Dave

How To Make Soil Blocks for Seed Starting

Why, and how, we use a soil blocker to start our seeds

soil blocker
A soil blocker can make quick work of seed starting.

 

In the beginning there was the seed starter tray, and it was good. But that was then and this is now. About three years ago we started using soil block makers, more commonly called soil blockers. I was reading Eliot Colemans book, Four-Season Harvest, and he mentioned soil blockers. Liking what I read I decided to give them a try so I bought the mini-blocker and the four hole, two-inch soil blocker. And it was good.

Growing your own food is a wonderful thing but if you are starting from seeds, as we do, there’s always a mess of broken seed trays, plastic cups, and battered 8-ounce yogurt containers littering up the potting bench. I had an almost great system of using 6-ounce plastic party cups in which I used a heated nail to poke draining holes but the cups would split when removing the seedlings. This meant a trip back to the dollar store for every year for new cups. I’ve found that using soil blocks is much more cost effective.

Read more

Mountain Camp Feeder for Overwintering Honey Bees

Should the bees eat all the honey a mountain camp feeder will help them through the winter

mountain camp feeder
A mountain camp feeder holds white cane sugar for bees to eat if they run out of honey

 

As first year beekeepers we are learning quite a bit about the life and times of honey bees. We make no pretense that we are experts at this and even seasoned beekeepers will tell you there are no experts. Beekeeping is an endeavour in which one learns constantly. One of the things we learned about, and had to in our climate, is how to overwinter your bees so they make it through to spring and the new nectar and pollen flow.

In a previous post we showed how we wrapped the hives in tarpaper to help the bees. In theory the black tarpaper absorbs the sun’s rays and helps keep the hive warm. We’re not sure about the inside of the hive but when the sun is shining the tarpaper certainly does get warm. Hey, it can’t hurt.

Another thing one should think about is emergency feeding by the use of a mountain camp feeder. Insurance if you will. Basically it’s a wooden frame with a wire mesh bottom with newspaper paced over the wire. Then you pour white cane sugar on the paper, insert it into the hive, put the outer cover on, and leave well enough alone for the winter. Read more

Maple Syrup Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

More maple syrup flavor and moist!

maple syrup cookies
Version Two of our Maple Syrup Cookie series!

 

In our last cookie episode we made maple syrup chocolate chip cookies, which were tasty little devils. This post we move on to maple syrup cookies with white chocolate chips and up the ante on maple taste.

But before we get to cookies we need to talk about maple syrup and what it is briefly. This will help explain why the darkest maple syrup you can buy for baking is best…for baking, not necessarily for pancakes.

Sap from a maple tree is about 2%-5% sugar and the balance primarily water. The sugar maple (acer saccharum) is the most popularly tapped maple tree, with the black and red maples sometimes also tapped. Sugar maples are have about a 40:1 ratio sugar to water so one needs to boil 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup. Yup, that’s why is so expensive. Read more