Monday, December 21, 2009

The first containers of 2009/10

After work, I finished a project I started earlier this year. It was supposed to be a rain barrel. Instead, it's my basement water source. Sure beats using the washing machine to refill the watering can. The original design leaked, so I picked up a few things from the store.

The sillcock is from the previous iteration. I added a couple #18 rubber O-rings and a new fitting for the inside. The silver washer represents the thickness of the plastic barrel's wall.

I installed it holding one wrench in my left hand in the barrel. The sillcock was held in place by my foot using a pipewrench. I tested it outside to see if it leaked. After 15 minutes and not a single drip, I drained some of the water and brought it inside using the handtruck. I maneuvered it onto a couple of styrofoam blocks I had in the basement. It's the perfect height for my watering can.

Once a week, I'll put a few drops of household bleach in it to keep it fresh. With the wood heater, I'm sure I'll use quite a bit of water. The pineapple sage was crispy again today, although it was fine this morning. I can attach a hose to the spigot, but there's not enough gravity to feed the water back up to the highest level of the plant rack. The watering can will work fine.

Now, on to the main event. I filled the watering can and selected 4 previously prepared containers. I wet the soil thoroughly and let it drain using a spare Sterlite container to catch the runoff. I placed the seed packs into the container along with prepared labels. This year, I'm using mini-blind markers and laser printed labels. I've wrapped the labels with packaging tape to keep the moisture off them. I'm hoping they don't fade in the sunlight. If they do, I'm going to have a very surprising garden next year. I'll keep an eye on them. A sure bet is a #2 pencil on the mini blind slats. I've got some that have lasted since my first wintersowing in the fall of 2008. I can get a lot more information on the laser printed labels. That comes in handy when walking around the yard trying to decide where a container of sprouts will be located. It's a perfectly acceptable method of design.

I spread the seeds evenly across the surface. Here you can see the smallest seeds, Ninebark.

And the largest seeds, Pride of Barbados.

Some seeds need a little cover like these echinacea. Small seeds like Ninebark, petunias, foxglove, etc, only get pressed into the wet soil. Be careful not to transfer seeds from one container to another. It's easy to do with wet hands.

The Pride of Barbados seeds were completely covered with soil.

In the tops of the containers, I made two slits opposite each other. This allows the top portion to slide down into the bottom half.

Then, they get carried out to the end of the driveway where they'll stay until I plant them out.

Planting out depends on the weather. Last year, we had a warm spell in January that caused a lot of germination. I'm hoping for the same this year. The containers heat up quickly in the dappled shade under an old oak tree.

Once the seedlings have their first true leaves, which is the second set of leaves to appear, they can be planted in the garden. You want to do this sooner rather than later, except for frost tender varieties. They should only be planted after the chance of frost has passed. The Pride of Barbados will probably germinate too soon and be killed by a cold snap. I saved lots of seeds for just that very reason. In late March, I'll sow more seeds in the hoophouse, placing one or two in quart containers. I want to plant a hedgerow of these. They are annuals here, but when they bloom, it's going to be gorgeous. Thanks again, Kat!

Normally, I would sow lots more containers today. However, the Farmers Almanac says that it's a bad day for planting seeds. Instead, January 1-2 are better days for starting flower seeds. I'm not sure what my schedule will be for those two days yet, but I will find time to sow the other 96 prepared containers. I've still got a few more to cut and fill with soil. Mom brought another trash bag full this weekend.

Good luck. I hope you'll try it.


Unknown said...

All of that accomplished, and you have time to consult the Farmers' Almanac??? LOL.....

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

I would have done more, but I didn't get off work til 3pm. ;)

Anonymous said...

Here is Phoenix, the Pride of Barbados grows quite well. I have two which are about thirty years old. They don't appreciate the frost so I cut them back to ground level every winter. Every spring they bounce back and beckon the hummingbirds. They grow to about 7-8 feet tall, maybe 10 feet wide. How large do you expect yours to grow? Good luck with yours, they are a focal point in any landscape!
- Daisy in AZ

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Daisy, I'm not sure how large they will get here. Nell over at Secrets of a Seedscatter has them too. Hers look pretty big, but we're a full zone apart. I'm hoping for 5-6'.