Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Of Tomatoes and Chicks

Afternoon to y'all. Just a quick note on what I've been doing lately.

The chicks first: the new batch came on Monday (replacements from the hatchery) and are so far doing ok. I hope they continue that trend! Only one dead, a little one that wasn't doing too well in the first place. He felt awful light--one of the symptoms of pneumonia--but I sure hope that isn't it. Too many died from that last time. The Electrolytes from Mcmurray's are quite a bit different from the ones at TSC so maybe that was the trouble last time. They've lasted longer this time than last so we will see.

On to the tomatoes: The
inevitable happened. It was finally time. The poor plants had out grown their sprouting flats. Something more was necessary. In a word: re-potting. It took longer than I expected, but the task in now done and before too long I can plant them in the garden. Mom helped me make some newspaper pots, which are supposed to be biodegradable although the video (follow the link above) says otherwise (not to put the pots in the ground intact). We made ours a little thinner, and it looks like they will rot out quite nicely. (not too many things you can say that about with satisfaction!) Any way, that project kinda took over the whole kitchen:It's actually looking quite tidy in this picture. Must have consolidated stuff or something. Overall though it was rather hard to cook much :-) Fortunately I started after dinner on Monday night, and was done before dinner on Tuesday. (In my defense I got just a little distracted by this paper I had to write since is due tomorrow, and had to undergo the editing process. And before you say "no problem for you, you seem to have no problem with writing on your blog, " let me say: This blogging is just fun stuff! For School I have to follow a list of rules as long as my arm: make sure you include this and don't do this or that! Just a note about the writing curriculum we use--it's great. It is called IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing with Andrew Pudewa) It's the best program out there. I've gone from *HATING* writing to actually enjoying it for the most part--the "super essays" are a bit long but then I tend to have about 250 word paragraphs (you'd have never guessed would you? :-) ) We even keep accidentally calling Mr. Pudewa "Dr. Pudewa." It really seems like he should have a PhD or something! There is no better program out there for writing. He covers everything from long multi-page essays (research papers) to news summaries to timed essays (think ACT and SAT) to Personal Essays (College entrance essays) to book report type things to Story Critiques and everything in between. He gives you a formula to follow and that makes it soooo easy, and yet every person puts in their own way of writing and even when your all useing the same outline (he's a big fan of KWO's--Key Word Outlines) the papers turn out totally different. Some are short. Mine are really long. :-) And he teaches you how to do it with such style and...well...excellence, that i(f your mother edits your papers) you'll be writing at a PhD level (well almost) by the time you complete his program. His humor is also excellent. We had the chance to meet him at our Home School Conf. a few years ago, and he is just as funny in person as he is on DVD (I did mention that the whole course is taught by Dr. (I mean Mr.) Pudewa on DVD didn't I?). If you want to learn how to write easily with confidence and style (Think Jonathan's (my bother, I mean brother) more proper stylish way of writing--he's still kinda in the grove while I've slipped in to a more conversational blogging style :-) Lots of "dress-ups" and "decorations") check out his materials--they're great!

Back to the least until I get distracted again :-)
Here are our pots:
They seem to work pretty well so far. And the egg shell also worked nicely. I could just crunch them up a little and peal the shell off and put the root ball into the new pot without disturbing it too much.

And here are the trays of neatly (OK, so there not that neat, but maybe they'll grow--thats what matters) potted Roma tomatoes:

And here is the ever versatile, ubiquitous gray tub: Now it may not look like much, but these are one of the more useful junk that we've collected. You see these are seat motor packing crate thingy-ma-bobs (whatchamacallits?) Dad's work was throwing them out by the truck load. So we brought them home almost by the truck load. I think it was at least three mini-vans full at about 20 or so to a load. We gave a lot of them away (everybody else thinks they're great too) but we still have a bunch of them stacked up in the garage. They stack well, have handles and most are waterproof. What more could you ask for? I used it to mix the potting soil with water. Worked very well.

Well thats all for now, talk to y'all later,


P.S. for my rebuttal to Jonathan's last post see the comments. :-)


Mrs. Deering said...

Now I have to ask: eggshells? How does it work?

Like I mentioned before, all my tomato seedlings died.

I need a new game plan. :)

Matthew said...


I just posted an new photo essay, the end of which might answer some of your questions. I'm just starting out in this so am obviously not an expert, but this is what worked for me. :-)

I actually used some old plastic sheeting from (store bought) pizza wrappers to hold the potting soil ("flats")(most people really recommend using "seed starting" soil, but I had pretty good luck with potting soil. The big thing that everybody stresses is sterility. So maybe the egg shells shouldn't even work--they definitely weren't sterile.

Then I just sprinkled on the seed and covered with wet newspaper and then the top of the pizza plastic. I also have a "hot bed" for germinating (see photo essay) The newspaper holds moisture and the plastic helps keep it in. Mine sprouted really fast--only four days instead of the predicted ten.

You must immediately remove both plastic and newspaper once they start sprouting. I've also read that the easiest way to kill seedlings is to over water. I think I've gone to both extremes and killed plants at both ends but I don't know how to tell you how much to water.

I basically went by the recommendations of Mrs. Carla Emery, in her book The Encyclopedia of Country Living; an Old Fashioned Recipe Book--that is a wealth of information on practically any subject.

Wishing you success,