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Archive for May, 2010

Making a Dent in the Greenhouse

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment
About 100 Tomatoes in Garden

About 100 Tomatoes in Garden

I’d like to thank Aggie, Kim, Sandy, Davie, Maurice and Lil-Rob for there help today. Today is my late day at work, so we all planned to get up early and get some of our planting done ahead of schedule.  To my sheer amazement, we managed to plant over 120 tomatoes in just over an hour, nearly two plants a minute !  I’ve also decided to take full advantage of the full moon to plant in the evening as much as possible. Working at night is far easier then plugging away in the hot sun.

Tomorrow is my last day at work before taking a week off. I just can’t wait to be FREE, if only for a week.

10 Day Weather Forecast

10 Day Weather Forecast

I’ve posted the 10-day weather forecast so that I can look back at it in future seasons.  If your new to gardening, the low tempurature is very important. I would not recommend planting Tomatoes, Peppers, or Cucumbers till there is at least ten days of low temps that are above 45 F. In my neck of the woods, Memorial Day is about the right time to plant, so long as the forecast agrees. There is still a small chance of a freak frost, but I have lots more tomatoes in the Greenhouse if that happens.

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The Final Countdown……

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment
A Tomatillo Leaf.

A Tomatillo Leaf.

In one week, I’ll be busy digging holes, and shuffling plants. I am a bit nervous though, the other day I was picking grass for my Egg Laying chickens, and I hurt my back. It’s not too bad, though the pain can be quite intense, and I’m more upset that I hurt it while picking grass then anything. I’m concerned that It might not be better in time for planting.  I have a few offers to help, and I’m sure they will come throught,  but I really don’t think my helpers are going to be very happy if they turn out to be the main planters. I’ll work throught the pain if I must, as I’ve planted three more rows of lettuce while barking throught the pain.

First True leaf on this Cucumber

First True leaf on this Cucumber

There is a “super macro” setting on my camera that is used for very close photos. Using this feature, detail that is normally hidden jumps out. Notice the drops of water clinging to the edges of the starter leaves. Next year, I think I’ll give them four or five weeks in the greenhouse rather then three. 

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

The Cantaloupe is growing a bit faster then the cucumbers, above, you can see the second true leaves forming. 

 I also took the time to measure some of my taller tomato plants. They all seem to be stalled in growth at about 16 Inches tall…. Some of them are even beginning to set flowers !   Before having the greenhouse, my tallest plants were about a foot tall, and they were spindly.

The Motley Crew of 2010: A look into the Greenhouse

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Shelves on the Right

Shelves on the Right

I’ve been trying to restrain myself from posting pictures every time the plants grow a bit, but I just had to share the view inside the greenhouse. I find it somewhat amazing how the plants seem to grow in competition with each other. Each tray holds about 12 plants, and I didn’t really organize them by when they were planted. I planted them all in the house, and moved them out in fits and starts, so they are mixed up quite a bit, but it still seems odd how plants in different trays compete. They form more of a wave of growth, rather then a step up and down style.

Shelves on the Left

Shelves on the Left

The tomatoes on the center shelf are more then a foot tall, and most have pencil thick stems. The peppers are also growing quickly now that the night time tempurature is getting warmer. I also have some Weeping Willow starters under the left hand shelf in the back. They don’t look too good in this picture, but some of them are getting some great roots. I imagine I’ll plant them by the small stream that runs past the grape arbor.

San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano Tomatoes

I took this picture to give a closer lo0k at the individual leaves. This is the same tray of plants that I posted about here. One of the plants had three leaves at the time, and I have it marked. It’s somewhat hard to believe, but there are 72 little plants in that photo above, which has me thinking about next year. I’ve planted these tomatoes into plastic trays made for that purpose. They seem to be a better use of space, but they are a bit more money. I may start converting my growing style in the future to use these trays, but it’s too late to change now.

Weekend Roundup 5/16/10

May 17, 2010 Leave a comment
Small Wild Strawberries

Small Wild Strawberries

There are only two weeks left till I can leave my comfortable office chair, and head out into my own, even more comfortable little world, or should I say garden.  I’ve been busy planting lettuce and I hope to plant some spinach should the weather co-operate, but these a not my main concern. On May 30th, if the weather is suitable, I’ll start planting nearly 1,000 plants, mostly Tomatoes, Peppers and Cucumbers. These are the crops that I have the most experiance growing, and they are my favorites as well.

For now though, It ‘s time to plant cooler weather crops. I would post pictures of the progress, however there wouldn’t be much to see. The method I am trying this year is to lay down newspaper, and cover the edges with rocks and dirt. I then poke holes in six inch increments, and place my seeds. The first two rows were planted two weeks ago, and the seeds are just now starting to grow true leaves. So in place of garden pictures, I decided to post a picture of the wild strawberries that surrond my house. They have been here for years, and they never disappoint with tiny strawberries the size of pencil erasers.

Robbie's Watermelons

Buddie's Watermelons

Also, This weekend, my little buddy decided to bring his watermelon plants over to the greenhouse for some soaking in the sun. He had started them in his house, and placed them by a window. You can see how they shot up looking for light, but I think they will be o.k. now that there in the greenhouse. I love the extra effort he went throught with his Sponge Bob cups, which really show some character.

Temporary Chicken Coop

Temporary Chicken Coop

 I finished up two extra chicken coops with some help from Nate and Karesse. The first one is connected to my Laying Hens home, and it allows the birds to scratch into the dirt, something they love to do. The other coop is a temporary enclosure, while I save up to build a larger chicken pen. Chickens don’t seem to be at home unless they are able to play in the dirt. The pen closest to the camera, contains chickens that I’ve raised from incubated eggs. It’s pretty amazing to watch their accelerated growth.

Rose-hips

Rose-hips

It was also time to clean out one of Sandies Cow’s pens, so while taking a break I snapped some pictures. This odd plant in the foreground is called a Rose-Hip. They bear flowers, but more importantly, they bear a small red fruit in the fall. This fruit is very high in Vitamin C, and even helped Great Britian during World War 2, when German subs where sinking vital shipments of Citrus. I’ve transplanted some of these to my yard, and I’m hoping they take, but if not, I have seeds saved from last year. They take up to 3 months to germinate !

Finally, almost as if I planned it, a Goat climbed up onto an old parts mower, and with the camera in hand, I snapped a picture:

Goats Like to Climb....

Goats Like to Climb....

A Few Pictures

A Yellow Stuffer Tomato

A Yellow Stuffer Tomato

It’s been a slow rainy weekend, so I thought I would post some pictures I’ve taken in the greenhouse. Above is one of my Yellow Stuffer tomatoes. The stem on this gem is nearly the thickness of a pencil ! And it’s not just the type of tomato, this greenhouse is making everything grow like I’m an expert, I love it.

Tomatillos

Tomatillos

Here are some Tomatillos, otherwise known as “Mexican Husk Tomatoes”. Last year when I grew these in my house, they got very long stems and had small leaves.

Red Brandywine Tomatoes

Red Brandywine Tomatoes

Red Brandywine Tomatoes above, with Potato leaves. These guys always confuse the non-gardening types. They seem to look at them as if they are blue colored radishes.

I find it really odd how a plant like a tomato can have so many varied types of leaves. Each variety has a different pattern, with different growth styles.

Cucumbers - Straight 8

Cucumbers - Straight 8

I planted Cucumbers a week or so ago, and they are just now growing out their baby leaves. So, all in all everything is planted, and it’s all growing above my expectations. In about three weeks, it will be time to plant all of these green growing crystals. I’ve scheduled a week of Vacation time to plant them, so I have from May 29th to June 6th to get them in the ground.

Beginning Anew

Jeff Tearing Things Up

Jeff Tearing Things Up

Here it is again, time to wipe the old slate clean and start anew. The location of my gardening requires me to leave all of my work from the previous year behind, all the hundreds of tomatoes I’ve planted in the past have died, and are being recycled back into the mix. It’s not all bad though. Starting over each year gives me a freedom I would imagine other gardeners in warmer parts of the world will never know. Each year, the winter kills all of my triumpts, as well as let downs. Last year, the Late Blight took most of my plants early, but this year I won’t need to worry about the pest being reborn from the soil. The same destructive cold that forces me to start over is the same hero which cleared the soil of blight.

A Worm's Eye View

A Worm's Eye View

 There are a few things that I can take with me from year to year, garden to garden. Those things include rocks, nutrients, and weeds. Each year, as I remove more and more rocks, and add more and more manure, the ground improves. In this “worms eye view”, you can see the hints of the improvements made in the winter months. I’ve added at least ten full truck loads of manure during the months when it was too cold for things to grow. The small bits of hay in the photo above, as well as chucks of blackened soil tell the tale of long weekends filled with every possible joke about taking manure….. It’s done to death, and I’m not taking $%*# any more  = )

…well, at least not directly into the garden till the fall anyway….

My Blank Slate

My Blank Slate

So here it is, my blank slate. I wish this photo could show more accuratly just how much fun/work is ahead. The garden is 60 feet wide, and 250 feet long. Considering that I’ve devoted about 15 feet to onions, that leaves 235 feet of planting. Seems funny to smile when thinking of the work, but it’s all downhill from here. The tomatoes are still doing great in the greenhouse, and all that is really left is planting them, and watching them grow.

Categories: People, Tools

Weekend Roundup 5/2/10

New Shelves

New Shelves

I’ve run out of space on my water tables, and it was time to either start placing plants on the floor, and hope no one steps on them, or build some more shelves. I decided to start building many more shelves. You can see the set I’ve completed. I plan to make another set of shelves connecting at a 90 Degree angle, along the wall on the right side. I don’t think I will use the second set of shelves this year, but maybe next year I’ll plant more flowers there.

The shelving is starting to come together as a blue-print for what to plant, and how many. I have four water tables full of Tomatoes and Pepper plants. Three quarters of those plants are tomatoes, so next year I need to fill 3 tables with tomatoes, and 1 table with pepper seedlings. Then I can use the new shelves I’ve just completed for Cucurbits (Cucumbers, Melons, Cantaloup, Gourds).

I am leaving a whole row of space open for my nephew who decided to grow watermelons, and talked his mom into buying the seeds. I don’t know how that kid got so smart, because I completely forgot watermelons this year, and he picked up on that somehow, and made it his contribution to the garden. I now know he watches how I do things, because he started 72 seeds……

So, I guess the gardening is starting to get specialized. Maurice is the Strawberry and Pea’s specialist, Nate will be the Hot Pepper King, and my little Nephew will be the Watermelon Master. =) I’m just glad we all work together so well.

Green Shelves

Green Shelves

And here is a shot I’ve been waiting all winter for, Green Shelves.

I am truly amazed at how much better these plants look when they are started in the greenhouse, rather then in the house. I think the big differences lie in the heat, and lighting. In the house, the plants are generally at the same tempurature all the time, usually around 70 F, and the lighting is anywhere I had room to set the tray without walking on them. In the greenhouse, the tempurature swings widely, similar to a desert. At night it can dip into the low 40s, and daytime temps can peak well above 100 F. The light in the greenhouse is direct energy from the sun. There is no better source of light for plants then the one God placed in the center of our solar system. I can imagine someday giant greenhouses in orbit around Venus, where the sun is more intense, but that’s a whole different blog post.

And finally, I’ve gotten a good night shot of the Greenhouse. It’s quite hard to take pictures of a bright object at night, but here it is:

The Greenhouse at Night

The Greenhouse at Night