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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Exciting Classes! and one dud...

Just back from Farm and Homestead Day, a series of workshops put on by the Waldo County (Maine) Extension Service. It was an early day for this gal, an hour's drive plus time to get lost (when I allow it, I never needs it, but when I don't... LOL) and allowing time to have a cup of coffee after arrival at the venue meant I rolled out near first light. It was very strange not to have to even light the space heater for a few minutes to take the chill off before getting dressed -- in "town clothes" at that, but the warmth of the last couple of days was still hanging on a bit. Now that the day is almost done and I am back home, though, the damp and rainy day had conspired with the coming cold spell to suck the last of the extra warmth from the house.

Out of focus shot (in a hurry!) of my grafted tomatoes. They are
supposed to be kept in the dark for the first 24 hours, and warm,
so I was trying not to disturb them too long to get the shot.
Need to let the babies rest and heal!
I cannot say enough good things about the tomato grafting class, nor about Johnny's Selected Seeds, which supplied those of us who chose to buy the optional class materials with a "kit" complete with root stock and scion seedlings! The kit we received included only a "replacement blade" for their spiffy knife (which worked just fine as a knife, solo), a couple dozen little grafting clips, one propagation dome with only the lightweight plastic bottom, as far as non-plant materials go, it also included about 10 each of the Maxifort root stock plants and an equal number of Amish Paste tomatoes for grafting. If you are interested in the process, check out this online copy of the hand out we were given.  I have them covered with a doubled bath towel with the heating pad, on low, under them. There are layers of newspaper between the pad and the bottom of their tray. They need to be warm, not cooked.!

Stevens, left and Howes, right
Another class was on how to grow cranberries.  John Harker of Cranberry Creations gave an Vaccinium macrocarpon ... the low growing ground-covering plant and not Viburnum trilobum the "highbush cranberry. They do like a poor, moist, acid soil but do not need a bog. Our instructor generously shared a 4" potted plant of the Stevens variety with each attendee and -- as a way to motivate class participation -- offered a gallon pot of the Howes to the first student to correctly answer each of several questions.
entertaining and informative class that not only covered getting set to grow them at home, but also lots of history, lore and a bit about their nutrition and some non-traditional uses for the plants (holiday decor, anyone?)

The first class of the day was, unfortunately for me, the dud. I guess I didn't read or retain clearly enough to realize that "Solarize Mid Maine!" was going to be (a) a 90 minute sales pitch for (b) projects that did not extend to my "mid-Maine" location and (c) only involved solar installations that are tied into the grid. Not interested... While I would love to increase use of solar here at Fussing Duck Farm, it will not involve paying anyone to install stuff for us nor will it be tied into the existing grid.

Overall, though, the majority of the day's classes were really worth the drive and the day.