Friday, February 8, 2008

Female blackbirds and delphinium seeds

I saw the first female red winged blackbird at the feeder today. During the winter the males and females flock separately and the males always arrive here a month or so before the females. The females look very different than the males, about the same size, they are brown and gold striped unlike the black with the red and gold epaulets of the male.

Today Joel mixed up the first batch of potting soil of the season and I started two small plats of delphinium seeds. Delphinium seeds benefit from some cooling before they will germinate. You can put the flats in the refrigerator, or if you plant them early enough when it is still chilly outside, you can just put the flats out in the cold frame for a couple of weeks and then bring them into the warmth of the house or greenhouse. They usually germinate quite quickly after that. I planted three varieties, the Magic Fountains mix which is a mixtures of shades of blues and purples, and two separate colors, Black knight, a dark purple, and Centurion Rose, a, well, a rose colored one.

We start a lot of our vegetables and flowers in soil blocks in our small greenhouse. Joel mixes the potting soil from peat moss and sand with various sorts of organic fertilizers mixed in. We make soil blocks using a soil block maker (see photo). For large varieties we want a lot of plants of we use wood or plastic flats, but when I only want a dozen or so seedling of something I use recycled plastic meat trays. They are just the right size. Labels are cut from white plastic yogurt containers. I keep a journal of planting dates so that I can check from year to year to see when I started things before. If I think I started things too late or too early I make a note and hope I remember to check next year before I plant.


  1. Did your Cotswolds come from over on Shaw -- Or is it Lopez where the nuns run a big Cotswold herd?

    Pretty pictures and good info too. Hope it continues. Summer shots should be amazing!

  2. Yes, our original Cotswolds came from the nuns on Shaw Island