Friday, February 24, 2012

Looking on the bright side

Dark Side:
  • Kim and I are sick. Cough, cough.
  • It's raining. No, it's pouring.
Bright Side:
  • It's not snowing.

The rain overnight and through the morning has left the path by the pond flooded, and the chickens are wet and miserable, huddling in the coop or underneath the overhang, trying to keep dry.

But in the greenhouse my little seedlings are warm and dry, thanks to my trusty heat mats, and now they're well lit, too, thanks to my new acquisition: a grow light!

Grow lights are pretty expensive to buy, so I've resisted the temptation until now. February is the month for starting onion seedlings in these parts, but the sun isn't getting high enough in the sky yet to adequately light the greenhouse for the minimum six hours per day. So I decided to bite the bullet, and bought one light to see if it would make a difference.

Kim mounted it to scrap piece of cedar and then hung it on chains so I can adjust the height as the seedlings grow. And that's exactly what they're doing - my leek, shallot, and red, yellow and green onion seedlings are noticeably happier, and the hardy greens I seeded this week (mizuna and pac choi) came up in two days. And I'm happier, too: this grow light, pricey though it was, has made me feel like a grown-up gardener.

In contrast, the other thing that is making me smile in the greenhouse today cost all of $1.95. It's a cap that turns a soda bottle (or in our case, a spring water bottle) into a watering can, gentle enough for the most fragile of plants.

Seedlings need to stay moist, which means daily watering when they're on heat mats. Most gardening manuals suggest misting them, because anything much more forceful than that can break or dislodge a tender new shoot. But have you ever tried misting 8 or 10 trays of pots and soil blocks? It's a good way to invoke carpal tunnel syndrome. So the last time I was in the garden supply store I looked at fancy watering cans with special heads designed to shower tender plants like the most gentle of rain showers. The problem? The price tag: over $40. So I gave up that idea, went to the checkout to pay for the package of cream-coloured nasturtium seeds I hadn't been able to resist, and there in a bucket by the cash register were these caps. I bought two.

They work like a charm. If you just hold the bottle upside down the shower of water is so soft you can hardly feel it, and if you need a more substantial stream all you need to do is squeeze the bottle a little.

A product that works better and costs less. Definitely something for the bright side.


Flartus said...

I was just thinking the other day that I need to stop and take stock of all the "bright sides" I tend to take for granted. Like a car I can depend on (knock wood), all the behavioral or medical problems I didn't get in my shelter dog, good plumbing, heating, whatever systems I don't have to worry about, a quiet neighborhood...I could go on.

Several years ago I poked holes in the lid of an old orange juice container to do exactly what those sprinkler tops do. It didn't work quite the way I'd hoped, but it has kept a lot of seedlings moist! Glad you have a comfy, well-appointed greenhouse space, so you can play in the dirt even in this weather.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

For the sneezes: God bless you!
For the dark side: (((hugs)))
For the bright side: more (((((hugs)))))

Shim Farm said...

Dark Side here: It's snowing.

Bright side here: It's the weekend. Let it snow. Plus we're not coughing, so that's always a blessing.

I really have to get a greenhouse built...I want some grow lights too! It looks like you've got a really nice set-up going. Let's keep our fingers crossed for a good summer.

Hope you're both on the mend now - take care of each other!

jeanives said...

Bright side: 80F and sunny today.
Dark side: second cold of the winter
Bright side wins hands down!

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I have never seen those caps! I LOVE them. I am going to see if they are at the nursery nearby...

Also - your question about soap molds (from my blog...)

I use a wooden soap mold I bought from the dude at - he makes them by hand and they are awesome.

BUT - I have used all sorts of things, including dresser drawers lined with wax paper, PVC piping with the ends wrapped in wax paper (so the soap doesn't leak out) and yogurt containers (you just cut them into rounds when the soap gets hard.)

What's your favorite scent??

Paula said...

I'm sorry to hear you guys are sick, and in such appropriate weather, too. Somehow, to me anyway, being sick when the weather is sulking is better than being sick when it's beautiful outside. I mean if you have to be sick.

Love the bottle tops! I'm still working on how to water the seedlings- I will have to keep my eyes open for them. The next time you're at the store can you take a look at the carton they were in and see if there's a website listed on it?

You guys feel better soon! Have some tea. Take it easy. Get well again.

Miriam said...

Paula and Lindsey, I found a similar product at Lee Valley - have a look at,66758&ap=2

As far as soap scents go, Lindsey, my favourite scent is lilac. Do they even make lilac essential oil? Runner up: lavender, because it was my grandmother's favourite.

Thanks for your good wishes, everyone! We're keeping each other company over steam inhalations and hot lemon drinks - you know what they say about misery and company...

Nicole Hitchcock said...

Are those buff orpingtons? what friendly chickens those are! I have to start my onions... thanks for the reminder!!

Lyssa said...

I hope you're feeling better soon! Being sick is so annoying.

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