Thursday, June 27, 2013

Journal June 27, 2013

It looks like I will have ripe tomatoes before the first of July again this year, but just barely.  The photo above is of a tropic tomato that is a day or so away from being enjoyed.

The tropic plants are outperforming the hybrid trust tomatoes as usual.  That being the case, I will no longer bother spending a dollar a seed for the greenhouse hybrids, but stick with just the tropics based on their superior performance with my growing conditions.

The Rutgers plant that I am trying has quite a few tomatoes that are a deep green with dark green shoulders.  They look fine, but they are a long way from beginning to ripen, and in no way compare with the tropic tomatoes.

Both varieties of cucumber are almost to the peak of the greenhouse, and I still have not picked a single cucumber.  The plants have several small cucumbers that I expect will take another few weeks to mature.  

The telegraph cucumbers are looking very good though, much better than I recall the plants looking when I last planted them three years ago.  I appears that we will be getting some very nice slicing cucumbers from those two plants.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Journal June 20, 2013

Lazarus, that is what I am going to name this olive tree.  The photo above is of one of the Trilye seedlings that I received from Turkey last winter that were dead on arrival.

They were lost in transit, and were almost a month stuffed into an envelope without water or lightA few days after being removed from the envelope, all of the leaves dried completely and fell off. 

Still, I did not give up hope, but potted them and cared for them for two months before giving it up as a lost cause.  On my way to the trash can with the seedlings, I pushed my thumb nail into the bark and I could see that the cambium layer beneath the bark still had a green tinge.  

Thinking that it could not hurt, and there was nothing really to lose, I decided to plant them in the garden under the blueberry bushes.  Periodically, I would check them for signs of life, but never found any.  

Call it intuition, or sixth sense, but as I was working in the greenhouse today, I got a feeling that I had to check on the "dead trees."  I was literally dumbfounded when I saw the green buds sprouting from one the trees.

So, I thought that Lazarus would be an appropriate name for this tree; as it has literally returned from the dead.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Journal June 19, 2013

The first day of summer is right around the corner and the greenhouse is really doing well.  The tomatoes are setting fruit and growing nicely, as are the cucumbers.  

Growing two different varieties of cucumbers, side by side, is not presenting any problems at all.  Each variety is doing its own thing, producing exactly what they are supposed to produce.

A few of the tropical seeds that have germinated have been planted in 3" pots and moved to the greenhouse.  Growing tropicals should be a fun project, and the seeds are not all that expensive. 

As our spring has been cool and wet, the plants in the garden, which were started on the same day, are not doing well at all.  The tomatoes in the garden are only about a foot high, compared to the plants in the greenhouse, which are on their forth truss. 

The garden cucumbers are about the same, while the plants in the greenhouse have reached the top of the trellis and are starting for the ridge support in the center.  

There is definitely an advantage to protective growing, for sure.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Journal June 16, 2013

The first of the tropical seeds to actually germinate and break the surface did to today.  It has been only six days since I received the package of seeds, so I am really a happy camper at this point in time.  Below is a description of this plant:


This showy desert bloomer is spectacular. The huge red and yellow flowers appear tropical, with long feathery stamens, amazing against the delicate ferny green foliage.  But the plant is tough as nails.
Originally from Argentina, this desert beauty is much used to brighten drought-tolerant Southwest landscaping. It's tough and undemanding, happy in scorching sun or part shade, will tolerate the worst drought, and is hardy down to 5 degrees.
Easy to grow in zone 8-10, Red Bird of Paradise also makes a fine container plant elsewhere, perfect for a sunny window.

There is space at the end of the walkway in the greenhouse that receives sunlight most of the day, but is not being used at all.  That space is where I intend to place the tropical plants that need a lot of light.  Doing the math, I determined that I could construct an addition to the bench from a single 1" x 6" x  8" pressure treated board, if I used every square inch of the board; a trip to Home Depot and 45 minutes later I had my additional growing space.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Journal June 15, 2013

The seeds shown above are from a small tree called MAJIDEA ZANGUEBERICA, or  Black Pearl Tree, or Mgambo Tree; which is rare even in its native Zanzibar.

This tree is said to have a perfect shape, a rounded canopy of shiny green leaves and fat clusters of fragrant red flowers.  The pods that follow split open to expose velvet black seeds against a scarlet interior.  These seeds are hard, about the size of a pearl, and are sometimes used as beads.

The seeds are so hard that I am amazed that the radicle is emerging after only seven days in a moist paper towel.  So as not to disturb the radicle I planted the seeds today in coir and perlite; placing the potted seeds under a humidity dome, using a 5500K CFL bulb for a grow light.

So far, only these and the CAESALPINIA PULCHERRIMA - Red Bird of Paradise seeds have germinated, but I never thought that growing tropical plants in New York was going to be easy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Journal June 9, 2013

I know, they are not much to look at right now, however, they represent a lot of effort and experimenting to get them to this stage.

They are my very first successful, I hope, olive clones.  The cuttings were taken on April 22 and 23rd, and been under a humidity dome, sitting on a heating mat, and lit with a CFL fluorescent light since then.

I am calling them a possible success, as they still look pretty much exactly like they did when I struck them from the parent plant.  Neither cutting has dropped a single leaf, but that said, neither cutting has grown one iota either.

Today, I decided to force the issue, and removed them from the humidity dome and placed them in the greenhouse, where they will get partial shade and receive the same nutrients that the other olive trees receive.  

The problem being: I am not sure why these cuttings have apparently taken, and my previous attempts failed; as I followed pretty much the same procedures.  It may be the variety of plant, or taking them in spring, or where on the plant they were taken from.  I know that not all cuttings take, so, it may just be the law of averages at work.  Still, I am a happy camper, just to have arrived at this stage. 

While removing male flowers from the cucumbers in the greenhouse today, I was sort of surprised to find a female flower on one of the plants.  I say surprised, as the plants are just starting to grow, and it is unusual to see a female flower this early in the growing cycle.   Also, I can tell just by looking at the flower, that this will indeed be my first cucumber of the season.

The grow chamber has pretty much been shut down since I rearranged the LED lighting, with the exception of one system.  Seeds have been started, and all systems will be back in operation in a week or so, and I am anxious to see what the results will be with a light for each system.  

Reducing the photoperiod to twelve hours, and really cutting back on the nutrient to make the lettuce "struggle" a little, is really working out well.  The prizehead and baby romaine, shown above, have absolutely no tip burn, and they look fantastic. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Journal June 1, 2013

Following my theory that light is just as, if not more important than, nutrients, I added another supplemental light to the greenhouse today. 

Again, I purchased this on eBay, for not a lot of money, and I am well pleased with the product, with one caveat.  The light came with absolutely no plug attached, you not only have to provide, but solder your own plug; nowhere in the description is that mentioned.

The light is enclosed in a waterproof aluminum case, and has 20 one watt LEDs; 16 red 660 nm, and 4 554 nm blue. 

When I was soldering the plug, I looked at the LEDs and thought: these are absolutely whimpy!
They are the smallest LED chips I have ever seen, however, I made the mistake of having the light facing me when I plugged it in, and it is bright enough to scorch your eyeballs!

Now, where to mount it, and how to use it was the question.  I decided to mount it on one of the upright supports for the trellis.  As the light can easily pivot, mounted on the support it can be aimed from the front to the back of the south side of the greenhouse. 

My thinking is that the best way to use it is by activating it remotely when needed; early in the morning; later in the afternoon, early evening, and on cloudy overcast days. It can get right into the canopy of the tomatoes, and almost completely illuminate the olives. It is simply a matter of aiming it where needed as it is being used.