As I mentioned in last week's blog, most of your vegetables come from plants that are transplanted into the fields. That means at some point they are seeded into containers, or "flats", in the greenhouse, grown to a large enough size, transplanted into a larger container and then transplanted into the field. Although transplanting has a multitude of benefits (as mentioned in the previous blog), it takes much more time than just direct seeding into the field. The first thing I plant when I fire up the greenhouse in March is onions. We plant near 20,000 a year and this task has taken me over 3 days to complete. A long grueling 3 days in which I have lured in family and friends to help...who have never asked to help again. It takes precision, good eye sight and patience, most of which humans do not have. So late last summer I invested in an E-Z seeder. It's a small, very inventive machine created by a farmer couple in Wisconsin. The machine itself (basically a vacuum cleaner that is set in reverse) is not expensive. But the metal plates, that are hand crafted specifically for each farms' use are. Near $200 each and although I could use 5 or 6, I settled to start with 3.
The first step is to sprinkle the seed onto the plate. (As seen above).
Next I play "roll balls into a hole" game. (After a google search I think technically that is what the game is called.) You have all played it, I am sure. A game found in prize gift bags and Happy Meals alike. I roll the seeds along the plate until the suction (from the vacuum on reverse) holds a seed onto each hole which is precision drilled into the plate. (In this picture shown above, there are actually 3 holes drilled close to each other so that 3 seeds drop into each "cell" in the "flat".)
Next, I dump any excess seed into a cup and then tip the tray upside down over the "flat" I want to seed. (Do not worry! The reverse vacuum is holding the seeds in place in their respective holes.)
Finally, I cut the air from the vacuum (the big red lever), releasing the seeds from their holes and dropping them onto the "flat" by gently tapping the backside of the tray to make sure any stray seeds fall into place.
And, voila! I have a full "flat" seeded in near 10 seconds, rather than 10 minutes!
Lastly, I cover the seed with soil and then water each flat. And then praise the E-Z seeder, a worth while investment!
Cheers to seeds, time saving inventions and locally grown food!!! ....and to those who appreciate it, of course : )
This week's Bounty: spinach, lettuce mix, scallions (transplanted late last summer and overwinter in the filed), over wintered parsnips (oh! so sweet!!), storage carrots and more!
The Farmer's Table:
parsnip/celeriac/beet slaw ... all shredded and blessed with vinegar and oil
the most amazing Baby Back ribs (from our pork): http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/marinated-baby-back-ribs
Ropa Vieja (from our grass-fed beef): http://www.daringgourmet.com/best-ropa-vieja-the-national-dish-of-cuba/
Beef Liver Pate: (a "powerhouse" breakfast!) http://gutsybynature.com/2014/11/03/powerhouse-bacon-mushroom-liver-pate/