so it’s been a couple weeks after starting seeds and so far they are doing well. I set up a metal shelving unit I had with some grow lights I was able to find for about ten bucks each. The weather was getting unseasonably warm for the midwest (NO complaints here!!) and so I thought I could get a jump on the garden but alas, cold weather moved in. Technically our “last frost date” is May 15th so I will abide by the rules and use that date for planning the garden.
So today we went and picked up our chicks. I was going to order a straight run from a hatchery, however, because we live in the suburbs I could not take a chance on getting a Rooster. A straight run means that the chicks are taken right from when they hatch and given to the customer, anywhere from 12-25 chicks. The ratio of getting male to females is 50/50 so your odds of getting a Rooster are pretty good. Also, most the time when you order chickens from a hatchery you typically have to order 15 or more. Also, because our chickens are only going to be kept for egg laying, I wanted to be sure to get all hens (females) and choose a breed that are known for being good “layers”.
These chickens are known to some as Red Star or Red Sexed Linked, this means that they are “sexed” at birth. From my understanding distinquishing the males from the females of a chicken is relatively difficult until they start actually crowing. Some farmers can tell sooner by the saddle feathers that appear along the back end. To have them sexed, the window is something like 1-3 days after hatching. This is by no means a guarantee that you are going to get all females, but your chances are exponentially better. (something like 90%) With that said, my cousin purchased 12 chickens from the same source and two turned out to be Roosters. (keeping fingers crossed)
Luckily we have several relatives that have chickens and will happily take the Roo if we should end up with one. Of course they would have to agree to keep him around for a long time. They are all aware of my love of animals. 🙂
So the adventure begins. The main thing for chicks is to keep them warm, fed and watered. They have a heater lamp, starter food and endless supply of water. The only thing we have to worry about now is
Starting seeds indoors is my way of saying winter is almost over! I just love the thought of getting things in motion for the spring season.
We have always had good luck with sowing seeds right into the ground for the last several years. Cucumbers, beets, carrots, beans, lettuce, kale, spinach and even soybean amonst others have done well after planting the seeds. We typically buy our tomato plants, eggplants, herbs, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, squash and peppers from a local farmer. This year I want to grow all our plants from seeds (or at least try) and transplant them when they are ready. I have tried seeds indoors a few times and sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. I ran into an elderly woman at Home Depot this winter and she saw us looking at the grow lights and was kind enough to give us all her tips and tricks for successful seed starting. She informed us that in order to be successful at starting seeds indoors the environment has to be warm. We keep it pretty cool in the winter, at roughly 62-64 degrees Fahrenheit so we knew that would be a problem. This year we invested in a grow light and some heated mats to see if that might just be thing we need to make this work.
I looked up our last frost date, May 15th and so I was able to calculate what I need to get started. As of today we have started broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, (sweet, hot and jalapenos) leeks, eggplants, lavender, parsley, basil and a few different types of lettuce. I am using homemade pots, OJ containers, store bought peat containers and egg carton like containers. We put them in lasagna aluminum trays and then covered them with plastic to create the greenhouse effect. We will see! 🙂
Since we miss having fresh produce from our garden as we do in the summer, we love to eat sprouts whenever we can. Sprouts are amazingly good for you as they contain nutrients and antioxidants that you simply do not get from produce that has been sitting in trucks and then on the grocer’s shelves for days even weeks. Plus, after hearing reports of sprouts from the stores containing bacteria, salmonella and whatever else could harmful, it was really a no brainer for us.
Sometimes we just juice them along with other vegetables, or eat them in a salad. I know many people do not even know where to start so I will try to make it easy. Sunflower seeds for example are a favorite of ours. I usually get seeds online, from Whole Foods or a local bulk food store here. A cup of seeds is all you need to get you started. Soak the seeds overnight or for a minimum of 8-10 hours.
I have a small, shallow planter I had from an old bonsai tree I 0nce owned. Just fill that up about half way with potting soil, seed starter or any soil that you wish. Spread the seeds over the top of the soil and then gently cover them with about 1/4 inch of soil and water thoroughly.
After a few days you will see them sprouting, this is when you want to put them in a sunny window to green up. After they reach about 4-6 inches tall they are ready to cut and eat.
We sprout all kinds of seeds and beans.