Top Ten Reasons Why I Didn’t Get the Post for Today Written

Snow from this week

Snow from this week

  1. It’s cold here so my bed is extra hard to get out of in the morning.
  1. I really wanted to start a weaving project that has been bouncing around my head for months.
  1. My mandolin was feeling neglected.

Mandolin

  1. The internet is distracting.
  1. I had to clean my gross, mildew-y humidifier (I cleaned it 2 weeks ago so it shouldn’t have been that bad, but it was).
  1. I had some ingredients with limited shelf life so I had to make something with them before they went bad. (These protein bars and this butternut squash soup).
  1. Hanging pictures with my mom yesterday made me really tired, though not as tired as it would have a year ago so yay progress!
  1. I spent an unusual, and completely unacceptable amount of time dealing with one of my doctor’s offices trying to get an order form for blood work with the correct name on it so I could get my blood drawn. Seriously, it was ridiculous.
  1. After writing several short essays for the first test in class this week my brain rebelled at the idea of writing anything that remotely resembled an essay.
  1. It just wasn’t going to happen. Sorry.

New Ivy leaf shaped like a heart.

One Month In

It has now been over a month since I opened my shop on Etsy. I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but from what I’ve read, that seems to be pretty normal. I’ve actually been doing A LOT of reading lately, both on blogs (like Handmadeology and Everything Etsy) and on the Etsy website itself (Seller’s Handbook, Team Discussions). All the information is a bit overwhelming but I’m really glad it’s out there and available.

Handwoven red and black scarf

A sneak peek at the new listing I’m working on.

Probably one of the most useful things I’ve done this month is join teams on Etsy. I’m on the Etsy Success team, Etselry team (Ravelry’s Etsy Team), two SEO and Stats teams, and the local artisan team. So far people have been super helpful and most of the questions I’ve had have already been answered in the discussions. I also created a shop account for Pinterest (here if you want to check it out) as a social media/marketing experiment. I don’t have many followers yet but I think I’ve only had the account for two weeks. All of that, plus trying to get everything listed and some new things made, has meant a very busy first month.

As for month #2, I have 2 big goals. The first is to have over 50 items listed in my store (which will definitely take me longer than a month to do). The second is to learn about and improve the SEO of my listings. Both seem to be crucial to getting noticed and making sales. I’m also thinking of creating a shop Instagram account for marketing, but we’ll see. If I do, I will definitely let you guys know.

February Garden Update

Happy February!

It’s a new month, though there’s not much change in the garden department. The Thanksgiving cactus looks like it’s going to bloom soon, which would be exciting.

Pink flower buds on a Thanksgiving Cactus

The lime tree seems to be a bit confused by the whole concept of winter and has started growing again. It’s almost 2 ft tall now! It has a new branch with the cutest tiny leaves on it. If it is this happy in the winter I can’t wait to see how it reacts when summer rolls around!

Baby Branch on Key Lime Tree

As for the rest of my photosynthesizing friends (ivy, rosemary, and African violet) they’re all holding steady.

We had a bout of warm weather last week, which was such a tease. I sat outside on my deck and looked through seed catalogues, dreaming of spring. I’m still a bit unsure of how much space I’ll actually have to garden in this year (the community I live in still hasn’t settled on what the restrictions are), but I may have found a community garden with available plots about half a mile away. If all goes well, I’ll get a plot there and not have to worry about what the HOA decides.

This year I’d like to grow:

Vegetables (culinarily speaking)
Tomatoes
Carrots
Spinach
Kale
Zucchini/Squash
Beets
Garlic
Beans (both green and soup varieties)

Fruit
White Soul Alpine Strawberries

Herbs
Basil
Dill
Lemonbalm
Sage
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Mint

Flowers
Flax
Marigolds
Sunflowers
Poppy
Calendula
Lavender (Planted this Fall)
Roses (Planted this Fall)
Chrysanthemums (Planted this Fall)

Now whether I have space or time for all of these is still to be determined, but a girl can dream right?

What are you planning on planting this year?

Busy Bee notebook with gold bee and blue cover

My new garden notebook!

Soil Surface Area

So, after week two of my class, an overarching theme has appeared: Surface area per unit soil volume is important.

Soil with roots in it

Source

Soil Particles

Let’s start with the basics. There are three general types of soil particles: sand, silt, and clay. The ratios of their relative diameters and specific surface areas (surface area divided by volume) are listed below.

Particle Relative Diameter Specific Surface Area
Sand 10,000x 1x
Silt 100x 100x
Clay 1x 100,000x

While sand is the particle with the largest diameter, it has the smallest surface area per unit volume. This means that for a fixed volume, a soil composed of all sand particles will have a smaller total surface area than a soil composed entirely of clay particles.

So, why is this important? Well, in the post last week we learned that plant roots need three things: water, nutrients, and air. Both water and nutrients are held on the surface of soil particles, and the air is found in the spaces between the particles. A soil’s composition and particle size directly affects the amount of water, nutrients, and air in the soil. The surface area also affects the internal drainage, runoff potential, and how herbicide is applied.

Aggregates

If the smaller soil particles have better nutrient and water holding capacities but not a lot of space between them for air, and the larger particles have more space between them, but not as good nutrient and water holding capacities, how can we have the best of both worlds? If your first though was like mine, you answered compromise and choose a medium size particle and would have been wrong. The answer is soil aggregates.

A soil aggregate is a group soil particles that are associated with each other in more or less stable packets (clumps) of soil. If each grain of sugar is a soil particle, then a sugar cube is an aggregate. Aggregates allow for the benefit of a high surface area (from all their smaller components) while allowing the space for air that a larger particle would have. A well aggregated clay soil, with aggregates the size of sand particles will have more water holding capacity, more nutrient holding capacity, and the same amount of aeration as a sand soil of the same volume. Organic matter acts as the “glue” that makes the aggregates possible, which is the real reason why it is so important to add to soils (Until this class I thought it was for the nutrients).


Okay, well that concludes this week’s soils lesson/summary of what I’ve learned. Stay tuned next week for hopefully more (potentially on aeration and drainage of soils).