Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012 journal

Today I placed the tomato seedlings in the Autopots, so with that completed the greenhouse is pretty much operational for the season.  I sill have a few Turkish eggplant and Corno di Toro pepper plants to pot, but I am holding off on them for a while yet.  

The small plants in trays in front of the Autopots are annual flowers, tomato and pepper plants for the garden.  Additionally, not shown in the photo, there are six large Boston Pickler cucumber plants  for the garden waiting for the last frost date to pass.

The monster plant in the back is the Giant Marconi pepper plant that I have been growing since Christmas.  The plant has produced a lot of peppers and is still setting fruit, however, I am going to let the large peppers turn red and I expect that that will slow down production considerably.  These peppers taste fantastic when they are allowed to turn red!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012 journal

Our weather remains very cool with night temperature at or near freezing, so it has been necessary to bring the plants into the house in the evenings.  Finally, the long range forecast is for the nighttime temperature to be in the forties, beginning tomorrow, and I can begin to leave the plants in the greenhouse overnight.

Today I planted the cucumber plants in the autopots, however, to avoid over watering I have no intention of turning on the reservoir for several weeks. The plants will be top watered and allowed to dry slightly before being watered again.

This season I have added a trellis to allow the plants to climb and spread out some.  In prior years I have been removing most of the laterals, but, I have decided to let them develop as I have noticed that most of the fruit on this variety forms on the laterals and not on the main stem.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New 450 watt LED grow light

A new LED grow light has been acquired and very soon all of my indoor gardening will be under LED lighting.  The new unit was imported from an overseas source with an extensive product line and very reasonable pricing.

Although the fluorescent lighting is adequate for most of the vegetables I have been growing, the cost of tube replacement every few years makes the long lasting LEDs much more cost effective.  And,  the spectrum produced by the LEDs is optimized specifically for plant growth, both vegetative and flowering.

The new LED has 150 3 watt LEDs with 90 degree convex lenses for a total of 450 watts.  It is so bright that you can not look directly at the light, but that is fine as I will enclose it in the grow chamber.  This new light produces 11 wavelengths:

11+ Wavelengths of Color Output: 760nm, 740nm, 720nm, 660nm, 630nm, 615nm-480nm, 460nm, 440nm, 415nm, 380nm

The graphic below shows the photosynthetic action spectrum, or, the wavelengths most used by plants for photosynthesis.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12, 2012 journal

The above image is of the two different varieties of cucumbers that have been started. The plants with the larger leaves, in the front of the tray, are Boston Picklers, the plants in the back row are Little Leaf.

The Boston picklers will be grown outdoors in the soil garden; while the Little Leaf plants will be grown in the greenhouse. Also, I have already planted several varieties of dill seed outdoors.

It appears that Ava's efforts at pollinating the Crab Apple bonsai are going to be a success.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7, 2012 journal

The cucumber seedlings were potted today and they look fantastic. I decided to grow them under a dome using the 125 watt compact fluorescent for a few days before I introduce them to the greenhouse.

The cubes were soaked in full strength nutrient mix prior to potting, and the media was also moistened with the same mix.

The media was tamped loosly around the seedling with a slight amount of nutrient poured into the media from the top.

I find that it is best to water cucumbers lightly, and, frequently. They definitely do not like wet feet! Allowing moisture to accumulate at the bottom of the pot is asking for trouble.

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6, 2012 journal

Although the weather continues to be cool, there has been quite a bit of sunshine this week to keep the greenhouse warm. That said, the sun has been too bright for the seedlings, so I have been growing them indoors in the tents. This afternoon I found an unused shade cloth from a small greenhouse that I had several years ago, and I decided that it would be perfect for protecting the seedlings from the direct light on the south side of the greenhouse. So, the tomatoes and peppers are sunning themselves on the south side of the greenhouse and the seedlings are happily thriving under the shade cloth on the unused north side of the greenhouse.

A few weeks ago I did a germination test on some seeds that have been in the freezer since 2009; as ninety percent germinated I decided to plant some. It has been so long since I have grown this variety I had forgotten how nice it is. It is an Italian variety called: Dark Red Lollo Rossa. There is an interesting post online concerning this variety and I thought I would share it:

In 1999, scientists at the University of Glasgow found that Lollo Rosso has 100 times more antioxidants than common lettuce. It also contains the antioxidant quercetin, which is believed to help prevent asthma and allergies by acting as a natural antihistamine.

Also a few weeks ago. my wife brought home a package of tomatoes that caught my attention, because the tomatoes were almost brown, and perfectly uniform in size. I found that it is a variety grown in greenhouses in Europe, and according to Wikipedia it is not a patented variety, so anyone can collect the seeds and grow their own. Here is a direct quote from Wikipedia: "anyone can retrieve seeds from a Kumato and grow plants for private use." That was enough to get me to collect seeds and ferment them.

After the seeds were
fermented, cleaned and dried; three seeds were planted as a germination test. Within just a few days the seeds have germinated, so I plan on growing the best of the seedlings in the greenhouse just for fun.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5, 2012 journal

The cool weather continues to hang in with nighttime temperatures in the lower thirties. The temperature during the day has been in the mid forties, to lower fifties, but thankfully the sun has warmed the greenhouse to above seventy degrees.

I have been bringing the tomato plants indoors late in the afternoon; placing them under a 400 watt MH light in the basement. As they are receiving a few hours of direct sunlight, and several hours of high intensity lighting, they are beginning to shift to the vegetative growth stage.

When potting plants it is best not to pack the media into the pot too firmly. The roots need air, and packing the media, and then wetting, it really makes the plants struggle to breath.

When watering, I rely on the moisture meter, or simply heft the pot to determine the approximate weight. After awhile it is possible to judge if watering is required by simply picking up the plant.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4, 2012 journal

Three days after placing the seedlings in the horticubes they are really doing great.

These seedlings will remain in the cubes until at least four true leaves have developed, or, a strong root system is growing out of the cubes.

Normally, I use a 24" T5, 6500k, fluorescent light for seed starting, as I only start a dozen or so at a time. I only use one of the 90 watt red/blue LEDs when I have a lot of seeds to propagate, however, when I do use one, there is a considerable difference in growth rate.