Archive for March, 2008

A new little one is coming…

!No- We ARE NOT pregnant! But for those of you who know our friends over at Boyds’ Nest News, they are in labor as we speak to deliver their new little girl. Yippee! Sounds like Ann’s labor has started a little like mine did and they may be looking at pitocin sometime in the near future if things don’t get rolling. We are all praying that they have a magnificent and smooth labor for their new arrival (no name announced yet). We love you Boyd’s! Can’t wait to hear that the new addition has finally arrived!

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Not crawling on hands and knees – but definitely mobile.

Just an update for those of you still in the crawling contest…  Eli’s not up on his hands and knees crawling but he’s gotten very good at his army crawl.  Miracle’s comment may be true for our little bug too.  He’s putting more weight on his knees now but still moving on his forearms and not his hands.

He’s also all over the house.  Yesterday we were down in the basement folding laundry.  I looked over and saw him 2 steps up the stairs!  Sorry, I didn’t manage to get a picture while rushing over to catch him before he landed on his head.  He was quite proud of himself, however.  It’s his new goal, to see how far up he can climb before mom catches him.  We foresee many more baby gates in our future.

Those of you in the mid-west, don’t give up on hoping for spring!  (That’s what I keep telling myself, as I watch the snow and the temps fall today).

One last plug… I’ve discovered another blog that so far has interested me.  I hesitate to  endorse as I obviously can’t agree with everything someone posts on their personal blog.  However, the nakedpastor blog has felt really honest to me this last week since I subscribed to it.  It carries the honesty that I find Paul offers in some of his new testament writing.  I appreciate that this author is working out his faith so publicly.  While saying this, I also have days where I’m feeling more positive in my spiritual walk (whether imagined or not) and don’t totally relate to the author’s cartoon or comment.  If you’re interest is perked, it’s worth checking out.  So far, I’ve not seen any literal physical “nakedness” – only spiritual, mental and emotional nakedness.

Also, I really appreciated this blog entry on Think Christian.   Anyone want to comment on the Think Christian post, here?  I’d love to discuss if you’re interested.

Have a fabulous day!

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A little bit of Spring

It has been and still is a very long winter here in Wisconsin. After shoveling 3 feet of snow off of my roof last weekend I really needed some hope for the warm weather.

Saturday morning Kelli, Eli and I visited a greenhouse that is right down the street from us in a very residential area. It felt so amazing to walk around in a sunny and humid, 75F environment with plants sprouting up everywhere. The owner welcomes folks to walk through anytime they want whenever they are open, which is awesome! Spring anytime we want starting in early January.

After a long trip to the big box store and hardware store, we come home and I set out to build a little bit of spring in our basement. Seeing as it’s only 11 weeks until the last frost; it is time to start my peppers.

I’ve never had much luck at starting seeds. This will be the fourth season I have attempted it and I’ve only a couple basil plants and a few squash to show for it. I’ve never managed to grow a pepper or tomato or any other plant from seed yet. I’m determined to figure this out this year.

What has gone wrong in the past years?

  1. Starting too late. Most years I don’t remember to start the seeds until mid April or early May.
  2. Lanky seedlings that were reaching for the light. Then they never really harden off well. I had been just putting my seed flat in a window that gets a little light.
  3. Environment too cool. A seed tray in a cold window when our thermostat is set to 58F at night and the outside temp is still below freezing doesn’t stay warm enough.
  4. Wilted seedlings. I think this is from damp-off, because I kept things to wet and not enough air flow. I also never sanitized the containers I use to start the seeds in.

This year, I am solving all of these problems.

I’m starting the seeds in March and keeping track of when to plant what using a Google Calender. Hopefully I’ll remember to mark when each plant germinates and is transplanted. It could be useful information next year.

Then I took the 48″ florescent shop lights down from my workbench and hung them over a flat surface (an old platform I use when working on ceilings). I also picked up a couple plant lights, but have since learned that I didn’t really need plant lights. Oh well, nothing but the best for my little seedlings. The light is hanging from ropes that can be adjusted to be right over the plants no matter how small/big they get.

Next, I needed to figure out how to keep them nice and warm. My basement is currently around 50 to 60 degrees and it stays pretty cold most of the year. There are special heating mats you can purchase for $$, but if you know me at all, you know that I will have to build them myself.

The problem is simple. I need something that will generate radiant heat. This could be a heating pad from the pharmacy department (too expensive and pesky “safety” features); an electric blanked (too big); heat tape used to prevent pipe from freezing (built in thermostat set to 38F); etc… After doing some research online, I found the Christmas light/sand technique. Basically, you bury some of the rubberized Christmas lights in a few inches of sand. The lights heat the sand which in turn heats the pots/dirt holding your plants.

The hard part was tracking down these kind of lights in March. It took me a while, but I managed to find a set of lights in the camping section.

First, I made a tray out of cardboard and duck tape:

Cardboard tray

Then I lined the tray with plastic I had laying around and arranged the lights in an evenly spaced pattern:

Heat mat with plastic liner

Finally, I poured the sand out over the lights:

Heat mat with sand

I had a little help a few times when Eli wiggled his way over to me. I quickly pulled him out of there after grabbing a quick picture.

Eli helping dad plant seeds

Later that night I managed to get the seeds planted and under the lights:

Seeds in pods

Kelli planted half of the flat with snapdragons and I planted a mixture of peppers: Poblano, Chocolate Beauty, Anaheim and a couple Thai Basil.

I’m most excited about some chihuacle negro and chihuacle rojo seeds I purchased on Ebay. Hopefully they will arrive soon.

After leaving the Christmas lights on for about 24 hours, the sand is around 92F. The soil in the pods rose to 82F, which was a little too hot. I raised the flat off the sand using a couple strips of cardboard and now it’s back down to 78F which is just right for peppers.

I may need to purchase a thermostat with a probe I can stick in the dirt to regulate the soil temp. This would cost a whopping $39, which is twice what I have spent so far. I also think I made the whole thing too big, but I couldn’t find lights shorter than 40ft. I wish I could have found about 15F of them and made it about half as big. Maybe the whole raising/lowering the flats off the sand will be enough heat control for now.

I can’t wait to see some green poking up through the dirt. It should happen in a few days!

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