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And so it begins again, +95% of the seeds are sorted into their correct shoe boxes, a planting plan is in Excel, dreams of Spring grow stronger, even though the main garden looks like this:



The homemade rack has been upgraded to include heat mats

It's made of PVC pipe and fittings. Once we were happy with the dimensions, we glued it together to make it strong. That was in 1995 or so.

Costco had potting soil mix on sale, so with our neighbor, we cleaned them out. It's Miracle Grow moisture control potting soil mix. We've mixed the soil with water, letting it hydrate.
 

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Inspiring pics! Really like your germination rack. Thanks for posting info.

Here on the coast, my onions are up, the cauliflower transplants have formed little, snowy heads, and the dewberry bushes have busted out in tiny bright green leaves.

This is just the most exciting time of year! Woo-hoo! :D:
 

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Hey neighbor! Sadly my garden looks like yours, covered in snow and too cold to grow anything. I'm still fiddling with my garden plan though I have a good general idea of what I want to grow and where. I'm debating trying artichokes this year, Imperial Star since that's bred to grow as an annual. I have a nice, big container where they would have a good opportunity to grow nicely. Based on what I've read so far I'd better get those going since they need to be cold stratified and still take forever to grow.

One thing you may already know-commercial potting soil isn't very nutrient-rich. I used the Miracle Grow potting soil in my containers last year and got to learn about blossom end rot in tomatoes. When I test the soil it read low on nutrients. Obviously, this was a surprise. FYI.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did you find a better potting soil for starting the seedlings?

Once they're in the garden, the soil in garden #1 has received a lot of mulch and chicken compost. I've saved up worm castings and worm tea, but was apprehensive to feed tiny seedlings and have them get too leggy.

This is our first time to use a heat mat...some seeds have sprouted on the 3rd day since planting....
 

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I use Miracle Gro seed starting mix for starting seedlings. This year I'm hoping that I'll have enough compost to fill my deck containers. Since I'm planning to put in another raised bed I might need to get some delivered regardless so I would use that, perhaps mixing it with other amendments. No more straight potting soil if I can avoid it. My veggies did grow-once I got hip and started fertilizing!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
It's up to 45F. The bees are flying. They've been holding it in since Thanksgiving.



Unfortunately, it was a one way trip for some:


Must have been a relief to make a cleansing flight, and haul out their dead sisters.


These hives (2 Warre and 1 conventional 8-frame) were started from mail order in Spring 2013. They swarmed multiple times (which was not expected). Captured some swarms for other hives not in the picture. No honey harvested in 2013. They had a lot of comb to draw out last year.

If they are lucky and they make it to the Spring, I'd like to buy some local queens and make splits. Need to find local queens to SE Michigan.
 

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My grandpa is really big into bee keeping and in the spring he will give sugar water to the bees until the snow is gone/plants are growing. They probably are not out of honey at this point bc you didn't harvest any..... i think he leaves 2 to 3 boxes per swarm of honey.... its just a thought to keep your hives alvie.

he also wraps the hives in tar paper and blocks the interance with a nailed in block of wood to keep the mice out of the hives.....

You probably couldn't have picked a worst winter to try to keep bees alive in with how cold it got, did all your swarms make it so far? Im kind of in the same boat though i planted a fricken orchard last year and i'm wondering if the trees made it.
 

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<snip>

You probably couldn't have picked a worst winter to try to keep bees alive in with how cold it got, did all your swarms make it so far? Im kind of in the same boat though i planted a fricken orchard last year and i'm wondering if the trees made it.
LOL yeah it was a lousy winter, for anything really! I'm wondering if my garlic and other perennials made it too. Oh well there's always a reason to NOT do! The trick is to find a way to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. IMO all of the difference between a winner and a loser is that a winner finds a way to meet the challenge and a loser only sees why things cannot be done.

After those lovely temperatures and snow melt what do we get? Another winter storm followed by an Arctic blast. Sigh.
 

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I would have thought it was still a little early to start anything. Over on our farm we're waiting until probably the first of next month before we start any seeds. Of course, we usually have to worry about frost until after Mother's Day around our area. lol
 

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I'll start my cold tolerant stuff around March 1 also, and my artichokes though those won't go out until later. Even then the seedlings will be pretty big when I transplant them. That's a good thing actually. I didn't lose a single seedling last year, at least not to transplanting.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I was amazed that seeds would be germinating by the 2nd and 3rd day. I mean, I always knew that soil temperature was important, but, now, well, I'm pondering how to raise the garden's soil temperature a bit (once the snow melts). Anybody do that with plastic?

A friend is bringing two dozen Peking duck eggs to hatch tomorrow. The incubator is warming up on the kitchen table.

The recent above freezing temperatures have allowed the compacted snow slush to be recast into amazing ice on the dirt road and driveway. It's like somebody poured molten glass.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
germination temperature

If I set up my garage with potting trays what should be the constant temperature?
There is a large chart by crop of when to start/set-out relative to your frost date, and to answer your question, 'minimum' soil temperature and 'preferred' air temperature here:
http://www.gardeningbythemoon.com/chart.html

For the temperature info, here's another site:http://theiowagardener.com/Soil%20Temperatures%20for%20Planting%20Seeds.html
from which I've pasted the key table:
Listed below are the soil temperatures at which various vegetables should be planted.* The temperatures are based on temperatures taken at 8 a.m. at 4 inches deep. (For beans, take the temperatures at 6 inches.)
Cool-Season Crops

Vegetable


Germination Temperature °F
minimum/optimum/maximum
Beets 40°/80°/90°
+Broccoli 40°/80°/90°
+Cabbage 40°/80°/90°
Carrots 40°/80°/90°
Cauliflower 40°/80°/90°
Leeks 40°/80°/90°
Lettuce 35°/70°/70°
Onions, green 35°/80°/90°
Onions, dry sets 35°/80°/90°
Parsnips 35°/70°/90°
Peas 40°/70°/80°
Potatoes 45° and up
Radishes 40°/80°/90°
Spinach 40°/70°/70°
Swiss chard 40°/85°/95°
Turnips 40°/80°/100°
Warm-Season Crops

Vegetable
Germination Temperature °F
minimum/optimum/maximum
Beans 55°/80°/90°
Cantaloupe 60°/90°/100°
Corn 50°/80°/100°
Cucumbers 60°/90°/100°
+Eggplant 60°/80°/90°
+Peppers 60°/80°/90°
+Tomato 50°/80°/100°
Squash 60°/90°/100°
Watermelons 60°/90°/110°

* Source: Colorado State University Horticulture Extension
+ Usually planted as established seedlings, not as seed.
 
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