The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Early spring garden

Peas sprouting in a pot
I put our pot of peas on top of the fridge, figuring that was the warmest spot inside during this shoulder season when we're only running the wood stove now and then.  Just over a week later, the pea sprouts are up and growing fast!  I figure we'll be able to snip off tendrils to munch on starting next week.

Lettuce seedlings in a quick hoopMeanwhile, out in the quick hoop, the lettuce bed has greened right up.  I anticipate our first spring salad by the middle of March.

(See that grass in the background?  That's the barley cover crop that didn't winter kill.  I'm going to have to figure out how to make it bite the dust before I plant the March bed of lettuce.)

Onion seedlingsRounding out my March baby photos, the onions I started indoors are so tall I'm starting to wonder if they need to be repotted.  This is the trouble with starting seeds inside --- they look so cute and low-work when you drop 72 seeds in a flat, but what do you do a few weeks later when they need more elbow room?  I detest the endless round of potting up (and the neighboring task of finding room for all of those larger and larger pots), so I may choose to transplant these guys into the onion quick hoop I plan to build next week.  For those of you who start your onions indoors from seed, how soon do you put your onions out in a cold frame or straight in the garden?

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with poop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've never planted onions in a seed plug tray. But looking at the stems, I don't think that your onions have enough roots yet to transplant. I'd recommend waiting until they are firm enough to stand on their own.
Comment by Edward Wed Mar 2 11:07:23 2011
I love the idea of "baby photos" referring to plants! Keep up the good garden work!
Comment by Maggie Wed Mar 2 11:26:44 2011

Edward --- Well, when I transplant out of plug trays, I carefully transplant the whole plug of dirt, so root area isn't that important. What would get me in trouble, though, is if these hothouse onions weren't happy with cold weather. I may try hardening them off out in the (soon to be built) quick hoop for a while to get them used to chilly weather.

Maggie --- Thanks! I use the term "baby photos" because they're a bit gratuitous and probably only cute to me. :-)

Comment by anna Wed Mar 2 11:40:36 2011
You are supposed to transplant the entire soil plug, but I've never had much luck and getting the soil out in one piece unless there is a fair amount of root to hold it all together.
Comment by Edward - eBook Formatter Wed Mar 2 19:34:08 2011

I can often tease them out. I let the soil get a bit dry, then slip a fork down the side, which lifts the whole mass of soil out of the tray.

Great ebook formatting service, by the way!

Comment by anna Wed Mar 2 20:15:27 2011
I had noticed that dry soil comes out more easily than damp soil. I will have to put a fork in my golf cart this spring to try this idea when I have to patch flats of vegetables before selling them. Thanks.
Comment by Edward - eBook Formatter Fri Mar 4 12:16:10 2011

I recently found your blog and have enjoyed reading through the archives.

When I worked at a local greenhouse, our onion seeds were sown in a flat filled with 2"x3" packs. Every time the onion tops grew to 3-4" tall, we would give them a 'haircut' & cut them back to 2". As a result they developed thicker stems instead of getting long and stringy fast. After doing this 3-5 times, and hardening them off in cole frames, they were ready to plant. Each pack could have between 50-75 plants, and they were just the right size to separate and transplant.

I found them quite easy to work with in the garden and customers appreciated lots of onions for the $$.

Comment by Emma Wed Nov 16 13:58:52 2011
Thanks for the tip! I'm pretty sure I've decided to start onions inside again this coming spring, so I'll have to try it out.
Comment by anna Wed Nov 16 18:45:09 2011

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