Posted in : Babble
Recently scott decided that Canada just isn't far enough away from America for his likings, so he's applied for a job in Australia! Lets hope he gets it because then I get a free holiday in Canada for 6 months So, to assist me in my quest for a free holiday, go vote Scott the best man for the best job in the world Vote now!
Posted in : 2009 Season
I decided that the tomato plants were strong enough this week so I potted them on into 3" pots burying them up to their seed leaves in compost. This has the advantage of curing their legginess and the buried bit of stem will produce new roots as well. They're still in my light box, which is rapidly becoming crowded, as the heated beds won't be turned on until later in the week. As soon as the heated beds are turned they'll be moved into one of the light tents in the potting shed. They'll be joined by my chilli peppers which are also doing well since they were potted on as well. Not all of the tomatoes and chill peppers got potted on, some were thrown away because they were just to leggy, but I expected some losses and germinated more than I needed, so that's no great problem.
Once the heated beds are turned on it's rapidly going to become to warm for my leeks and onions to stay in the potting shed so they'll be hardened off and moved into the small greenhouse for a while, before they're hardened off again and then moved into the large greenhouse which will be their eventual home. I'm very impressed with the Red Barons, I put two seeds in each module and pretty much every seed has germinated, so now I have the choice of thinning them down to one per module or pricking out the extras and doubling the numbers that I have. The Ailsa Craig on the other hand have been far slower and more sporadic to germinate so I've decided to sow a couple of trays of Bedfordshire Champion as replacements. They've only just been sown so I don't know what their germination rate will be like, and it was an old packet of seed so I'll just have to wait and see I guess.
One of my biggest failures last year was that I just threw a load of seed in and sat back and waited for it to be ready to harvest. It was great, pretty much everything germinated and went on to be something actually worth harvesting ... all at the same time. This meant that we had huge gluts of produce followed by a barren wasteland as I hadn't had the forethought to spark of replacements. So this year I'm determined to successionaly sow as much as I can as this not only avoids gluts, it also helps to keep each bed as productive as possible.
With a tad of luck I should be able to successively grow beetroot, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, pak choi, peas, spring onions, sugar snaps, radish, various herbs and any other seeds I find. My goal is to have a harvest every month, some from as early as the end of March, right through to the end of the summer growing period although that's going to take some imaginative usage of the beds. The quick growers are easy, I can use the bare bits in the beds of the slower growers until they become full, after that it'll be a case of finding space.
Apparently they really do walk! Egyptian Walking Onions are something that I've been after since I saw them on the RealSeeds website but unfortunately they'd sold out until at least next year. Then Andy from the allotment site very kindly sent me some so that I could have a play and grow them. I'm pretty excited about it as they look very different and I like different. I've not actually planted them yet as I haven't decided which bed to slap them in but they'll be going in somewhere soon no doubt.
Posted in : 2009 Season
There wasn't really a lot to do this week except to keep my eye on the seedlings to make sure they were happy enough. It's a good thing really, because I spent most of my week at the farm house helping Barry put a floor and ceiling in the store room above the garage. Which was loads of fun because I got to play with a nail gun all day ... those things are awesome, a tiny pull of your finger and BLAM 2 1/2" nail buried in the timber
I spent part of this morning potting on the rest of the chilli peppers which is cool because now I can rotate them under the lights so they don't get leggy. Talking of leggy, my tomatoes are getting far to leggy, I can't wait until they gain their first set of true leaves so that I can pot them on. I can cure the legginess at the same time by burying them up to their seed leaves. They'll then need to spend about a week in my light tent after which the heated beds will be on at work and I'll be able to put them into one of the two light tents there.
The basil and the coriander have both germinated and are now basking in the light tent, which is becoming rapidly crowded, it'll all work out when the tomatoes and chill peppers get moved to the potting shed light tents ... mind you, then I have the other set of chilli peppers to sow, my li'l 8' x 6' greenhouse is going to be packed to the gills with chillies. The onions and leeks are both doing well in the potting shed but they'll need moving into the small greenhouse when the beds get turned on as it'll be to hot for them then.
The Mighty V came with me to the field when I went to pot on the chilli peppers armed with her own little box of seeds, all these are flowers though. By the time she'd finished she'd sown several trays of various colours of Pansies, as these are hardy plants they've just been put on the paths in the small greenhouse. With a tad of luck she'll be able to sell these later in the year. She also sowed a few trays of Rudbeckia and some red sunflowers. These are now scattered around the kitchen and under my light box shelf as they need more warmth than the pansies. Some of these will also be able to be moved into the potting shed when the beds are turned on ... I hope ... if not then we'll just have a crowded house like we do every year
It'll be interesting to see if she manages to sell all of these because if she can then we'll *really* be able to scale up next year by using the large and the small greenhouse as neither of these is needed until later in the year. Mind you, that'd be lots of plants that'd need looking after when it's bloody cold outside.
Posted in : 2009 Season
Due to the fact that I was busier than a ... urm, a busy thing having a busy day ... I didn't have a chance to make a post last week, so now you're going to have 2 one on top of the other whilst I play catchup One of the main reasons I've been busy is that I've been designing a brand new blog skin specifically for the growing half of my blog. It's still in final testing so it hasn't been officially launched yet, and it may contain a few bugs ... ohh and I haven't tested the commenting system to see if you get munched by the spamhound, so if you stumble across the skin before it's published and get chewed by the hound ... urm, sorry huh?
The tomato experiment has now reached the end of week 1 and things are mostly going right. The seedlings are a smidge leggy because they were to far away from the lights when they first came through, although this was rectified when I recycled the odd beer can and made a platform to put them within inches of the bulb, it's a fish tank bulb so there's very little problem with heat. As soon as they're old enough I'll be potting them on, at which point I'll bury them up to their first set of leaves, the stem will just turn into more roots, and hopefully they'll be sturdy enough to be planted out some time in March.
Some of the chilli seedlings, which are also a tad leggy but less so than the tomatoes, we're big enough to pot on, so they got put into some 3" square pots and given a good watering. These are now back in the light room and are doing well. I'm hoping that rest of them, or at least some of each variety I've germinated, are big enough to put into pots next week, they look like they should be, but only time will tell. I also found a few more seeds from other varieties hiding under the sink, so I'll be trying to germinate these as soon as I gain a smidge more room in the light box.
Seeing as how the optimistic basil plant was still alive I decided to take pity on it and threw in a few more seeds to replace the ones that had died, they should soon germinate and then it'll have some company and, seeing as I had a spare bit of shelf in the light box I decided to germinate some coriander seeds as well. The shallots and onions in the back garden are storming along and the rosemary plant is looking a lot better since I potted it on into a 50/50 mixture of compost and gravel last year.
Posted in : Silly O'clock quotes
yabba_hh: you could kill half your email spam just by rejecting messages flagged as "important!"
Posted in : The veg patch
As I mentioned in my previous post I'm having a go to see if I can get tomatoes to fruit by the end of May beginning of June by starting them off this month, although I'm only going to spark off half the plants I want just in case it all goes tits up. The rest will be sparked off around the end of March, which is the normal time to do these things. After deciding that it wasn't worth switching the heated beds on early, they'll be switched on in a couple of weeks for the dahlias, in the potting shed for the small area of it that I'll need I had to come up with another solution.
At first I was considering putting them under my computer desk, where they could keep the 77 chilli pepper seeds company, as this seems to be pretty successful so far at being warm enough to germinate seeds, but there's only so much room and lots of seeds. Then Gary had a bit of a brainwave! As you may or may not know Barry ( that'd be Gary's dad ) runs an aquatics business which has a pretty big tropical & marine fish room which is kept at a constant 22+°C and the excess heat is vented down a storage corridor and then pumped outside ... so, the corridor should be about 22° as well, and my seedlings need a heated area, and it's the off season so there's a fair few empty shelves, and my seedlings need a heated area, and they'll easily fit in the empty bits, can you see where this is going? ... so, now the corridor has become a propagator. Hopefully, by the time the seedlings germinate the heated beds will be switched on so I can move the plants in there and put them in one of the light tents otherwise my computer room is going to become very full very fast and I'll be getting a tan as I sit here pretending to work.
The other problem I'm going to have to overcome is at planting out time. As I'm starting them off this early they're really going to be to big for the light tents come March and will need to be put into the small greenhouse which is unheated, but it is near the outlet vent for the corridor so I'm going to see if I can find a way of redirecting the warm air into the small greenhouse to help keep the temperature a few degrees higher, especially at night. IF it works then bonus, if not then I have the other half of the seeds and I'll just have to wait until later in the year for my first crop, but if you don't try you can't fail huh?
I've also sparked off about 300 onion seeds, half of them are Ailsha Craigs and the other half are Red Baron, the good news is with these is that they'll be happy enough in the potting shed under the lights without needing to turn on the heated beds, and by the time they're ready to be hardened off the small greenhouse should be warm enough for them to be happy. We'll have to see how that goes I guess.
Being the dumb blonde that I am I managed to misread the date for sowing leeks, so now I've got the best part of 200 of them starting to germinate, which will be interesting as they're faaaaaaar to early and I won't have the space for them in the beds until about June, oops. Rather than try to shove the seedling back into the seed I've decided to grow them on and then just use them as baby leeks when they're big enough, so at least they won't go to waste. It'll be interesting to see how long they take to get to baby leek size, as we like leeks and I'm considering successional sowing specifically for baby leeks.
Due to the fact that the chilli pepper seeds germinated a lot faster than I expected I now have another problem! They should have taken a couple of weeks before they poked their noses out of the seeds, by which time the heated beds would have been on and I could have moved them out from under my computer desk and into one of the light tents in the potting shed ... ahhh well, time for plan 2 ... unfortunately I didn't have a plan 2 so some rapid thinking was required. What I needed was a warm place with plenty of daylight.
The "warm place" bit was easy, it's more than warm enough under my computer desk, unfortunately it's a smidge lacking in daylight under there, mind you it's a smidge lacking in daylight outside as well. So, I needed some daylight, and I was stood in an aquatics shop that's full of bulbs specifically designed for growing aquatic plants. Time for another chat with Gary ... Half an hour later I was wending my way home with a four foot light setup which was going to be the start of my home made grow box.
As well as the light I also managed to acquire some 2 inch thick sheets of polystyrene that were big enough to do the job. After spending 10 minutes with a tape measure and an old knife I'd reduced them to the sizes I needed. I then ransacked the kitchen cupboards for some tinfoil and sellotape and proceeded to cover both panels with the tinfoil. Hopefully between the tinfoil and the light there should be enough daylight available to the seedlings for them to grow without stretching. At the same time I also raised the seed trays up so that they were about a foot below the lights, as the seedlings grow I'll gradually lower the tray so that the tops stay about the same distance from the lights.
So all that's left to do now is to wait and keep my eye on how things go ... and hope it doesn't all go tits up, even if it does though I have plenty more seeds I can sow at the right time, I'd just have to wait for my first crop of tomatoes