Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
"I guess that means 'No!' to a date, right?"
Saturday, February 14, 2015: You know as well as me the weather seldom plays out the way it’s planned, i.e. forecasted. But if this system explodes just off the coast – and just to our north -- we could see wrap around winds easily the equivalent of a tropical storm … and for a solid day. Oh, there’s also the inflight factor that wind chills would freeze the agates off an iceberg. The somewhat upside is the fact the winds will be out of the west, a direction we can fairly easily handle since no piled up ocean water will come into play. In fact, there’s a load of unfrozen bay water showing, which means we’ll have epic blowout tides, though with all the piled up ice it’ll be hard to see the bottom’s up drama. Somebody needs to check on the docks line the Miss Beach Haven.
I checked out Holgate this a.m. and it’s totally testy driving on due to a dead forest showing right in the way, at maybe 1,000 feet … you can’t miss it. As tides rise, driving seaward of these former laurels ends quickly. Past that, it’s a fairly easy drive except for the breakthrough potential. What in bloody heel is that, you ask?! When it gets as cold as we’re getting, the sand freezes like ice. You are often driving on the frozen surface sand, meaning you can suddenly break through to the soft underlying sand. It can present a huge bog-down problem. Even knowledgeable buggyists have broken through frozen surface sand. It gets truly tricky at buggy entrances/exits, where the underlying sand is thick should you break through.
"OK, I'm ready to eat!"
Today, snowy owl hunkerin' down. They know when something is coming.
Holgate was windblown and growingly inhospitable today during my drive-around, though I chatted with a young couple at the 2,000-foot marker who were going all the way to the end … hell or high water. They were quite healthy so I wished them luck as I headed off. However, with the rising tide – meaning no further buggy access – they’re pretty much on their own, though there was a fellow clamming near the back, despite huge ice buildup on the closest mudflats to where he was parked. Hey, he told his wife he’d be gettin’ some clams and damn-it all …
I was asked how foxes get to LBI and I've personally seen three ways ... in action. They run over the bridges. This I'm 100 percent sure of ... twice over. They swim over, going from sedge to sedge. They are very competent swimmers. And, they come across on frozen bay. This might be the most common course. I've seen them on ice floes and I've seen photos taken from bayfront folks showing foxes nonchalantly walking atop the ice, sniffing the air for tasty treats from LBI homes.
It’ll be interesting to see how out native son Martin Truex Jr. does in today’s non-points NASCAR invitational race for former winners and pole-sitters. This shortish race is essentially a preseason run … to feel out 2015 vehicles and also to get reacquainted with fellow drivers. It’s televised this evening. Yes, Danica is in it tonight, invited due to her having previously gained a pole position in a previous Daytona 500 – also the reason martin is in. The 500 takes place next week, officially launching the Sprint Series.
Here’s a little something spring-ish that might help get through the arriving ugly bitterness.
Starting Tomatoes Indoors
By: Ellen Zachos
Check with your Cooperative Extension office or online to find out when the average last frost date for your area occurs. Most tomato seed packets recommend starting seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. I suggest you err on the side of caution, because the average last frost date is just that -- the AVERAGE last frost date, meaning there is still a 50% chance of frost. I'll never forget the year we had a late frost and had to tarp our tomatoes and rig up a space heater under the tarp. Instead, plan to wait a week or two after your average last frost date to set out your tomato transplants; then start your seeds six to eight weeks before this later set-out date. You'll be on the safe side and the warmer soil and air temperatures will get your plants off to a robust start.
Give seeds warmth, darkness, and moisture
Tomato seeds need darkness to germinate, which means they should be planted about 1/4 inch deep in a light-weight, sterile potting mix. Moisten the potting mix before you plant, and after planting, cover the flat or pot with a plastic cover or sheet of cling film to retain as much moisture as possible. Seeds may take five to ten days to germinate, and during this time they don't need light, but they do need warmth! Temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F are best. If you keep your house on the cool side (like I do) use a heat mat to keep the potting mix warm. These flat, waterproof mats plug into an outlet and provide bottom heat for your seeds and seedlings. Just place your flat or pots on top of the mat. The additional heat makes the soil dry out more quickly, so check soil moisture every other day and water as needed.
Give seedlings lots of bright light
Once your seeds have germinated it is SUPER important to give them as much light as possible or you'll end up with pale, thin stems and big gaps between leaves. If you have a south-facing windowsill that gets eight to ten hours of direct sun per day, you can grow your seedlings there, but be sure to turn them 180 degrees every day so the stems will be straight. If you don't have perfect natural light, it's worth setting up an inexpensive fluorescent shop light. Place the plants just a few inches below the tubes, and as the plants grow, raise the light fixture (most come with adjustable chains) to keep the tubes just barely above the foliage. This close proximity is necessary to encourage thick, dark green stems and bushy leaves. Keep lights on 14-16 hours a day (a timer makes this easy); don't leave lights on around the clock.
Get your plants ready for the great outdoors
About 7 to 10 days before your setting-out date, it's time to begin hardening off your seedlings so they'll be ready for the rigors of the outdoor garden. Hardening off is the process of gradually acclimating seedlings grown indoors to the harsher growing conditions and more intense light they'll encounter outdoors. Start by placing the seedlings in a sheltered, partly shaded spot outside for a few hours; then bring them indoors at night. Over the next week or so, gradually increase the time the seedlings spend outdoors and the amount of exposure they get to sun and wind, until they are in full sun during the day and outside overnight in their permanent growing location.
Tomatoes can be planted deeper than most other plants because they'll produce roots on their buried stems, which will give your plants a big, strong root system. If you have a few transplants that are on the spindly side, remove the bottom set of leaves on each and plant the tomatoes extra deep, covering the bare portion of the stems with soil. Once the plants are growing in full sun and a rich soil, their new growth should be strong and lush.
Water your new transplants gently, making sure they remain nice and straight. It's a good idea to provide supports now, when it's easier to fit the cages around the plants or drive in stakes without harming the root system. You'll definitely need those supports in a few months, when your tomato plants are heavy with ripe fruit. I bet you can't wait!