Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I have finally got all my pots made, the potting mix is in and now I just have to see which of my seeds are still viable and which aren't. I have quite a few seeds and I am loathe to throw them away, although I know all the gardening books say to toss them after a certain time. So I will see if I can get any to germinate in wet paper towels and if they do I will plop them into potting soil and see what happens.

Like I promised, I am going to show you my swanky, supercool Pot Maker! I so love this thing! Basically, it allows you to take a piece of newsprint 3.5"x10" and turn it into a pot for plant starts. Being that I live in a city where there is no shortage of  "indie" newspaper, it is easy enough to find free fodder for pots. Otherwise, a lot of times if you catch the guys that deliver to the stores in the mornings you can get the bundles of the stuff. Or you can read the newspaper, I guess...

Anyways. Find yourself a awesome Pot Maker like I got! If you  do a web search on "pot maker" it gives you quite a few options. You can also go to the manufacturer's website for additional information.

Yes, I know it looks like a sex toy.  No, it is not a sex toy.

Next, you cut some strips of paper in 3.5"x10" segments.  Cut a whole buttload at once, it makes it much easier if you do not have to stop and cut strips every few pots.

Most plastic plant trays hold about 32 of the paper pots. I cut 96 strips within a few minutes and had them ready to go when I started making them.

A lovely newsprint tube
Then you start rolling. You roll till you have a nice tube.  Not too tight or it will be a bitch to slide it off the press. Not too loose or you will not be able to form it into the base.

Some people will angle the paper slightly so you will have a small tab at the top to fold over. I have never found a need to take this step, but it seems to work for some people so more power to them.

As you can see to you will have a lovely tube of newsprint.

Next, you fold the bottom inch of paper under and press/twist it into the base. Do not go hog wild and twist like your are reaming a lemon. Otherwise, you will rip the paper bottom. Just give it a firm twist and

Voila! You have a lovely newsprint pot to get your tomatoes started in!  Now only another 95 to go...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Garden Weight Loss Plan

  In the last three years, I have lost close to 60 pounds. I say part of that is because I work out in the yard. A lot. Winter is down time for me and I will usually gain anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds back, but as soon as Spring begins and I am out in the yard regularly I tend to shed that weight relatively quickly.

Mulch-y goodness!
  Yard work is a wonderful form of exercise and it kicks your butt. A lot of squatting, bending, lifting, tugging, shoving, patting and cursing. Kind of a like a high-impact aerobics class.

  Today, I bought 8 bags of 2cu. ft. bark mulch for my garden paths and lugged them into the car by my lonesome and out of the car by my lonesome and up into the yard. I will have some buff arms soon enough!

  I am planning on grabbing some cardboard for ground cover before I lie the mulch down. I don't care much for plastic weed barriers since they don't break down over time, you go back a few years from now and find the stuff everywhere.  The previous owners put the shit down everywhere and after living here for 10 years I am still finding it and having to rip it out. Whoever thought this was a good idea needs to be smacked upside the head with a ping-pong paddle(not that I condone violence, but stupidity should be corrected).

  Friday morning, I awoke to find the Chicks huddling in the corner of their box.  Their heat lamp bulb had blown out in the night and, of course, I didn't have a spare. I plopped a 100 watt bulb into their light and ran off to work hoping that they didn't freeze what little of their tails they had off.

  After work, I wasn't able to find a suitable light in the pet shops around West Seattle, so on Saturday morning I had to run to Burien to Hayes Feed and Country Store, first thing, and grab a bulb before heading over to Port Orchard to hang out with the boyfriend and his daughter.

  It was the first time I left them alone all night long and when I got back this afternoon, their water trough was filled to the top with wood shavings and they had eaten all of their starter mash. Starving, thirsty chicks. I gave them some cool fresh water and they guzzled it down, (although, I don't believe that chickens are able to guzzle without lips...).

  Chickens will basically become ill and die quickly if they do not have access to clean drinking water. It is their biggest weakness and being that they have such fast metabolisms, something as seemingly unimportant as having something to drink within the next hour can knock them out. I could have asked one of the neighbor kids to look in on them, but I didn't have time. They seem no worse for wear.

Daffy-dils are fun ornamentals!
  I mostly grow food stuff, I am not an ornamental gardener, to the chagrin of my neighbor. I have a vegetable gardener. I have a hard time understanding why, when you have perfectly good land, you would want to only grow stuff you cannot eat. I have a few flowers here and there and I like how pretty they are. But I do not want to grow only flowers.

  I tend to use them more for when parts of my bed are in a fallow phase. Meaning that they are not expending energy on growing vegetables and are recharging by turning those flowers into the soil for a nitrogen boost. So they are beneficial in feeding the soil, as well as in drawing insects and birds to my garden as pollinators.

And, I guess they are kinda pretty.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here-a Chick, There-a Chick.

  So in order to get the Chicks acclimated to humans, you have to spend time with them. Unlike ducks, which have a tendency to imprint at first sight to a person or persons, chickens are much more instinctively wary of humans.

  I do not consider the Chicks to be pets. I consider them livestock, but I also don't want them to scatter wildly "Bwocking" every time they see me. So I bribe with treats and sit and coo at them so that they will feel more comfortable when I come for their eggs.

  But you can't help but be slightly enamored by them. They are just too entertaining not to love. Watching them as they forage and fight and run and jump on each other is more entertaining than television for me. They are very curious creatures and definitely want to know what you are doing even though they might be afraid of you.

  They are starting to look more and more like chickens everyday. A few are starting to grow the combs on top of their heads and they no longer peep as much as squawk. They are approximately 2 weeks old and will not lay eggs until they are about 6 months old. That is if the raccoons, cats, coyotes or crazy neighbors don't get them....

I have three breeds of chickens.

Welsummer                                                                                                Buff Orpington

  The Welsummers and Buff Orpingtons, both, lay lovely brown eggs while the Americaunas lay the coolest light blue and green eggs. They are a very interesting breed. 

  The Orpingtons and Welsummers are of a milder disposition, you could say they were big-breasted, matronly birds.  But the Americaunas... Well, they are only one step away from their wild cousins and tend to be much more skittish around people, but also much more confrontational. They tend to chase small children out of yards. Which makes them perfect for me... I do the same thing.

  Anyways, I've been busy bribing them with dandelion leaves and worms, which I seem to have a glut of, to let me touch them. They are much more curious about what I am doing now, as opposed to just cowering in the corner in peeping in fear. They peck at me and will climb up on my hand as long as I don't pull it out of the pen they are in. They are still kind of cute, but their breeds characteristics are definitely starting to come out.

  The boyfriend wants to give them names, but once you give them names they tend to be pets. I am trying to dissuade him from that, but if he has no problem with possibly having Margarite for dinner that's fine by me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And It Begins...

A tired urban farmer
   This weekend was the start of nice weather in Seattle. One thing people should know is that spring slides itself very stealthily into Seattle. One day it is a soaking grey, mushy day, the next is a windstorm and then somewhere in the middle of all that foul-weather and storming a beautiful warm day is plopped in!

  This weekend was a prime example of sneaky Seattle weather. Thursday was dark and grey and rained big, sloppy drops all day long. Friday was cold and sad and then suddenly Saturday came along and it was glorious! A dance and sing in the sun, praise the Sun God kind of day, work hard and play hard day.  A truly lovely spring day!!

  A perfect day to work out in the garden and get it ready for the vegetables! It took a few hours but most of the beds are weeded and on Sunday the boyfriend and I wandered the alleys of Seattle looking for forgotten and lonely bricks waiting for a garden bed to call home. We ended up finding an abandoned shopping cart from the local QFC and used that to haul about 35 bricks back to the garden. A couple of odd looking hobos  with a heavy load.

  I also made use of my AWESOME pot maker( I am going to have to take a picture of it so that you all can be jealous of it). It takes a strip of newsprint paper, approximately 3" by 10" long, and turns it into a biodegradable pot for plants starts! My little green house is now filled with little pots ready to be planted!

  I haven't been able to decide on what I will be planting this year, but there are so many options and I should get at it here within the next few weeks.

A few ideas have been:

  • French Breakfast radishes
  • Chinese Long beans
  • bush beans
  • Lacinato kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sunflowers
  • Assorted lettuces
  • Zucchini
  • Patty Pan squashes
  • Jalepeno
  Etc, etc, etc... The list goes on and on and on and until I actually get these things in the ground I will continue daydreaming about everything I hope and fantasize about planting. Revise, renew, add and subtract plants.

  The Chicks I picked up at Issaquah Grange on March 12th, are doing well, growing and starting to look like the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal.  They are cute little fuzzy critters for about the first two weeks of there lives, but their bodies grow faster than their feathers and soon they are hideous, spotted creatures that are all beak and legs... Kinda like teenage boys...
What're you looking at?!
File:Img skeksis.jpg
A teenage boy.

  They peep and cheep and peck a lot. They make quite a bit of noise when they see the giant hand coming towards them. They are slowly becoming less afraid and treats seem to help that along. Funny how something as simple as earthworms and dandelion leaves can bring joy.

A lot of plans this year, as usual. I always have a lot of plans for the garden, and for my life, it is always a matter of whether it comes to fruition or not. But then that is what a garden is. A garden is potential. You put something in the ground and with care and hope and luck you should have something happen. You'd have to fuck up pretty bad in order for nothing at all to happen. 

So the plan is to keep this journal and see what potentially happens...