Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Friday, January 30, 2015

Soil Temperatures for best results of Germination and Growth

Here are a few guidelines for determining the best time to plant your seeds.
Using a soil temperature gauge is a good indicator of when your soil has warmed sufficiently to allow your seeds to germinate.  I have noticed over the years that planting my seeds of cool season crops a week behind the volunteers ( greens, lettuce, chard, spinach, etc.)  that pop up in the spring usually results in a good germination and growth rate.

Soil Temperature Conditions for 
Vegetable Seed Germination
     35 degrees- spinach, lettuce, onion, parsnip

40 degrees- beet, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard,  garlic, parsley, pea ,radish, turnips

50 degrees-asparagus, corn

60 degrees-beans, cucumber, eggplant, musk melons, pepper, pumpkin, squash, watermelon

Do not plant seeds of warm weather crops until the soil is 60 degrees or warmer, usually 2 weeks after your last frost.

Satisfactory Temperatures to encourage plant growth

Arugula is one of the first volunteers to sprout in the early spring


 30 degreesAsparagus. Rhubarb

40-65 degrees- beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, collard, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, parsnips, radish, rutabaga, sorrel, spinach, turnip

45-75 degrees-artichoke, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicory, Chinese cabbage, endive Florence fennel, lettuce, mustard, parsley, pea, potato

45-85 degrees-  chicory, chives, garlic, leeks, onion, salsify, shallots


     60-90 degrees-  beans, lima beans, corn, cucumber, musk melon, new Zealand spinach, pumpkin, squash,


65-100 degrees-eggplant, hot pepper, okra, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon

Hot weather crops need to be grown in the Green house at the Farm in Beryl.  Cold nights and late frosts until the end of JUNE inhibit their growth.   However, I had a beautiful outdoor crop of peppers and tomatoes in Roosevelt.

Start seeds indoors for these warm weather veges

I also recommend planting seeds of  winter squash, summer squash, and cucumbers instead of buying plants.
Click here for the post

picture proof that seeds planted at the right soil temperature will out preform transplants.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The garden is sleeping, but not me

Not much is going on around here.  It is winter time and of course the garden is sleeping.  But not me, as I have stated several times before.... I can't sleep, catching about 3 hours a night and I am ready for the adventures of a new day.  My significant other however needs his rest.  He does get up early, a little before 5:00 a.m. every day and goes off to work by 6:30.  Sometimes on the weekend (only during the winter) he sleeps a little longer unless I  drag him out of bed early on a Saturday morning to get a good start on a project...........(thanks hun for helping me with the kitchen island).  Well, the weather has been cold and it is dark until 7:00 a.m., so the other night (about 2 a.m. on a Friday night) I woke him and asked if he was going to get up at his regular 5:00 a.m. time that Saturday morning. (of course I had a long list of things to get accomplished) I went on to explain that if you break your sleep schedule it really throws you out of whack, catching a few extra hours of sleep doesn't make that much difference for the rest of the week, Blah, Blah, Blah, and I continued on to say, " it can even make you grumpy and ornery when you change your sleep cycles."  He chuckled and replied, "I'm not Grumpy, I'm SLEEPY!"  Then he paused for just a moment and added, "but most of the time I'm just Dopey..............and if you would let me sleep in.......... I'd be HAPPY!!!!!"

Well, he generally is not very funny, so of course I had to let him sleep in........ just a bit....... until 7:00...............and we still had enough time during the day to cross several projects off the list!

A few words of wisdom:

first recorded in the year 1670 
by John Ray
in a book 
A Collection of English Proverbs

and this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin


and as my Grandma used to say;


Friday, January 16, 2015

Country Kitchen Island and CHALKBOARD

When we moved into our current rental 2 years ago we placed this old antique dresser in the middle of the kitchen to serve as an island.  I purchased this long ago and have dragged this old dresser from state to state over the years.  It always finds a spot in my kitchen.  In Nevada we placed a purchased counter top on it when it stood in for the old, falling apart kitchen cupboards we tore out of the old house we purchased, that was built in the early 1900's.  

When my son and husband finished building the custom cabinets, 
it became a buffet in the dining room.
I began painting it white, but something came up in the middle
 of my painting project so I only painted the top.

I especially like the two narrow middle drawers,
 they are perfect for storing knives and cutting boards

The large drawers hold baking sheets, muffin tins etc.  
They measure 53" long and are over 9 inches deep.
When we first moved it in as an island I wanted to put a chalkboard on the back and a thick hardwood butcher block on the top, but it sat unfinished until a few weeks ago.  A hardwood top was just to pricey to construct, so an inexpensive pine top from the local home improvement worked great.
I applied vegetable oil on the pine top to season the wood.  I will continue applying several more coats giving it a food safe protective barrier that will help prevent food stains.  


Attaching the pine top with screws to keep it secure.

I painted a large piece of Masonite board with chalkboard paint and nailed it to the back.  Apply several coats of paint for the best results.

Using an extra large picture frame (purchased years ago at a thrift store), we cut it to size framing the chalkboard.  I specifically chose this one from my stash of frames because it had a indentation on the outer edge.  

The bottom piece was not put on as it was in the original frame.  Instead I turned it over and used the indentation as a holder for the chalk and eraser.

Old vintage wall plant hangers are attached to the side to hold fresh fruits and veges.

This weekend I will be painting the dresser to match the kitchen cabinets.
It will match the existing "cactus green" color.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Just snapped a picture of the Geraniums I have sitting in my south window.  At this time of year when everything is covered in snow I find solace in their bright, cheery, faces.

In the long evening hours they remind me that spring is on it's way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


These quick and easy mittens are so much fun to make.  This is an original pattern I have come up with as I have made these over the years.  Please fill free to share it with others or pin it.

These mittens are made with a hand spun yarn (worsted weight) for the cuff
and Wool Ease for the mitten

Remember to Hand Wash if using a woolen yarn

Using size 8 double point needles,

Cast on 32 stitches.   

K2, P2  ribbing for 10 rows.  If you are making a rolled cuff knit 12 rows.

This pair of gloves has a rolled cuff

Change to main color.   Knit.   Increase  4 stitches (knit in front and back of stitch) evenly distributed across.   36 stitches.
Plural on plural rows and knit on knit rows.  Continue for 10 rows.  If you are making a rolled cuff, continue for 12-14 rows.

glove on the left is made longer from the cuff to the thumb to allow for the rolled cuff
*note if using a thick yarn for the cuff, cast on 28

THUMBS:  row 1---- knit 2, increase in next stitch  (knit in front and back of stitch) place marker.  Knit 28.  Place marker.  Knit front and back of stitch for increase, knit 2. 
You will have 4 stitches after each marker.
                   Row 2-----Plural across

Increase by knitting in the front and back of a stitch
Continue this pattern until there are 8 stitches after the thumb markers. Plural across.

Cast off for thumb:

Knit  Row,  cast off stitches until there is one stitch left before the marker.  Knit across.  Cast off on plural row , leaving the stitch before the marker.  Plural 1.  Knit 2.  Plural 2.  Knit 2 continue across creating a ribbing. (32 stitches).  Continue ribbing for 9 rows.

Row 10, cast off, knit in knit stitches.  Plural in plural stitches.
Sew seams and weave in ends.

Note:  these mittens fit a small to medium women's hand. For large hands use a thicker yarn (or 1 strand 4 ply and the other a single ply) and a size 10 needles.  Add more stitches in multiples of 4 for men's hands, 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Building Better Soil

Living here in the Southwest Desert has it's drawbacks as far as soil is concerned.  I watch with envy,  gardening show hosts trickling through their fingers, beautiful, rich, black loam from their perfectly manicured gardens.  In contrast my soil is very alkaline, thick hard pan clay covered with sand.  I spend most of my gardening efforts improving my soil.  Hauling wheelbarrow load after load of Goat Manure, adding in compost made on the farm, spreading in leaves, old hay and straw, tilling in weeds before they have gone to seed, green cover crops, sawdust, and then watering with manure tea.  Time and a lot of hard work has greatly improved my soil, but I still focus my efforts on improving it.

Here is a little information about

                   To improve your soil first determine the ph ratio, the humus content,
                                         and the type of soil; clay, sandy, or loam.

            0   1   2   3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10   11  12  13  14 
         ACIDIC-  SOUR          NEUTRAL -SWEET            ALKALINE-BITTER    

                             The optimum scale reading for growing these common vegetables:                                                                      

              ASPARAGUS  6.5-7.5  
              BEANS 5.2-7.2                                                            
              BEETS  5.8-7.3
              CABBAGE  5.8-7.3
              CARROTS  5.8-7.3
              CAULIFLOWER  6.0-7.5
              CORN  5.2-7.2                             
              CUCUMBERS  5.2-7.2
              LETTUCE  5.8-7.5
              ONIONS  5.8-7.5
              PEAS  5.5 -7.5
              SQUASH  5.2-7.2

             -              STRAWBERRIES  5.2-6.8
             TOMATOES 5.5-7.2                                                                              

 Simple soil tests can be purchased at your local nursery, or contact your local extension office and they will run a test on your soil for you.

                   CLAY SOIL-60% clay, 30% silt, 10% sand.

                  CLAY LOAM- 35% clay, 35% silt, 30% sand
                 ( this ratio is most preferred for optimum growth)

                  LOAM SOIL-10% loam, 50% silt, 40% sand. 

                  SANDY SOIL-  greater than 50% sand.

  To determine the type of soil in your garden, fill a quart jar 1/3 full of soil.  Add water to fill the jar. 

Shake the jar well and let the soil separate into layers.   Good soil will contain equal parts of clay, sand, silt or loam.  This test will help determine what to add to your existing soil.  If it is heavy clay, add sand, compost, and organic matter.   Add compost, humus, and organic matter to sandy soil to help it retain moisture.  COMPOST is beneficial to all soil types.  Compost mitigates both PH extremes.  The higher the organic matter content, the higher the soil quality.  The benefits of organic matter are biological, physical and chemical—it influences microbial populations, it affects the stability of the soil structure, adding air to the soil, breaks up clay, binds together sand particles, and is an important nutrient source.  It  improves drainage, prevents erosion, neutralizes toxins, and creates a healthy soil for worms and fungi.   Compost contains some nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but is especially important for trace elements it adds to the soil.  The humic acids in compost dissolve soil minerals and trace elements  that make them available to the plants.  Compost holds 6 times its own weight and regulates the supply of water to be absorbed by the vegetables  Fewer nutrients will leach out of the soil if it has adequate organic matter. 

There are 16 elements known to be essential to plants if they are to grow and re-produce.  They are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, boron, manganese, iron, copper, molybdenum, zinc, and chlorine.  A soil rich in organic matter supplies plants with adequate amounts of the trace minerals.  If a soil is deficient in a mineral, only a small amount is needed to correct proper balance.   By using compost, mineral deficiencies are practically non-existent.    
If you take care of your soil, the plants will take care of themselves.

       Creating the proper soil conditions requires a little manipulation of the natural soil.

       AERATION---  Plants and soil organisms will suffocate if insufficient air in the root system is unavailable.  Plant roots absorb      oxygen from the air and give off carbon dioxide.  The leaves absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.  Plants must be able to breathe.  Dense or compacted soil does not allow for air flow to the root system causing impaired growth and failure.

       WATER---  The gravitational pull of the water percolates down into the roots.  As it flows downward it is replaced by fresh air from above.  In heavy, dense soil the water does not drain off fast enough and plants can literally drown.  Water vegetation with  an inch of water weekly.  A good way to measure is with a rain gauge or opened tuna fish can placed in the garden.  Not all water flows downward, some remains in the tiny spaces between the soil particles or is captured in humus.  This is the water taken in by the roots to hydrate and transfer minerals to the plants.  A good soil is both well drained and also has the ability to hold capillary water.

        BALANCED NUTRIENTS----  Nutrients  are the source of the plant growth.  They consist of mineral subsistence’s found in the soil.  Plants require a balanced supply of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and other trace elements.  If a plant has an overall balance of nutrients it will produce good crops.  In deficient amounts, the plants will have poor health, slow growth and crop failure.

       BALANCED P H ----“Potential Hydrogen” (ph) is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of any substance.   Purchase a test kit at your local garden center.   PH is measured on a scale from 0-14.  Seven is neutral.  Most garden vegetables will grow in a soil PH of 6.0-7.0.  In acidic conditions, plant nutrients are attached tightly to the soil and cannot be absorbed by the roots.  In alkaline soils the nutrients combine through chemical bonds into substances the plants are unable to utilize.