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Friday Favorite: Maple Tapping

February 19th, 2016

AH, I think every year at this time I talk about how much I LOVE sugaring the maple trees. Yesterday I went out to tap one tree, I do this each year to monitor sap flow. When the sap starts flowing from that tap, I tap the remaining trees. The sap started flowing right away, so I tapped 8 more trees. I’ll probably add a few more taps today.
maple sap 3
I really love sugaring because it gets me out in the garden during a time when I wouldn’t be out there. It makes me go outside and I get a ton of exercise, it really helps get me in shape for the upcoming gardening season. I also love that it’s such a simple process, really, you just gather sap and boil it down, it’s really that simple. When you drizzle homemade maple syrup on your pancakes in the morning there’s nothing quite like it, it somehow tastes sweeter.

Do you live in an area where they tap trees?

Fresh Seed

February 18th, 2016

I’ve blogged about the shelf life of seeds and even made a seed viability chart a few years ago. You can see the shelf life of seed chart here. You may think it’s not important to check seed freshness, store seed in specific ways, or purchase new seed of specific types of vegetables each year. Here’s a great demonstration of the importance of fresh seed:
lettuce seedlings 1
As you can see by this image the seeds on the right hand side had slow or very low germination. This seed was purchased last winter for spring sowing. It germinated beautifully last spring. This year, germination is slow and spotty. Most likely these seeds will still germinate, though they will do so in a few weeks instead of a few days.
lettuce seedlings 2
As you can see on the right hand side of the flat, germination was great with the fresh seed purchased this spring. With garden seed, you don’t know exactly how old the seed is when you get it. Thus, lettuce seed may have a decent shelf life, but the seed you purchase may already be a few years old. It pays to watch germination rates and figure out if your seed supplier is perhaps using not so fresh seed. I have great long-term germination rates when purchasing seed from farm supply business like Johnny’s Selected Seeds and High Mowing Seeds.
Shelf life of seeds
When it doubt about the viability of your seeds, throw them out (or feed it to the chickens like I do). The longer I garden the more I realize the benefits of starting with fresh seed. For me, an extra 10 days under the grow light waiting for slow germination throws off my entire system. I’d much rather spend an extra $4 buying a fresh pack of lettuce seed that will germinate faster, grow faster, and reach harvest stage a week or two early than it is to save seed packets from year to year. If you want ultra fresh seed, save your own lettuce seed. I do this for a few varieties that I love.

How often do you cull old seeds and get fresh?

Quite a Swing

February 17th, 2016

On Monday morning it was -19 outside – BRRRRRR.
File Feb 16, 5 31 37 PM
File Feb 16, 5 32 00 PM
Yesterday afternoon it was 50, that’s quite a swing in temperatures. We had snow switching to rain, boy did that make a mess of the roads and our driveway. I’m always amazed at nature when things like this happen.

What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Growing?

February 16th, 2016

This year I set up the big grow light in my office, that way it’s easy for me to monitor the seedlings. One of our cats, Littles, has decided that the grow light is her new sun lamp.
cat under grow light 1
cat under grow light 2
I’m not sure if she’s trying to keep SAD away or if she’s hoping to grow a little more. Either way, it cracks me up every time I see her.

What’s growing in your seed starting area?

A Little Fun

February 15th, 2016

On Saturday, Mr Chiots and I went to a Valentine’s Day Party. We were all supposed to take Valentines to pass out, so we did.  This is what we each made:
lip balm valentine
Star Wars Valentine
It was a great time, it’s been quite a while since I’ve made Valentines. I should do it every year, as it was loads of fun.

Did you do anything fun for Valentine’s Day?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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