Jen Fulkerson

gardener
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since Jul 09, 2019
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My name is Jennifer, I'm married to a wonderful man for 28 years and counting. We have four grown children. Two girls and two boys. Being a mom is my most important and favorite job. I love to garden, paint, crochet, read, go to the movies, upcycle/refinish furniture, and do just about any art or craft project. We have 3 dogs, 5 indoor cats, ? cats that live on our property, and 21 chickens. All but the chickens are strays that just showed up and demanded we love them, so we do.
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N. California
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Recent posts by Jen Fulkerson

I transferred the lg. Blocks to a 10/20? Tray. I can fit 3 across so I can get a lot more blocks on the shelf. They didn't fall apart, and were easy to transfer. I liked using the sprout trays because there's a bottom tray I could put water in, and a preferred tray on top, so I could keep the blocks damp but not to wet. I will just have to be more careful with one tray.
I had 20 3/4" blocks I didn't use. I was able to run water over the top of them, and then soak them for about 10 minutes. I also reused some that didn't germinate.
I think I like starting peppers and tomatoes in the small blocks. They germinate so much faster than in a tray.  At least I don't feel as though I waisted my money.
17 hours ago
I stumbled upon soil blocks recently. As a concept it's perfect.  In reality I'm not sure.  I haven't read everything on permies, but a lot, and just scratched the surface on the internet in general. I have spent quite a few hours reading and watching info on soil blocks.
I decided to give it a try.  I bought a 3/4" soil block maker thinking I can start lots of seeds on the heat mat, with the benefit of up planting as soon as the seedling emerge from the soil, instead of having some fast germinating seeds get leggy waiting for the slower ones.  Also it makes 20 blocks at a time.  I did experiment with my soil mixture using shredded cardboard instead of peat or coco coir, and it worked well.  I made my own larger soil block maker.  I was going for 2"X2", but it ended up 3"X3". It worked, but needs modifications to make it easier to use.  I found some coco coir and peat moss ( not buying it anymore, but might as well use it), so I went ahead and used it. I also added some bone meal, and organic fertilizer to the mix since I figure it will be in it for a while.  
1st blocks held together very well, some roots stick through the bottom, so must not be to dense.  It was easy to replant as needed leaving the others.  The down side was it was only good for small seeds, medium and large seeds don't work. Some seeds sprouted on top so I can see root and seedling.  I wish I would have brought the 2" block maker.  
2nd up potting was super easy, just pop it into place.  I made the block so it made a 3/4" depression. I sprinkled mycorrhiza in the hole, and popped the seedling in. Sprinkled a little vermiculite to fill any gaps. Very quick and easy.  What I don't like is my blocks are to big and have only one seedling it takes up to much room.  I only made 12 of my larger blocks. The rest of the seedlings I used a good organic potting soil in plastic pots I had.  Each pot got 3 or 4 seedlings.  I decided if I change the tray under the lg. Blocks I might be able to get more in, because I still have seedlings that need to be up potted. When I tried to move them they started to fall apart, so I must not have gotten the mix right. I'm still going to do it because I need the space. I will just be careful, and squeeze it back together.
I started 17 kinds of seeds. I made 12 blocks. I made sure each block had a different kind of seedling in it so I could compare the difference.
I expected the single seedling lg. Soil blocks to out preform the plastic pots. At this early stage that is not the case. They all look healthy, but some in the pots have there first true leaves, and the soil block ones don't.  
It's early yet, and it's always tough to learn a new skill, but so far I'm not sure soil blocks are worth the effort.  The main benefit of soil blocks is not getting root bound, no transplant shock, and no plastic. Seems like if I start the seeds at the right time, so I can plant them outside before they become root bound then it isn't a problem.  I would still like to eliminate plastic, but I have lots of plastic pots and cups that still have years of use in them.  Well time will tell.
I'm interested in hearing what you all think. From what I've read it seems people love soil blocks, or hate them. Thanks
1 day ago
I've kinda gone off the rails with this post. So I'm going to try to bring it back. The experimental part of this experience. Can you make soil blocks substituting ground up cardboard for peat or coco coir?  I would say yes. It totally works. It formed blocks, held there shape germinated seeds.  I don't know if they are as good as the ones made with peat or coco coir. But if you can't get those, or don't want to buy anything this will work.
6 days ago
I keep saying I'm not going to build anymore raised beds. Then I decide I need another.  I love sweet peas, but don't have a good place to plant them, except in my veggie garden. My policy is everything in the veggie garden is eatable. So no sweet peas in the garden.  I built a small raised bed specifically for sweet peas. It's made with 3 redwood fence boards, 2 furring strips, and chicken wire. The redwood were given to me by someone redoing there fence.  It's not the prettiest bed I've made, but it should do the job.
I always put wood in the bottom of my raised beds. I was going to use the wood from the oleander we cut down last year. I would love to get rid of it, and this was a great way. But when it came time I couldn't do it.  The bed is right out the back door. I was thinking it would be a great place to grow some herbs. Maybe my family would use them more if they are right there. So I used old almond wood. It's so hot and dry it takes quite a while for wood to break down. So if I'm going to grow anything we will eat, I don't want to use oleander, it my be ok, but I would rather not chance it.  
It may be to late, but I planted a bunch of sweet peas, and hope it's full of flowers soon.  
Everything is sprouting well. It's past time to plant in a larger block. I managed to build a larger block today. I used a piece of wood from a pallet.  I started out using a piece of corrugated steel. I got it cut and bent into shape. I decided it wasn't smooth enough. If it's hard to slide with nothing in it, it probably won't do the job. Plan B. I used a flexible cutting board from the dollar tree. They come in a package of 2. I cut it to shape the corners bend and shape nicely. I meet it at the corner so there's a little overlap on the outside. I duct tape it together. I put a piece of tape on one side with makings every 1/2 inch so I can decide how much soil to fill it with.  I put a 3/4" square dowel 1" long on the end so it will make the hole for the seedling blocks, and a chunk of wood on the other end as a handle.  Will it work??? I hope so. I made it after work, so it's to late and I'm to tired to make my soil so I can try it out. I will make it mostly like the small blocks, but I will add a little coco coir for strength since it will be bigger, and add a little organic fertilizer of some kind.
1 week ago
1/20/23 I placed a seed in almost every block. Covered the seeds with vermiculite. I mist everything. Place the tray on the heat mat.
My first worry is the tray I made so the roots would air prune on the bottom, my be to far from the heat mat. For some that won't matter but the tomatoes do better, and almost a must for peppers. Time will tell.

I mist every day. 2 days after I planted dahlia and michihili (Chinese) cabbage have already sprouted. I did soak most of my seeds for about 24 hours. Tiny seeds like tomato don't seem to do well with soaking.  Today is day 4 and I have moved the dahlia, cabbage, and chamomile to a new tray under a grow light. I hope to get my 2" soil block maker made soon. I didn't think I would need it so soon.   I bought some sprouting trays that seem like an inexpensive way to have a preferred bottom, and a solid bottom for bottom watering.
I can see one of the pepper plants starting to grow, so it must be getting enough heat.  

I have already learned several things from this endeavor. First is it's harder than I thought to get the blocks to hold together.  My decision to start with the 3/4" blocks was because I only have 1 heat mat and allowed me to start lots of seeds.

What I like is as the seedlings emerge I can remove them from the heat mat and get them under a grow light. With the cell trays I had to wait until most of the seeds popped up making some leggy.

I wish I would have gotten the larger soil block maker. The 3/4" one is really only good for super small seeds. The larger seeds are sprouting on top of the block without going into the block. I think the dimple in the top of the block is to shallow.  Or the blocks are to compact but some of the blocks already have roots coming out of the bottom, so I don't think that is the case. ???  Anyway next time I will start larger seeds in a larger block.
1 week ago
Played around with making some soil blocks tonight. It was harder than I thought. I don't think I got the cardboard fine enough.  I'm not sure it's going to work. I ended up putting the mix into the food processor. I had to push the mix into the soil block maker. I don't have my germination station up and going yet so I didn't plant anything yet. I hope I can get seeds planted in a few days. Time will tell if they hold together. I do think I will get some coco coir for the larger blocks, and stick a little closer to the tried and true recipe.
2 weeks ago
My boys are builders, and experimenters. We have a covered area on the side of the barn we use as a shop. The boys built a wood stove/ heater thing. It's made out of an old metal tank. There's enough ventilation to burn, but it's not really open like a fire pit. My youngest they burn wood scrap from pallets ( heat treated) branches ect.  My youngest had a project in mind and started collecting the charcoal in the bottom before he started a new fire. He has decided he doesn't want it.  It's lots of different kinds of wood. There are nails in it, and now it's in a wheelbarrow sitting in the rain.  

Can I soak it in compost tea and use it?

Will the nails be a problem?  I figured I can use a magnet to get some out, but I'm sure I won't get them all.

Is it to small and burned up to use?
3 weeks ago
I found a food processor at the thrift store for $13. Today I gave it a try. I think it's going to work. ???  I was hoping to make some soil blocks today, but I have been lazy and it got to late. I processed some soaked cardboard, made a tray to put the blocks on, and made a sifter to sift the compost and soil.  I decided to buy a small 3/4" seed blocker.  This way I can make 20 tiny soil blocks to start the seeds in. I only have one heat mat. I can start lots of seeds. As seedlings pop out of the soil I will  put them in a larger block. I plan to make a 2" soil block, and maybe a 4" one as well, we will see. I can't wait to give it a try.
3 weeks ago
Ulla I'm glad you are getting better.  It looks like you have an amazing winter garden. I think if you do a search on when your city and state will get to 86 degrees some charts of average weather in your area will give you a general idea. If your seedlings are ready to go out, and it's not quite warm enough you can always use some kind of cover. A plastic bottle with the bottom cut off, just something to add a few degrees.  Good luck
3 weeks ago