Thursday, June 18, 2015

Journal June 18, 2015 Ginger in a pot

Several months ago, on a whim,  I planted a piece of ginger that we purchased in the supermarket, just to see what, if anything, it would do.  Well, it did absolutely nothing at all, so I got tired of waiting and was set to toss it out.  When I dumped the soil from the pot, lo and behold the ginger had begun to root.  And, the piece of ginger was considerably larger than it was when I first planted it.  It is now replanted in a much larger pot and happily growing in the greenhouse.

In a previous post I wrote of a pepper plant that was doing nothing also.  After doing the post I decided that the time had come to take drastic action, so I chopped the entire top of the plant off, right down to the first node.  I guess that got the plant's attention, as just a short time later it is now developing nicely, with flowers and new side shoots. 
The wife loves basil, even put leaves on sandwiches, different strokes for different folks I guess.  She said that I never grow any basil for her, so I decided to fix that also, planting several different types of basil to grow in the greenhouse.  Basil is expensive if you buy it in the market, but I find it one of the easiest herbs to grow.
The cucumbers and tomatoes are fighting it out at the peak of the greenhouse, as I have yet to terminate the growing tips of either.  It is apparent that the stronger light at the peak of the greenhouse makes the plants grow like crazy.

With the olives spending the summer on the deck, I have plenty of room for other plants in the greenhouse.  We wanted another eggplant, but all that was left was a white eggplant, and it looked pretty sad, however, I bought and planted it anyway.  It loves the warmth and humidity of the greenhouse, really taking off.  I had sworn I would never put another eggplant in the greenhouse because they attract spider mites, but so far, so good.  At the first sign of spider mites the plant will be sprayed with neem oil and will be placed outdoors to finish the season.

Yesterday was my first attempt at photography from my drone. The aerial photo is a screen capture from a video, as I have yet to learn how to get the photo sequence to work. I guess I have to read the instruction manual. In any event, the drone adds a whole new aspect to photography.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Journal June 14, 2015 - Picking Cucumbers in mid-June

The greenhouse cucumbers are coming on strong, so it looks like I will have to find some dill and dig out the BIG crock for making garlic dill pickles.  This year I am growing a variety that needs no pollination, which makes it ideal for the greenhouse: Matilde.

Features:The perfect-sized cucumbers for making the delicious little pickles known as Cornichon pickles. ‘Mathilde’ cucumbers have no bitterness and can be picked when just 2" long. This is an early-producing variety with heavy yields making it a good choice for Northern climates with short seasons.
Uses:Eat fresh for a delicious and nutritious snack. Slice into salads, layer on sandwiches or toss with vinegar, onion and seasoning. Serve with dip on a vegetable tray. 

As cucumbers are mostly water, these plants are really going through a lot of water on hot sunny days.  Late yesterday I filled the five gallon reservoir with water and it was necessary to refill it again today.  Keeping the reservoir filled and the soil moist goes a long way in preventing deformed fruit.

When time permits I am still making time lapse sequences, trying to improve my skills.  It is frustrating at times, as it requires tying up your equipment for several days to produce about twenty seconds of video.  

I simply can't imagine the effort the professionals, at say the BBC, put into their work. 

Although I am not really happy with the cucumber tendril time lapse I decided to publish it anyway.  I really wanted to demonstrate the tendril attaching itself, twisting to form a loop and pulling in each direction.  Unfortunately, this time the plant did not do that, however, the tendril in the background is whipping around searching for support, moving the entire plant from side to side.   Plants are fascinating life forms. 

Last, but not least, this friendly little character, who we named Simon, has decided to make his home on our property.  He is a great "guard monk", perched on his favorite spot he chirps at anything intruding on "his"domain.  His reward for watching the property is a full cup of sunflower seeds each day, so he has plenty of time for guard duty rather than scavenging for food.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Journal June 6, 2015 - Bug census

Last week I had to remove the Pinwheel Zinnias from the greenhouse, spray them and replant them in the garden.  During a routine check, I found the bottoms of the leaves covered in aphids, and the aphids had migrated to the bottom branch of one of the tomato plants.

After finding the aphids, I sprayed all of the plants in the greenhouse just to be safe.  Subsequent checks have not turned up a single aphid, but still I wanted a way to monitor for insect problems without peeking under every leaf.

My solution was: 3" x  5" Yellow Sensor Cards, also known as monitoring and trapping sticky traps.  The traps are printed on heavy plastic and are water resistant.  By attracting and trapping insects, it is apparent the extent and distribution of pests that need to be dealt with.

The traps have been in place for several hours,  so far not a single insect is on either trap.  So far, so good.

Over the years I have grown mostly tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in the greenhouse.   At no time have I ever had a insect problem with any of the above.  Once, I added a single eggplant to the mix, and very soon it was covered with spider mites, just the eggplant, none of the others.  It seems to me that some plants are just more attractive to certain insects than others, so since then I only grow eggplant outdoors.  And, even more bizarre, when I have grown eggplant  outdoors I have never found a spider mite on the plants. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Journal June 4, 2015 - Greenhouse cucumbers

Recently someone posted a question regarding pollinating cucumbers in the greenhouse, so I thought I would do a short post on the subject.  Actually, I don't pollinate cucumber flowers at all, I grow varieties specially developed for greenhouse growing, known as parthenogenetic. 

That said, even parthenogenetic cucumbers produce both male and female flowers.  Typically, the male flowers appear first, in great abundance.   Later, and in far lesser numbers, the plant produces female flowers, which bear the fruit.

In my case, the male flowers are not needed, so I remove them as soon as the plant begins to produce them.  My thinking is that I want the plant to put its energy into growing and producing fruit, not flowers.

Over the years I have found that many gardeners do not know the difference between male and female cucumber flowers, so I will take a shot at explaining the difference.

Above is a photo of a male cucumber flower, at the very base of the flower there is a only a thin stem attaching the flower to the lateral branch. 

As you can see by the photo, the female flower is quite different, as it has a small fruit beneath the blossom before the stem attaching it to the base.  That is it, simple as can be.

If you are a die hard and want to grow regular cucumbers in a greenhouse, I can't imagine why, it is possible to hand pollinate cucumbers.  You could try using an artist brush and transfer pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.  Another method is to hold the male flower at the base and remove the petals from the blossom.  Using the flower like you would an artist brush, you grasp the group of stamens and insert them into the female flower and brush them against the pistil.  

Difficult, but not impossible.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Journal June 2, 2015 - Tomatoes galore

Yesterday I read that the NWS records show that May was the driest May on record in our area since 1860. That of course means more sunshine, which translates to more heat in the greenhouse; which also means faster growth. The plants have grown to the limit of the side supports, that gives me the dilemma of whether to remove the growing tips, or let them grow to the peak of the greenhouse. Removing the tips will transfer the energy back to the fruit, but reduce the number of fruit. I decided to see just how much fruit I can get, as it is still very early in the season, so I have strung bailing twine to the peak of the greenhouse to support the plants. 

 The cucumbers have a good crop of small fruit, so pickling season is not far off; they are already on their way to the peak of the greenhouse. Soon it will necessary to stoop to get into the greenhouse, but that is a problem that I can live with.

Still, the garden tomatoes are far behind the greenhouse plants.  The plants are about a foot and a half high, with the largest set fruit about the size of a golf ball, so apparently heat is key to their growth.