Mike (tfb)

Nov 082008

Jang AP-1 seeder

The Jang AP-1 single-row hand seeder has gotten a couple of rave reviews, here and in Tiny Farm Forum. It apparently way outclasses the Earthway, although (or, at only) about triple the price: $365US. It plants from small to large seeds (basil, carrots and lettuce, to beans, peas and corn). Also available in 3- and 6-row configurations. I haven’t tried it, but it seems like a must-purchase for increased accuracy and reduced seed use, adding up to much less thinning and cash savings. Available in the US from Mechanical Transplanter and in Canada from Willsie Equipment Sales.

Mar 012008

Seed starting tools

This may come in handy for some, a display of all of the tools I have for indoor seed starting. This is for starting about 2,500 veggie seedlings. I have homebuilt, fluorescent-lit plant racks, and use mostly 38- and 72-cell plug sheets. Most of these tools are used always, some not as much: 1. The Seedmaster, a gadget for trickling out small seed as you rotate the wheel (the yellowSeed starting tools map pieces are click-in filters for different seed sizes); 2. assorted white plastic plant labels; 3. a dibbler or dibber or whatever, for poking little holes in soil; 4. a fine-point black waterproof marker (I like Sharpies) for labeling; 5. the mini-transplanter is essentially a tiny, stainless steel shoehorn for easy liberation of plugs from their cells; 6. a moisture meter, simply stick it in the soil; 7. plant snips for thinning seedlings; 8. Mini-Sim seeder: fill and shake out; 9. suction seeder with three tip sizes: squeeze the bulb, put the tip on a seed, release to hold, squeeze again to drop… ($25…what was I thinking?!); 10. digital timer for keeping track of repetitive tasks like bottom-watering trays one by one; 11. plant light meter, reads in footcandles, with settings for indoor and out; 12. digital indoor/outdoor min/max thermometer/hygrometer, mainly for keeping track of temperature; 13. magnifying glass with light, for examining seedlings (and GREEN MOSS) up close; 14. soil scoop for filling plug sheets and pots with seedling mix; 15. spray bottle with good quality spray head (more water per pull; I’ve used a wand mister like I have in the greenhouse, but the hose kept getting in the way, I may try one again for the seedling room this year); 16. small fibrepak flats, convenient for holding tools and seed packets on the potting table (left lying, the packets can so easily get wet…); 17. small bulldog clips, useful for all kinds of things, like organizing groups of seed packets. And the winners are…all of them, EXCEPT for: #9, which I found to be useless for my purposes; #8 which is great, but mostly for heavier hand seeding in the field, like for flowers; and #6, 11 & 13, which are more educational toys than essential tools, but still cool!

Feb 262008

Micro Eco-FarmingRecently purchased Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth by Barbara Berst Adams. So far, it’s more than living up to the recommendations that lead me to it. Book summary: “Micro eco-farmers profit on small acreages, small-town backyards, urban lots, and even in basements. Here’s how they succeed, how they start ‘with nothing’, what traits they share, and what secrets they know. Hundreds of real-life examples with ideas, resources and methods for all who aspire to create their own micro eco-farm: from wild-grazed mini dairies, cut-flower stands, heritage rose farms, urban greenhouses, to mail-order farm craft, and more. 176 pages, softcover.” More when I’m finished reading it.

Jan 282008

Glaser wheel hoes

Wheel hoes are excellent! I started using one last season, though I’d been reading about them for a while—what took me so long?! They cut major time from straight cultivating, weeding between-row and paths where you’d usually use some type of hand hoe. Mine is from Valley Oak, and I’m absolutely happy with it. I use the standard 8″ blade, and that’s it. I haven’t tried the Glaser wheel hoes, but they’re no doubt fine as well. They come with a five implement attachments, including blades in various widths, a hiller/furrower, and a 3-tine cultivator. There’s a two-wheel/two-blade attachment for the heavier pro model that allows straddling a row. The handles can be offset for working from the side.

The three models of wheel hoe are No. 500 (the Berg), 600, and 700.