Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seedlings in the Solarium

An update on our seedlings. They have been removed from the artificial light gravy train and are now living in our unheated solarium. Night time temperatures regularly get down to about 50-60 degrees which is the minimum temperature that tomatoes will tolerate and continue to grow. During the day, the temperatures get up to 70-90 degrees depending on the amount of sunshine. Our days are now 11 hours long, so they are getting a fair bit of light during the day. The windows in the solarium are angled to allow maximum light to come through. It's really a great set-up.

Above is some lettuce and chamomile both started from seed. We're hoping to have a salad in a few weeks.

These pepper plants above really need to be thinned. We're just waiting for the local garden store to get in 4" pots. I was dreaming about planting these peppers out in the garden last night. Couple more months before that can happen.

Once we moved the tomato plants out of the seed trays and into these pots they really started to take off! They're getting pretty big. I'm thinking another month in the solarium and then planting these out into the greenhouse where some will stay, and some will wait for our last frost date to pass.

Our citrus trees are blooming! The lemon tree is heavy with blossoms. These smell so good. Unfortunately, the trees all lost a fair number of leaves during the winter so I think we'll be removing any fruit that sets to let the trees get some more foliage.

In the next couple weeks we'll be installing raised beds. I'll post pictures of that progress when it happens.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seedling Update

The seedlings are all doing very well. Everything sprouted faster than expected which I am attributing to the warm temperatures of the room that we kept things in. The room was about 75 degrees for the first week and a half.

Above are some pepper seedlings with some true leaves showing.

A few tomato seedlings. I can't tell, are these looking a little leggy? I've been thinking about adding some additional light fixtures but I'm not sure if it's necessary.

Above is some Russell Lupine. These seedlings look adorable and I can't believe how big they're getting. We planted these 2 weeks ago and expected germination to take ~3 weeks! We're going to plant a bunch of these in the garden. I think that these might help improve soil by fixing nitrogen and possibly phosphate. At a minimum, the flowers will be pretty and hopefully make for some good food for the bees!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Seedlings and Seed list

Above is our tray of lettuce and arugula seedlings. We'll be putting these into pots and growing lettuce in the solarium in a few weeks. Below is some bibb lettuce. Compared to the last time I grew this next to a window these plants that have been started in our germination and propogation station are very short and stout. I guess the lights are doing the trick.

Next up, our intimidating list of things that we hope to grow this summer with some brief explanations.

To start with, for my birthday, my mom ordered me lots of flowers for a shade garden to go on the north side of the greenhouse and a flower garden for cutting and for our bees. These flowers will be fenced in the vegetable garden area since there are a bunch of deer around here. Eventually I'll get around to landscaping the house with some deer resistant plants, but not this year.

  • butterfly flowers
  • pink and lavender astilbe
  • oranges and lemons blanketflower
  • tall phlox mix
  • old-fashioned farmyard garden (mix of seeds)
  • CA giant mixed zinnias
  • perennial wild-flower mix
  • goblin blanket flower
  • mixed bee balm
  • painted daisies
  • winter-hardy glads
  • english aster
  • shasta daisy
  • field grade lilies
  • rainbow iris medley
  • royal helleborus mix
  • giant columbine
  • fernleaf bleeding heart
  • shady places hosta mix
  • jack in the pulpit
  • cinnamon fern
  • trilliam lemon
  • lupine as a green manure in some beds (supposedly fixes nitrogen and phosphate)
Next up, the vegetable garden. Some of the plants, such as the melons, peppers, and tomatoes will be grown both outside in raised beds and in the greenhouse as a bit of an experiment to see what they enjoy best. We're also planning to try and enrich the soil a bit by growing a lot of beans and peas this year to add some nitrogen to the soil. A green manure crop for the inpatient I suppose.
  • fave/broad beans - windsor
  • black jet soybeans
  • lima beans
  • snap bean
  • xera bush bean
  • scarlet runner beans
  • antohi romanian peppers
  • lantern bell peppers
  • early jalapeno
  • cayenne pepper
  • red burgundy onions
  • shallots
  • carentan leeks
  • giant musselburg leeks
  • purple plum radish
  • white icicle radish
  • white globe radish
  • easter egg radish (we think at a minimum this year, we can have some success with radishes)
  • swiss chard
  • rainbow chard
  • burpee's golden beet
  • bull's blood beet
  • purple top white globe turnip
  • early white vienna kohlrabi
  • brunswick cabbage
  • giant nobel spinach
  • tom thumb lettuce
  • winter density lettuce
  • arugula
  • green curled ruffec endive
  • bibb lettuce
  • black seeded simpson lettuce
  • hybrid cucumber american slicing
  • northern pickling cucumber
  • bush baby zucchini squash
  • flying saucer patty pan squash
  • small winter luxury pumpkin
  • butternut squash
  • green acorn squash
  • spaghetti squash
  • edens gym specialty melon
  • sweet granite muskmelon/cantaloupe
  • sweet favorite watermelon
  • debarao tomato - heirloom tall vine
  • trust (greenhouse) tomato
  • brandywine tomato
  • cosmic purple carrot
  • florence fennel
  • miniature blue corn (for popping and cornmeal)
  • sweet pea, old spice mix

I look at these lists of plants and think that we must be absolutely crazy to plan something this dramatic for our first real garden! But then again, the amount of work we're planning has got to be less work than raising children which millions of sane people do each year. At least the garden won't wake us up in the middle of the night. We also have plans to plant fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, cherry), berry bushes, grapes, potatoes and onion sets. Those things we'll be buying from a local nursery in the early summer when my mom is here to help with the labor.

A cool website that I wanted to mention is Ample Harvest. This website links gardeners to food banks in their area that will accept donations of homegrown produce. I'm anticipating that we'll probably have too much of certain plants (and probably way too little of others) so we'll donate the extras to the food banks in town.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Germination & Propagation Station

We built (what I am calling) a germination and propagation station today. This transformed one of our spare bedrooms into a functional room as opposed to a large, empty closet! It's actually perfect for germination and growing seedlings as this room has it's own thermostat and the plants can be protected from our dogs. It's also nice that no neighbors can see the light on in this room. When we had florescent lights in the solarium to compensate for short winter days I think our house probably looked a bit fishy from the outside. I can just imagine the neighbors wondering: hmmm.. what are those two hippie types growing up there?

We didn't manage to get the sizing perfect as shelving units are sold in 3 ft widths and florescent lights are cheapest in 4 ft widths. However, we can expand this shelving if we need to at some point. All together, this was $230 for all of the light fixtures, the shelving, a power strip, timer for the lights, seed starter mix, trays and labels. And all purchased with a generous wedding gift from my mother-in-law. We'll be able to comfortably get 9 trays of seedlings in there. Once plants get going in here, we can transfer them to the solarium, the greenhouse or out into beds depending on the temperature.

Just wait until next week (or the week after) and hopefully there will be some green dominating the scene. Until then, the lights will take a break and we'll heat the room up a bit.