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Grape Clones Revisited

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Cloned Grapes

Cloned Grapes

Here are the Grape clones that I planted in an earlier post. Nearly half of the canes that I’ve placed in cups have growth, and they are the last plants left in my now nearly barren grow room.  There are three varieties, each from different vines. One of these is a unknown grape which is reported to bear large green seedless grapes. Fortunately, Davie knew the owner of the property where they were growing, and we timed our visit just right. The rentors at this location were cutting out the vines to expand their yard. So, by chance we may have saved this “Giant Green” grape to grow another day.

A Three Leaf Seedling ?

April 27, 2010 3 comments
San Marzano Seedling with Three Starter Leaves

San Marzano Seedling with Three Starter Leaves

 I’m not sure what to think about this seedling with three starter leaves, but I am pretty sure it is a genetic trait that has been changed from the other seedlings. Having three leaves would seem like an advantage, since this would allow the plant to collect 50% more light while growing, but it would also require 50 % more plant material. I have marked this seedling, and I hope to track it all the way through it’s growth cycle. If the tomatoes that it bears are similar to others, or if they taste or look better, I’ll save those seeds. Next year, I’ll look for the same trait in those seedlings, and pinch off the two leaf seedlings. If I do this long enough, I should get a unique new tomato variety.

However, it could be all a waste of time…… I imagine the business that sold me these seeds would use some kind of mechanized system to sort seeds, and this could simply be a stray flower seed.

Time will tell….

Categories: Tomatoes & Peppers

Weekend Roundup 4/24/10

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment
Making an Orchard Map

Making an Orchard Map

The weekend started off easily enough, with plans to make a map of my small orchard. I walked around and took pictures of each identifing tag, and added each varieties name to a map. I’ve used a small piece of wood for my map, and a pencil to write on it. The scrap wood will be hung up in the greenhouse, and hopefully, It will be readable long after the tags on the trees blow away.  This happened to the row of trees in front of my house, and so, I can’t identify which types of fruit they are.  I plan to graft trees in the next few years, so it’s important to document which variety each tree is.

After finishing the map, I went inside the house to take a look at my second batch of chicks. To my suprise, 7 of the eggs had cracks, and the chicks were already chirping to encourage each other to break free. The chicks would soon need to be moved out of the incubator, and I wasn’t prepared. I thought I had two more days to build the larger chicks a new home, I was wrong. So now I had my work cut out for me. Luckily Sandy, Davie, Nate and Kareese were available to help. We got started working in the greenhouse to build a new home for the first batch of chicks. One of the few places I had room for the chicks was under one of my water tables.

Chickens in the Greenhouse

Chickens in the Greenhouse

As you can see above, this arrangement works pretty well for now. I plan on building a chicken house soon, but this will work for the time being.  With the larger chics out of the house, the chick pen had to be cleaned out, and it was; just in time for the first 8 chicks.  

Second Batch of Chicks

Second Batch of Chicks

Here is my second batch of chicks. I was quite happy with this batch as the chicks are all different colors. I even have two gray chicks. Before that day, I had never heard of a gray chicken, and too have two of them was neat. Now my work for the weekend was complete. I decided to walk around and take stock of the plants I’ve been diggin holes for. The elderberries I transplanted from Sandy & Davies farm are doing pretty good; the Rose-Hips not so well, but I still think the roots will make a pretty decent come back; The cherry bushes are doing great, as if they were never disturbed.  I still need to plant rows of interesting new plants I’ve ordered. They are Saskatoon Blueberries (Juneberries), Sea-Buckthorn, and Pixwell Gooseberries.

Onions waiting on Rain

Onions waiting on Rain

Here are the onions, complete with rows of weeds in between. You’ll find I’m not much of a garden weeder. My take on weeds is, if they are six inches away from garden plants, then they don’t need to be ripped out. There’s no point in it.  I should point out: If you don’t cover your onions with hay, or straw, their will be many, many more weeds, I learned that last year =).

My Confidence Grows in the Greenhouse Heating System

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Tomatoes and Peppers

Tomatoes and Peppers

Here is a table full of Tomato and Pepper plants.  After the last few nights with cold weather, and even a bit of snow, I’ve gained enought confidence in the heating system to start moving my seedlings in. The tomatoes that were the first inhabitants look fabulous. They are getting the cooler weather at night to keep them strong, and lot’s of sun. There will be no need to harden these plants off either, once it’s time to plant, they can come straight out of the greenhouse, and promptly planted in the garden.

I’ve come across a rather nasty hitch in my plan. I was planning on placing the cups directly into the water tables, and filling them with water. The problem is keeping track of different varieties, and also having so many little cups unsupported could be a huge mess. I refuse to make individual tags for each cup, so I’m keeping the seedlings in their clear and silver trays for now.

Space Heater

Space Heater

 I also have a “secret weapon” for the war against cold. The propane space heater shown in the photo above is easily capable of lifting the tempurature by 10 F in little over a half hour. I will only use this heater when a severe frost is bearing down.

Hungarian Yellow Wax and Jalapeno Early - Hot Peppers

Hungarian Yellow Wax and Jalapeno Early - Hot Peppers

Now that I have some more space, I’ve planted some Hot Peppers for my Nephew. I had planned on starting some, but somewhere in the midst of the transition from winter to spring, those plans got lost. Nate reminded me over the weekend, and since then, I’ve planted about 60 of these. The plan is that Nate will take about half to his house, and I’ll plant the rest in a tiny garden plot far away from the rest of the Peppers. I’ve heard that if they are too close, the peppers will cross-polinate each other, and I’ll wind up will all hot peppers.

Taking the Chill Off – In the Greenhouse

April 19, 2010 1 comment
A "Line Voltage" Thermostat.

A "Line Voltage" Thermostat.

I’ve finally settled on a heating system for the greenhouse. Basically, there is a Line Voltage thermostat that monitors the tempurature inside. When the temp drops below the desired tempurature, the thermostat passes on 120V to the recepticle below. This is where I’ve plugged in a electric heater, and a small fan. So far, It’s kept two tomatoes alive during a few frost/freeze nights.

I’ve started to gain confidance in this setup’s ability to keep my plants alive, and so I keep bringing more and more plants out of the house.

Electric Heater and Fan

Electric Heater and Fan

It’s sort of funny, but without the fan, the greenhouse won’t stay warm, it’s almost as if the heater only heats the space around itself. Once I added the fan, the tempurature began to rise above 34 F consistently. I’m not quite out of the woods yet. There could still be a very cold night, that could pierce through the clear plastic and wreak havoc on anything living, so I dare not place all of my “eggs” in one basket. For now, I’m playing it safe.

“Tom” Got The Seeds I Sent Him !

April 16, 2010 1 comment
A Picture "T" Made for Me.

A Picture "Tom" Made for Me.

I’ve been waiting since before Christmas to hear if “Tom” got the seeds I sent him. Tom is my sponsor child in Senegal, Africa. I sponsor him through Child Fund International, and at $24 a month, they take care of all of his needs, including education. Nearly a year ago, I wrote him a letter, and included a packet of Tomato seeds, figuring they -Might- plant them, and be more self sufficient. I also wrote in the letter that if they were useful, I could send Many, Many More.

About a month later, I got a letter back, and his family was exceptionally happy to get the seeds. They wrote “Please hurry, when sending more”. I did the only thing I really know how to do….. I got carried away. I gathered up ALL of the seeds from the farm, including anything I’ve ever even tried to grow. I filled a shoe box full of seeds, everything from Blueberry seeds, all the way through Red Lightning Tomatoes. That brick of postage was literally a farm in a box, without animals; It was everything the average gardener would need to survive on a deserted island, and then some.

I also realized that there was quite a learning curve for me to learn gardening, so I printed off some information about growing vegetables from a project in Senegal sponsored by Laura Bush.

I figured it would take a month for the seeds to arrive, and a month for their return letter, and I was quite disappointed at the end of February when there was no mention of seeds in their letters. At that point, I was sure I broke some International Postal regulation, and the seeds were thrown away.

And today, I smile from ear to ear, because at the end of their letter, it says

” The seeds may change our life and our way of planting things. God Bless You”.

If you’d like to send some seeds to “Tom”, I’d be happy to include them in my next box. Contact me at jon.macpherson@gmail.com, and I’ll give you my address.

“Tom” is not his real name, as I don’t want to endanger, or in any way harm him with my blog posts. He lives in the Capital of Senegal, Dakar. His mother is generally the one who writes to me, and she writes in French, which is translated into English by Child Fund.

Categories: "Tom's" Garden, People

Tomato Planting Time

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment
Many of the Varieties I've Started

Many of the Varieties I've Started

I’ve been spending a good amount of time these last few days planting Tomato seeds for this years garden. As always, I got carried away, and so far I’m up to about 500 seeds in dirt. Add these cups to the 200 or so pepper plants, and I have a house full of plants ! I plan on starting a few more, simply to get odd varieties, and save seeds for next year. Soon it will be time to start cucumbers, and melons.

It’s my first year with the greenhouse, and to play it safe, I’m testing out the heater setup before I move all of these seedlings. Currently, there are two tomatoes out there, and I recently installed a automatic heating system. The heating system consists of a “Line Voltage” thermometer, wired up to a wall outlet. When the tempurature drops below 55 F, the thermometer flips an internal switch, which sends 120 V to the wall outlet. I have an electric heater plugged into this outlet as well as a fan to circulate the air a bit. If my two test tomatoes don’t look too ragged in a few days, I’ll start stocking the water tables with little plants. If not, the plants will be safe in the house….

Categories: Tomatoes & Peppers