Saturday, March 2, 2013

Excellent skiing conditions, quiet with the crowd gone to Iditarod

How about this gorgeous blue bird day in Girdwood! With crisp temperatures and perfectly groomed trails, skiers had a delightful day and night skiing at Alyeska. Glacier Valley hovered just around 34° today under clear skies. The skies are clear tonight so the temperature should drop into the low 20’s. All the surface snow will firm up and form frost crystals tonight. 

Our weather benefactor has been the edge of a high pressure zone over western Prince William Sound. Clouds will ease in overnight and a bit of snow should fall over Girdwood late night or early morning. For those wanting some quiet skiing, tomorrow should be sweet as lots of regulars will be at the re-start of the Iditarod. Saturday was fairly quiet on the slopes as well during the ceremonial start in Anchorage. 

Birds were quite active around the valley today; magpies, redpolls, stellar jays; kind of the usual with lots of high energy. 

Get  ready to start your garden and flower seeds!
Its time to start thinking about getting your seed flats ready to get starts going inside. This type of sunny day makes a great light to feed your flats. There are still a few days to gather supplies, here is what you want to start collecting: small 4” pots or flats you saved from when you purchased annuals last year; or bio-degradable pots and trays to keep them on; select your seeds- remember we want plants adapted to our cooler climate; and starting soil. 

Seed starting mix, or soil, should be fresh and sterile. Most products you purchase ready mixed are sterile. Many products will be labeled as starting mix which makes it easy for us because the soil will be light enough for tender roots to form. If you purchase your starting mix already made, it is important that you buy fresh soil mix. In other words, do not purchase mix that has sat around in a store for over a year. 

It is possible to mix your own seed starting solution from raw materials. Starting soil needs to be very light weight. It is usually made with a high percentage or 100% vermiculite. As I mentioned above, seed starting mixes need to be light and airy so it is easy for new roots to move and grow. Contrary to what you might think, starting mixes for seeds do not need to be heavy in nutrients and fertilizers. In regards to sterility, this indicated the soil should be free of weed seeds, insects, molds, or any other disease mechanism. Another ingredient to avoid is your own garden soil, which of course you cannot dig up right now anyway. Soil straight from the outdoors may contain insects or diseases and it will be too heavy for young tender roots to grow through. 

Here is a sample mixture: 1/3 vermiculite or perlite, 1/3 sand, 1/3 sphagnum moss. The one case where you could use your own soil is if you cook it first to sterilize it. You want to spread the soil out on a cookie sheet and cook it around 200° for about an hour. Then mix it this way: 1/3 sterilized soil, 1/3 sand, 1/3 vermiculite. I would err on the side of more vermiculite or perlite than any other ingredient. 

Fill your vessel of choice: flats, 4 inch pots, pie pans with holes in the bottom, whatever you want it should be about 2 - 3 inches deep. Then you need to have a tray the soil containers can sit in. The reason for this is watering the seeds. Seeds and seedlings are so tender you will not water them directly on the soil. You will fill the tray the soil vessels are resting in with water so the plants absorb the water from the bottom. 

OK, get your plan together and start selecting seeds! 

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