Friday, May 31, 2013

Journal May 31, 2013

Although they are pretty much the same varieties, and were started on the same day, the greenhouse tomatoes are at least three times as large as the tomatoes in the garden.  In my opinion this is a perfect example of the advantages of protected growing.

Looking closely at the photo you will see the time lapse camera strapped to one of the vertical supports.  The camera is being used to try and capture the cucumber plants on the opposite side of the greenhouse as they climb the trellis.  

With a lot of shaded space still unoccupied, I am going to attempt to grow something else tropical; and slightly more challenging than olives.   The olives are doing amazingly well growing hydroponically, so I thought I would try to dwarf, and grow hydroponically, another type of  tree.  

The tropical tree I am going to attempt to grow from seed is michelia champaca, which is one of the most coveted of tropical trees.  It is a woody ornamental tree grown in India and Indonesia; the flowers of which are used to make one of most expensive perfumes in the world.

The posted instructions for starting the seeds are kind of daunting, to say the least, but I have decided to use my normal method using coffee filters, with a few modifications.  The difference being I nicked one seed and slightly sanded the coat of another before placing them in a bowl of hot water to soak for 24 hours.  Following the soaking, I plan on using moist coffee filters, moistened with my seed starting mixture, and lightly spraying the seeds with a fungicide as an extra precaution.  Below is a photo that I found online of a bloom from the michelia champaca.
Along with the seeds for the michelia champaca I received seeds for reseda odorata, another flowering tropical plant, which I will start as well.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Journal May 26, 2013

The Chemlali olive tree dropped the little olives that it had when I received it, so I decided to begin shaping it into more of a bush.  I don't know how a tree so small could have possibly produced olives, and I suspect that it was lack of pollination that caused the olives to drop.

When the tree was cut back to the first laterals, there was a large enough section trimmed to attempt to clone two more trees.  The cuttings were sprayed with anti-wilt, dipped in Clonex, potted and watered with  nutrients specifically mixed to promote rooting.

The cuttings struck previously are looking pretty good and it has been more than a month since they were started; they have not dropped any leaves, which is a good sign that they are at least alive.

Left over from when I first began indoor growing were three large Hydrofarm reflectors that held mogul based CFL grow lights.  I stopped using them after LEDs came on the market because of the price of the bulbs, about seventy dollars each.   A few unsuccessful attempts were made to sell the reflectors on Craig's list, however, I am now glad that I did not sell them.

Surfing eBay, I found an insert that screws into the mogul base that allows the reflector to accept a standard CFL bulb.   The inserts were purchased for four dollars each, delivered, and I purchased two 100 watt equivalent CFL daylight bulbs at Wal-Mart to use in the reflectors.  

The lights are now ideal for starting seeds and rooting cuttings, and are very cost effective to run and maintain.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Journal May 24, 2013

Federal Express delivered the new LED grow light that I recently won on eBay today, so I placed it into service immediately; it is being used for Ava's cantaloupe plant in one of the grow tents. The light, as most of the larger LED growlights do, has switches to select vegetative, flowering or both growing cycles.  As the cantaloupe is in the vegetative stage, the above photo shows the light using only the vegetative stage.  I was kind of surprised when I saw the digital photo above, as when you look at the light it appears to be blue; however there are a few other colors and IR that are making the photo appear sort of purple.

The weather has turned nasty, cool and damp with lots of rain for the last three days, with more on the way.  Lacking much else to do, I thought I would use time lapse photography to try to record the tendrils of the cucumber plants attaching themselves to the trellis, and if I am successful I will post the video.
While surfing a garden site I came across a source for unusual seeds that I decided to visit.  There is still room in the greenhouse for a few plants that will tolerate partial shade, so I was looking for something really unusual, and I lucked out.   I placed an order for seeds for this plant:

"Flame Ginger is native to Borneo's evergreen rainforests.  It's utterly spectacular and equally rare, with golden blossoms bursting out of red upright stems.  Individual flowers opening successively over two weeks, heaviest in summer and again in winter, with intermitant blooms throughout the year.   The foliage is slightly succulent, very attractive.

This is a collector's plant.  It demands the constantly warm temperatures and humidity of a greenhouse and very good drainage.  If you grow tropicals, you know how to replicate a rainforest.  It is hardy in zones 9-11 and needs tropical conditions - great for a greenhouse. This rare plant is spectacular!"

These types of plants, along with the olives,  make owing a greenhouse much more interesting.

If anyone is interested in unusual seeds the site that I found is: Smart Seeds.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Journal May 19, 2013

In my last post I noted that the growth was uneven due to the light intensity being uneven.  That is because I was using one 126 watt flower series LED to cover two ebb and flow systems.  Deciding to even out the lighting, and have a light for each system in the grow chamber, I went hunting for a bargain on eBay, possibly another 90 watt unit.

There was an auction of an interesting looking candidate about to end; at that point twenty six bids had been entered, and the price was still very reasonable, well below the buy it now price.  Selecting a price, but not thinking that I would win, I counted down the seconds and entered my price with four seconds remaining.  The other bidders must have been sleeping, because I won the light, and it is least expensive light I have ever purchased on eBay. The unit is a 150 watt 9 spectrum light, including IR, newly designed for 2013.

As several systems are not being used right now, I decided to move a 126 watt flower series light from a tent to the grow chamber and even out the lights.  The new light will be placed in the tent that the light was taken from.

The greenhouse planting is complete; cucumbers on the left, olives in the center and tomatoes on the right.  As I could not decide whether I wanted to plant Telegraph or Little Leaf cucumbers, I planted both varieties.  Lord knows what will happen if they cross pollinate, but I doubt that they will, as I have no insects flying around the greenhouse, and neither variety requires pollination anyway.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Journal May16, 2013

The tomatoes and cucumbers started for soil garden have been planted, and I hope that we don't have another cold spell.

Already this week we had frost warnings on Monday and a hard freeze warning on Tuesday.  I covered Ava's melon plants as best I could, but they look kind of stressed.  Just in case, I started six more seeds, in the event that they don't recover.

A few weeks ago I decided to make the plants in the grow chamber struggle a little bit.  I was thinking that they were really growing too fast, and the calcium uptake was suffering.  The photoperiod was reduced to 12 hours and I cut the nutrient strength in half.  The result was that the lettuce and beets are doing better than ever. 

Today I also noticed that the beet plants directly under the center of the light, where it is more intense, are producing large bulbs, while the shaded plants are not.  It works out OK, as my wife prefers the beets, while I prefer the tops.  That said though, it might be best to rotate the plants half way through the growing cycle to even out the lighting.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Journal May 14, 2013

Two more olive varieties were transplanted into larger pots today, and that just about completes transplanting the plants I received in the fall.  As long as I was transplanting, I also photographed the plants and put together a composite of the plant as of today and the day I received them.  I find that the composites really help me determine the rate and pattern of growth. Looking at the plants day to day; it is impossible to really appreciate the fact that they are indeed making progress.

The Koroneiki, shown above, was received on November 5, 2012, and I was concerned that it was way behind the other plants and was not doing well.  I guess it was just resting and waiting for spring, as it is starting to really take off now.

The Barouni olive, received on November 13, 2012, seems to have a more open growth pattern than the other varieties.  It is not that the plant is leggy, but it appears that it is not going to be a very compact plant.  The plant was getting kind of lopsided, so when I transplanted it I used an old bonsai trick and angled the trunk in the opposite direction, which makes the plant more upright, and gives the trunk a more interesting appearance.

What I find most amazing, is the improvement in the health of the plants, as can be seen by comparing the color of the foliage in the side by side composites.  Both of these plants were received from professional growers in Florida, and they are much healthier now, growing hydroponically, then they were when I received them.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Journal May 11, 2013

Two weeks ago I decided to move the trays containing the olive seeds into the greenhouse to see if the conditions there would speed up the germination process.  Some of the seeds were started in November of last year and still have not produced a sprout. 

 I was beginning to think that the chances of starting olives from seed were slim and none; that is until I uncovered the seed shown above today.  Two of the four Trilye seeds started on February 22, 2013 have split their coats and appear to be about to sprout.

When I placed the seed trays in the greenhouse, I purposely placed them in front of the tomato plants, where they would receive dappled sunlight throughout the day.  My plan was for the media to absorb heat from the sunlight and perhaps improve the chances of germination.

Trylie is the variety of olive that I tried twice to purchase from Turkey receiving dead plants on both occasions, so I am really pleased to think that I may soon add this variety to my collection.  Not wanting to disturb the seedling, if it develops, I moved the seed to an individual pot and I will place the pot in the same location in the greenhouse where the other seed trays are.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Journal May 1, 2013

The above composite shows the mission olive tree I named Junipero on February 14, 2013 and today May 1, 2013.  The plant has been transplanted from a 4" pot to 8" pot, as it is really starting to grow in the greenhouse.

Also today, using poly twine and vine clips, I added supports to the tomato plants in the greenhouse.  This method is very simple and works best for my purposes.

The tomato in the photo is a Rutgers, and it has been several years since I have grown this variety, having opted for specialized greenhouse varieties in prior years.  This year, in the greenhouse, I am growing tropic, trust and of course the Rutgers. 

The Rutgers is a compact plant, with many flowers, and the trusses, at this point, are only a few inches apart.  It should be interesting to see how the trusty old Rutgers compares with the hybrids and specialized varieties.