Saturday, December 28, 2013

Journal December 28, 2013 Arbequina olive setting flower buds

When I first decided to grow olives, one of my main concerns was how I would get them through our winter while providing the conditions that they require to fruit.  It seems that I should not have been all that concerned, as the trees have adapted fantastically to being indoors.

Another concern was lighting, with visions of leggy trees struggling to find adequate light,  Again, that is not the case.  The above photo shows the tip of my small bushy Argequina, which by the way is setting buds, which also means OLIVES!  Simply looking at the tight internodal spacing it is evident that the tree is receiving all of the light it needs.  The fact that it is setting buds is an indicator that the light level is ideal.  

Considering the tree is sharing a 36 watt LED grow light with another tree, and, that the light is about two feet from the tree, my decision to use multiple low power LED grow lights seems to be a good choice.  It has been possible to winter about twenty trees, using less than 200 watts of lighting to do so.

 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Journal December 27, 2013 Plant Tissue Culture Propagation

 Several years ago there was an orchid breeding greenhouse locally that we used to visit. While there I would watch them tissue cloning orchids under hoods. They were using microscopes and placing small bits of plant material in petri dishes and placing the petri dishes into incubators. I thought: Good Lord, you must have to have at least a Ph D to tackle that.

Over the years the process has evolved so that it is possible to do tissue culture at home, so I thought I would give it a try. As I needed a sink and clean environment, I elected to wait until my wife was going to be out for a while and use the kitchen for my laboratory.



I used an opaque storage container for a hood. The storage container had to be sterilized with 90% alcohol, along with everything else used in the process, A small section of green growing branch tip was removed from a Mission and Pendolino olive tree. It was necessary to wash the plant material in detergent, alcohol, beach with detergent and finally sterile water. Rinsing was also required several times between each wash.

The sterile water rinse was performed under the hood, along with all trimming and placing the plant material into the vials containing the nutrient gel. The vials have been placed in a sterilized container under a small T5 grow light, where in a few weeks new plants should begin to develop. That is if I have the process correct, but if not I will try again, as I found it fascinating. It should be possible to produce hundreds, or thousands, of plants from a tiny piece of the plant.






Here is a link with more information, and youtube also has several videos on Plant Tissue Culture for anyone interested.

http://hort201.tamu.edu/YouthAdventureProgram/TisueCulture/TissueCulture.html

Friday, December 20, 2013

Journal December 20, 2013 Arbequina ending chilling cycle

The tree in the photo above looks pretty sad, however, I fully expect it to begin perking up and becoming a nice specimen very soon.

When it was purchased on eBay in the fall this tree had olives on it.  Within a few days of receiving the tree, the olives fell off as it went into shock, with the tips of the leaves turning brown.  The seller replaced the tree, but recommended that I keep this tree as he thought it would recover.

It appears that the seller was correct, as the tree now has a lot of new growth after having spent two months chilling under the low power LED grow lights in the basement.

The branch that had the olives was the leader and did not appear to be growing, so it was removed, which made the tree lopsided. Using bonsai wire, a lateral branch was bent upward to form a new leader to correct the shape of the tree.  The correction will be hardly noticible as the tree grows and fills in.  

Deciding  to end the tree's chilling cycle, it has been placed in a grow tent using the 150 watt LED grow light with a photo period of sixteen hours.  Also, I will begin feeding the tree again, as it has only been getting plain water for the last three months.

While watering the olive trees today, I noticed that one of the other Arbequina trees is forming  different shaped growths on the ends of some of the branches.  Never having seen an olive tree flower, I am hoping that the growths are flower buds.  

Having thought that keeping the trees alive during the winter was going to be a difficult process, I am pleased to say that they have been no problem at all, requiring very little care.

It should be interesting watching the tree in the photo respond to an early spring.

 



Monday, December 16, 2013

Journal December 16, 2013 Growing Tropical Plants Indoors

One of the tropical plants I am growing is flowering and two more are going to flower soon.  The plant above is Jasminum sambac, Maid of Orleans.

The flowers are very fragrant and used in perfume.  Although the flowers are small, there are a lot of them on the plants, as they often grow in clusters.  The scent is really strong when I open the grow tent in the morning.

The olive trees are doing much better than I ever expected under the low power LED grow lights.  In spite of the reduced photoperiod and light intensity some of the trees are still putting out new growth.  Those not actively growing are forming new buds preparing for spring. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Journal November 20, 2013 Grand Duke

Another online bargain arrived today, the plant above is Jasmimum sambac, Grand Duke of Tuscany.  I have been looking for one of these at a good price for sometime and finally found one for under five dollars on Amazon.com.

I really did not expect much for the price I paid, however, it is a very nice healthy plant, so I am well pleased.

Also, I purchased seeds for two varieties of gardenia for less than two dollars per pack.  One is simply a common gardenia, while the other is a corsage gardenia.  The seeds for the common gardenia have already germinated and are looking really good.  

Growing plants from seed is not only inexpensive, but allows you to shape the plant to your preferences as it develops. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Journal November 18, 2013 - Growng tropical plants indoors

Two more flowering fragrant tropical plants arrived today and I am very pleased with the quality, considering that they cost less than $3.50 per plant.  

The plants are: Cestrum nocturnum Jessamine, or Night Blooming Jasmine, seen on the left, and Gardenia jasminoides, August Beauty, on the right.

To add interest I added a mud man and a rock to each container when potting the plants.  Both plants will be placed in grow tents under LED lighting to be grown hydroponically.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Journal November 17, 2013 Hydroponic Swiss chard is getting popular

A large harvest of Foordhook Swiss chard was picked today and the system was immediately replanted with Early Wonder beets for beet greens.  Fortunately, once cooked chard can be reheated,  which is good as there is enough chard in the photo for several meals for the two of us.

Reviewing the analytics for my blog,  I find that growing Swiss chard indoors hydroponically has become a very popular search term.  For whatever reason, there seems to be interest from all around the world in growing chard hydroponically lately; there have been hits on this subject from Saudi Arabia, Australia, Europe and Asia.  Why the sudden interest completely baffles me. 

The weather has moderated, and will remain so for the next several days, so I moved the olive trees back into the greenhouse until at least next Tuesday.  


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Journal November 10, 2013 Hydroponic bok choi

The bok choi is ready to pick so we are researching recipes to prepare it.  It has been several years since I last planted choi; and this would be the first time I have grown it using LED lighting.  As you can see by the photo, the plants are well developed, short and sturdy, not at all leggy, which means that they have received adequate light while growing.


A few days ago I received more flowering tropical plants to grow in the tents.  I ordered a Maid of Orleans, Jasmine Sambac on eBay for less than five dollars, however, when the plant arrived there were three plants in the pot.  When separating the plants, I could see that the plant had recently had flowers on it, so perhaps it will flower again soon.


Checking the thermometer in the greenhouse this morning I saw that the low temperature last night was 32 degrees.  The forecast is for bitter cold temperatures in the coming week, so I decided to close the greenhouse and move the olives indoors for the winter.  The plan was to leave them in the greenhouse until Thursday to reach the 1,000 hour chill target, however, rather than take a chance of freezing them I decided to move them.  My rationale is that they will receive plenty more chilling during the next several months.

In a seldom used area of the basement I suspended a length of 1" x 6" board using a heavy duty adjustable light hanging cord.  The LED lights and electrical connections  are attached to the board so the lights can be raised and lowered as needed.  A small fan for ventilation was also installed using a separate timer.

As most of the olive varieties are Spanish, just for fun, I used the sunrise/sunset tables for Madrid Spain to set the timer for the lights.  The calendar on Google is set to remind me to change the timer slightly over the next three months so simulate the winter solstice. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Journal November 8, 2013 Indoor gardening - tropical plants

The plant shown above is a Tabernaemontana divaricata, also known as a Crepe Jasmine, Pinwheel Flower, East Indian Rosebay and Paper Gardenia, and those are only some of the names I know of.

When I looked at the flower bud this morning, it did not look anywhere near like it was ready to open, however, by lunch it had burst into bloom.  I am really sorry that I did not set up the time lapse camera, as this would probably make an excellent subject.  Well, next time for sure.

The flower has very little scent during the day, however the scent is suppose to increase at night. Time will tell....

Friday, November 1, 2013

Journal November 1, 2013 Indoor gardening -Inspect your plants thoroughly

Continuing my quest for unusual fragrant tropical plants to brighten up the coming winter, I added a Vietnamese Gardenia plant purchased on eBay.  The plant, shown above, was offered by Hirt's Gardens.  Although I had never purchased any plant material from Hirt's, I had heard of them and knew they have been in business for sometime.  Being pressed for time the day the plant arrived, I simply washed all the soil from the roots, potted the plant and placed it a tent with the other gardenias.  

To my horror, upon closer inspection with a magnifying headset the following day, I found the plant to be infested with aphids.  Additionally, the plant had several brown holes in the leaves, some the size of a dime.  It is not a plant you would purchase if you were to see it beforehand.  

Not taking any chances, I sprayed all of the plants that came in contact with this plant with insecticide soap; placing all of them in the greenhouse overnight to contain any loose aphids.   I also wiped the bottom of each leaf with paper towel soaked in the soap.   Today, I spayed them again, this time with Neem Oil, just to be safe.  Another inspection followed, fortunately no aphids were found.


A similar incident occurred yesterday with a Tabernaemontana divaricata, or Crepe Jasmine, also purchased from a very reputable grower.  Upon inspecting the plant, I found and removed at least a dozen black scale insects.  Again, the plant was sprayed with Neem oil solution, and as I had Neem oil solution remaining, I decided to use it on the olive trees, though I have never seen an insect on any of them.  Being a fanatic on insect control, as a further preventive measure, I add Gnatrol to every batch of nutrients, to kill any larvae in the media.  Better safe than sorry.

The best advice I can offer is: don't trust anyone when adding plants to your indoor garden.  Inspect all plants, very carefully.

As an afterthought, I checked the reviews for Hirt's Gardens on Dave's Garden site; the negative reviews outnumber the positive reviews for the past 12 months.  Avoid or beware of Hirt's Gardens.

http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/c/554/

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Journal October 29, 2013 Supplemental LED Grow Light

Recently two new LED supplemental grow lights have been added to the greenhouse.  The lights have five 3 watt LEDs, three red and two blue, for a total of 15 watts each.  Now, there are a total of five supplemental LED grow lights, which still do not add up to much over 60 watts.  

The photo above is the tip of the Amfissa olive tree I received a few weeks ago.  I find it amazing that some trees go into shock for several months after being shipped, while others simply take shipping and repotting right in stride, not missing a beat.  The Manzanilla tree I received in July is still in shock; not having grown a single new leaf, the Amfissa, on the other hand,  has grown two new branches in only a few weeks.  Go figure.

The automatic vent openers were removed today so I can have better temperature control in the greenhouse.  At this time of year I like to close the greenhouse late in the afternoon to trap as much heat as possible going into the evening.  

Some of the olive trees appear to have stopped growing, while others, like the Amfissa, are still going strong.

Click here to visit the greenhouse.  The user name and password are both guest.  It the lighting looks normal, it is daytime, if the lighting appears red, the supplemental lighting is on, either in the morning or the evening, if the lighting appears black and white, it is night and the IR lights are on.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Journal October 27, 2013 Coffee Arabica Plants

The tropical collection continued to grow today with the addition of three coffee arabica plants and one Kleim;s Gandharaj, Cape Jasmine.  The coffee plants are shown above in the green pots,  the Jasmine is in the beige container.

Only one coffee plant was ordered, however it is common practice for the growers to plant several plants in a pot to make them appear bushy.  In that case it is best to separate the plants as soon as they are received and plant them in individual pots to give them room to grow.  Coffee makes a great house plant, requiring little care and rewarding the grower with occasional fragrant flowers. In my case, I paid $2.99 for a pot with three plants, which I consider a bargain.

The olive trees are no longer being fertilized;  I will hold off feeding them until probably late February.  Sometime in late November, hopefully, depending on the weather, I will close the greenhouse and move the olive trees to the basement. The supplemental LED lighting will be installed in the basement, and I will time the light to coincide with the actual daylight hours.

Click here to visit the greenhouse and use guest for user name and password.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Journal October 25, 2013 Overwintering Tropical Plants

Our weather has turned cold, so it was necessary to make a decision regarding overwintering the tropical plants from the greenhouse.   I chose to discontinue growing the Marconi peppers and use the tent and light for the tropical plants.

The plants in the photo are a mixture of three varieties of gardenia, with some unusual plants from around the world. Still to come are another variety of gardenia and three or four coffee trees.   It became a question of tying up the tent for three or four months for peppers, or accommodating the tropicals.  As I plan on growing Marconi peppers in the greenhouse next season, I decided that the tropicals were more important than a dozen or so peppers.  Another factor I guess is that I needed a challenge after having grown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers indoors over the winter a number of times.  



Also, to add variety to growing greens I have a nice crop of medium bok choi in process.  Now we will have to find some recipes on line as to how to prepare bok choi.

The olives in the greenhouse are finally getting their chill period, with daytime temperatures in the sixties and night temperatures in the thirties.   I would like to give them at least a thousand hours of cool temperatures, so I plan to try to keep them in the greenhouse until late November.

It should also be mentioned that all of the tropical plants are being grown hydroponically.   

Friday, October 11, 2013

Journal October 11, 2013 Added an Arbosana olive tree to my collection.

When I first got the idea of growing olives I wanted to order an Arbosana olive tree, however, the grower talked me out of it saying, in her opinion, they were too difficult to grow.   Later, I purchased an Arbosana elsewhere, and I subsequently lost it.

Since changing to a less dense media I have not had a single leaf drop, or problem of any kind with the olives, so I thought I would try an Arbosana again.  I found a tree at a reasonable price, but they had a minimum of five trees.  I wrote to the grower and explained that I had just a hobby greenhouse, and my granddaughter and I were trying to collect trees from different countries; asking if I could purchase a single tree.  A woman named Brandi responded, writing that they would be glad to sell me a single tree for ten dollars, shipping included.

The Arbosana arrived today, and it is magnificent to say the least.  Writing to thank Brandi I told her that Ava and I name our plants, and we would be naming this tree Brandi.  It is nice to know that there are still some kind people in this world, in spite of current events.

My collection is now in excess of twenty trees, though I have no idea of how many olives I can expect, if any.  I did find an encouraging sentence on one growers site that bolstered my expectations:

"For those of you who live in apartments, condos, any kind of rental or cold climates that want an olive tree but have no place to plant it, you can keep your tree in a large pot on your patio, sun room or greenhouse. Potted trees produce olives too and with one tree you can press and cure enough olives and oil for yourself. "


The Marconi pepper growing under the 150 watt 11 band LED grow light is doing fantastically.  The performance of this light is impressive, even if the color is a little weird visually.   The first four flower buds were removed to encourage growth; going forward I will let the plant flower to its heart's content.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Journal October 8, 2013 Cimmeron lettuce

There is a nice batch of Cimmeron lettuce in the grow chamber which should be ready to begin harvesting in a few weeks.  Talk about a heirloom variety;  people have been growing this variety since at least the 1700s.  Could the reason that it has been around so long be that it tastes so good and is easy to grow?

Cimmeron is a late spring late summer variety, but that little matters, when grown indoors seasons become irrelevant. 

The supermarket wars are heating up locally, with each chain desperately trying to compete, building newer and larger stores; adding new wrinkles to get people into their stores.  One local chain is enlarging their store, adding several ethnic eateries, and, get this, planning to grow produce  in the store hydroponically.  They plan to sell the hydroponic produce in the store.

Growing lettuce is one thing, however, they also plan on growing tomatoes.  These two crops have very different requirements in terms of lighting and environmental conditions.  I wonder who they will hire locally to oversee this aspect of their operation.  It is doubtful that an ad in the help wanted section of the local papers will produce a lot of qualified candidates.  

Time will tell.......


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Journal October 5, 2013 Growing olives in New York

With the arrival of two more trees today my olive grove is beginning to look more like a forest.  The new trees are a Manzanillo and a Leccino from groworganic.com.  I wanted the Manzanillo because the tree I have is doing absolutely nothing.  For the last two months it just sits there enjoying the sun and nutrients, but not putting out a single new leaf.  The Leccino meets my criteria, as it has large to medium fruit and comes into bearing early.  Also, it is pollinated by Pendolino and Arbequina, both of which I have.  

The Arbequina I received a short time ago appears to be struggling a little, with brown leaf tips and some leaf drop.  I wrote to Steve at foeverfruitless11 and sent a photo of the tree.  Steve replied today that it appears the tree has gone into shock, as that sometimes happens from shipping.  He wrote that he will ship a replacement tree, but to hold onto the tree, as it will probably come back strong.  Not many sellers on eBay treat buyers like Steve does.  

Last, but not least, I have an Arbosana tree on order, as I inadvertently over watered my small tree and it did not come back.  Small trees are really not as forgiving when it comes to over watering.   

Friday, October 4, 2013

Journal October 4, 2013 Cloning a gardenia


The photo above shows a Gardenia jasminoides Veitchii seedling that was struck from the mother plant only two weeks ago.

The mother plant, purchased on eBay, had a single tall stem, on which the first leaves were at least six inches above the soil.  I was hoping for a short bushy plant, so I decided to remove the growing tip and attempt to clone what I wanted.

Unlike most plants, gardenias will root more quickly if you do not remove the leaves, so I pretty much left the cutting intact.  The cutting was dipped in Vita Grow rooting hormone for thirty seconds and then planted in a mixture of 80% perlite and 20% peat moss.  

The cutting was kept under a dome using a 90 watt red/blue/white LED for a light source.  Additionally, the cutting was misted at least once a day.

It was obvious that the cutting had rooted when the tip began to grow again.  Today, 14 days after being taken, I potted the cutting.  When mixing the media for the container I added some nutrients for acid loving plants and I will also add some iron to the nutrients that I will be feeding the plant.  Hopefully, soon I will have the fragrance of gardenias to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Journal October 2, 2013 Growing Amfissa olive in a container

Another tree was added to my growing grove today, this one is an Amfissa which is shown above. At some point I am going to remove about a foot from the top, but I am going to let the tree recover from being shipped and potted.

This tree is also a beauty and was specially selected for me by Christine from the Texas Olive Ranch.  These folks are great to deal with and have some very nice trees  with very reasonable shipping charges.  If anyone is interested in trying to grow an olive in a container, Amfissa is also a good choice.  

Texas Olive Ranch has a website and they have trees that may not be listed on their website, so if you are looking for a varietal not listed just call or write them.  

Some of the dealers in better quality trees do not like to sell single trees, but the nice folks at the Texas Olive Ranch will try to accommodate you.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Journal October 1, 2013 -Growing Peppers Indoors


The 150 watt 11 band LED grow light is doing a great job on the golden marconi peppers.  Only the vegetative stage lighting is being used, however I will soon switch on the flowering stage as well.

The plant support system, available here, promises to be a great improvement when growing indoors in a tent.

Today I intend to plant the trust tomato seedling in the second tent using the 450 watt LED grow light.  Again, I will use only the vegetative stage bands until I feel the plant is ready to begin the flowering stage.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Journal September 28, 2013

The olive grove continues to grow with the the arrival of two trees today; and two  trees arrived yesterday as well .  The trees that arrive today are a Mission, and finally a French variety, a Cailleitier, also known as a Nicoise, which signifies its curing.

Last weekend I placed an online order for a Koroneiki olive from Georgia Olive Farm; yesterday I received two trees.  One tree had a small portion of the top bent and broken, so I assume that they gave it to me, as I was not charged for it.  I did not mind the broken top as I still had to remove about six inches.  

The trimmings from the new trees are being cloned and all is looking well at this point.  The mixture of 80% perlite and 20% peat, and, importantly, letting the cuttings almost dry between light mistings seems to be th secret in cloning olives.

To view the greenhouse click here.

Both the user name and password are guest. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Journal September 23, 2013 Fall has arrived, for sure!

The Arbequina olive  purchased last week from Foreverfruitless11 on eBay was such a nice tree I could not resist buying another tree.  What a great buy, twenty dollars, delivered!  The second tree arrived today and it is another beauty.


This tree, however, has olives on it!  I had asked Steve to see if he could find a tree with olives and he said he would, and he did.  Great tree, great service.

Another company that I like for great plants and service is Groworganic.com.  Their trees are sourced  from Santa Cruz Olive Tree Farm in California.  The farm only sells wholesale, but Groworganic.com is a retail outlet for several varieties of their olive trees.

The trees that I purchased from them were at least three feet high and they convinced me to abandon growing small trees.  Going forward I will aim for potted trees between 2 and 3 feet high.  Three more large size trees are on order: Leccino, Cailletier “Nicoise” and a Mission.

As for fall being here; tonight the temperature is forecast to be 37 degrees F, so with shorter daylight hours and falling temperatures the trees should begin to go dormant soon.  Olive trees require at least 400 hours with the temperature averaging 50 degrees to adequately flower in the spring.  Conditions in the greenhouse should be ideal, with days in the sixties and nights in the thirties and forties.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Journal September 21, 2013 Telescoping Upright Plant Support


Today I had my first opportunity to try the telescoping plant supports and clips; my assessment is that they are great! The poles telescope from 18" to 36" and the clips are much easier to work with than the vine clips I have been using. They are available from this site.

The two plants in the photo are olive trees, taggiasca on the right and pendolino on the left.  Going forward I am going to increase the height of the plants significantly.  By rearranging the staging in the greenhouse I can use more of the center aisle to allow for bigger plants.

 Another tropical I have added is Allspice, shown above.  In addition to being a fairly attractive plant, the leaves can be used as a spice seasoning.  The top six inches of the plant have since  been removed to encourage branching.  

Last, but not least, I have added Gardenia jasminoides Veichii to my tropical collection.  Again, the top portion of the plant has since been removed to encourage branching.  For this plant I am using a 70/30 mixture of agricultural perlite and peat moss.  Also, I have mixed nutrients specific to the plant by adding iron and decreasing the pH.

The tops of both plants have been planted with my other clones and hopefully in a month or so I will have two more plants to experiment with.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Journal September 18, 2013 - More tropical plants for the greenhouse


Another eBay bargain arrived today and it is a fantastic plant.  The tree shown above is an Arbequina olive, which is one of the best for container growing. Purchased from a seller called foreverfruitless11, it is one of the best I have ever received and it only cost twenty dollars, delivered.  If you are interested in growing an olive as a container plant this would be a good option to look into.


The 15 rooted cuttings mentioned in my September 9, 2013 post have actually turned into 19 individual plants.  All of the plants in the above photo, with the exception of the large container in the back row on the right, were received totally free of charge after a dispute with the seller.

That said,  there are still four more olive varieties on order, and, an Allspice, Gardenia and Ginger in process. Why all the tropical plants?  I guess I am looking for a challenge, and what is the sense of having a greenhouse if you don't use it for unusual plants?

Back on the subject on indoor hydroponics; I had a chance to look at the Garnet Rose lettuce this evening when the LED grow light turned off.  With the light on, it is not possible to see the true color of the plant, and this one is a beauty.  Sometime ago I read that red lettuce has more health benefits then green.  That being the case; you should be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and bend steel with your bare hands after eating this one.  I have never seen a lettuce as red as this one!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Journal September 15, 2013 - The ultimate plant support system for indoor gardeners


video

As promised in previous posts  I will be using a new plant support system that I feel will be hard to beat.  The video above has some information regarding the system, and I will also give a brief outline below.


As we did not have any Giant Marconi peppers in the garden this season I decided to grow them indoors; if things go according to plan they will be on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner.  The plant shown above was started from seed exactly four weeks ago and has been growing under a 90 watt red/blue/white LED grow light.



The peppers will be grown in one of the tents using a 150 watt 11 band LED grow light.  The photo shows the plant with the plant support system collar in place with the upright telescoping support shown in front of the container.  The upright support slips onto the posts and can be extended from 18' to 36", also, the posts can be adjusted and locked into position to accommodate the shape of the plant as it matures.  Also shown is a plant clip that easily snaps around the plants and posts, also there is a trellis kit available that also snaps onto the posts.  

All in all this is a really nice system, which someone has put some creative energy into developing.  I was so impressed that I immediately placed an order for a unit for my remaining tent.

Anyone who wishes to order, or obtain more information, can contact the company on this link.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Journal September 14, 2013 - Indoor gardning - beet greens

I will begin this post by saying that the issue with Kinsvillegrower has been resolved and the olive cuttings are enroute.  It was an unfortunate incident caused by the grower going out of town and accidentally leaving his cellphone at home and not being able to communicate.

While most gardeners are preparing for the end of the season, as year round gardener I am gearing up for some serious indoor gardening.

The above photo shows today's harvest of Early Wonder beet greens from one of the ebb and flow systems, and, fifteen Garnet Rose lettuce seedlings that will go immediately into the system to replace the beet greens.

The current photoperiod of twelve hours for the lettuce and greens in the grow chamber seems to be just fine, so I am going to leave it be.
On the subject of lighting; frequently I hear from someone who is attempting indoor gardening with shop lights of CFL bulbs, and I try to stress how important light is to plant development.  Light is just as important as nutrients, if not more so.  The above photo shows the Garnet Rose seedlings before I placed them in the ebb and flow system.  They should give you a benchmark of what a properly lit seedling should look like.  If your plants are long and leggy, they are not getting sufficient light and are reaching for more.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Journal September 10, 2013 - Seed starting media

Three cups containing purple basil were placed in the aeroponic unit today along with the lemon basil.  When they named this purple basil, they were being serious, as this is about as purple as you can get.


Seed starting media is about the only thing I purchase from local hydroponic dealers; last week I called the local hydroponic shop to make sure they had oasis horticubes in stock before I drove twenty five miles to purchase them.  The guy said they were out of stock and hemmed and hawed when I asked when they would be in.  He told me I was the only person who purchased them;  yeah, like big deal, it seems I have purchased every one you ever had.  He said he would try to order them, but somehow he did not sound sincere, so I decided to sever my ties with this dealer.

The only cubes I could find on Ebay were small one inch cubes, which would cost more, however, they would yield almost three times as many cubes as the sheets from the local hydro dealer. The cubes are fine, as most of what I plant is lettuce, and I am sure larger plants will not be an issue, 

The departure being: it is recommended that the cubes be completely saturated before the seeds are dropped into the dibbled opening.  And, the cubes remain in water with the level about one third of the height of the cube until germination.  Using a domed container is also recommended, which I had been doing all along anyway.

If this works out it will save having to germinate the seeds in moist coffee filters and transfer them to cubes after germination.  The small square in the domed container contains twelve decoricated yellow Swiss chard seeds, so we will soon see how this goes. 

Another benefit of the smaller cubes it that they take up a lot less space under the lights.  The photo below shows a dozen Sweet Valentine lettuce seedlings I am trying under an off the shelf 65 watt 5000k CFL bulb.



Monday, September 9, 2013

Journal September 9, 2012

Somewhere back in the blog I mentioned purchasing two small LED grow lights from Bangood.com and if I would like to retract what I wrote about them.  Already several LEDs have failed on both lights, and the same thing happened to a friend who purchased two lights. 

Today both lights were replaced with waterproof units and I am much happier with the new configuration.  These new lights have a slightly different spectrum, which appears more blue in color than the 20 watt red/blue unit that I have been using.  The new lights, shown on both sides of the support, are only 12 watt units, so now the total wattage for my supplemental lighting is only 42 watts.  Using the remote control, the lights can be activated whenever supplemental lighting is needed.

As the lights are flood lights and swivel 180 degrees, the supplemental lighting can now cover a much larger area of the greenhouse. 

It was my intention to hold off installing the lights until next spring, however, I have fifteen small olive seedlings on order and I will place them in the greenhouse until mid December.  When I bring them in, the LEDs will come with them, to be used in the basement to provide lighting during their dormant period.

The trees that are enroute were an Ebay bargain that I came across late at night; fifteen rooted olive cuttings that are in a bonsai forest planting.  The seller is a bonsai dealer, who claims the trees are four years old, with some having a trunk diameter of about one inch.   As I am no longer into bonsai, I am going to separate the trees and plant them in individual pots and establish them as individual trees.  At some point I intend to offer them for sale, either for pre-bonsai or individual olive trees.  The seller, who only knew they are olive trees, did not know the variety, as I only paid slightly more than a dollar a tree that is really not a big concern at this point.

When the trees are established, anyone who is interested in growing an olive tree in a container can contact me through the blog.

My assistant Ava's cantaloupe project is a rousing success and she should get a Superstar Gardening award for growing melons in upstate New York.  In the words of the immortal Jackie Gleason: How Sweet It Is!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5, 2013 Indoor Gardening

Among the seeds I purchased recently was a variety of lettuce called Thai Oakleaf, shown in the upper left of the photo above.  I really purchased the seeds on impulse, thinking Thai sounds different, however, I should have read the complete description; as this variety has a distinct almond flavor.  I hate almonds and would not eat one on a bet!

The reddish colored plant to the left of the Thai lettuce is Cimmaron, which looks delicious and should be a winner.  The two plants in the front are Golden Giant Marconi peppers that I am hoping will be on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner.

One of the pepper plants will be grown in the tent with the 150 watt 11 band LED grow light.  And, I will be using a new plant support system that I am very excited about, as it is ideal for what I am doing.  

A representative of the company that makes the plant support system contacted me through this site and they sent me a sample to try.  As soon as I received the sample I place an order for another unit for the second tent.  Yeah, it is that good, so stay tuned.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1, 2013 Indoor Gardening

The greenhouse is pretty much empty at this point, except for the olives and a few tropical plants.  My attention is being turned to my indoor garden with a few plantings already underway.

This season some unusual varieties of lettuce will be on the menu ; five are already in process.  The photo above shows two of my new varieties: Wnter Density (left) and a heirloom called Schweitzer's Mescher (right).  Winter density is a Romaine and the Schweitzer's Mescher is a bibb type. Together I think that they will make a good combination for salads.

In addition to the above varieties, Thai Oakleaf, Cimmaron, and Garnet Rose have been started, so soon the grow chamber will be up to capacity.

Regarding the greenhouse, the olives will be wintered in there for as long as possible, hopefully until early December.  As the temperatures begin to get well below freezing, the plants will be moved to the basement for the duration of the winter.

Since I began indoor gardening light hangers have been an issue to some degree.  Over the years I have used hangers with adjustable tension and the Easy Reach hangers that the TV pitchmen were hawking a few years ago.

When I find something that works well for me, I like to share it, so that is the case with the hanger in the photo.  The hangers were purchased on Ebay on auction; on average I paid less than $5.00 dollars for a set of two, delivered.  The price is much much less than the hangers I have been using, and these hangers are easier to use and will support a lot more weight than what I have been using. 

What I like most, is that the hanger itself only measures five inches, so I can raise the lights in the tent higher.  Additionally, the hanger is ratcheted, making it infinitely adjustable.  They are so sturdy I feel completely comfortable using only one hanger to support an expensive light.  Not too bad considering they cost on average $2.50 per hanger.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Journal August 30, 2013 Melon Time

Last fall when we picked the last of her green beans, my Granddaughter Ava said that she would like to grow cantaloupe in her garden next year.  I really did not know whether the season was long enough in upstate New York to produce a decent melon, however, I purchased seed on Ebay for variety that was supposed to be just right for our zone.

The seeds were started early in the spring, but as we had a cool damp spring, they were not doing all that well.  We decided to plant a different variety using some seeds off the rack at Home Depot.

Today, we picked our first melon, it is the variety from Home Depot, and it is a beauty.  The melon below is called Hart's jumbo, and it certainly is jumbo.


So why post it on a hydroponic gardening blog if it was grown outdoors?  The answer is: that every time I drained an ebb and flow system, I dumped the "used" nutrients on the melon patch.  Over the years I have found that "used " nutrients are really not completely used at all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Journal August 28, 2013 - Aeroponic Basil

Shopping, grocery shopping in particular, is my least favorite activity.  On one of the few occasions I accompanied my wife to the market I saw a display of hydroponic basil.  A single small plant, still in a horticube with roots showing, was being sold for $3.99.  

The basil was grown in a greenhouse about a half hour's drive from our location;  so I made note of the grower's name intending to call him to see if a visit was possible.  When I called a few days later, I explained that I was also interested in hydroponic growing, had a small greenhouse, and asked if it would be possible to see his greenhouse sometime.  The response was they allow no one to see their operation; kind of like it was Area 51 or something.  Let's face it, growing hydroponic basil is really not rocket science, basil is among the easiest crops to grow hydroponically.

The crop above is Burpee's Plenty, which is being grown aerponically.  This variety is one of my favorites, as it has large leaves and does not tend to flower too quickly.  


Being somewhat of a fanatic about water remaining in the bottom of the tub after the flood cycle, I made two more modifications to the tubs, in addition to the grate on the floor of the tub. As the roots could grow through the grate and reach the small amount of liquid in the bottom of the tub, I added a 1/4" drain tube directly on the bottom of the tub. The drain, being so small, does not interfere with flooding, as the pump has capacity flood the tub regardless of the small opening.  Additionally, I installed weed barrier cloth on the bottom of each tub to further prevent the roots from reaching any standing liquid.

As the summer winds down, I am working less and less with the greenhouse,  gearing up for indoor growing.  To that end, I have started seeds for Giant Marconi peppers and Trust tomatoes to be grown in tents during the winter.  For this upcoming project I will be using a new plant support system, that I think will be ideal for indoor growers.