Sunday, March 27, 2011

Do Backyard Ice Rinks Kill the Grass? Nope

 This year's backyard ice rink project was proceeded by what I call marital moments.  These moments are sometimes precipitated by one spouse starting a discussion with the words, "I have the coolest idea ever!"  If the other spousal unit has concerns about the scope and/or side effects of said idea, you can end up having a marital moment. or moments.  Heh.

The marital moment surrounding the ice rink issue, was primarily related to the lawn.  My spouse had concerns that putting a 6mm of black plastic on the lawn, filling it with water and then allowing it to freeze into three to ten inches of ice to skate on, might be detrimental to the lawn.  If I'm being honest, I'll admit that I had a twinge of worry about that as well.  However I also had internet research!  My internet research told me the lawn would be fine and in the end, that research allowed me to convince my spouse to give it a shot.  It was such a success that he wants to triple the size of it next year.  He decided that before we even knew the status of the lawn.

I really want to have a rink again next year, so I really should have been more aggressive about getting the two layers of plastic drained and off the lawn.  Afterall, it was mostly melted five weeks ago and the snow has been gone for a good three weeks.  We've had some sun.  No doubt it was heating up the black plastic giving the final blows of death to the poor little blades underneath it, right?  Nope.

 I got my lazy behind out there finally yesterday.  I finished draining it all and pulled the black plastic back to finish drying so that I can fold it up for next year.  Here's the yard.  It is not lovely since its still mostly dormant and the soil is still ice cold.  What is also is not is dead!  There is a bit of yellowing in the one area.  This was the wettest, deepest area.  I'm not worried about it.  There are still tons of green shoots in there.  I fully expect it all to be looking lush within the next three weeks.

 So there you have it.  You lovers of skating should feel free to use my images as evidence, should you experience your own marital moments surround the issue of ice rinks and lawns.  My example shows that even with a far amount of laziness, the lawn can still be just fine!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Now we're talking!

Whether it was the white tea soak, or the addition of heat, I've had some progress this week.  Now all the tomatoes are up with the exception of Pineapple, Galinas, Aunt Ginny's Purple, Cosmonaut Volkov and Sylvan Gaume.  I'm soaking up another batch of each of those and planting some more today.

Its so funny how each year can be completely different.  Persimmon was very problematic for me to germinate when I first tried it.  I'm using the exact same batch of seed this year and it was the second tomato up and currently the second largest.  Indication I guess of just how many variables are associated with this whole thing!

I've started another tray of seeds.  This time its broccoli, several annuals, lemon, purple and cinnamon basil, fennel, cilantro, leeks, parsley, lettuce, tarragon, one king of the north pepper (needed to refresh seed stock) and the impulse buy for last week, Katya tomato from Adaptive Seeds.

I was drawn to Katja because there is some indication it produces in a bit of shade.  It is also described as quite delicious for an early tomato.  We'll see!  I only planted one cell of it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Off to a Rocky Start!

As is typical for me, I started my tomatoes, peppers, chard, basil and eggplant earlier than is typically recommended for my zone this year.  They all went into seed flats on February 19th.  This early start is part of my annual plan that generally succeeds in netting me produce weeks earlier than my neighbors.  Unfortunately this year I hit a bump in the road. 

There were two major changes to my process this year.  I switched seedling starting soil and I switched the place I bought my seeds at.  Last year, reviewing my notes I had 100% tomato germination at ten days for all varieties.  This year it was zero percent.  I decided to do a few things I normally don't.  I replanted everything after first giving each seed a two hour soak in white tea and I applied bottom heat with a heating pad on medium.

As of today about half my seeds are now up.  It is clearly the soaked seeds that are germinating as I can tell where I planted them.  I suspect that my issues this year are two-fold.  I am unhappy with the soil mix I used (Epsoma Organic seed starting mix).  It is chunky, holds too much moisture and really seems to compact down hard.  It also has developed a fine teal moss-like growth on its surface.  Something I've never had an issue with before.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that the seeds I purchased may be older.  The packets were not dated and they were very bleached and dry looking.  They are sprouting now, so I'm happy about that but this morning I'm glad that I started everything early.  Had I waited until the "right" time, I would already be behind the eight ball.