Saturday, August 16, 2008

Drip ring growing system

Looking forward to next year's growing season; I decided to add additional systems to accommodate long term deep rooted crops like: tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and perhaps zucchini. And, a good portion of the greenhouse was unused this summer, as all of the AutoPot systems were already in use.

Next season I intend to grow pretty much all of my warm weather vegetables in the greenhouse, except perhaps for a few tomato plants in the soil garden. I am really fed up with fighting pests in the garden. Aphids are a continual problem in my soil garden. I can spray every day and they return on the following day. In addition, by succession planting, I think I can pretty much have fresh vegetables for at least eight months out of the year.

I was going to begin my hydroponic garden hobby with the Waterfarm, but the dealer I ordered from took so long to ship it, I canceled the order and bought a DWC system, Emily's Garden.

The photo above has a commercially built Waterfarm, and one I built from components purchased from a local store. The difference in cost was somewhere between seven and ten dollars, with my system being the less expensive. Both systems have almost identical capacity in terms of nutrient and media. So, if you don't mind drilling two holes in the plastic bucket, you can save ten bucks. If you have to pay for shipping on the commercial unit, the difference would be much greater.

This drip ring system is more labor intensive than the AutoPots, as it will need changing or replenishing from time to time. I intend to put the air pump on timers to run every other hour during the day and turn completely off at night. Also, I intend to use a less aggressive nutrient mix to compensate for the constant feeding.

Although the AutoPots are supposed to be virtually automatic, I found that you must check the valve every day or so. The root mats that they provide do not always prevent the roots from growing out of the bottom of the pot and clogging the valve. As I had a large roll of perforated black landscaping material on hand, I now make my own root control mats and they have worked just fine, so far....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Late season tomatoes and cucumbers

As this is my first year with the greenhouse I am learning a lot about greenhouse growing, and I still have a lot to learn. For instance; I really should have begun another crop of heat tolerant plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant a few weeks after the first crop to have a continuous supply.
The tomato plants in the photo are all clones taken either from the first crop, or plants in our soil garden. Although I must admit is has worked out well, as we had cucumbers in mid-June and tomatoes in early July, and now we have tomatoes and eggplant from the garden while these plants are growing for a later harvest, hopefully, in late September and October.
The small white box covered with muslin is a transparent plastic container that contained salad mix. It makes a great small humidity dome for starting small batches of seed. The seeds I am starting are flowers to brighten our dismal winter season here in New York. I will try to grow calceolaria, calendula and dianthus under my large fluorescent grown light in the ebb and flow system along with the lettuce. The seeds have all sprouted and are doing nicely under their sun shade.

Ugly Ripe Tomatoes are OK, but not great

The ugly ripe tomatoes are starting to ripen and in my opinion they are OK, but really nothing special. The fruit is large and mostly fluted, and the taste is comparable to pretty much any other homegrown tomato I have eaten.
The real surprise this season has been the black cherry tomatoes we have grown. They are not a cherry tomato at all but a mid size pear shaped tomato with a mahogany brown color with green shoulders. The plants are prolific and everyone who has tried the tomato loves the taste. I am saving seed, as this is also a heirloom, and I intend to grow a few in the greenhouse next season.