature, yet still might give me a jump on the summer.

So, you begin by collecting as many milk jugs and other plastic bottles as you can.  This is a small group I am starting with:

Winter Sowing - The Milk Jugs

Winter Sowing – The Milk Jugs

The first thing you have to do is drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the jugs.  If not, too much water will stay in them and the seeds may rot before they grow.

Winter Sowing - Drilling Holes

Winter Sowing – Drilling Holes

Winter Sowing - Drainage Holes

Winter Sowing – Drainage Holes

Once that is done you need to cut the jugs in half.

Winter Sowing - Cutting the Jug

Winter Sowing – Cutting the Jug

Then fill them with potting soil.

Winter Sowing - Filling with Potting Soil

Winter Sowing – Filling with Potting Soil

Once that was done, I put the jugs back together and moved them outside.  I wish I had just finished them on the day I started them, but time did not allow that.

Winter Sowing - Filled Jugs

Winter Sowing – Filled Jugs

Finally it was time to sow seeds.  I just kind of scattered my seeds in the jugs, but I labeled them inside and outside, plus on the bottom, knowing that the sun will fade the labeling sticks.

Winter Sowing - Adding Seeds

Winter Sowing – Adding Seeds

I then taped the jugs shut with duct tape.

Winter Sowing - The Final Mini-Greenhouse

Winter Sowing – The Final Mini-Greenhouse

And finally I set them out by my raised garlic beds where they would get good morning sun.  Notice all the lids are off.  That is to allow the rain to get in the jugs.  It also keeps the temperature from getting too high on warm days.

Winter Sowing - Round 1

Winter Sowing – Round 1

If you want more details, Wintersown.org is the place to go, but this should be enough to give you the general idea.  Now let’s watch and see if they grow!


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