tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Whee! Okay, since it's been a million years since I posted, this is going to be a bit scatter-shot:

We have a house full of gorgeous and delicious tomatoes (3 varieties) peppers (beaver dam, others not ready yet), carrots (both), cucumbers, ground cherries, and assorted herbs. Eric has taken photos of at least some of these which I'll post once they're uploaded.

All of the peas are done for the season, and the green beans are few and far between. I let them dry on the vines and we threshed them (which is a funny term to use when you're doing it by hand, but whatever) yesterday. The seeds are still a bit moist, so they're laid out next to an air conditioner for further dehumidifying before I pop them in the freezer for de-weevilization.

The purple pole beans are still drying; they're very large and were the latest crop of the four legumes. We didn't end up eating many of these fresh, but they should be good dried (after I've pulled out as many as we desire for seed).

All of the peppers and all of the tomatoes except the Federles are free of blossom-end rot. Apparently the Federles need more calcium than the others. I'll fortify the whole plot next year; I bought plenty this time around.

As far as next year's planting, I think we'll need more space. I also need to change the configuration a bit; having short herbs in front, medium "bush" plants in the middle and tall/climbing stuff in back works for some items, but not others. More to come....

Increase:
  • Ground Cherries
  • Basil - this needs its own space
  • Sugar Snap Peas - at least double the allotment
  • Carrots
  • Green beans - although might replace bush variety with a climber
  • Onions - these need a larger, dedicated plot. I'll bet they would work well in my big containers

Maintain:
  • Cucumbers - as mentioned earlier, my Boothby's succumbed to cold, but the 2 True Lemon plants are providing about the right total yield
  • Most herbs
  • All peppers - may also consider adding a chili
  • All tomatoes - this is about the perfect mix, or would be if I got a full yield of Federles

Decrease:
  • Sunberries - I don't love them enough for the amount of space they take/shade they cast. Interestingly, they seem to be sacrifical - something is eating their leaves but nothing else.
  • Radishes - smaller plot, more frequent plantings
  • Broccoli - again, too much space/light for its yield
  • Purple pole - may not plant again, yet to decide
  • Snow Peas - I'm thinking of planting only sugar snap next year
In addition, the perennials are looking good.  The rhubarb is lush, the strawberries are thriving in their container and want to go into the ground, and the raspberries, which surprised me by being blush-colored when ripe, are delicious and now producing nicely.

I never did get any endive/kale/spinach/radicchio in (as a result of not doing lead tests), nor did I plant any corn/sunflowers/melon (ran out of room).  Next year, I hope.

Next episode - adventures in tomato seed-saving.
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Okay, so it's been billions of years since I've posted one of these.  Life is keeping me very busy, as is the day-to-day maintenance of the garden.  Writing is a distant third in my priorities. :)

I bought way too much at the Friends' Plant Sale, as always.  Some of it is still waiting to be planted/repotted; more on this to come, no doubt.  I am particularly delighted to have found a nice little bay laurel.  I also got a pomegranate.  It claims to be self-fertile; if I'm very lucky I may eventually get edible fruit out of the deal.

We had one cold night during the second week in May and lost a tomato and a cucumber.  The tomato I replanted, but I was out of cucumbers.  The basil lost it leaves but there was enough root there that it's leafing out again (although we did replant one of the three Genovese basil with one we had started in a pot).  A couple of the peppers looked rough for a bit but have now recovered.

In fact, almost everything is looking fabulous.  The sunberries are unbelievably vigorous; I hope they taste good, too.  The broccoli is amazing, as is the parsley.  Most of the tomatoes and peppers look grand.  Everything is going like gangbusters except the cucumbers and rosemary, which are getting kind of a slow start.  For rosemary, of course, that's just the nature of the beast.

I got myself a very nice hoe - the compact triangle-head variety, which is fantastic for a small garden like mine.  I love it; I can't imagine trying to do all this weeding by hand.

The peas are in blossom, but nothing else is yet.  However, I've already harvested half the radishes.  We re-seeded with carrots because I think we'll end up eating many more carrots than radishes.  It surprised me how much spicier the radishes got after just a few extra days' maturity - these claim to mature in 21 days, and they're not kidding.

Lessons for next year:
  • I think I already mentioned that I intend to start all my indoor seedlings in the large pots (36 per tray).
  • Start peppers and tomatoes just a bit later - Mid-March should do the trick.  Start rosemary very early and cucumbers very late.  I know that various organizations provide charts for this, and I'll use them this time around.
  • Remember to put the darned calcium in this time.
  • Make sure to put the broccoli where it can't overshadow anything.  It's not tall, but it's dense!
  • The vine on the south fence is incredibly vigorous; I'll have to remove it at the source if I intend to grow anything sun-loving near it.

I haven't managed to deliver plants to everybody who spoke for them, but I do still have them!
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
We had an incredibly productive couple of days digging things up, cutting things down, and chopping things apart, followed by a little bit of planting (3 rhubarb crowns).  Eric was mighty, and persistent enough to rid us of a few tree stumps that had taken up residence in the chainlink fence several years ago, not to mention a huge hunk of concrete formerly used as a fencepost anchor.  I found a circa 1900 silver teaspoon and a badly corroded pliers.

We agree on our hatred of chainlink fence, but we'll keep it for a this year, at least - it makes a perfectly good trellis for climbing crops, and I've placed the garden up against the fence with that in mind.

The Karens were right - the cucumbers are already  flowering, darn it.  I think it's time for coldframes & bees.

We did have a visit from a honeybee yesterday.  I told him that he was a little early, but there would be wonderful things here for him before too long.

It's also time for me to take soil samples for lead testing - right after lunch.  Results will determine whether I do raised beds; I'm hoping it won't be necessary.

It will be a struggle to keep writing here as the weather gets nicer.  If previous years are any indication I'll be tempted to turn my computer off in May, and back on again in November.
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
We have lots of little crocuses coming up in the lawn - several white, a few lavender, and so far just a single deep purple one.  So far they're all on the north side of the lawn - those always show up sooner than their opposite number.  I planted them there a few years ago, and they have mostly hung in there, although it seems I lose a few on the south side and gain a few on the north every year.

* * * * *

The seedlings are doing well.  I let some of them get too dry to the point of wilting yesterday, but they've all recovered.  The broccoli and cucumbers are about to lose their seed leaves.

The wilt problem with the tomatoes was confined to just a couple of plants.  Looking closely at one of them it appeared to have bred untrue, so I culled it.  There's one more that isn't quite as dramatic; I'll give it a few more days to see whether it's going to straighten up (literally & figuratively).

* * * * *

I repotted 3 houseplants last week: the new fatsia, the ficus lyrata, and the ficus elastica.  No more ugly plastic nursery pots in the living room!  And it only took 6 years or so.  :P

The jasmine has scale, and apparently gave it to the fatsia.  So last weekend when the weather was nice, I took them each outside, hosed them down, spritzed them down with spray oil, and let them sit outside until dry.  The fatsia seems completely cured.  The jasmine was so heavily infested that I'm going to give it another go next time the weather is decent.  I can see the ugly little things beginning to fall off already, which is good.  I hate scale.

Mum's clivia miniata is blooming beautifully.  I'm so lucky it's hanging out with me for now. :)

Tomorrow Mum & I head to Ikea to pick up some more of that incredibly cheap utilitarian shelving they carry.  I have cleaned out the grow room and intend to use one wall for storing indoor plant supplies.

* * * * *

Thank goodness it's spring.

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Things look good this morning after yesterday's changes.

The only tomatoes that seem even the tiniest bit wilty are the federles, and I'm beginning to suspect that it's just their habit. I grew some of these last year from seedlings, but I can't clearly recall whether their tips drooped over this way.

Fixture height:
T5: 8" above low tray; 5" above high tray
HPS: Unchanged


tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Perseverance has paid off! A couple of rosemary sprouts are up.

Because the rosemary and oregano were right in the middle of the tray that got too hot (and because I love them both), I have planted more of each.

I transferred the survivors from the 128-cell tray to a new 72-cell. I see two problems with the 128-cell tray: it's really hard to water each cell selectively, meaning that some cells are soaked while others are barely moist enough; and the cells are just too small to allow things to get a decent foothold. I'll keep the tray, but may not decide to use it again - especially not if I'm planting this early.

A couple of the tomatoes are looking just a bit wilty at the top, so I have moved them off the heat mat and (from the HPS) to the fluorescent fixture. This is very convenient, as it allows me to put the smaller guys (including the newly sown ones) on said heat mat. To compensate for the taller seedlings, I raised the fluorescent fixture - I didn't get a measurement tonight, will have to do so tomorrow. I raised the tray of little guys by setting it atop a spare tray that I had overturned and putting the heat mat between the trays.

I hope the wiltiness is nothing serious; will have to do some research. I've allowed the soil to go dry between waterings, but may still be overwatering a touch, so I'll back off for a bit. I don't think they're damping off; their stalks look fantastic, and I did use a sterile potting mix. I could stand to thin a couple of the cells, and it's almost time to fertilize again.

On a lighter note, I think someone's messing with me: I've had a couple of "accidentals" pop up. Nothing shocking, but the way in which it's happening is most amusing. The catnip sprouted broccoli and the borage got cucumber - in other words, everything is a lookalike to the inhabitants of the cell it's showing up in. I'd think it was a practical joke, if only Eric had known which sprouts would look alike while he was planting.

Saw Nicole on Friday and she was telling me how wonderful ground cherries are. So now I'm really looking forward to getting to know them, plus I know to whom I can contribute one of the seedlings.

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
I must be truly evil - four more parsleys were up this morning. No rosemary yet, so perhaps Larry is right.

Started the big guys on EarthJuice "Grow" today, 1 Tbsp. per gallon. This stuff is basically liquid compost, and it seems to settle out of the water pretty readily, so I'm going to keep it in the mixing jug and give it a good shake before each watering.

The little guys are still getting unfortified water until they have significant foliage.

The broccoli is leggy. I remember this being the case in years past, too. It amazes me that it can start out so floppy and end up growing what amounts to a small tree trunk by midseason. Oddly I didn't check the maturity time of this one and got a 120-day variety. With the head start we're getting, this will be fine.

Everything else is looking great. Of the little guys, only the rosemary, 2 thai basil, and 1 sage haven't come up. No more mishaps with temperature thus far, and I think we're pretty safe from those now that I've stabilized the height of the lamps and am no longer covering the trays.

I have also increased the fan speed to "medium".

The German Pink tomatoes are a "potato leaf" variety. I've never grown these before; they certainly are distinctive!

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
This evening I see 4 tiny parsley necks beginning to poke their way up through the soil.

Seldom have I been so pleased to be evil.

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Things are looking very good overall. Many more of the peppers eventually came up than I expected, which is great; these are easy and popular plants to share and even fruit well in containers. The peppers from the first tray and from the tray I planted a week later showed up at nearly the same time, which suggests to me that the heat from that light bulb contraption was even more poorly-distributed than I thought.

Everything else is up except the rosemary and the parsley, and considering their long germination times I'm not sure whether to be concerned. I'll give them another week, and if I get nothing by then I'll try another tray in a different environment, maybe soaking them first. It's possible that I got duds, but since these are my two long-germinators and germination rates for all of the other seeds from the same source is near 100%, I'm going to start with the assumption that they're fine and just haven't had enough time yet.

I've set up timers so that the lights come on for 12 hours during the day and shut off 20 minutes before the heating pads and fan come on. (Which looks ridiculous, of course: a power strip with two timers, each with a power strip plugged in. What I need is a great big electromechanical "NOT" gate. Fortunately the wattage of all this stuff is low enough that I'm not creating a fire hazard. But I digress.) This setup seems to be working very well for the seedlings; they appear very strong and robust. Once everything is up I'll reduce and then eliminate the heating pads.

Distance from bottom of hood to the seed trays:
HPS = 10"
T5 = 4.5"


tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Interesting. Several of the seedlings that I thought weren't going to germinate have done so and now seem to be strong and healthy. I have a small smattering of peppers, a tiny bit of sage, oregano, etc..

I'm keeping the cover off the more mature trays now to prevent mold & damping off (besides which, some of the seedlings are getting too tall for my short tray covers already). I'm also keeping the fan on at night to strengthen them. I've seen what an astounding difference having a fan can make to indoor gardening and I'm not going without one again.

I'm also waiting for the more recently planted set to sprout - I hope they're as rambunctious as their older siblings have been.

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Two trays full of seedlings are doing great - every single cell is going strong, and some of the seedlings are about to get their second leaves. I simply cannot believe how quickly the cucumbers grow; apparently they store up a lot of energy in those great big seeds.

However, the third tray has problems: nothing on one end germinated at all, and some of the sprouts in the middle have died off. This is the 128-cell tray that is warmed by a light bulb, and judging by the distribution of which plants are thriving and which aren't, it looks like the bulb just got too hot for the little guys. Poor little sprouts. I feel bad for not taking better care of them, worse because it's entirely my fault for not being more careful about the wattage (and hence heat output) of the bulb. FFR: 25W is too much!

Marching onward: I think K's comment about moving the lamp closer to the seedlings was right on, and I have done so - that means that there's only room for 2 trays under the HPS fixture. So today I bought a simple 2-bulb T5 fluorescent fixture and set it up over the old pine table from the farmhouse. It's 48" long, so there's room for two trays underneath. I put the half-devastated tray under it; I'll decide what more I'm doing with that when it's clear exactly what will and won't survive. But I also started another 72-cell tray with all the varieties that I lost. This time I'm using a warming mat instead of a light bulb; I hope it will give better results.

Eric is interested in having more plants throughout the house. I am, of course, all in favor. He's thinking about herbs and suchlike as well as traditional houseplants, and doesn't mind the goofy-looking lights that they require to be truly happy. This promises to be fun. :)

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Over half of our seeds have sprouted!  At this point I'm waiting on borage, chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, sunberries, all of the peppers, and the catnip (upstairs).

And oh, how they've begun!  When I left for work yesterday the cucumbers were barely beginning to peek out of the soil; when I got home they were 2 inches tall with 3/4" leaves.  Apparently they like this year's setup.

I have tweaked the setup a bit: they're about 20" from the light hood, and they're getting 12 hours of light.  I still have the trays covered night and day.  At night I turn on an oscillating fan in the other corner of the room (putting in on during the daytime makes things dry out too quickly).



Seeds!

Feb. 27th, 2010 11:35 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
We started planting for the vegetable/herb garden today.  It was [livejournal.com profile] bitwise's first excursion into starting seeds, which was probably more exciting for me than for him.  (When I first tried this I had a lot of anxiety about doing everything right; now I feel calmly confident that if I use care and sense, the seedlings will do what they need to do.  Not every one will thrive, but most probably will, and I'll certainly learn something either way.)

I used Mum's supplies from previous years, including an absolutely wonderful seed starter mix made from worm poop and horsehair, and three heated incubation trays with a total of 200 slots.  Of the 48 (not a typo) varieties we've decided to plant from seed, 27 are appropriate for starting indoors - leaving me with an irrational (practically if not mathematically) number of slots per variety.  So I rounded up to 8 and planted fewer of each pepper variety, since I have 5 of them.

Of course I then complicated matters by double-planting thyme.  That pushed the catnip out to a separate tray that will just have to live in a south window rather than under the light in the basement.  Not a big deal, and for the first time in recent memory I'll be able to say I have plenty of thyme.

I'm using a fixture with a high-pressure sodium lamp, which must have burned out fairly recently (I sometimes keep houseplants under it in the winter.)  I was delighted to find that a replacement cost $19 instead of the $75 or more that similar lamps sometimes run.  Unfortunately my friendly neighborhood indoor gardening store has moved to somebody's else's neighborhood; fortunately they're open 'til 7 and are still friendly.

Now the waiting.  I'm so eager to see tiny little sprouts peeking out of the soil!

Here's everything that will be in the garden this year. )

Hi!

Mar. 19th, 2008 07:37 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Okay, let's see:

Happy change your birth icon's internationality day, [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha K!

I have kittens! That's Shadow on the left and Dylan on the right. They're about six months old and absolutely delightful. I found them on Petfinder.com and drove out to get them a week and a half ago. Also, they're rambunctious little guys, and love to go gallop all over me in the middle of the night. I'm trying to socialize them, and so far it's going well0.2555555555

(Shadow is helping me type.)

cut for photos )

I harvested my kumquats a few days ago. I got about 3 dozen of them, which doesn't sound like much until you realize that the tree that they came from is only 26" tall. It was tipping over, but I think it's happier now. (For reference, the fruits are about 1.5" long. And isn't that a great colander?)

I got a "sort-of" cold, but I think it's gone now. It made me miss a couple of things that I really wanted to do. I'm extremely ready to be done with this.

Work is going wonderfully, although I had forgotten how incredibly easy systems analysis can be. I've been doing all this weird, nebulous, challenging stuff for so long that I tend to lose track of what other people do. Well, now I'm doing it. Anyway, I love it when I can get things done and checked off.

[livejournal.com profile] mizzlaurajean, did you say that you had used Angie's List? I'm contemplating subscribing, and would love to hear your thoughts. Also, when are you and your dear husband coming to meet my kittens?

So anyway, sorry if I missed anything while I fell off the face of the planet. I think I may be back now.



tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Words about my vegetable garden )
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
It wasn't all that exciting, and this entry is really long. )

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