Monday, September 7, 2015

Journal September 7, 2015 - Green Ice Lettuce

As summer  transitions into fall there is going to be less work involved with the greenhouse and garden, so it is time to think of indoor growing.  While testing the lettuce seeds for viability, I found a few varieties that I like that were still viable: Green Ice, Merlot and Red Salad Bowl.  As several of the seeds that were tested sprouted quickly, I decided to grow them instead of throwing them away.

As I wanted keep the process as simple as possible, I decided to use a few of my small 5 gallon aeroponic systems.  For the Green Ice lettuce I am using a simple T with three 360 degree spray heads.  The spinning heads look cool, but in practice I have found that they have a tendency to either clog or stick in one position.  With aeroponics, it is important to make absolutely sure that the reservoir has no small debris in it before you add the nutrients.

The seedlings should have a few true leaves and some roots showing from the sides of the cubes prior to being transplanted.  Actually, these seedlings could have been a little larger to lessen the shock of transplanting.

The seedlings are given a short soak in nutrient solution prior to being separated.  At this point, I select the largest strongest seedlings, but it is always good to have a few spares on hand, as transplanting is a traumatic experience for these tiny plants.

Getting the seedlings into the 2" net pots is a delicate procedure, so you may damage a few seedlings in the process.  I place a few hydroton pellets in the bottom of the pot to provide support, also, I remove about 1/4" of the top of the cube to expose enough of the seedling for the foam collar to hold the seedling firmly in place.  For someone doing this for the first time, I would suggest having several spare seedlings on hand.

After filling, the system was test run for an hour to check for leaks.  The EC is slightly above 2 and the pH is a 6.4, which I thing will be ideal.  A simple inexpensive timer will be used to turn the pump on and off every fifteen minutes.

I will be using a 150 watt LED grow light in a tent for this grow, with a photoperiod of 16 hours.  Actually, as only the growth setting is being used, the wattage is much less. 

It is not unusual to find that some of the outside leaves droop and do not come back after the trauma of being placed in the pots;  they can simply be snipped off without harming the plant.

Like the olives, I want to be able to propagate figs, so I am looking at methods of propagating them: seeds, cuttings and tissue culture.  I saw one enterprising person selling fig seeds on eBay for about a buck a seed.  Not in this lifetime!

Using one of the figs we purchased at Trader Joe's, I removed the pulp and soaked it for two days, the same as you do with tomatoes.  When the viable seeds sank to the bottom, they were collected and placed in a coffee filter moistened with dilute nutrient solution. 

I should know if they are going to germinate in about two weeks.  The problem is, that there is no way to tell if the plant is male, or female, until it has grown.  The male plants do not produce edible fruit, but still it is going to be a learning process.

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