Late this autumn, I built four hardware cloth-covered frames to fit over the 6′ x 3′ raised beds in the potager. Three of them were covered with a layer of plastic and are now protecting winter vegetable crops (spinach, leeks, carrots, lettuces.) The fourth one was expected to be covered as well, but I ran out of plastic and in this virus-scary world, I hated to make a trip to town.
Then I began cleaning up the Lady Cottage and preparing it for winter. All the strings of onions and shallots had already been moved to the allium rack in the garage, and all the baskets of pumpkins and winter squashes. The sprayer had been emptied and cleaned. Any liquids that might freeze (like Bt) were also moved to the garage. As I worked, I had to move the string of empty plastic gallon jugs I’ve been collecting over the summer. These will be used for “winter seeding,” a technique used to stratify seeds of perennials that hurries them along a bit in a protected way.
The top 1/4 of the jug is cut 3/4 of the way around to form a “hinged” lid. Drainage holes are cut, a couple in the bottom and four about 1/4″ up from the bottom edge. The jug is filled a bit over halfway with moistened potting soil, or a seed starting mix. Seeds are sprinkled sparingly over the soil, and then they are covered, or not covered depending upon the type of seed and whether it needs light to germinate or darkness. The “lids” are closed and secured with a bit of duct tape. I usually put the cap on until there are signs of germination, then the cap is removed on sunny days to avoid cooking the seeds and on rainy days to allow some moisture in, but kept on during freezing temperatures to help hold in a bit of heat. The jugs are clustered together in a protected spot outdoors.
Here’s where the problem begins. The last couple of years the “protected” part has not worked so well due to those blasted raccoons, and possibly some opossums. They think it is great fun to knock the jugs over, dislodging fragile seedlings, and roll them around the deck or across the sidewalk. Sometimes they pry open the “lid” and dig around a bit. I’ve tried various locations, but they always find them. So, as I was working there came a “light bulb” moment. What if I put the jugs under the fourth berry box? It was designed to keep the raccoons out of the strawberries, so it should keep them from playing with my seeded jugs as well!
That’s the theory, and the plan. I’ll let you know if it works. Additionally, it will be good to find out if the berry boxes are as secure as I hope. If not, there will be time to redesign the closures well before the berries ripen!