Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Let The Gardening Begin

Ok, so I'm not sure if the indoor season really counts as gardening, but it cures the winter blues. At least for farmer nerds like me.

The wife and I start our gardening season indoors with the aid of grow lights (4' shop lights) and soil blocks. If you are unfamiliar with soil blocking, this is the basic gist of it. You wet a potting mix, fill a soil block maker, plunge out the blocks, plant your seeds and water daily until they germinate. In picture sequence it looks a little something like this:

Last year, I used a commercial mix of potting soil. this year I tried to make my own. The first recipe I tried consisted of

1 part finished and screened compost
1 part worm castings
a small amount of soy meal

As it turns out the soy meal used as a fertilizer activated some fungal spores and my soil blocks grew a feathery white fungus. It smelled like a pair of sweat socks that you wore to the gym for a month. I revised the recipe on the advice of Brett Markham of Markham farm. He is the author of a great book called Mini Farming for Self Sufficiency.

I followed his recipe only I omitted a couple of things. Not because I didn't trust his expertise, but because I try to buy as little as possible to start my seedlings. The mix is:

3 parts peat moss
1 part finished and screened compost
1 part worm castings

It worked great. My broccoli seeds sprouted after 4 days. I'll have an update on that soon.

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