So there I was, farming away, doing the things I do the way I do. Quietly and contentedly humming along, and thought I could share some of the things I do to save time, money, resources on the farm.
Here you are, three ‘hacks’ that are as good for the farmer as the backyard gardener. One requires a little bit of knowledge, but I know you like learning about the world, in fact that’s what I like most about you.
Here they are in the order that they came to me.
1. Up-cycle: Busted blinds –> Plant tags!
Though we all love to turn our piles of old pallets into bookshelves and coffee tables, we occasionally run out of either pallets or books to shelve, so here’s another Project Upcycle to busy you for about 30 seconds: turning those old blinds into plant tags. In fact this is what I solely rely on for plant labeling. I can cut them to any size I want, they’re pretty much freely accessible (thrift store, garage sale, your spare bedroom), and easier to write on with Sharpie. And if i don’t have scissors around, they bend and snap apart easily. So simple, it sort of seems silly to talk about any longer. Moving on.
2. Save a puddle, Stack some trays.
This is the one that requires a knowledge base!
When I plant seeds indoors in trays, I often stack the trays to save water, time, and sometimes even heat. Here’s what you need to know in order to employ this tactic productively:
– Days to Germination. Most important thing! You MUST unstack the trays before the seeds germinate (start to sprout). Do it a day or 2 earlier than the DTM suggests when you’re starting out. If you wait too long, you can end up with leggy plants aching for sunlight. Most seed packets state the days to germination, otherwise you can easily find this information online.
-Light Requirements. Some seeds need light to germinate. The seed packet should indicate if light is needed. I use stacking in the spring to save space where I’m only trying to keep a small area warm, and in summer when I want to put trays in the shade of the barn, so I don’t have to worry about watering frequently, since seeds should be kept moist throughout the germination process.
-Don’t stack too many trays!
Try this out on a small scale to start. I don’t recommend it for crops that only need around 3 days to germinate, especially if you’re just beginning. Some crops like celery and parsley and tomatoes take a long time to germinate, so that’s where this comes most in handy.
3. Write Well
Well it could just be life advice in general couldn’t it? What I mean here is, keep a notebook; I enjoy the Rite in the Rain brand, designed with waterproof paper ready for both life’s and nature’s spills alike. Find something you like, perhaps that encourages you with words of inspiration or wit. Just this week I paused in my favorite little bookstore and flipped around through gardening notebooks while a cat napped on my lap. Sure you could input your gardening data into an app on your phone but I heard a rumor that it’s scientifically proven that you retain information better by hand writing it. Take notes because you will want to remember what you did in order to be better every spring. I know some farmers who record the high and low temperature every day, it’s not a bad idea. Part 2 of this tip: write only as cryptically as you can decipher. I have abbreviated and scribbled so terribly that I spent far more time decoding than I saved in brevity.
Can you guess what I’m labeling with those ‘codes’ up at the top of this post?