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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 31 Entries.
Saturday, March 23 View Page
Got myself El-Cheapo 7x7x15’ Greenhouse (Best Choice Products $114) – and set it up as a test site next to my patch. Plan to move it there after rototilling. It was an excruciating experience to erect – total 4-5 hours over a few days to get it right. My wife and I have decades of putting together toys and IKEA stuff – but never like this. The envelope doesn’t fit. Designers probably had the cover cut spects right, but the sewers defeated all their good effort. No instructions, just a stick sketch with numbered pipes. If anybody tries this, it is imperative to position the verticals INSIDE the base layout, or there is no hope of getting the envelope to fit. If do it otherwise, takes forever to take it apart and redo it. Also the corners from outside in are: base pipe, flat end of angle piece, inside pipe. Even with this, had to disconnect the front base pipes and lash into an overlap position to get the zippers all the way down (was 4” spread). Throw away the stakes they gave you and buy 2’ stakes and hammer in securely, zip tied to base pipes and corner extensions, otherwise bye-bye greenhouse with the first wind. However, it IS breeze proof. Zip tie entire cover all the way around the base. The product review that says some guy put it up by himself in an hour must’ve been a company plant. After all that – it’s wonderful.
Saturday, March 23 View Page
Outfitted with 2 Amazon Basics 500-Watt Ceramic Personal Heaters ($16@)- (I pay 4Cents/KWH) controlled by a Bayite BTC201 Digital Temp Controller $35 (a really neat gadget). The hanging thermometer is inaccurate with the sun on the greenhouse but accurate after sunset. BUT – best of all, is the little orange gadget hanging behind it – An Elitech GSP-6 constant temp/humidity monitor ($40).. It gives graphs of 24hr temp and humidity and cycles over 12 weeks. Shows what really happening overnight - cool
Saturday, March 23 View Page
I hang all the probes at the same level in the middle of the greenhouse, but plan to change the setting on the GSP-6 to change the humidity probe to a 2nd temp probe and put just above ground level. Might even bury it in the patch later. Now let’s see if this is all worth it.
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
Raked off some the winter leaf mulch to let soil dry in prep for early rototilling and translocation of EL Cheapo greenhouse (still standing, despite all prediction)– hopefully as soon as I get back my soil sample reports from Western Labs and Penn State (sent last week).
Thursday, March 28 View Page
3/28 PSU Report in. pH 7.4. PO4, K+, Mg and Ca all exceed crop needs. Suggests 75lb/Ac N – so my 800 sf patch could go with a ½ of a 40lb bag of 10-10-10 with a bit left over. Western Labs should be here next week.
Thursday, March 28 View Page
I got no new seeds this year. No seed pak from our group, and I forgot to look at the auctions, but what I have left in the bucket should produce just fine. Again, my main candidate will be the 1795.5 McCracken ’16 -2145McMullen’x1625Gantner’15. Have 2 seeds which I will start a week apart. Also have a 1501.5Wagner’17(orange) which I hope is the 1795's companion in the patch this year (again, only 2 vines planned) a 1495.5 Sndyer ’17 and a 803 Clementz from a 1947x2145; Have 3 more seeds from orange kins, 2 >900 and 1 from a sentimental favorite - my first attempt – a 454 from 2015 with that 1717 Kulp'13 as a mom. Several other seeds have nice genetics. There’s potential here – now just gotta be other than stupid.
Tuesday, April 2 View Page
Rototilled a section of the patch the size of the greenhouse just to test the soil. Pleasantly surprised – not soggy, tilled nicely. Tomorrow plan to retill with 10-10-10 and construct the planting wells and hills, maybe move El Cheapo in place and stake down and the electric line. If all seems solid, will start seeds 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. Have an issue with upcoming trip – 10 days at beginning of May. Plants will have to be set outside on temp and water autopilot. Hmmm – not optimistic here
Wednesday, April 3 View Page
Final Candidates 1495.5 Snyder ‘17; 1613.5 McCracken’17; 1501.5 Wagner ’17 (orange); 1795.5 McCracken ‘16; I may have access to the 1146 Snyder ’17 through a friend
Wednesday, April 3 View Page
The final Cut – started the 1501 and the 1613 today. Filed edges of blunt 2/3 of the seed until just seeing the interior seed. I’ve had almost 100% germination doing that. Put them in a wet paper towel in a plastic lunch bag and into the incubator on a heating pad. Covered with a black plastic restaurant take-home container (seems to me, seeds expect it to be dark when they do their work - ? who knows). Keeping the 1795 and 1495 in reserve to start in 7-10 days as insurance against catastrophe due to bad judgement starting the others too early. Actually those 2 in reserve are my favorite entries and nervous about starting them so early. That greenhouse better be worth the price!
Thursday, April 4 View Page
Rotorilling in before the 2 days of rain starting tomorrow. Want to get the pH down a bit from the reported 7.4
Thursday, April 4 View Page
Initial amendments rototilled in before the 2 days of rain to start tomorrow. Hope to get thenpH down somewhat from thenreported 7.5
Saturday, April 6 View Page
Prepping the planting pit. 20 lbs of sterile dehydrated mushroom soil, handful of sulfates to control resulting alkaline pH, kelp meal, full handfuls of mycorrhizae, double pinch of Jack’s 20-20-20 soluble fertilizer and a pail of vermiculite. Heating cables ready to go.
Saturday, April 6 View Page
Cables in place
Saturday, April 6 View Page
El Cheapo moved from the practice area to the patch and staked down, with all the high tech ready to plant a pair of sseedlings before the end of April.
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
The 1501, day 2. Germinated in 4 days. And let the festivities begin! The 1613 McCracken hasn’t moved the dirt yet. Peaked – scratched away the dirt and found the seed swollen and interior bulging – should pop up in a day or so.
Thursday, April 11 View Page
Day 4 1501 with first true leaf. Day 1 on the 1603. Decided to get El Cheapo started. Turned on the heaters and heating cables to measure serial temperature over the next few 24-hour cycles at 4 ft above ground and ground level with the Elitech Data Logger and ground thermometers
Thursday, April 11 View Page
Just couldn’t wait to start 2nd salvo. The famed 1795 McCracken ’16 and MAGPA Howard Dill Award winner for most beautiful orange specimen Snyder 1495 ‘17. In plastic bags with wet paper towel. Other than filed edges, no other special preparation or potions.
Saturday, April 13 View Page
1501 1613 day 10 after planting. 1795 and 1495 started 2 days ago
Tuesday, April 16 View Page
Where is all starts
Tuesday, April 16 View Page
Sun out, temp 95 deg in greenhouse, dirt temp consistently 62 deg over cables. Night temps holding in mid 50’s by morning and promptly up to 80 shortly after sunrise. Upcoming temp show 50-60’s – the heaters should add another 10 deg to that, so - - - - - PLANTED the 1613 McCracken to officialyl start the season 3 weeks earlier than last year. Trying to beat the fungus in late Aug-Sept. 1501 to plant in 4-5 days a couple feet to the left in the same hill – choosing the best to occupy the west side of the patch for the summer. East side will keep either the 1795 or 1495. Hmmmm – may wind up with double McCrackens – Dennis, is that good luck or doom?
Friday, April 19 View Page
Neither the 1795 McCracken nor the 1495 Snyder seed sprouted. Dug them up – no action. I think I had the heating pad set too high the first day I put them in moist towels in plastic bags and baked them. Still had a final 1795 McCracken to restart and a nice orange 975 Gansert. This puts me a week behind and a potential pickle with my upcoming 10 day trip starting May 2.
Friday, April 19 View Page
So, with a delayed second team, I planted the 1501 that I held back in the east facing hill by itself, instead of accompanying the 1613. Warm days and warm nights (50-57) for the next week may give them a good start. Heating cables on, the 1500 watt heater on Thermostat, the 400 watt on constantly (can’t put them both on the thermostat – blows the thermostat fuse – thought I bought a better thermostat
Monday, April 22 View Page
1613 McCracken Day 15 since sprouting; Day 6 since planting. Ground temp 70 with cable on, 62 in area without cable. Temp varying 70 at night to 85-90 during day with thermostatically set heaters and (finally) some sun. Set drip irrigation 20 min every other day.
Thursday, April 25 View Page
McCracken 1613 day 15 (error above) – no set backs yet. El Cheapo greenhouse reached 120 yesterday before I remembered to open all the side panels. Overtaken the 1500 and so if a choice needs to be made between them later, the McC wins.
Thursday, April 25 View Page
1501 day 18 and lagging a bit. The 2 stunted 2nd leaves suggests the seedling got too close to the heating element in the incubator early on and slowed growth since – the McC 1795 came up 3 days later and has move than over taken the 1500. Seems to have recovered.
Thursday, April 25 View Page
Thank Goodness! a back up has emerged! My last famous McCracken 1795 seed. Whew. No sign of the accompanying 975 Gansert above ground yet. Dug it out – no action. Covered it back over and watered. Routing for the Gansert – nice orange fruit.
Monday, April 29 View Page
FROST last night! – temp outside exactly 32 deg at 0730 in shade (sun up). Checked Elitech record of last 10 days of greenhouse temps – green line at ground level middle, black at 4’ middle. Thermostat at 4’ against wall. 1200watt and 400 watt heaters on. All week interior night at set point of 60 deg until last 3 cold nights, 60 at ground, 50 at 4’. Heaters on ground and so blowing warm air at ground level (kins like that), Maybe ground heater cables added some warmth. Last night 46 and 40. Pumpkins and tomatoes look fine this morning. Whew! Supposed to warm up from now on.
Tuesday, April 30 View Page
Morning inspection: 1613 started to lay down overnight. Installed supports so that this life trauma doesn’t happen all at once, especially during the cool of the morning, risking a linear main stem split. Leaves 13”. It’s been a fantastic spring for flowering trees and rapidly growing beautiful green grass. Absolutely LOVE this love of year in PA!
Wednesday, May 1 View Page
Setting up for enforced autopilot for almost 2 weeks. Decided hot during day much bigger risk than night chill. Last night left 4 of 8 side panels open. Heater kept temp 58-60 with a 60 set point with an ambient temp down to 52 last night. Plants look normal. 1613 looks bigger and resting on supports – lowered supports– so best we can do. Will remove support tomorrow, leave 4 of 8 panels open and hopefully find no surprises upon return. A fellow grower will be checking things along the way.
Wednesday, May 15 View Page
Back from vacation, and it looks like El Cheapo green house and cruise control irrigation and heaters did their respective jobs, despite days of cold rain all week. No catastrophes. Main stem on the 1613 does have a kink, however, and a few longitudinal slits. Rest of plant looks great. The 1501 is OK as well. The back up 1795 is small but growing. Stored a tomato plant and 2 eggplants there are too, but gotta get them out; the 1501 is overrunning them. Plan to start erecting fencing very soon. The 1613 will be out of the green house in a few days. Plan to move the entire unit to cover only the 1501, leaving the 1613 out in the brutal world.
Thursday, May 16 View Page
1613: 51”x 46”. Largest leaf- 20”. The 1501 is about 2/3 of that. Growing end 6” from front of tent, will have to leave the lower end of the flap open starting tomorrow and get that fence started – probably a small interior fence and do the final circumference later when have time.


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