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January 2009

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Never attribute to malice, that which can be reasonably explained by stupidity.
Spider Robinson

2009 March Summary

1 March

8 March

15 March

22 March

29 March

1 March

Gainfully Unemployed

Life has been interesting the last few months. The school I worked at nearby closed. Laura and I have talked about me going full time into tree farming for over a year, so this seemed like the time to do. Little bird getting kicked out of the nest. "Fly, little bird, fly!"

After putting the trees to bed, fall saw a bathroom/bedroom reno that L and I had discussed for some time. Doing it myself, it came in at about 4 grand instead 12.
Sure it took me two months instead of a week, but that's good return on my time.

Lately, I've been working on the web page. I now can automatically add a small table at the bottom of each species page showing what inventory I have of that species, what size pot it's in, and how big it is.

Spruce Trees in Snowstorm

As you can see, it is not yet spring here. March pretty much comes in like a lion and goes out the same way.

3 March

Like the white rabbit...

...I'm running late. Usually I've got got half my bedding plants started by mid February. Today, I brought in all the bags and buckets of soil mix. Stashed them under the stairs. In a couple days they'll have thawed out.

5 March


I spend a week replacing various binders, memo pads, spreadsheets, and old envelopes with notes on them about inventory with an actual database for tracking inventory. (Ok, it's a simple MS Access file that just barely deserves the name 'database' for the first time all of my inventory is in one place.

I can sort it by species, which makes it easy to know if I have enough when someone calls wanting 300 three foot spruce. (I don't. Is 2.5 feet enough?) I can sort it by location, so I can walk the yard next spring and check the paper against reality. Way cool.

9 March 2009

Tax Time versus Spring Planting

Tax time

Looking down from my office in the loft to the dining room. For two weeks every year, the table becomes the sorting place for all the paper we've accumulated to back up our tax claims.

I can't postpone any more. The dining room table was covered with stacks of paper getting ready to take it all to our tax preparer. But I also have to get bedding plants started.

Each pile gets a file, and clear decks for action.

Six flats of marigolds, 5 flats of dahlias. Lobelia, snapdragons, coleus. Carnations. More to come. I really have to make a greenhouse. Preferably one I can afford to heat.

14 March


Maybe that should be goose. This morning when I went out to feed the dogs, I think I heard a lone pair of honks. Looking out from the porch, the sky was way too hazy to see much of anything. If that goose were a person, he'd be the first one in the neighborhood to buy an iPhone.

Spring? Maybe not...

The vernal equinox has arrived. The Ides of March!
I rushed outside to greet the sun!


Ok. Maybe rushed is a bit strong.

Started by putting on my winter coat, then I trudged out to the potyard stumbling on the trail that the dogs pack down going out there to harass the deer.


This pen of larch is on flat ground. That first drift is a good two feet over the top of the row of bales that keep the pots from blowing over.


Frozen tidalwave of snow gathers on the lee side of my best block of scots pine. Not to worry. They're tough.

I have a distinct memory that last year at this time we had wet and soggy bits. I'm sure of it.

But no. I get out to the equipment yard, and what do I see? Snow. Snow stacked as high as the pot piles.

There are a few signs of spring. Faint. But in the silence of winter even a whisper is loud.

Roof fang

My roof grows fangs at this time of year. Talk about 'long in the tooth'!

The small pond has water oozing into it. Verily, there is a frozen puddle in the bottom of the small pond.

And further out by the Aspen Wall there is a 6 foot circle of no snow. Probably originally created by an eddy of wind hitting the Wall, but today it was bare earth, or rather bare mud. There was a puddle in it, a foot across, and a terrifying quarter inch deep.


Last year this pond started filling in autumn, and never quite stopped all winter. I had a foot of ice over the trail that forms its downstream end.

sprouted lobelia dust

Lobelia aren't very big when they sprout. What can you expect from seed that looks like somebody swept up a bunch of punctuation used for the phone book. Squint crosseyed to make sure it's there. I don't attempt to plant them neatly. Mix with a half a cup of dry sand and try to get that sprinkled evenly.

22 March

Bedding Plants of the world, arise!

I was late this year starting my bedding plants. This year the ninth of March, almost a month late, when I turned the dining room into a conservatory. Normally I start in mid February at least with the ones that take a while, like the snapdragons.

The way winter is holding on like a Wallstreet CEO to his bonus, maybe being late isn't a bad idea.

Marigold with seed leaves

I'll admit, I'm a sucker for marigolds. I plant a couple flats a year just to use here.


This is my first attempt at growing dahlia (Stargazer). So far it looks like 80% germination, and everyone is healthy.

For marigolds I prefer the foot high mixed color varieties. This year the first packet Pike's Safari Marigold, had a total of 27 seeds. Can you say stingy? It's not like marigold seed is hard to grow or collect. Most years I get 4-6 flats (18 pots per flat) from a packet. Took the packet back to my supplier, complained, and bought another packet of seed. NOT Pike's.

Pansy with seed leaves

Pansy seed is bigger than lobelia, but a young pansy is still something to go cross-eyed over.

23 March

Odds and sods

I planted three flats of Dianthus 'Microchips', the same of Dianthus 'Arctic Fire" a flat of Fresia bulbs, four flats of Alyssum "Violet Quen" and four flats of Viola "Toymix". The dining room table has room for 3 more trays of something. Not sure what yet.

Dahlias and Marigolds are putting on their first true leaves. The pansies require less squint. The Lobelia are bigger -- I think. Certainly taller. I'll try to take pix tommorow.

Set up an account for Adwords with Google. My head is spinning from all the things you can do. Nothing is easy. Everything is in layers. If I can get good at this, I may have another marketable skill.

Shoveled out the driveway. Snowblowers are only a pleasure compared to doing it by hand. This is one job I actually wish I had a cab on the tractor.

Already however we have bare patches of ground, not because of warmth, but this last storm came with enough wind that some spots just didn't get more than a skiff of snow.

March 26


Hurray! I've got my stuff now on Nurseryman.com. They have a service where you can list your inventory on the site for people to search. Directly I don't think this will help much. It's mostly for people who distribute nationally, but just the presence of the company name there gives us more credibility.

Lot of work to get this to happen. They need their data in a specific format. I really didn't want to type in all this stuff a second time so I hacked on my database, learned how to create a calculated field in a query, then exported that query in a form that their computer could understand.

Alyssum still seed leaves Newly up. These purple alyssum don't wait around. Seems like I planted them only a few days ago.

Dahlia with true leaves

The dahlias seems to be doing quite well, thank you very much. At this age they look an awful lot like dandelions. Wonder how many dahlias have met an untimely end due to this unfortunate resemblance.

March 28

Bedding plant progress.

I was looking at my seedlings, and while they were really quick initially, growth seems to have come to a screeching halt. Then it dawned on me. They are in a sterile mix. Not much in the way of NPK. So this morning I watered them all with half strength Miracle Grow.

On the other hand the last few days have been overcast and gloomy.

Lobelia sitting there thinking

The lobelia were the ones that started the alarms. They've been up for over a week, and the leaves are still smaller than the diameter of paper clip wire.

Not a lot of growth happening here.

Marigold with true leaves

Marigold seems happy enough.

Pansy refusing to grow up

I accused this pansy of being like Peter Pan. Refusing to grow up. Leaves have doubled in size since the last picture, but no true leaves yet.

On other fronts: Today got up to +3. The dogs and I went for a walk on snowshoes to the back field. Snow there is still a good foot, but as we walked there would be the occasional 'Whump' as our steps triggered a collapse. While I look forward to spring, I also know that a gradual spring will let the land soak up a lot more water. The ideal weather is it hovering just above freezing. This lets the heat from the earth melt the snow from the bottom, so it soaks in.

It's a theory.

Cleaned out the dining room conservatory. All the extra tubs of dirt and pots are back in the green housee.

Week starting 29 March 2009

30 March

Ads are working.

Some of my efforts to promote the web site must be working. Got a RFQ from a landscape company in Edmonton. Didn't have the size they wanted, but I send them my current inventory. Added the guy to my contacts list.

Got a phone call and an email from a couple near Prince George who are renting a trailer to come down and pick up a bunch of trees.

Got an email from a guy looking for privacy screen trees.

31 March

Computer woes.

I use Linux at home for my workstation. I finally bit the bullet and started the upgrade process from Fedora 7 to Fedora 10. This is roughly like going from Windows NT to Windows XP. Lots of things break. Took me most of the day to get things even half working, and it's going to take another couple of days to download all the updates that will run on the newest and best.

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