The vernal equinox arrived shortly after noon today, but spring isn't quite in the air yet. There are hints of it though. Even though we still have deep snow covering the ground and 4-5' tall snow berms piled up from plowing, down in the valley (Keene's elevation is 1000' lower than here), the ground is mostly bare. The snow that fell overnight here was wet and slushy, indicative of warmer temps. And even though yesterday didn't get above freezing, today did. Although yesterday was chilly, it was sunny and provided enough heat in the rolling greenhouse to cause the thermostatically-controlled vents to open. That hasn't happened since fall.
Our seedlings for the rolling greenhouse have been transplanted from flats into pots. We have four varieties of tomato, Asian and Italian eggplant, bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange) and Jalapenos, pickling cucumbers, basil, dill, and cilantro. We also have marigolds, which are just starting to bloom. We plan to have them in the ground in early to mid April.
We started our first biochar experiment this week. We planted three Sungold cherry tomatoes in pots, but we used different potting media for each one. One is in commercial potting soil (0% biochar), one is a 50/50 mix of potting soil and our biochar/compost mix (25% biochar), and one is in just the biochar/compost mix (50% biochar). All three seedlings were started in the same flat, are the same size, and were planted in similar pots. It will be interesting to see how they progress.
We had a minor setback on Monday making biochar. The Adam retort gasifier was backdrafting so much, we had to shut down the burn. Turned out it was clogged with "glass" which had formed over time, from soil on the wood chips we burn. Ron cleaned it out yesterday, and today's burn went very well, just like we've come to expect. Even though we've had some setbacks this winter with the unusually cold weather, and with our firewood storage shelter collapsing, and some other learning curve experiences, we've continued to make biochar. As the weather warms, and we continue to gain experience, we expect to increase our production rate. We are hoping to be able to provide biochar to the community sometime in late spring or early summer.