Friday, September 28, 2012

Journal September 28, 2012

We have had a small lemon tree for several years now, and currently the tree has both lemons and buds.  I have never seen it have both at the same time; it could be due to the warm weather, or the frequent drenching of used nutrients I give it.  Whatever the reason, I am not going to complain.

The tomatoes in the tent are coming along nicely, and so far the Burpee Super Beefsteak is ahead of the Trust.  The Burpee plant has a large truss with some very large buds forming, with another smaller truss forming about an inch above the first truss.   The Trust variety is forming one very small truss, and is a slightly smaller plant overall.  So much for hybrid vigor.  Who knows though, it may very well catch up. My plan is to limit the plants to either one or two trusses.  In any case, it should be interesting to watch the progress.

Four cucumber seedlings are in 3" pots under a red/blue/white LED.  They will remain in the small pots until four to six leaves have developed.  At that point, I will transplant them to large self watering containers.  They will be grown in one of the  tents with a six band flower series LED grow light.

Today I picked the Outredgrous lettuce and planted a replacement batch, along with a batch of Early Wonder beets for beet greens.  All of the plants, in all of the ebb and flow systems, look fantastic!  The modification of placing the grating and window screen in the bottoms of the trays has made a tremendous difference, to both the plants and maintenance.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Journal September 25, 2012

The above represents my first attempt at time lapse photography by stitching digital still images into a video.

It appears somewhat crude, but I learned a lot from this test.  First, I need to change the cycle to capture an image every 10 minutes to make the motion flow more smoothly.  And, the lighting needs to be improved, dramatically.  

One surprise I found when viewing the video, is that tomatoes apparently have a circadian rhythm governed by the photoperiod.

The video shows three days growth of a Trust tomato in a grow tent using a LED grow light.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Journal September 20, 2012

Tank one was planted with a dozen seedlings of Fudanso Umaina today, with the EC  about 1.1, and the pH close to 7.  Umaina is a compact Japanese chard, and like regular chard likes a slightly higher pH.

The chances of anyone else in the state growing Umaina are most likely very slim, and the chances of anyone growing it hydroponically are even slimmer.  The chances of anyone growing it hydroponically, under LED lighting, are probably too high to even calculate.

One of my future projects is to attempt to make some time lapse videos of plant growth and movement, which I also intend to post on the blog.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Journal September 17, 2012

A dozen Tom Thumb lettuce plants were placed in system 3 today, that would be the tank on the left above, along with three plants of a variety of basil called Plenty.

The tank on the right contains Outredgeous romaine lettuce, which has already yielded at least three meals, while the tank in the center contains two varieties of dwarf romaine.  A replacement batch of seeds for the Outredgeous has been started to replace the existing plants.

At this point there are still two ebb and flow systems sitting idle waiting to be planted . They will be planted with beet greens and a Japanese chard called fudanso umaina.  The seedlings for these plants are presently too small to transplant.

As for the greenhouse; I estimate that I am still at least two weeks away from picking enough cucumbers for a batch of dill pickles. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Journal September 16, 2012

When I opened the greenhouse this morning I found that one of the Carnation plants had bloomed.  Not only is the flower beautiful, it has a delightful fragrance as well.  That was one of the reasons that I planted Carnations; for the fragrance.

The flower shown above is a Chabaud, and I currently have four other Carnation cultivars started.  My plan is to cross pollinate the different varieties, collect the seeds, and see what grows when the crosses are planted.

Having always thought that Carnations would be difficult to grow, I had not tried them, until now. As it has turned out, they are among the easiest plants I have yet grown in pots.

So far, two of the varieties are bushy, and two are upright, slender and require staking.  I have just started seed for a dwarf variety and will throw them into the cross pollinating mix as well.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Journal September 14, 2012

The 450 watt LED grow light was installed in one of the tents today.  I will be testing the light to grow tomatoes indoors, and while doing so I will be comparing the a greenhouse hybrid against a standard open pollinated variety.

The recommended height from the canopy for this light is thirty inches, however, with my hanger arrangement I was only able to get the light 26 inches above the top of the plants.  At this height, I measured a full 5,000 footcandles, which the the maximum reading for my meter.  At some point, as the plants grow, it will be necessary to remove the adjustable hangers and attach the light directly to the overhead supports.

Rather than use Autopots for this trial, I am using two self watering planters that I purchased from Agway for about seven dollars each.  A two pot Autopot system would cost about seventy dollars, or more, as a comparison. I expect that these planters will  perform equally as well, or better, than the more expensive Autopot system.

Additionally, I feel that these containers have the advantage of letting me adjust the nutrients, and add supplements, much more readily than the Autopots. 

The nutrient EC is slightly under 3, with the pH at 6.1, and the photoperiod will be sixteen hours.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Journal September 8, 2012

As the outdoor gardening season comes to an end I am gearing up for indoor growing, and, to be truthful, I am actually looking forward to indoor growing for a change of pace.

My wife has asked me to grow lettuce that is more robust than the leaf lettuce varieties, so I  have switched to romaine lettuce. at least for the time being.  The tray above contains baby romaine and little Caesar, which are, as of today, 28 days from seed.

The nutrient solution has an EC of 1.10 with the pH at 6.1.  For five gallons of water I used 1 teaspoon of Expert Gardener plant food, 1 teaspoon of calcium nitrate, 2 oz. of epsom salts, from a concentrate of 4 tablespoons per gallon of water and 1 teaspoon of baking powder to adjust the pH.  It should be evident from the photo that the plants are thriving on the above mixture.

As for the greenhouse: The first female flower is forming on the cucumber plants.  The tomatoes have been giving me problems with blossom end rot, which I think is being caused by the autopots overwatering them.  I have reverted to manual control of the valves, and I have been adding additional calcium to the nutrient mix.  The strawflowers are a big disappointment, as the plants are huge and healthy, but have not produced a single flower.  On the other hand, the carnations are doing fantastically and have several flower buds developing. The tomato seedlings intended for indoor growing have been transplanted to larger pots, and Ava's purple pitcher plant is thriving, although it has yet to catch a bug.