Monday, May 31, 2010

Over the top.

As of today we have picked close to ten feet of Telegraph Improved cucumbers. Almost every evening we have a salad of thinly sliced cucumbers, onions, basil and tomatoes. These cucumbers are excellent, in that they have tiny seeds and are firm and tasty.

My previous experience with cucumbers has been that they produce an initial heavy yield and drop off quickly. These cucumbers are still growing with a lot of immature fruit developing and new female flowers forming.

In anticipation of them slowing down I have already started replacement seeds, but I will be reducing the number of plants to two. I have decided to let these plants continue to grow and produce fruit until they begin to fade. To do this I have added poly twine across the top of the greenhouse and will train the plants down onto the tomato support.

And regarding tomatoes; I have terminated the Super Cluster plants after they set six trusses so that the existing fruit would develop more quickly, and hopefully begin to ripen sooner. It is my intention to let the Moneymaker tomatoes continue to grow, and train them toward the top of the greenhouse. They have already reached the top of their support. and at some point I will have an "arch de salad" going on.

On all of the tomato plants I have limited the number of fruit on each truss to five. This will result in larger fruit, and also prevent the truss from becoming too heavy and breaking off the plant. I have also pruned all of the bottom leaves up to the first truss to allow air circulation at the base of the plants and more light to enter to promote ripening.

Due to the size of the plants, and the recent hot weather, each plant is consuming about a gallon of nutrients per day. Additionally, I expect to be picking Giant Marconi peppers in a week or two. So far all is looking very good with the warm weather crops.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Greenhouse cucumbers

Today I picked our first Telegraph Improved cucumber. The fruit in the photo is about ten inches in length, however, this variety can average up to fourteen inches.

There are quite a few cucumbers developing, and I guess I am going to have to reinforce the greenhouse frame to support the weight of the plants.

As this is a heirloom variety I am going to attempt to save some seeds at the end of the plant's life cycle. This may become the only variety I will grow going forward, as it has done exceptionally well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Plants can't read

Our long range forecast, which goes past our normal last frost date, does not include any really cold temperatures. As my soil garden tomatoes were getting too big to handle in the greenhouse, and were still in four inch pots, I decided to plant them in the garden.

The plant in the photo is a Moneymaker tomato, and as you can see it already has small fruit at the time it is being planted. Recently I posted a photo of my soil garden tomatoes on a forum, and two people commented that I should not allow the plants to develop flowers, or fruit, before I planted them. One person was quoting something published by an expert from the Carolina Cooperative Extension.

I responded that my gardening book says plants don't read, so try it, it may work. That has kind of been my credo in gardening, not to necessarily reinvent the wheel with each project, but, if it seems reasonable, by all means give it a shot.

I should also note that I have done this previously, so I know it will work. ;-)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Aerogarden used for starting seeds

Grudgingly I have to admit that the Aerogarden developers did a good job in selecting the medium used in the pods. Still, I could never justify twenty dollars for seven seedlings. After testing horticubes, rockwool, sure to grow, and other materials with various levels of success; I finally found what may be a perfect material to use for a medium, and in all places: Home Depot. The media I am testing is readily available, reasonably priced and easy to work with. If it performs as I expect, it will drastically reduce my use of rockwool, and that alone will be a savings, as I have to drive fifty miles to purchase rockwool cubes from a local source. The lettuce seedlings in the photo will be transferred to an ebb and flow system when the root system is more developed.

The unit above is an old Aerogarden container modified to use a small standard garden pump. The light suspended above the unit is a small 24" two tube fluorescent fixture with grow lights. The light is controlled by an inexpensive timer, also from Home Depot.

Having no intention of growing plants in this unit, I am simply using it to start seeds for later transplant. It will provide replacement lettuce seedlings for mature plants as they are harvested from the ebb and flow systems. It is not necessarily a better method of starting seeds, it just slightly automates the process.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Telegraph Improved Cucumber female flowers

The Telegraph Improved cucumbers are producing quite a few female flowers now, and they are huge! Never having grown these cucumbers before; I am amazed at the size of the female flower, as it is almost as large as a squash flower.

As these plants produce cucumbers more than a foot in length; my wife and I will have to eat a few feet of cucumbers every day to keep up with the growth.....

Then again, perhaps that is just wishful thinking at this point.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tomatoes setting fruit

The above photo shows the progress that the tomatoes in the autopots have made since the photo posted April 20, 2010.

The plants on the right in the photo are the Sweet Cluster, and the plants to the left are Moneymaker. There is a lot difference in the the growth patterns of these plants, with the Sweet Cluster being long vines, and the Moneymaker being shorter more stocky plants.

All of the plants have set fruit to date, however, the Sweet Cluster are out producing the Moneymaker at this point. The Sweet Cluster plants have set fruit on the first trusses, are in full bloom with the second trusses, and are already forming their third trusses.

I am currently running the TDS at about 2700 and increasing phosphorous and potassium.