Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27, 2012 journal

The tomato cuttings that I cloned on June 14, 2012 have rooted and have been planted in 3" starter pots.  The replacement Little Leaf cucumbers have also been potted, and all of the seedlings are being grown in one of the tents under a six band flower series LED.

Just to add a challenge, and continue to peak Ava's interest in plants, I purchased and started carnation seeds.  One seedling is in the lower right corner and the other seedling is in the center of the top row in the photo.

I was telling Ava that we could make the carnation flowers pretty much any color we want, by placing them in water, with food dye.  Now, she is wants to make a "rainbow" flower, but, we will see how that goes.  My wife suggested coloring the petals with an artist brush letting the dye soak in.  Hmmm, that may be a good idea.  In any event, carnations need cool growing conditions, and they take about six months to flower, so I will grow them in a tent, in the basement, where it remains fairly cool all summer.

The carnation cultivars I am growing are: Yellow Carnations, Chabaud, and a dark purple variety called Grenadin King of Black.  Also, I have decided it might be best to grow them two plants to a pot.

I can just imagine my basement smelling like a funeral home just in time for the Christmas Holidays.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26, 2012 journal

This year I built a small raised bed to grow some dill to use when making our garlic dill pickles.  As I had several opened packages of various varieties of dill, I just sprinkled them at random and lightly raked them into the soil.  The dill is beginning to mature and flower, so I am going to begin clipping the branches and let the flowers go to seed so I can harvest the seed.  The seeds are what really gives the pickles the intense dill flavor, but I also use the branches in the pickles and we love dill in salad dressings.

 The Little Leaf cucumbers in the greenhouse are producing cucumbers at a fast and furious pace in this warm weather and long long days.  I am picking a nice batch every few days and presently have three batches of pickles fermenting.  Ava is delighted.

As a precaution against mildew I have been spraying the cucumbers with my homemade garlic and water fungicide and it seems to be working.  After I crush and boil the water, I strain the garlic liquid into a sprayer to apply it to the plants.

Rather than throwing the boiled garlic away, I thought I would toss it into the annual garden to see if it would repel insects.  For whatever reason I have had absolutely no earwig damage to my dahlias since I began doing this.  I had been spraying them with an insecticide, but I discontinued doing so to see if the garlic was having any effect, and it may very be repelling the earwigs.   Time will tell....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21, 2012 journal

In prior years we have purchased several dahlias for the flower gardens from a garden center for about six dollars a plant.  This year, however, I decided to plant dahlia seeds and grow my own plants. The seeds were planted in March and the plants are beginning to flower and I am pleased with the results.

The plant in the above photo is Unwin's Dwarf Dahlia and I also planted a dwarf rainbow mix, which have not flowered at this time.  The two packs of seeds cost about four dollars and there are literally hundreds of seeds remaining.  The point is: growing your own annuals is certainly cost effective, and it is a very satisfying endeavor.  

Why post this on a hydroponic blog?  Simple, to illustrate that plants can be grown hydroponically, then be replanted in soil with excellent results.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19, 2012

Earlier this spring we bought a package of Mixed Cut Flower seeds and we thought it would be fun, and interesting, to grow them and then identify the plant when it blossomed; this one, though, had us stumped. 

Today, I placed the above photo on a gardening forum asking for help in identifying the plant, and within a few minutes I received a response: Plains Corepsis.

As I had never seen or heard of this plant I did an online search, and this is what I found regarding this plant: 

"One of North America's best-loved annuals, Plains Coreopsis is also one of the easiest to grow. Plant spring or fall, and you'll soon see thin thread-like plants with shiny green stems and very small leaves. Once the seedlings are about 12" tall or so, perfectly round, brown-colored buds will appear, and soon you'll have the beautiful sprays of small butter yellow flowers with dark red centers. This species is great for cutting, each stem adding a whole flush of small flowers to any arrangement, but don't cut them all. Plains coreopsis is perhaps the very best native annual for reseeding. Which means even though the plants may die with frost, others will probably sprout in their places next spring. A great species, the official state wildflower of Florida.  A slender, 1-2 ft. annual with pinnately-compound foliage, tickseed is known for its small but abundant yellow flowers, painted maroon near the center. Numerous smooth, slightly angled branches bearing showy, daisy-like flower heads with yellow rays surrounding a reddish-purple central disk. The yellow petals are notch-tipped. Flower heads occur on long stalks from the multi-branching stems.
This prevailingly western annual has escaped from cultivation in the East. It is widespread in the West and the South in disturbed areas, such as moist ditches. Because of its showiness, the flower is cultivated extensively, hence its common name."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16, 2012 journal

Several weeks ago Ava I were looking through the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange catalog for some unusual flowers to grow this summer, when we came across strawflowers, also called everlasting flowers.   The idea of drying flowers, and having them last a long time seemed kind of appealing, so I added strawflower seeds to our order.

The seeds were planted on May 16, 2012 and today I transplanted the seedlings into self watering containers to try to grow them in the greenhouse.  

I have never grown strawflowers, and I have no idea of if they can be grown in a container, but it should be interesting to try.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012 journal

Yesterday I began cloning six replacement tomato plants, and, I started seeds for replacment cucumber plants.

The only time I use rockwool cubes anymore is for cloaning, not that the horticubes will not work, but because the rockwool holds the moisture longer.  Usually the cuttings will root within seven days.

The tomato plants are going to have to be topped off soon.  I will top them off two leaves above the last truss, when they have reached slightly above the dowels supporting them.  Besides, my assistant can no longer reach the trusses to pollinate them.

Today I began using Miracle Grow for tomatoes, calcium nitrate and epsom salts to feed the tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant.  I will watch the plants to see how they react, but I will be very surprised to see any difference when compared to the Peter's Professional nutrients.    I have been using nothing but a general purpose soluble nutrients and epsom salts for the lettuce and beets for months and they are doing just fine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6, 2012 journal

The weather is still not cooperating; it was cool and damp again today with periods of rain. To make up for the last several days of reduced light levels, I moved our flower seedlings indoors and put them in a grow tent.  Additionally, I mixed a batch of nutrients with heavy emphasis on P and K.  

Most of the tomato plants are developing their fourth truss, with small fruit forming on the lower trusses.  At some point soon I will have to clone new plants and top these plants off.

The netting for the cucumbers worked out better than I expected, as it is much better than trying to get them to climb a single strand of twine.  As the plants develop lateral shoots, and begin to wander around, it is an easy matter to redirect the shoots back into the netting to keep them under control.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5, 2012 journal

The annuals that I started in March have been planted in and around our property, and several varieties have flowered already.  The small annual garden shown above has four varieties of zinnia, two of cosmos, two of dahlia, three of marigold, two of calendula, two of daisy and a few gazannias. 

All of the plants were started from seed, and initially grown hydroponically, before being transplanted to soil.  The cost of the seeds was minimal, as was the effort involved, however, this project was well worth the effort, as there is a substantial savings when compared to purchasing plants.

We  have had several days of cool, damp, rainy weather, and the humidity level in the greenhouse has been so high that there was condensation hanging on the inside of the roof.  On the third day,  I noticed a few small patches of powdery mildew beginning to form on a few of the cucumber leaves. Cucumbers are especially prone to mildew under damp conditions, so I was not surprised at this development.

As I prefer to use a natural solution whenever possible; I crushed five large garlic cloves and placed them in a gallon of water.  After letting the concoction sit for an hour or so, I sprayed the tops and bottoms of the cucumber leaves with the mixture.  As an added precaution, I also removed any leaves with the slightest sign of mildew. 

Thankfully, there have been no further signs of mildew, but I plan on continuing to spray until the weather improves and the humidity drops to a more normal level.  


Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2, 2012 journal - seed starting

One of the most frequent inquires I receive is how to start seeds.   The process I use to start seeds is the same, whether I intend to grow the seedling hydroponically, or in soil.

My procedure is to place the seeds in a coffee filter that has been moistened with dilute nutrient solution.  I fold the filter and place the folded filters in a plastic zip-lock bag; later placing the bag under my grow light.

When the radicle, or tap root, develops, and is about 1/4" to 1/2" in length,  I tuck the seedling into Oasis horticubes that have been soaked in dilute nutrient solution.  The planted cubes are grown under intense lighting until several true leaves have formed and roots are coming out of the cubes.

When the seedlings are well on their way, I transfer the cubes into the growing medium that I intend to use.

Recently, I was searching online for carnation seeds for Ava to grow in the greenhouse, as she is intently interested in coloring carnations for some unknown reason.  I found what I was looking for, and thought I would share this vendor.  Their shipping charge is only $2.50 for small orders, additionally,  their packaging and service was excellent.  The order was shipped promptly, with a tracking number, and the seeds are packed in plastic zippered bags,  which are enclosed in resealable foil packages with growing instruction on the them.   The seeds I received are shown in the top photo.

The vendor is: