Friday, December 26, 2014

Journal December 26, 2014 - Thinking Spring

With the winter solstice having passed,  I am beginning to add time to the lighting cycle of the plants in the indoor greenhouses.   One half hour has been added to the photoperiod, and the spectrum of the lighting has been altered to include both vegetative and floweringMy plan is to add a half hour every two weeks, until the photoperiod is sixteen hours. 

Additionally, watering and feeding will gradually be returned what I use during the growing season.  At this point, I can see no indication that any of the plants are going to flower, however, I would be pleasantly surprised if a few did flower.  Last year, the Koroneiki, Arbosana and Arbequina trees produced a few flowers, so there is a slight possibility of seeing some flowers in February or March.

 The Canina olive seed has been planted in soil, and I will keep a dome over the seedling for a few weeks until it is acclimated.  It is absolutely amazing that this seed has germinated, progressing to this stage in only twenty days!

Having gotten off to a rough start in propagating my own trees, this tree will be my fourth tree successfully propagated, with eight more still in the works.  It has been a difficult, but interesting experience. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Journal December 22, 2014 - Tiny Tomatoes

I want to try a homemade soil mix that I developed for my olive plants on tomatoes, but I do not want to grow a full size plant. In my cold seed storage I found seeds for Florida Petite tomatoes that were there for several years. It is said that these can be grown in a four inch pot, so they seem ideal for what I want to try. Out of the four seeds I tried, only one germinated.

At one time this was supposed to be the smallest tomatoe variety in the world, however, seeds for this variety are now really hard to find.

Florida Petite, the culmination of 10 years of breeding by three Florida geneticists, was the first truly dwarf tomato to appear. Its parent species were two extremely determinate(bush-type) plants, one with yellow, pear-shaped fruit and the other with cherrylike fruit.

The little plant grows four to eight inches tall and spreads almost as wide. Its foliage is dark green and the fruit is the size of cherries. The first taste can be expected about two months after seed is planted. Over the course of the ripening period the yield will be about 25 tomatoes a plant.

I don't think this is a hybrid, so I will probably save some seeds for future use.

The seedling in the photo is a Canino olive, which was only started a few weeks ago.  It was started in sheet of moist paper towel and began to germinate in less than a week.  That is amazing for an olive seed, as they can take months to germinate, if at all.

Having noticed that olive seeds sometimes have a difficult time getting out of the seed coat, I removed the seed from the coat placing it in a horticube.  At first I thought I had killed it, as it did absolutely nothing for several days.  Now, however, I can see that it is beginning to grow.

The horticube is moistened with the same nutrients that I have been using for all of my other seeds under a 24 watt T5 6500K fluorescent light for fourteen hours a day.  As this point I think I am going to place a few more recalcitrant seeds in horticubes and see if it speeds their development.

This is what I found regarding Canino olives:


Area of origin: LATIUM

TREE: Very wide spread in the regions of Latium and Umbria, a tree of great size and of a tall upright shape with a compact crown. The leaves are medium-large size, narrow and gray green in color.

FRUIT: A typical oil variety. It has small fruit (1-2 grams), spherical in shape. At harvest, the olives are never all black because the maturation is late (December) but spread out. The yield in oil is moderate (15-16%) but the quality of the product is good.

AGRONOMY: Self sterile with a low ovarian abortion rate (15-20%). This variety is endowed with good productivity even in different climatic environments. Pollinators: Olivone, Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino. Especially resistant to olive knot, the cold, to the olive fly and to the wind."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Journal December 14, 2014 - Indoor gardening growing conditions

The beets and lettuce were harvested today, with replacement plantings already underway.  While I was harvesting the plants, I got to thinking about how predictable this process really is.  With the growing conditions: temperature, lighting and nutrients, pretty much constant, I can accurately predict the actual date the next planting will be harvested.  

Beets, as opposed to chard and lettuce, are sort of a multiple purpose crop.  We take a few leaves when the plants are young to include in a salad, the greens are boiled and served as a side dish, while the beets are roasted and served separately.

The entire lettuce crop was picked, as every lettuce variety will sooner or later begin to go to seed, so it is best to pick it before that process begins.  During its growing cycle we picked some leaves to be included in sandwiches and also had several salads with out meals.  

A few weeks ago I decided to do a viability check on some lettuce seeds that have been in cold storage for a few years, some going back to 09.  To my surprise, each of the varieties had an acceptable level of successful germination.  Not to waste the vigorous seedlings, they were planted as a mixed batch in one of the systems.  They include two types of romaine and red leaf lettuce, so they should make a good combination for a tossed salad.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Journal December 5, 2014 - Harvesting hydroponic Swiss chard

A very nice batch of Swiss chard was harvested today for our evening meal.  There is not a single leaf with a blemish in the entire batch.  Chard is easy to grow hydroponically, as a matter of fact, I would say it is one of the easiest crops to grow hydroponically.  Growing chard is truly worth the effort.

Immediately after removing the chard from the system the system was replanted with Cimmaron lettuce.  Below is what the Burpee site has to say about this variety:

"A red romaine with terrific flavor—and an American favorite since the 1700s.
This red romaine heirloom variety has been an American favorite since the 1700s. A profound, beautiful, deep-red-going-on bronze, the 10-12" tall heads, packed with broad, flat leaves, take on a lighter green tone inside. Impervious to bolting."
Beet greens and salad bowl lettuce are also ready for harvest, so I had best get in gear and start some more seeds.