We can’t say the hatch results were stellar, but they are what they are. So in total we had six chicks hatch which means RP & BT were the closest, and as a result, the winners. Congrats! Your winnings are on their way. As a consolation prize for all the losers (we’re in that boat too), a video of the week old quail chicks. (0:16 is the best part)
***UPDATE: We’ve posted the plans for making the hoe here: http://www.growingandmaking.com/2013/06/11/free-wheel-hoe-plans/ ***
This year we are planting an extra 1500 sq ft of vegetables and to make the work a little easier, I did some research into non-powered tools for preparing, maintaining and harvesting the new field. The one tool that kept popping up was a wheel hoe. Not a fake hoe, but a wheel hoe.
The wheel hoe is essentially a two handled plough that is pushed by the gardener rather than pulled by draught animals or a tractor. On a small-scale vegetable patch or in a market garden, it is the ideal size to keep the soil turned and the weeds at bay. Using different attachments, the gardener can make quick work of usually labourious tasks.
The wheel hoe has been around since the 1800’s but has made a bit of comeback thanks to companies like Hoss Tools who stayed true to original design. At $179, it is quite reasonable, but with the tools and skills to build my own, it was an easy decision to keep the money in the bank. The only prefabbed part I purchased from Hoss Tools was the hoe attachment as making it wouldn’t be very cost effective and required specialized tooling.
Aside from the mass produced models, there are a few blogs out there offering kits to make your own, but I couldn’t find any that offered the same features and versatility of the mass produced ones. After studying what felt like a few million images, I was able to use the data to create a 3D model that used the same hole placement for the Hoss attachments but used stock steel tubing and flat bar.
After cutting, welding, drilling and painting the steel body, I still needed to find a wheel. It wasn’t worth fabricating a steel wheel like on the original, so I looked at thrift stores for an old wheel off a kid’s bike or toy. No luck. Apparently kids in our neighbourhood don’t like donating their bikes for the less fortunate to buy. Back at work, and after cursing the little sh*ts in our neighbourhood for hours, I started scouring the offices and rooms for a wheel. As luck would have it, someone had snapped the casters of a drafting chair, rendering it useless. I helped make it even more useless by removing the foot rest loop which happened to be the perfect size to use as the wheel on the hoe!
After making a hub for the wheel and forming two wood handles, I assembled everything to find that I had a hoe that seemed, on frozen ground, to work quite well.
If anyone wants the plans as a 3D file or drafting, just post in the comments or email me and I’d be happy to share.
We are still sitting at four chicks hatched. Apparently, button quail are notorious for taking their sweet time hatching. In the meantime, we moved the chicks over to their new home from the incubator and started them on food and water as their internal yolk sacks are almost spent. Even though we were only dealing with four chicks, it was incredibly hard to contain them! We almost lost one off the side of the desk when he decided to do a runner.
All happy and safe in their new brooder, we took some pictures. Below you’ll see how unbelievably small they really are! You’re essentially looking at birds the size of bumblebees!
To keep track of who is in the lead/how many have hatched, we’ll be updating the list below. To answer a couple of people’s questions, we will not unplug the incubator once we have reached your number.
Family/Friend – Co-workers
- Current hatch count
- – BT
- RP – ML
- – EH
- MA – PB
- – KK
- JD – DP
- EC – AD
- AMD – GM
- AD – DW
- MR – KK
- LD – BT
- – OC
- SP – EH
- – DP
Just got in to find the first button quail chick has hatched! So far, no winners. Still early days. I’ll keep you posted. We are on chick number two! Hopefully there will be many more tomorrow morning!
Our total is at 3 chicks now. It’s been a very slow hatch and we expect many more to come!
To add to the fun, the winners of the quail bets will also receive a dozen quail eggs (for eating, not hatching) and their choice of either a bottle of home-made Irish cream liqueur or 6 bottles of home-made stout on top of the cash takings.
With hatching to begin in a week, there isn’t much time left to get in on the wagering!
On Thursday, 36 Chinese button quail eggs arrived at the door. We had them shipped from a breeder in Alberta who carefully packed up each egg in a Fort Knox of foam. Luckily they arrived on a day when the temperature was above zero so the eggs stayed warm.
It’s a shame we didn’t hatch these eggs sooner. If we had, we would have had our own birds laying edible eggs for Easter. Imagine an Easter egg hunt with these colourful eggs instead of Cadbury mini eggs? Raw button quail eggs instead of chocolate ones would be a great way to ruin a kids Easter.
When the button quail hatch, they will be roughly the size of a bumblebee. Off topic, but that reminds me of when I swatted a hummingbird after mistaking it for a wasp when I was a kid. Don’t worry, I missed. For a size comparison of quail eggs, see below.
Although the incubation has begun, there is still time (13 days to be exact) to get in on the wagering. Just see the old post for available numbers.
Instead of waiting for the weather to get its act together, we took matters into our own hands in the propagation department. With the addition of the greenhouse last fall, we’re able to start plants indoors very early knowing that they are afforded some safety later outside. So last Sunday, during a snowfall, we starting planting under lights in the basement. The snow was outside, not in the house, otherwise the carpets would get wet. As well, I managed to dig out the door way to the greenhouse and plant some radish seeds inside. With a temperature of 6-12°C inside, the radish should work out fine.
This year we’ve decided to grow some VERY hot peppers, and they need up to six weeks to germinate. We are growing Bhut Jolokia (ghost peppers), Moruga Scorpions (hottest in the world), Jalapeños, Yucatan White Habanero, bells, and Peter peppers (look it up, SNSFW). We’ve also started the tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
When planting seeds indoors, there are a few factors to consider:
1. Planting medium
Depending on the seeds you are starting, you may need to use a special mix. There is always the option of bringing soil in from the garden, but at this time of year the ground is solid and you can’t be sure what else you may be bringing in the house (bugs, disease, turds the cat left for you to find in the spring, etc). For peppers and tomatoes we used a soil-less medium, although a little more expensive, it’s worth the extra money to ensure our special pepper seeds actually germinate.
This is a very confusing topic. There is a lot of information out there for what lights to use. You can buy special grow lights that are meant to offer better light for plants, but in actual fact, these lights are usually just overpriced and don’t necessarily do a better job than any other. Using cool white T8 fluorescent bulbs 8-12″ above your plants will stimulate them enough to grow. Cool whites offer the plants light mainly from the blue light spectrum. This light will not stimulate flowering as red spectrum does, but will instead help seedlings grow stocky and strong, ready for transplanting outside.
A light fixture, such as the aforementioned T8, can easily be hung from a ceiling by chain to allow for height adjustment as plants grow.
As in the outdoors, indoor plants need the lights to go out for a period each day. The darkness of night is an important part in a plant’s daily cycle. To keep the seedlings happy, plug the lights into a wall timer set to switch off over night for 7-8 hrs.
Plants should be well watered but not kept drenched (more on that below). Always use water from the cold water tap and let it warm in the room with the seedlings before watering. Avoid using the hot water tap as the mineral deposits that collect in your hot water tank can be harmful to young plants.
4. Air circulation
To strengthen the root systems and stems of your seedlings, you must simulate the wind they would be subjected to outside. A simple fix for this is to set a fan on low in the room to blow over the seedlings. Your plants aren’t looking for gale force winds, so moderate the flow through the fan’s placement in the room.
Using a fan also prevents the seedlings from damping off. Damping off is caused by seedlings being too wet which allows different fungus to grow and attack the young plants. The last thing you want is to see all your plants die from damp.
Seeds need a certain level of warmth to germinate and grow. All plants have different temperature needs and when growing different species together, you’ll have to decide what temperature will suit them all. We are growing all of our seeds in the same room where the quail chicks are kept. This room in always nice and warm for the chicks so it makes an ideal place to start our seeds. If you don’t have a room in your house like this, heated seedling mats work quite well. I suppose you could also try a space heater, but leaving these unattended always scares me a little. Early plants are of no use if your house has burned down.
For anyone who can’t be bothered with starting seeds indoors, we are selling started pepper plants later in the spring. If you don’t want the plant, just come by this summer and help yourself to some very hot peppers. You can have as many Moruga Scorpions as you can handle before you pass out.