Thursday, March 26, 2015

Journal March 26, 2015 - Today's project, Aeroponics

I wanted to get back into aeroponics on a small scale, but I found that one of my units had developed a crack during winter storage.   No big deal, for two dollars and change I could simply rebuild it using a five gallon bucket I had on hand.  While doing, so I decided to do this post to illustrate the process.

First step was to modify the bucket to accommodate the wire for the pump.  A hole, large enough to snugly fit the cord, was drilled just below the top of the bucket.  Next, I used a Dremel with a grinding stone to remove some of the rim of the bucket to allow the lid to fit over the cord.  Using a sharp cutting tool I then made a slit from the top of the bucket to meet the hole.  A slight bend at this point will allow the cord to be pass through the bucket.

OK, this step is optional: the addition of a fill/drain tube.  As I had the fittings on hand, I drilled a 3/4" hole and inserted the rubber grommet, fitting and tube.  The fill/drain tube need not be this elaborate, a simple top hat grommet with a length of 1/4 tubing will do nicely.

I plan on using 2" net pots to grow lettuce and herbs, so I had several covers already prepared. It is important that the holes in the covers have a snug fit, as fluid is really bouncing around inside the container and can easily leak.

Of the several options of spray heads I had available, I selected the rotating head.  I gave up on the misting head with the tiny micron size opening, as it continuously clogged.  The object with aeroponics is to have the nutrients and air in motion, providing an oxygen rich humid environment for the root system.

Most likely I will run the system fifteen minutes on, fifteen minutes off 24/7.  I plan on using a 90 watt red/blue LED grow light with a photoperiod of 16 hours.  These can also be used in the greenhouse, where they work very well also.  

The first planting will be six plants of red salad bowl lettuce, however, the seedlings are nowhere near ready to be placed into the system.  That is just as well, as I want to run it 24/7 for a few days to ensure there are no leaks, or clogs, before I actually add nutrients.  And, as far as nutrients go, these systems require only about two gallons of nutrients.  I plan on using inexpensive Expert Gardener nutrients from Wal-Mart. 

The system has been running in test mode for several hours now without any leaks, so I am ready to call is a success.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Journal March 25, 2015

The temperature today was about 40 F,  with moderate winds making it feel much colder outdoors.   A thin layer of high clouds somewhat obscured the sun, but enough sun cut through the clouds to allow the temperature in the greenhouse to finally exceed 70 degrees F.  

Not wanting to waste the opportunity to take advantage of the natural light and heat, I trudged through the snow and placed a few recent olive clones in the greenhouse for the afternoon.

It is a great feeling to use the greenhouse for the first time in the spring,  even if it is only for a few hours.  Now, I will remove the detritus of winter storage and begin to get it spruced up for the coming season. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Journal March 24, 2015 - Planting from the produce section of the market

Ava and I are big fans of home made ginger ale, so we purchase ginger at the market when it is on sale.   As ginger grows well in pots I decided to grow some, as there is always room in the greenhouse for another pot or so.

While poking through the produce section of an upscale health food store yesterday, I came across yellow Kahili ginger at a few cents under ten dollars a pound!  Frugal as I am I purchased two small roots, with obvious buds showing, for a grand total of seventy cents.  At another market, I purchased a similar larger root of plain old ginger, for about the same cost.

The roots were soaked in water overnight and I planted them today in the same well draining soil mix that I use for olives, as ginger needs the same type of soil.

Yellow ginger is a LARGE plant, four to eight feet, so I will not be growing it to completion.  My purpose is to harvest and use the rhizome, using some and replanting some.  

Yellow ginger  has a very attractive flower, so people are selling rhizomes on eBay for $8.95 for a root,  exactly the same as I bought for less than a dollar.   It is considered an invasive species in Hawaii, so the state frequently destroys plants in state parks.  Go figure, ten dollars a pound in New York, garbage in Hawaii.

It is still very much winter here in New York, the ground is frozen solid with pockets of snow remaining. The weather service says the long range model shows that it will remain colder than normal, as it has for most of the winter, through April.   How depressing is that?

The bird in the photo is a turkey vulture, who dropped in this morning to clean up the remains of an unfortunate squirrel struck by a car.  These birds are a fairly recent addition to our area, I would say in the last fifteen years or so, however, I am not sure their arrival has anything to do with climate change.

Judging from the photo, it appears one of his buddies pooped all over him, but being a vulture he is probably loving it.  It is most likely a form of endearment with vultures: poop on me and I'll love you forever...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Journal March 13, 2015 - Micropropagation, again

Today I prepared a new test protocol for olive propagation, however, this time I added a growth hormone known as BAP.    Eight single node sections have been placed in vitro; four each of Tosca and Ascolano.

Most of the trees have nodes forming new growth, so I thought it would be an ideal time to propagate them, as their own growth hormones are apparently very active at this point.

The greenhouse is still buried in snow, so it looks like it is going to be quite sometime before I can even think about placing any plants in there to take advantage of natural light.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Journal March 5, 2015 - Canino seedling

One of the Canino olive seedlings has an interesting characteristic, in that the leaves are slightly variegated.   Only one of the plants has this characteristic, so one can assume that the parent plant picked up some stray pollen from another variety.  

That is one of the reasons that I do not hesitate to grow olives from seeds;  most of the posts online concerning germinating olive seeds state that the seedling will not be true to the parent,  in some cases that can be beneficial, so you would never find an interesting variation unless you planted the seed in the first place.

The seedling in question would make an ideal candidate for bonsai.

 The Florida petite tomato project is now completed, and as I stated in previous posts I have saved some seeds.  The seeds will be fermented for several day before being cleaned, dried, and placed in cold storage.  It is hard to say why this variety is no longer available, perhaps the size of the tomatoes does not make it worthwhile to plant them.  That being the case, it is still a novelty variety good for container growing.

The soil mix that was being tested worked perfectly, so I plan on using it in the greenhouse this season.  Presently, I am germinating Mortgage Lifter tomato seeds for growing in the greenhouse this year, and plan to start additional seeds for the garden in a few weeks.