Monday, March 03, 2008

Spindly Seedlings

Here are my tomato seedlings after nine days. I really like these peat pellets plants because I have only watered them twice since I started them. I like that I can move them all at once easily. I am having so much fun getting a jump on spring that I'd like to start some cauliflower indoors as well. But I don't need more than 6 plants. And that's the problem. This 16 pellet set was the smallest they had. I have had great success with cauliflower in recent years so I will purchase some of those seeds. I have to decide what I want to start in the remaining 12 peat pellets though. I also have to remember that these seedlings are going to get much bigger and therefore won't be quite as easy to move around as they are now. Any New Yorkers in this zone have any ideas for one more early starter vegetable? I can put cauliflower out much earlier than tomatoes. They prefer the cooler weather. This year I hope to beat my record early ready to eat tomato from last year.

Since I am in the farming mode and have lately been becoming more and more aware of how to take care of the environment, I was thinking about what role I play in sustainable agriculture. It really needs to be everybodies focus before we deplete all of our natural resources. For my vegetable growing activities, I replace what I take from the soil by adding manure from the sheep pen each fall. The manure comes right out of the sheep pen. For land management, I rotate sheep grazing so that each area has a chance to recover before further grazing.

Resting pasture section on hill

In addition, each area gets further fertilized naturally, by the sheep. The sustainability ethic is important if we want our future generations to be able to farm successfully. Looking outside my valley I see that in California, where water is an issue, scientists are coming up with drought resistant species. In other areas of the world where soil erosion is a problem, planting natural windbreaks, such as grasses, can alleviate this and also improve air quality by minimizing dust. These are areas we need to be concentrating on as we think about the stewardship of our land.