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Digs With Wolves

February 22, 2011

Our weather has been hit and miss for sometime now.  Any clouds bring snow flurries and the predictions are for a foot of snow by the end of this week.  I took advantage of a dry day to haul a jag of wood, and to dig some roots while they were still visible.  The dogs love this – they don’t have to work so hard.  My shadows under the cutting board become the helpers shadows in the garden.  I cover my carrots with deer netting to keep out the deer and the dogs, but Trace has figured out how to crawl under the deer netting and help himself… .  His digging and eating carrots is under the guise (so he says) of vole hunting, but the carrots are the bearing the brunt of his attention.

Our soil has never really frozen this year due to the snow cover we’ve had during our cold snaps, so the worms are right at the surface.

Red-cored Chantenay

Mmm, good grub!


Garlic, Rock, Shovel – who wins?

The dry weather also gave me a chance to get my parsnip stecklings planted for my seed production.  Seed saving is for long range planners – I are one.  These parsnips will be mostly for Jane when she calves in 2012.  What farmer doesn’t have hope?  So for her to have parsnips for winter feed next year, I need to have planted these snips in 2010 when she was born, I’ve selected good candidates for seed, am planting them in 2011 and will plant the seed in 2012.  If she only knew…food is my expression of love to everyone in my family including my cows.

OK back to brass tacks, no teary eyed girl stuff.

More planning stuff.  To insert seed saving into my garden rotation plan, I have to think about what the seed plants will need.  Mostly, they need no disturbance and no water.  Same as the garlic, so when I planted my garlic last November I marked the end of the row with a rock, so if I had weather to plant seed stock but the garlic wasn’t visible yet, I wouldn’t be digging up the garlic by mistake.   (Nothing around here moves rocks – garden stakes, that’s another story.)

With my garlic and seed saving efforts all planned into one row, instead of piecemeal, I can easily do the rest of my garden prep work without disturbing these biennials.  I don’t irrigate much, unless we have one of those 100°F week long heat waves.  So keeping plants that need dry conditions to “ripen” such as the garlic and seed production plants in one place, I can avoid hitting them with the sprinkler.  (Don’t ask…)

So as I write this, it is snowing again, I’m back to winter time chores and being thankful for one or two springlike days.  For a more in depth rant treatise on seed saving for the home gardener here’s a post I wrote two springs ago on the subject.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. susan permalink
    February 22, 2011 8:40 am

    Ah, Matron, when I die, I want to come back as one of your cows. I agree that nurture = food = love. Thanks for the post. I wish we had those spring like days – well, we do, but we are dealing with 3+ feet of snow. It won’t disappear in a day or two.

    • February 22, 2011 9:51 am

      Susan, yeah we have those days, but our cross to bear in the PNW is the gray skies for days on end and cool nights in the summer. We’re really roughing it!! 😉

  2. February 22, 2011 9:39 am

    Thanks for this and the link. I’ve been saving the easy stuff, like bell peppers and arugula, but haven’t tried anything else yet. This is the year that I want to start saving seed. I hear that Monsanto has been buying out small seed companies, so I figure it’s in my best interest to learn how to keep my own seed. I don’t have as much room as you do, though, just a little ol’ suburban backyard. Do you think I’ll get decent results?

    • February 22, 2011 9:55 am

      Paula, sure if you stay away from plants that need 200 plants to keep their vigor, like cabbage. Steve Solomon’s book Growing Food in When it Counts lines it out pretty well for a sustainable type gardenstead. I don’t save seed every year for every thing, so I allot about the same space. Home grown seed if harvested and stored correctly is pretty vigorous and has a longer seed life.

  3. February 22, 2011 10:27 am

    Your worms are gorgeous. We value worms more than gold. Those carrots and parsnips look great too. Melvin and Trace look so well behaved. I would never know that they were diggers, of course they have the tell tale signs.

    I love that food equals love. Nice expression.

    • February 22, 2011 2:27 pm

      Finding Pam, oh they’re well behaved all right…about as long as it took to snap the picture. Dogs always have fun though, and seem to be smiling most of the time – they sure brighten my day!

  4. February 22, 2011 1:23 pm

    I use rocks as row markers too. lol

  5. February 22, 2011 3:30 pm

    Hello Matron I cannot wait to dig in my dirt. Nice advice about the garlic. B

  6. February 22, 2011 11:00 pm

    Your carrots remind me that I have some from last year’s crop still in the ground up at the cabin. I get to go home for four days this coming week and wanted to get them pulled and stored, then to put some manure in the soil to sit for a month. Unfortunately they are calling for snow off and on so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to get done. Keep your fingers crossed for me. – Margy

    • February 23, 2011 5:15 am

      Fingers crossed! It’s snowing here too for the next few days. I’m glad I got out there when I did 🙂

  7. February 23, 2011 10:06 am

    I grew red-cored Chantenay carrots last year too. Man was I disappointed! I was hoping for a colorful core, but they were orange throughout. They also split like mad and so became mostly bunny food. ;\

    • February 23, 2011 11:50 am

      Michelle, it could be that you got the wrong seed in the packet, sounds more like the Nantes type that split horribly in wet soil. Were they tapered dramatically in shape or more uniform in size from top to bottom? I grow Napoli, and Nelson for summer carrots and they split as soon as fall rains hit. I haven’t really seen the Chantenay split at all. No matter what the cause though, that is a bummer. A lot depends on your seed source too – I got some off-type carrot seed from Fedco a couple of years ago and I am still fighting that bunch of seed. I’m growing out different seeds from different sources this year to find some suitable for seed saving.

      • February 23, 2011 2:32 pm

        I get all of my seed from Victory Seed Company out of Mollala. They’ve been pretty good, but I have had a pack of duds here and there.

        The carrots were stump-rooted and tapered, but very very fat. This past summer was so underwhelming here (Olympia), that they might have just been wanting for heat, or maybe (probably) I over watered them. The bunnies didn’t mind, though!

        Our Cosmic Purple & Little Fingers did better. I’ll keep those two in the mix and keep looking for other varieties that are more tolerant of my incompetence. 😉

        • February 23, 2011 7:15 pm

          Michelle, I hope we don’t have a repeat of last summer for a long time – that was sobering for sure. So cold.

          Don’t worry about being incompetent, I think it is something all gardeners feel once in while no matter how long they have been gardening 🙂

  8. February 23, 2011 2:34 pm

    I use screens to dry most of my seed. I find large ones at yard sales, for things like patio doors. They work great! Some seeds, like tobacco, are too small even for screens but dry fine on an old sheet spread on a screen in the shade, dry shed or spare room upstairs. It takes space and time to harvest, dry and store seed but it’s worth it.

    I store my seed in a cooler in a cool, dark, dry spare room.

    I go to a lot of strouble to dry and store seed but that’s only because I have the seed business. It’s a lot simpler and easier if you are drying just a few for yourself.

  9. Marianne permalink
    February 24, 2011 5:05 pm

    We are starting to think about adding another Aussie and are planning to raise one from puppyhood (our last 2 were rescues) in the hopes of training her as a working dog to help with our small flock of sheep, as well as a companion dog. Do you have any recommendations of breeders in Oregon that breed for working vs. show Aussies?
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • February 24, 2011 6:48 pm

      Marianne, I don’t think you would go wrong with Rocking RMB where we got Trace. They are working dogs, and gosh I am in love…after having several rescues myself, I like having them from the beginning. Their link is in my sidebar. That where I’m getting my next dog from when the time comes. 🙂 Trace doesn’t know of these plans yet…

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