Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 30, 2011 journal

The new six band flower series light has been installed in the second tent, however, both tents are sitting idle awaiting the tomato and pepper seedlings. I estimate it will be at least three or four weeks before the seedlings are large enough to be transplanted into autopots.

Slowly but surely I have been replacing all of the fluorescent lights with LEDs, and the addition of the new six band light allowed me to replace the 125 watt fluorescent light in the grow chamber with the 90 watt red/blue that I had been using in one of the tents.

The only remaining fluorescent light is the six tube Pioneer T5 light in the grow chamber. When it becomes necessary to replace the tubes in that light, I will purchase a large LED rather than replace the tubes. At that point, I will finally be gardening using strictly LED lighting

The above photo shows Fordhook Giant chard that has been growing under the LED for about a week. Even at this stage I can tell that there is an improvement over using the 125 CFL light.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011 journal

Apparently, adding the heaters to the tents was one of my better ideas, as the few degrees of additional heat has kick started the tomatoes into ripening. Also, I thought it as being appropriate that they are ripening on the first day of winter.

As the Balcony Hybrid is a determinate variety, its life cycle will be over soon, so replacement seedlings are being grown to replace the plant. I will be growing two Mountain Princess plants in the tent this time, and, I am only going to allow one or two trusses to set fruit on each plant. Additionally, when fruit has set, I will increase the nutrient strength to slightly above normal in an effort to increase fruit size.

In the adjoining tent I plan on growing Giant Marconi peppers, and I am looking forward to trying them under the six band flower series LED by Pro LED Systems.

The bottom photo shows a system planted with red salad bowl and Australian yellow leaf lettuce that is coming along nicely. The beet greens have been replaced by Fordhook chard, as we are just not eating as much salad during the winter and I did not want the system to sit idle.

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011 journal

Our Calendula is blooming! Just having a few flowers around during the winter sure helps to dispel the winter blues.

The Mountain Princess tomatoes and Giant Marconi pepper seeds have not only sprouted, but are developing their first true leaves. Tomorrow, I will plant the seedlings in four inch pots, in coir and perlite, so they can develop for two or three weeks.

My plan is to use Peters Professional nutrients, with a TDS of about 1700, for both the peppers and tomatoes. That level is slightly high for peppers, and slightly low for tomatoes, however, I do not think it will cause a problem. I just prefer not to have to service two reservoirs, if possible.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 journal

Four replacement Little Leaf cucumber seedlings have been replanted into autopots. Two will be grown using a red/blue 90 watt LED light, and two will be grown using a red/blue/white 90 watt LED. I do not expect to see any appreciable difference in the performance of these lights. And, I do not expect to see any cucumbers until around Valentine's day. (keeping my fingers crossed)

I have been noticing that the Balcony Hybrid tomatoes in the tent are not making much progress. There are a lot of green tomatoes, and they seem to be getting larger, slowly, however, there is no sign of any of them ripening anytime soon.

Winter is upon us in upstate New York; the temperature in the tent is averaging in the mid sixties during the day, and dropping to the mid fifties during the night. According to the Ohio State interactive model, maturing tomatoes should have a daytime temperature between 72 and 75 degrees. I am convinced that the reason that growth has slowed to a trickle is the lack of warmth. After all, tomatoes, like cucumbers and peppers, are warm season crops. I had thought that the lights would provide sufficient heat during the day, but, being LEDs, they generate little heat.

In search of an inexpensive means of adding heat to the tents; I wandered around Wally World looking for SMALL fan forced electric heaters. The units I selected cost under fifteen dollars, and seem to be exactly what I need. They have a thermostat, and power selections of 600, 900 and 1500 watts. Additionally, they have a fan only setting, which will allow me to remove the small circulation fans I currently have in the tents.

Not being too concerned about the nighttime temperature, I connected the heaters to the timer circuit controlling the lights. Using the lowest, 600 watt, setting, I adjusted the thermostat to 75 degrees. A remote thermometer has been placed in the tent with the tomatoes, and the temperature is now averaging between 70 and 77 degrees, which is about ideal. The relative humidity is also well within the acceptable range, so, hopefully, I will see an increase in growth rate soon.

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 9, 2011 journal

The Tetra dill has grown very well indoors in the ebb and flow system. There are a few large flower clusters forming, and I am going to let them go so I can collect and save the seeds. The only problem I have with growing dill; is that the constant smell indoors can make you hungry.

In the last few days I have started seeds for the Mountain Princess tomatoes, Giant Marconi peppers and Fordhook Giant chard. Also, I have transplanted Red Salad Bowl lettuce into an ebb and flow system.

The tomatoes on the Balcony Hybrid are starting to get larger, which was my objective when I removed many of the blossoming branches.

My plan for the Mountain Princess tomatoes is to grow two plants in the tent, however, I plan on only allowing one or two trusses to set on each plant. My thinking is by doing so I will force the plants to produce much larger fruit than they would if I let more trusses set.

Replacement cucumber seedlings are now growing under a red/blue/white LED. This batch will be raised using the standard nutrients that I use in the greenhouse.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011 journal

We harvested an ebb and flow system containing twelve plants of Green Ice lettuce today. I did not weigh the yield, however, it was enough to fill a 1.25 gallon bag.

I have no idea of how much a comparable amount of greens would cost at the market, as we no longer bother to check. What is important is the satisfaction I get from indoor growing, and, spending quality time with Ava, teaching her to garden.

This afternoon she opened the bottom of the tent with the tomato plant, stuck her head inside, and called out: "everything is OK Pop, the temperature is perfect, and the CO2 is working." Not too bad for a four year old child.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4, 2011 journal

The Pinwheel Zinnia we planted to defy Mother Nature is blooming. Ava and I have been keeping it a secret so she can surprise her grandmother, who will naturally make a huge fuss when Ava gives her the flower.

The beet greens are ready and can be picked at anytime, however, I will not pick them until a few hours prior to cooking. Doing so will ensure that they have their best flavor and nutritional value when prepared.

This variety of beet, Early Wonder, is the best cultivar I have found yet for growing hydroponically indoors. All of the plants are of uniform size and are blemish free.