Day 10: Kale

Loving the longer days of February!

April12 Kale
Kale: I do not remember ever having or growing kale as a child or young bride. Somehow kale has become a must have vegetable in my garden. We love it in early spring when the overwintered kale puts out the sweetest, nuttiest broccoli like sprouts to ever grace a salad or bento. It is one of about 3 vegetables that keep my chickens happy year-round, and when I am in the mood for a green smoothie, home grown is the best!

Kale 2 February 20, 2018 Kale is so simple to direct seed into the spring garden, it almost seems silly to start her in the greenhouse. But I get a little bit silly in February before the real garden work begins.

Easy to transplant, I do not bother with soil blocks to start kale. Just drop seed into starting mix (or even just a scoop of good, moist, garden soil in a pot), scatter in seeds, cover a quarter inch deep and wait 5 to 17 days for sprouts. When the babies get their first set of true leaves they can be up-potted to their own 2 to 4 inch pots. Harden them off and plant your kale outside when they have 4 to 6 true leaves.

Kale 1 February 20, 2018 Here is the bottom line for starting spring Kale in the greenhouse.

  1. Fill a small container with moist starting mix or garden soil.
  2. Add Kale seed, about one-fourth inch apart, and one-fourth inch deep. Cover the seeds with vermiculite or soil.
  3. Label the container, mark your calendar or journal with dates to check for seedlings. You should see sprouts in 5 to 17 days.

Mark 9 February 18, 2018 The #NTin2018 (New Testament in 2018) reading today was Mark chapter 9. If you follow me on Instagram, I did a word study on “cloud” from Mark 9:7. I hope you are as jazzed as I was to discover the history of the glory cloud!

If yesterday in Everett, Washington had not been so blue-sky-beautiful, then I would think that today was nice. But it is overcast. I am still lighting candle lanterns in the greenhouse to keep it warm enough for sprouting seedlings, which seems pathetic after all the free radiant heat from yesterday. Such is the life of a cheap (or is that frugal?) subsistence farmer.

Debs… bringing in the humming bird feeders every night, they don’t seem to like sugar water pop-cycles.


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Day 9: Planting Spring Cabbage

Celebrating Ten Hours of Day Time — 2018

Cabbage 3 February 19, 2018 We like the occasional bowl of coleslaw, we like wraps and fish tacos with cabbage; but honestly, we do not eat a lot of cabbage at the The Toy Box Urban Farm. However, when we do eat cabbage, it is because we grew it ourselves.

Cabbage 2 February 19, 2018This spring, I’m only starting 7 soil-blocks of cabbage. Three of red and four of green (or golden) “Acres” cabbage. These are small cabbage heads that do well in the spring.

Plant 2 seeds per cell. Check for sprouts in six to ten days. If both of your seeds in a soil block sprout, you will need to force yourself to clip or pinch one of them off. (I feel your pain).

Soil Blocks February 19, 2018 A few words about soil blocks. We have a recipe for making soil blocks (it came with the soil block tool). It is a healthy mixture of garden soil, sifted compost, peat moss, sand, bone meal (there is a vegan option), worm castings, rock phosphate, garden lime and I forget what else. We mix it up in fall, put it into a large tub with a lid, where it is ready to scoop into a wash tub, add water and make soil blocks. The tool makes neat rows of blocks that fit into a flat. If using a smaller container, like I am, they hold together well enough gently pick up and set into the container you choose.

Cabbage 1 February 19, 2018 In a nut shell (or maybe a soil block) Plant Cabbage:

  1. Make soil blocks, place in chosen container.
  2. Plant 2 seeds in each soil-block (thin to one)
  3. Cover with vermiculite.
  4. Label and cover container or pot.
  5. Expect germination in 6 to 10 days.

That’s it for now. Will you be planting spring cabbage from seed?


Mark 8 February 19, 2018Still freezing cold in the PNW. In my Toy Box green house it was 86 degrees inside. Outside it was 36 degrees. That is 50 degrees warmer from radiant heat. At night the candle lantern keeps the temperature at about the 40 degree mark while it is below freezing outside. The hard part is determining how long the candle will burn and replacing it on time.

Today (2/19/18) in Everett, Washington  37/22 and blue-sky sunny! Sunrise was at 7:09 AM. Ten hours and 29 minutes later it will set at 5:38. Get out and look at the moon tonight, it is breath taking!

Debs… still wearing wool socks and a bunch of sweaters (one of those is wool)

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Day 8; Fennel

Celebrating… because there is nothing better to do on a snowy February Day.

Fennel soil block 2 February 18, 2018
Fennel might be happier if you direct seed it when you plant peas. But the Almighty has said, …let them (man) have dominion over… all the earth… Genesis 1:26  so, in a spirit of dominion over the earth that I am a steward of, I am forcing some fennel in soil blocks, late in February.

Fennel soil block February 18, 2018 Starting fennel in the green house. Fennel will not be happy if you disturb her roots. Remember that when you choose a starting pot.  I use soil blocks. What ever you choose, it should be 1.5 to 2 inches deep.

  1. Plant 3 seeds per block, one-fourth inch deep. Cover seeds with vermiculite. (thin to one per block or pot)
  2. Fennel likes a minimum temperature of 60 degrees F to sprout (90 maximum)
  3. Keep them in the dark, they have better germination without light
  4. Seedlings will sprout in 7 to 14 days under ideal conditions.
  5. When the seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be planted in the garden. This early in Everett, Washington, they will be put under a cold-frame. They can also be transferred to a large pot and allowed to grow in the greenhouse.

candle February 18, 2018 This little light of mine. I like my old candle lantern for keeping the chill out of the greenhouse. We were snowed on today (February 18, 2018) and have been warned that night temperatures will get down to 23 degrees F or even lower. These old candle lanterns will burn for 10 hours and put out significant heat. I really need to buy another clay pot to put over it, but this will do for now.

Iris February 18, 2018 Today in Everett The barometer took a dive. All those rain clouds parted and baby it’s cold outside! 40/21 (21!) with light winds from the Fraser Valley up north. No rain, just snow. Sunrise at 7:11 AM, 10 hours and 25 minutes later the sun sets at 5:37 PM.

Debs… who will be bringing trays of seedlings into the kitchen for the night.

Tomorrow, #NTin2018 is Mark chapter 8

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Sunday Snow

Just because we expect snow in February, it doesn’t always mean we welcome it.

Snow 2 February 18, 2018
The trouble with putting yourself on bud watch, or bulb watch or with starting seeds is the feeling that spring is coming. I guess snow is a nice change from all of the rain we have experienced in Everett, Washington, but this is not the change in weather that I was hoping for. I am thankful for the slice of spring I experience in the greenhouse!

Seeds February 18, 2018 I want to be that Proverbs 31 warrior, the one who laughs at the snow.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. Proverbs 31:10

The regular Sabbath reading for this week is #19, Contributions. I was just reading one of the New Testament suggested readings, feeling a little bit sorry for myself because of my lust for spring. 2Corinthians 9:1-15 speaks of being ready to give, as might be expected from the Torah Portion title. After all of my fussing about forgetting to save some of my seeds and needing to order seeds that I usually save seed for, I came across these verses.

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God 2Corinthians 9:10-11

Why do I worry? The Almighty takes care of me! I get to plant seeds that he provides. I get to watch things grow, I get to harvest and eat the most amazing food imaginable. I get to work outside. And I get to give of what He provides to bless others Hallelujah!

So I will continue with one day at a time planting. Maybe this week I’ll call it celebrating the greenhouse in the snow… maybe not. I will probably light a candle (or three) under a big clay pot to take the chill out of the atmosphere in the greenhouse. Spring is still coming.

The plan for this week, February 18-23

  • Fennel (including how to start seedlings for transplanting: 2/18/18)
  • Red and Green Cabbage (with instructions, 2/19/18)
  • Kale (so simple, you may not need directions, but here they are: 2/20/18)
  • Purple and Green Brussels Sprouts
  • Dakota Peas (which I did happen to save)
  • Frog Island Nation Fava Beans

Now, to find my old hiking candle lantern and a big dry clay pot to keep the frost off of my bay laurel and rosemary… both of which are far too large to sit on my kitchen table. Maybe I’ll be laughing at the snow after all.

Snow February 18, 2018 Winter Storm Warning! In Everett that means more snow and nights so cold that I will either  heat the green house -or- Ray and I will be hauling flats of seedlings from the greenhouse to the kitchen table every night. Suddenly I am glad that I did not use heat to sprout my seeds, they would be too tender!

This Week: Highs in the mid 30’s and lows in the lower 20’s. Do I keep planting? probably. What would you do?

Debs in wool socks.

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Day 7; Broccoli!

Celebrating Ten Hours of Daylight 2018

Thompsons, 2011
Thompson’s Broccoli 

Home grown broccoli! If you can avoid all the garden critters who LOVE broccoli, and your soil is sweet and healthy, then you are in for a treat. I’ve grown a lot of broccoli, they are not always as big as this Thompson’s in the picture, but they are always good.

February 16 broccoli2 Started broccoli seed in the greenhouse today. I nearly let myself run out of Solstice, so I will need to isolate these to save seed for the next seasons. I also have Umpqua, Thompsons and Purple Peacock, which isn’t really a broccoli, it is broccoli crossed with kale to make pretty purple and green salad greens. It does produce purple broccoli like heads, but they are tiny, perfect for salads and stir-fry.

February 16 broccoli3 And done…. I made soil blocks to plant my seed. They make planting simple. I’ve tried paper pots, toilet paper cores, peat pots and those weird disks that grow after you soak them in water. Of all the different seed starting things I’ve tried, the only starting system I really like are the soil blocks. They take an investment of a tool and a mix that will hold together, but otherwise they are simple and sustainable. Drop seeds into the divots, sprinkle them with vermiculite and wait. In this case 6 to 14 days.

February 16 broccoli1 My Uprising order came! Whoo-hoo!

  • Cascadia Snap Pea (I forgot to grow some for seed saving last year. these are the BEST!)
  • Purple Snap Bean; Blooming Prairie
  • Soup Bean, Cocaigne, I was drawn to the idea of a bean grown on the Brittany coast of France.
  • Bridge to Paris, Sweet Pepper, a thick flesh frying pepper
  • Yellow Watermelon, the Polish Janosik

It isn’t much, but it all sounds fun to me.

February 16 Mark7 Have you been doing the New Testament in 2018? Today, February 16, is Mark 7.

Debs in Everett, Washington, where is is raining again. I am so thankful for my greenhouse!

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Day 6; Celery and Celeriac

Celebrating Ten Hours of Daylight, 2018

Celery 2 February 15, 2018
A cold mountain homesteader once advised his readers, If we want to grow good celery, do not buy American seed. American seed is intended for agro-business, not for taste. I took that advice and have grown good celery most years. His seed came from Australia. Not having an Australian connection, I get mine from Italian Seed Company. I’ve always grown Gigante Dorato but this year I added the smaller Verde, advertised as an Italian favorite. We’ll see how it eats in America. I also started a few celeriac, one of the few winter vegetables I can dig fresh and it does not have a cabbage taste.

Celery February 15, 2018 If you have followed my Toy Box Urban Farm blog, then you my know how much I love soil-block-makers… except for the mini, hate those as much as I love the larger block-makers.

Even so, every year I try to like them again. I got it out of my system early this year with my celery. They seem like a good way to start celery seedlings, and they would be, if they were not so fragile. What’s done is done, I’ll worry about them when it is time to pot up the plants.

MIgardner did an excellent video on starting celery seed.

  • Three seeds to a cell… I have no idea how many I have per cell.
  • Set the seed on the surface of the soil, do not cover them. Celery needs light to germinate.
  • Mist with water daily until they sprout.
  • 14 to 21 days to germination.

Italian Seeds February 15, 2018 My Italian Seed order came today. It included the Verde (green) celery seed but I was also seduced by a pickling pepper called, Devils Kiss, another shrimp bean, an Italian cucumber that becomes melon like as it gets older… that was just too interesting to not try, and a package of random, mixed winter squash, just for the surprise. We do like a nice surprise.

Mark 6 February 15, 2018 It was a nice day to work in the greenhouse today. Overcast and gloomy outside. I have so much outside that needs doing, but I am just not feeling it yet. I really need to shake this cold once and for all. It’s still early, but I am looking forward to nice weather and dirty hands.

Debs in Everett, Washington. February 15, 2018

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Day 5; Sweet Onion

Celebrating Ten Hours of Daylight, 2018

Sweet Onion February 14, 2018
Today is Valentine’s Day. The plan was to find a place to go bird watching, make a fire in our bio-stove and stir-fry lunch. Ray, who loves sweet onions as much as a person can love onions, suggested that we go to Mt Vernon, Washington to the Natural Foods Co-op, who are known to offer local, organic seed selections. Score! They had the Sweet Onion we were looking for, Ailsa Craig. They are now in a pot in the greenhouse, I’ll get back to you on their progress in 4 to 14 days.

Lake McMurry February 14, 2018 Did I mention that it is Valentine’s Day? Neither of us feel very well yet, but we did not want to let the day go by un-celebrated. We had lunch, we had binoculars and cameras, we even had a place, Lake McMurry, on the way home from Mt Vernon (skip the freeway). We also had slush and the trailing edge of the flue we had last week. Our heads ache. I got out long enough to let Rudy stretch his legs before getting right back into the truck, where both of us decided to bag it, go home, eat our cheese and crackers in bed and get over these headaches before Bible study tonight. It was a good decision, AND I got a pot of those sweet onions into a pot.

Selfie, February 14, 2018 The weird part of today? We enjoyed ourselves. We like being together. Lord willing, there will be other bird watching days, other picnics, but there is no one else for either of us.

Hope you made someone smile, knowing they are loved by you today. Maybe tomorrow I will start celery and celeriac, Happy Valentine’s Day

Debs in Everett, Washington

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