Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Experiments with Vines

 
Vines in pots
          The warm weather has brought out the lawn mowers, lilacs, and lounging in the sun. It has also been excellent planting weather. In the past week, we have transplanted all of the starts for the summer greens bed, set out new herb plants, direct sowed a few flowers, and begun an experiment with the vining crops, like cucumbers, zucchini, and pumpkins, which like warm soils for germination and good growth.

            For the last five years, I have started these crops in four inch pots, sometimes at school, sometimes in the back yard on the potting bench, and then transplanted them in the middle of May. It keeps the starts cozy. They also appreciated the protection from slugs and pill bugs. It is a functional system. Last year, I put them out a few weeks earlier and covered them with min-cloches made from gallon milk jugs. They really liked the extra warmth. This year, I have an experiment.

            One set of seeds--- three each of all of the vining crops—were sowed directly in the ground. I turned over just that spot in the bed, planted, and then covered the seeds with a gallon jug to keep the soil warm and a little dry.  Keeping off the rain cuts down on the slug activity. The cover also keeps the cats from digging up the seeds and the rabbit from eating the new leaves.  The other set of seeds is planted in four inch pots, sitting on the potting bench. I need both sets to germinate for full crop production, but, because I started a few weeks early, if the garden beds do not survive, I can plant in pots and recoup my losses. It may even benefit the zucchini to be staggered.

            I am curious to see if, in July, it really matters. If I can direct seed and cloche cover, it saves a step, especially during warm springs like this one. However, the potting system is more flexible, allowing me to start the seeds according to the moon, not the occasional dry spell. We shall see.

Sticky Buns
Vines in bed


I use about a third of the recipe for my bread. Whole dough works better, texturally.


Melt two tablespoons of butter. While waiting, roll out the chunk of dough into a rectangle. Spread butter over all, then sprinkle with brown sugar. The dough needs to be evenly covered, but not thickly. Cover the sugar with coarsely chopped hazelnuts and a handful of raisins. Roll into a log, cut into six pieces, and place, standing up so you can see the roll, in a pie pan. Allow to rise for half an hour, bake in a 350 degree oven until golden and meltly, and flip onto a plate. Do not eat too soon or you will burn your mouth!

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