Sunday, March 14, 2010

This year's warm season plants.

Just about all of the warm season vegetables have been started and this year I will taking no chances with tomatoes. I am planting large, small, early, mid, late, determinate and indeterminate. They include: Black Cherry, Better Boy, Bush Beefsteak, Sweet Cluster, Moneymaker, Early & Often, Way Ahead, and Rutgers. In addition, I have started two miniature varieties for my granddaughter to grow: Small Fry and Sprite.

The greenhouse cucumbers will be Telegraph Improved, and the garden cucumbers will be Bush Champion.

Again this year I will be growing Giant Marconi and Corno Di Toro peppers in the drip ring systems in the greenhouse. The seeds have been started, and the seedlings are in net pots in an ebb and flow system until they can be placed in the drip ring systems. At that time I will simply plunge the net pots into the hydroton without disturbing the plants.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dibble holes

Long ago I determined that the dibble holes, in both rockwool cubes, and Oasis horticubes, were much too deep for small seeds. If you simply drop a lettuce, basil, or similar tiny seed into the hole, chances are that your seed will never make it to the surface.

Deciding not to use the existing holes, I began using a chop stick, or the end of a small artist's brush, to create a small depression in the cubes that I thought would be more appropriate for the size of the seed.

As I always plant more then one seed per cube, I find that I frequently have two or more vigorous seedlings develop. In that case, I simply split the cube leaving a small section of the cube attached to each seedling's root system.

The above photo shows an Oasis cube with three seedlings that was sectioned into three separate plants. By doing this I am able to obtain more seedlings, and reduce the amount of cubes used.

I guess I just can not get cost containment out of my system.....

An early start

The cucumber variety I am going to grow this season is Telegraph Improved. The seeds were purchased last fall and they have been in the freezer since then.

Placed between layers of moist paper towel on a heat mat the seeds began to germinate in less than 24 hours. The above photo was taken about one week after the seeds were started, and it should be evident that they are progressing nicely.

When searching for seeds for greenhouse cucumbers I found this type of seed to be pricey. Fortunately, at, I located this heirloom variety at an affordable price. The description from the vendor follows:

"60 days. Smooth, straight, dark-green fruit, to 18" long. Flesh is very crisp, tender and mild, superb flavor. Very few seeds, vigorous high yielding vines, great for greenhouse production; also good cultured outdoors. This is an excellent English heirloom variety, intro. around 1897.

As a lot of people will be starting seeds about now, I thought I would pass on another money saving tip. The plant identification markers in the photo were cut from a gallon bleach bottle, rescued from our recycle bin. Labeled with a laundry marker, they will last the entire season.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring cleaning time

Even though a lot of snow is remains on the ground I have been able to gain access to the greenhouse to begin preparing it for spring. Several days ago I placed the remote temperature sensor back in the greenhouse, and I have been monitoring the temperature daily. Today, with only a slight amount of sunshine, the temperature in the greenhouse was about seventy degrees, so I began preparing it for the coming growing season.

The tomatoes and cucumbers I will be growing this season are greenhouse varieties, and I will be using vine clips with poly cord to support the plants vs. cages or a trellis. The seeds have been started under the 90 watt LED and so far they are doing great. Weather permitting I will place the seedlings in the greenhouse for a few hours daily, gradually exposing them to natural light, and heat. Additionally, I have suspended a fluorescent fixture to apply supplemental lighting as needed.

Since I was a child I have been fascinated by greenhouses, even though gardening does not run in my family, so perhaps it is a genetic trait. In any event, I knew little or nothing about growing plants under glass when I built my greenhouse. Over the past winter I have purchased several books devoted to greenhouse horticulture, and this season I intend to apply what I have learned. Sadly though, for the most part, the books on growing under glass are mostly devoted to soil gardening, so I will still be exploring to some extent.

Monday, March 1, 2010


ROI stands for return on investment, and it was
acronym frequently heard at the financial institution where I was employed for many years.

Due to the recent cold weather the price of lettuce is approaching three dollars a head locally, so the fifteen plants I placed in the ebb and flow system today should have a value in excess of thirty dollars four weeks from today.

Our total investment in this crop will be about two dollars, and by anyone's standards the ROI on this crop should be acceptable.