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applestar
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Thanks! I'll put them on the list for next in line. :D

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rainbowgardener
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So I am now ten weeks from average last frost date! Season is moving on and I am already starting to feel a little behind...

My cabbage and broccoli have true leaves and have been thinned, transplanted to individual cells and moved off the heat pad.

Planted anise hyssop (could have been planted earlier, but I forgot I had it), four varieties of petunias, basil red rubin and basil purple ruffles (but not the green basil which sprouts and grows faster), california wonder bell peppers, Anaheim chili peppers. Most of the spots on my two heat mats are full already, so I am limited in how much more I can plant until something else can move off...

Spring is coming! (even though my garden is covered in snow right now).
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Getting in to the season where there's a lot to do with all the seeds and seedlings. All my peppers finally sprouted, while I was away over the weekend.

Today I planted impatiens and coleus. Working on up potting (to the 3.5 in pots) all the cabbage and broccoli and ornamental grass as quickly as I can. Moving the celery (way overcrowded) to one per cell, now that it has true leaves.

Six trays of seeds and seedlings under the lights, soon to be more!

I'm just about to finish off last year's MG potting soil and start making my own! :) Next step is to manage to lug 40 pounds of mushroom compost down from the screen porch, to the basement, so it can get unfrozen.
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LA47
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I'm going to be starting a number of perennials and annual flowers this spring and I was concerned over the lack of space I have inside. I've read about winter sowing before but this post just convinced me that this is the way to go. The problem is I didn't think of it till now so I haven't saved any containers. I was thinking I could purchase some of the cheap clear storage boxes. My questions is how tall they need to be? Also most of the ones I've seen has a raised ridge around the top, would that be okay?
I want would like to start cone flowers, coreopsis, jacobs ladder, gillardea, joe pye weed, penstemmom, cosmos, rudbeckia, cosmos, marigolds, sweet william, and dill and onions. Are all of these suitable for winter sowing?
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

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rainbowgardener
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Not something I have done before, but I expect it should work for any cold hardy perennials. Cosmos is an annual and much more tender, I'm not sure it should be on your list.

You need height enough for several inches of potting soil and then room for the plant to sprout. I would think 6" minimum. Lots of drainage holes.

Alternatively lots of cold hardy perennials can be just directed seeded in the ground in fall.
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Planted annual chamomile. Trying to save some spots on the heat mats for when it is time to start the tomatoes. ... :) By then the peppers will be ready to move off the heat mats and the cabbage and broccoli can start hardening off outside! YAY!!
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gixxerific
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Woah I'm late to this party. :oops:

I suppose it mean I need ot get started too. I am going to finish cleaning and disinfecting my starter area this weekend. Some may not know I had a bad disease with my winter dwarfs that has 99% wiped me out. -wall-

You go though girl, I truly love your sarter setup. I am anxious to see what you do this year. You and Applestar are always on the cutting edge and do things their way not the books way.

If you are looking for a good potting soil look into Promix or Dr Earth I have good results from them. Not this winter but that was I belive from contaminated soil I brought in from my garden perhaps, that I added to my potting mix, I will not do that again.

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Planted green basil today -- the red and purple basil were started 2/1 and are just starting on their true leaves now, but in my experience the green will quickly catch up to them.

Transplanted at least 60 seedlings: more broccoli and bunny tails grass and some white alyssum in to pots and spreading most of the bell and chili peppers out from crowded in cells on the heat mats, to one per cell off the heat mat.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be 54 degrees! (Today the high may or may not get UP to freezing...). So the cabbage and broccoli will go outside for the first time.
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Continuing to pot up and transplant. Planted more petunias today, because my old petunia seeds turned out not to be any good.

Coleus and chamomile have sprouted.

Went through all the tomato seeds I have on hand from webmaster and other friends here and ones I bought and decided what I have room for (not even thinking about garden room, just room on the heat mats and plant starting area). Before I started hanging around here, I always used to plant two varieties of tomato, an early one and a mid season large beefsteak. This year I will be up to starting 7 varieties (I know, sounds like nothing to people like applestar and gixx, with their big long lists :) ).

But here's the list I decided on:

Wayahead - early determinate, medium red

Sophie's choice - extra early (55 days!) determinate, dwarf, tolerates cool weather, medium red

Amos coli - red paste tomato

Goose creek pink - 75 day indeterminate, medium pink-red

Better Boy hybrid - 78 day large red beefsteak indeterminate - makes me nervous to do all these heirlooms, so the BB is included for disease resistance insurance.

Red barn - 80 -90 day large red beefsteak indeterminate

Big cheef - black indeterminate

Don't know where I will put them all, I about have room for one plant of each variety! :) But I may try to find room for a couple extra...

All the rest of the seeds I have will find good homes with my gardening friends.
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Sounds great! You are way ahead of me -- mostly because you are so well organized or I might try to start more tomatoes already (see, being disorganized has its benefits LOL). But realy, I have to tell myself that my season starts later than yours. I'm behind planting some things though.... :roll:

But, maybe I'll start some alyssums today 8)

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rainbowgardener
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Now that our climate zones thread inspired me to find the Sunset zones for the rest of the country, not just the west, we can see that you are in Sunset zone 32:

ZONE 32. Interior Plains of Mid-Atlantic States; Chesapeake Bay, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey
Growing season: late Mar. to early Nov. Rain falls year-round (40" to 50" annually); winter lows (moving through the zone from south to north) are 30 degrees to 20 degrees F/-1 degree to -7 degrees C. Humidity is less oppressive here than in Zone 31.

while I am in zone 35:


ZONE 35. Ouachita Mountains, Northern Oklahoma and Arkansas, Southern Kansas to North-Central Kentucky and Southern Ohio
Growing season: late April to late Oct. Rain comes in all seasons. Summers can be truly hot and humid. Without arctic fronts, winter lows are around 18 degrees F/-8 degrees C; with them, the coldest weather may bring lows of -20 degrees F/-29 degrees C.
https://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zo ... 000036421/

even though I think we are both in USDA zone 6. According to Sunset, your winters are a little milder and your growing season a little longer than mine. Sunset didn't specify, but it looks like we average similar rainfall. Cincinnati averages 40" of rain a year, distributed pretty evenly through the months.

I learn things here all the time!!! I never knew my Sunset zone before.

I haven't planted any tomatoes yet, just decided what of all I had in mind I am going to plant, this coming weekend.
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Well... The winter temps have been warmer last two years, but typically we have few to several nights that go down to negative single digits and at least 2 or 3 weeks with lows in the teens are the norm. I think we are subject to the Nor'easter extremes.

Looking at the map, it doesn't look like Sunset has had the chance to detailed micro mapping NJ yet. No way you can lump the Atlantic Ocean coastal areas and Delaware Bay basin and tidally influenced Delaware R. bank areas -- which extend all the way up to Trenton -- together with the inland Pine Barrens (sandy and chilly).

On the average, my garden's last frost is last week of April and first frost is mid to third week of October. According to NOAA, there is a colder pocket where I live. But overall, it would be difficult to get a good data since none of the local weather stations seem to quite match what is actually Happening in my garden :roll: -- not just in terms of temp reading, which could be attributed to in accuracy in my thermometers, but whether there is actual frost, freeze, etc. :?

What's it like for you? Did they get it about right? :?:
I think I sometimes see your area getting hit by the more severe dips that sometimes occur in central states that come down from Canada.

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rainbowgardener wrote:Absolutely! Baked compost in the kitchen oven, at 450 for an hour. Works great for sterilizing it and killing all the creepy-crawlies. If only it didn't stink up the house so. If I had an outdoor oven, I would keep doing it. Wonder if there's something I could do with the barbeque grill.... my partner who is the griller in chief, would kill me!
I picked up a microwave at a yard sale for $5. Used plastic shoe boxes filled with compost. I left it in the microwave on high for 15 Min's. I never seen a critter or weed seed. You could use it anywhere there is electricity.

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LA47
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I think I'll be looking for a used micowave just for that. Thanks for the tip.
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rainbowgardener
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Sunset's summary for my zone is brief, but seems about accurate. I moved here in 1971. Back then we had blizzards, 35 degrees below zero, the OHio river freezing. But we don't have winters like that any more. It is rare these days for us to get below zero, I think it's been several years. But temps in the teens are still common in winter and we've had a little bit of single digit nights this winter.
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Tomatoes planted!! Yesterday I planted my 7 varieties of tomatoes, plus lobelia and aegeratum. The tomatoes are VERY crowded in the little cells and will need to be moved off the heat mat soon after they sprout, at which point they will fill up a lot of space under my lights...

It's all your fault, you know, THG friends :) you keep feeding my addiction!
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My Stump of te World tomato out of the very late-late group are the first ones up. :()
On the right are Carpet of Snow white and Royal Carpet purple alyssums in the back and Snow Crown hybrid Cauliflower in the front. The OP Early Snowball in the same pan haven't sprouted yet -- old (2009) seeds 100% failure :?:

Image

Let's all be a little bit nutz:
(I'm keeping track of when you are sowing your seeds, rainbow. Can't argue with success! :wink: )

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rainbowgardener
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That's a complement, applestar, but I'm not sure how scientific my starting dates are. It depends somewhat on such non-plant related variables as when I have space on the heat mats to put them or (like the anise hyssop that got planted late) when I happen to find the seeds ... :)

I did deliberately slow the tomatoes down a little. I used to plant them on Valentine's day and although that had a nice little bit of symbolism, I decided it was a little too early. Also the Quaker Meeting where sell off a lot of my extras, has started the last few years having a big plant sale the first Sunday in May. So I slowed some things down to have them not ready too early before that.
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Good point RBG on starting early. We have all done it heck I have been wathcing you and Apple for years, APple and i were discussing astarting early a few years ago and how everything was too big in house and very ready to go out.

I am starting dwarf tomatoes now. Soon all esle will follow. Just got onions in the other day, as soon as it is warm and dry enough they will go in. That is the only thing I bought this year seed wise.

Do you need anything RBG? I have a ton of stuff you may want, veggies and all that, ask Apple. :P I was given a HUGE box of seeds to distribute.

Good luck RBG

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Making progress! Started potting up celery and the first peppers (the bells seem to be a bit ahead of the chili peppers, though they were planted at the same time). Planted nicotiana.

Next weekend I will plant roselle and malabar spinach, neither of which I have grown before, so I'm not too certain of the timing. Then everything I start indoors will be planted except all the squashes. (I seem to have acquired more varieties of squash than I usually do also, but that's to try to find something the vine borers won't kill.) Squash doesn't get planted for at least a month, so I am good, except I have no idea where all this stuff will go once it is all sprouted and needing more space! :)

Generous offer, gixx, but I have very limited garden space and already don't know where I am going to put everything.
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Ask him for "a little packet of carrot seeds" and see what happens. :kidding:

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applestar wrote:Ask him for "a little packet of carrot seeds" and see what happens. :kidding:
LMFAO Just ty me! nutz:

Man you already have peppers up. I need to get out and get another heat mat today. My old one died and almost took my house with it. Gonaa be crazy here soon.

Good luck RBG though knowing you, your garden will be spectacular as usual. 8)

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Currently have 11 trays of seeds and seedlings under the lights and 3 more going in and out getting hardened off. Soon to be more... :)
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Just wanted to link this in here, it's my last year's seed starting thread, which I finally managed to find just by paging through the Seed Starting index pages.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... 798#238798

So what I wrote here from last year says

1/29/12 planted parsley, dill, fennel, coleus, canterbury bells, spearmint, broccoli, rosemary, thyme

2/1 petunia, celery, snapdragon

2/5 peppers, impatiens, red basil, salvia, parsley

2/11 marigold

2/17 tomatoes, nicotiana, summer savory, cardinal climber

2/19 OUTDOORS planted onions, scallions, radish, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard (very early warm up last year, nothing planted outdoors yet this year)

2/24 alyssum, sage

3/4 nasturtium, millet, hyacinth bean vine

3/22 squash

3/24 more squash varieties, moonflower, statice
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For comparison this year:

1/19/13 planted broccoli, cabbage, summer savory, canterbury bells, parsley, dill, alyssum, celery, bunny tails grass

1/27 petunias and marigolds

2/1 anise hyssop, red and purple basil, bell and chili peppers

2/11 impatiens and coleus

2/15 chamomile and green basil

2/22 tomatoes, lobelia, ageratum

2/24 nicotiana

(planned) 3/2 roselle and malabar spinach

end of march, beginning of April various squashes, cardinal climber, hyacinth bean vine, moonflower.

Turn the lights off by the first of May! :)
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Most everything seems to be doing fine in my homemade potting soil. Probably not quite as big and lush and leafy as they would have been in the Miracle Grow, but quite acceptable.

But now that the peppers are maturing their first true leaves, some of them (interestingly, the chili peppers, but not the bells) are looking kind of chlorotic. Anybody know of some nutrients that chili peppers need more of than bell peppers that might be causing this? Any suggestions for organic additives to my potting mix to help correct it? I started dissolving a few of the guinea pig (mostly alfalfa) pellets in the watering water to see if that helps.

(Remember, I can't use fish products, because the cat will kill the plants looking for it.)
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You still haven't started an AACT set up? All you need is a good aquarium aerator pump. I'm running a Whisper10 with a 2" stone in a 2 gal bucket almost constantly. Adding coffee grounds, left over tea and coffee, juice, sprout rinsing water, etc. Occasionally a dollop of organic unsulphured molasses (it says " a good source of potassium, calcium, and iron" on the label), rarely rinsing out DH's finished bottles of soda (a tiny bit of phosphorus... Eh, does potassium benzoate preservative add potassium or harm the microbes?). You should see it go nuts after adding edamame blanching water (no salt) or vermicompost leacheate.

I use this water diluted by 1/2 for my plants and seedlings depending on what's in it.

In no particular schedule, I clean out the bucket and brew vermicompost tea with molasses.

About once a month, I've been making weak Dr. Earth tomato fertilizer tea and citrus fertilizer tea (i.e. NOT according to package directions). These are then diluted about 1:2 or 1:3. These can be a bit stinky and can get offensively stinky if you don't use it up right away. First time I made that mistake, I had to take the malodorous dregs in the bucket out to the garage -- I added some lime and covered the dregs with with cedar shavings to mask the smell (I was thinking humanure bucket toilet.) After a month, it doesn't smell any more. (Yeah, I could have take it it to the compost pile, but I was experimenting.... :P)
Last edited by applestar on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Hot peppers need less water than bell peppers....

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OK... thanks for the reminder. This may be the time when I bite the bullet and try making AACT. I actually have the equipment for it now, since we dismantled the aquarium that used to have goldfish. I will have to go back and re-read our 30 page monster AACT thread. :) I've been using worm castings (but I didn't have a lot) in the potting soil and worm bin leachate in the water, but dilute. I'm thinking the soil the peppers are in was before I started trying your idea of the alfalfa pellets as an additive. I will be more careful with the water for the chilis. I never grew hot peppers before.

Thanks for all the help!
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So, I've been using my homemade potting soil for long enough now to get a sense of how it's going. I have to say I don't like it as well as the MG potting soil - but not enough worse, to go back to supporting the chemical industry.

It is not as light, though that may be just a question of adjusting the ingredients/ proportions.

I am having more trouble maintaining the right water balance. It seems like my homemade stuff doesn't wick the water up as well, so it can be too wet at the bottom and too dry at the top.

Things are not growing as well. Chili peppers are still a bit chlorotic, despite adding alfalfa to the soil mix and alfalfa and worm bin leachate to the water and sometimes coffee grounds. Nothing else is chlorotic, but none of it is growing quite as fast or lush as I am used to (and no, I still haven't gotten it together to do the AACT, maybe this weekend).

Sigh... I was hoping to love my homemade stuff, but I can't say that.
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AACT is easy to make. I basiacally use this recipe from Topdollarbread (whatever happenned to him i wonder?)

1-2 cups compost/composted manure/EWC, alfalfa or bat guano
5 TBSP of fish emulsion
5 TBSP of kelp meal
5 TBSP of molasses

Brew for i belive it was 32 hours or so. If using a sprayer put compost etc in cheescloth or an old sock to help keep the sprayer from clogging. I must say I have been slacking on this but Applestar makes it quite a bit maybe ask her.

Good luck RBG
As you know that is just ONE recipe after compost/worm dirt you can really add whatever. But you know this. :wink:

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Planted the malabar spinach last weekend, 3/2, after soaking it and scraping off the outer covering. Planted the roselle today after soaking it. Started moving the Sophie's choice tomatoes off the heat mat, to one per cell. Continuing to pot things up. Took more stuff out in the sunshine today - the cabbages and broccoli that have been going in and out and celery that has not been out before, about 5 trays worth. It will all come back in tonight, but then I am hoping the cabbage and broccoli can just stay out and get planted.

Currently 14 trays under the lights. Nothing more to plant indoors until it is time to start the squashes, but I will very soon be planting outdoors!! :)

Interesting that some stuff, especially the chili peppers, but somewhat the petunias, isn't really liking my homemade potting soil all that much, but some stuff, e.g. bunny tails grass and marigolds, is thriving on it. If I were really expert, I suppose that could tell me what is missing, but I don't know. Will do the AACT this weekend!
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So ... I started my first ever batch of AACT this AM!! :)

In my typical slapdash, it's-not-rocket-science, way, I didn't measure anything. In 2-3 gallons of water, I put in a heaped trowel of mushroom compost, a few alfalfa pellets, a couple turkey basters of worm bin leachate, and a little bit of stuff from the bottom of the worm bin, which is partly leaves and bedding, but hopefully partly worm castings. Put in all the blackstrap molasses from the bottom of the jar, which was probably about 3 TBSP. And put in the pump/airstone from the aquarium.

So it should be ready tomorrow night...

In the meantime the first couple malabar spinach seeds sprouted after one week. They are really pretty! Thick red stems.

My five trays of cabbage, broccoli, celery were out most of the day yesterday, then came back in to avoid the freeze last night and will be going back out today as soon as it warms up a bit, hopefully TO STAY!!
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Your seedlings/plants are going to be SOOO happy! :()
3 Tbs molasses may have been more than you needed for feeding the microbes but the plants will use what's left in the tea I'm sure.

Red stem Malabar spinach is really attractive in all phases. Hope you enjoy. :D

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Oh man, why don't we have an emoticon for kicking yourself!

You all have been telling me about AACT for YEARS. It took the combination of struggling seedlings and a pump/airstone sitting around from dismantled aquarium to finally get me to try it. I put all my stuff together and let it brew for 24 hrs before I started using it. Diluted it 50-50 with water and used it on my seedlings. And left out the alfalfa and other stuff I had been using to try and beef them up, just water, AACT, a little worm bin leachate.

Amazing!! I swear, 12 hrs after I gave it to them, everything was looking happier and growing. It's now 24 hrs (+ a little) since I gave it to them. Every thing has grown noticeably, perked up, greened up, and generally looking as you predicted, Applestar... very happy!!

Outdoors in the past I have made compost infusion, unbrewed compost infused in water. I didn't try that now, so I don't know if it would have helped.

But the AACT was easy and worked so well. I guess I will always have some going after this. You all get to say I told you so a whole bunch!
:D I gave the seedlings a second dose now, I had just left the rest brewing after I used it the first time. I will probably give the rest to the house plants to use it up, since it's been brewing 48 hrs now...

Thanks everyone!!
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applestar
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:() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :()

:>

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gixxerific
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Awesome RBG glad to see it worked. Don't feel bad I started making it at first than stopped I need to try again.

I know you don't want to read all 30 pages of nonsense in the ACCT thread so i will throw out something I remember. The general rule I beleive was 36 hours, after that food sources are get5ting scarce possibly going more aenerobic (sp?). Not sure how crucial it is but I did have some once that went too long, several day's, you could tell by the putrid smell.

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rainbowgardener
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At 48 hrs it still seemed fine and pleasant smelling, but yes, that's why I went ahead and used it up.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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rainbowgardener
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Oh sigh.... brought all the cabbage and broccoli and celery seedlings back IN last night. Down in the low 20's last night and will be only just above freezing for the HIGH today, and in the high teens tonight. The seedlings are looking bedraggled and worse for the wear. They have been going in and out for three weeks or so now. Typical temps for this time of year would be high 55 and low 35...

So starting my cool weather stuff mid Jan turned out to be too early for this slow spring. But it kind of has to work that way, because of limited room under the lights. I need to get all the cool weather stuff out from under the lights, to make room for all the tomatoes, peppers, etc. As it is, everything has been kind of at a stand still for a couple weeks. All the tomatoes need to be potted up, but I have no where to put them until I can get some more stuff out from under the lights.

Lettuces and greens (seeds) have not been sown in the garden yet. Ordinarily they would have gone in at least a week ago. The longer it takes until I can get a decent window of reasonable temps and dry soil, the less time they will have until it gets hot and they bolt....

Fall planted broccoli did not work this year with our long slow winter, but the fall planted spinach is doing well and I can now eat some baby spinach out of my garden! :) Broccoli might have made it if I had covered it.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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rainbowgardener
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Finally! The cabbage etc stayed out last night and still looks ok (temps in mid 20's last night). They are NOT coming back in! The alyssum will go out later today.

Started my second batch of AACT. I haven't done it until now, because everything was just sitting waiting, no more room to pot things up etc. Now that the season is finally moving on, I will give them a new dose. The worm bin is outside and I don't feel like messing with it, so this batch is just mushroom compost and a little bit of alfalfa pellets and molasses. I was looking at it, knowing that I have no idea how "live" the mushroom compost that's been sealed up and shipped to me from where-ever is. So I was wondering if I should add something to seed it with microbes? Go dig some stuff out of the worm bin or compost pile? I have some inoculant stuff for the legumes. Would that be good to add or are they the wrong bacteria?
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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