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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 145 Entries.
Sunday, January 1 View Page
Let's grow a pumpkin...
Sunday, January 1 View Page
But first... potatoes. They make digging the grass out more fun... Every bit of grass has potatoes under it. The advantage of harvesting them in late summer is they will be less muddy, also better quality because later freezing temps will cause the starch to convert to sugar. But the advantage of leaving them in the ground is nearly effortless food security. As long as there isnt sufficient habitat for pests or disease they can just be grown perennially in the same spot. Its a lot less work than digging and replanting. Ideally I would dig out all the perennial weeds or grasses in the fall and any accompanying potatoes but then do nothing other than add enough compost to get another crop in the same spot the next year.
Monday, January 2 View Page
The home made soil from tree duff has the perfect texture for watering and was ok for germination but I can tell the nutrient availability is still off. Probably phosphorous, I'd guess. Round 2 might skip the miracle grow and just use some bone meal and boron.
Wednesday, January 4 View Page
One lid of seeds = 1 jar of sprouts. I guess people use broccoli but in this case I am using kale, which is genetically so close it should be pretty much the same. Sprinkle some kale seeds around your garden and grow a few kale plants this year. Capture the seeds to make sprouts otherwise one plant can make this many sprouts appear in your garden...
Friday, January 6 View Page
Real or fake, who can tell anymore!
Wednesday, January 11 View Page
I have newish ideas to try every year plus I have to relearn all the stuff I've already learned, it seems. Some great genetics and I feel bad I cant give them all a perfect chance at becoming something great. But depending how this experiment goes... and the next experiment... maybe something is possible. First thing is I've gotta quit soaking seeds in water and switch to paper towels, as paper towels are much more forgiving as far as rot goes (if I get distracted for 24 hours or more, which I invariably do...). I'll post more about this silly experiment in about 2 weeks!
Thursday, January 12 View Page
YUP, all set!
Friday, January 13 View Page
Previous photo/Experiment notes: test subjects starting front right around clockwise, 210 Hochstetler, 528.5 "S. Martin x self", 578 Kibbie, 535 Hockley. Center = 721 Hockley.
Tuesday, January 17 View Page
Pathogens need mobility because they destroy their host. Hence they have to be mobile, in order to find a new host. The good guys in the soil want a stable, long lasting symbiosis because they benefit from their host. Oversaturation is bad because it gives the bad guys (phytophthora) a way to be mobile, rather than inert. Also reduced oxygen slows down the plant root's respiration/growth which is its main defence. That's my two-prong understanding of why very wet soils are bad... Is there a third prong maybe?
Thursday, January 19 View Page
1500 watt hps at 18". I already blanched some plants. Unfortunately the Hockley seeds did not germinate hence its down to a three way competition/experiment now. And yes, I will raise the light up a bit.
Monday, January 23 View Page
I have a good idea regarding getting a large plant out early. Something you've never seen before. Stay tuned...
Thursday, January 26 View Page
Einie meanie minie moe, if it hollers let it grow! Test 2 will get underway soon.
Friday, January 27 View Page
First the results of the 1st experiment. I grew these on a tray so the root depth is 2" at most. The amount of dirt is approximately that of a 2 gallon pot (nominal, may not really be 2 gallons). To keep it short and sweet all I've really learned so far is that I need to be more careful with the fertilizer. The Hochstetler plants are more robust but their leaves got burned by an excess of fertilizer applied to the soil the Kibbie plants didnt get burned even though they are growing in the same tray.
Sunday, January 29 View Page
(No pic, sorry...) The roots were thickly matted but also nicely spread out on the bottom of the tray. I did plant them, not sure they will survive this next freeze, but had to try because I am ever too hopeful and never sufficiently discouraged...
Monday, January 30 View Page
574.5 Mercer, 1676.5 Daletas 2012 and a mystery seed, a pepo I think, maybe a zucchini. The Daletas got a 12 hour head start soaking. These will be round 2. Round 1 got obliterated by the current arctic air blast, oops.
Tuesday, January 31 View Page
One idea. The dirt is in a plastic bag/ wood stick medical stretcher. The idea here is that after its planted in a shallow depression I will be able to pull the plastic out, by pulling the bottom layer of plastic which will peel the upper layer out from under the pumpkin plant, and not move or harm the roots.
Tuesday, January 31 View Page
Another pic. I dont have holes in the bottom because the roots would come out the holes. Instead, this setup relies on one's "not-overwatering" skills. But there's good air in the dirt and evaporation because the depth of the dirt is relatively shallow, so in case there is any overwatering, it will dry faster and damage the roots less. Lifting the tray should give a good sense of how much water is in the dirt. (I usually only get the top half inch wet when I water the plants, then let the soil absorb it down from there...)
Tuesday, January 31 View Page
With this setup it may or may not be helpful to have a second person to help with the planting. Onto the next idea...
Tuesday, January 31 View Page
Next idea... Wood frame plus kitchen garbage sack... Lifted the thin garbage sack with the toolbox on it which weighs 25-30 lbs, and it held. So hopefully it wont fail when I make the frame a bit deeper and add about 5 gallons of dirt. This might give me a really big plant that can easily be moved into the garden. Having all the roots spreading out wide & shallow will (in theory) solve the problem of the low soil temps and less oxygen deeper down in the ground. The plant will have all spring & summer to send roots deeper and my soil isnt deep anyhow so really laterally will be a better direction for the roots to grow anyhow. So since it will take 4 weeks to get the size plants I want... I figure it will be a month before the next round of plants is ready to go outside. Some years we've had snow all month in March, other years our last frost was in February... I dont have an accurate 1 month forcast, so rolling the dice here!!!
Saturday, February 4 View Page
I threw some fertilizer on the ground, now I am pulling the rotten bale over atop the little zone of fertilizer/amendments. No till/ no dig... just going to percolate water through the rotten bale. I think a soggy hay bale is actually not that friendly to healthy roots, but hopefully there can be a zone of nutrients/healthy roots under the bale... Target grow area has a little bit of rye. About 1000 ft available, I'd be happy just to get the plant to take up 600-700 ft though. Less is more this year...?
Saturday, February 4 View Page
We are gonna try give Dale Marshall an early person to draft off of for a month. By we I mean me and little Monsterette. The Daletas is slow, barely germ @ 10 years old but I think its alive. It will have to in the next tray it would get its butt kicked by these two. Pretty excited to try Suburban's seed, all the way if all goes well. Ps previous pic, blue line was supposed to show the cable ratchet I was using to tip the round bales over. It worked quite well.
Sunday, February 5 View Page
80+ lbs of blood/bone compost. Check. 40 lbs of high potassium fertilizer with micronutrients. Check. Its easy for certain spoiled city folk to "not believe in using chemicals like miracle grow" but here's the alternative. Yuck! (If you are eating, don't look too closely at this pic.)
Sunday, February 5 View Page
Just one truckload of dirt, and one rickety pvc hoophouse, and one boiling barrel of water away from a 'go for launch.' First week of March maybe? Ps 7.95 Young tomato came up, only planted 1 so 1/1 germination. (They all look like good seeds.) So I will have an ultra early tomato bush too if things go well.
Monday, February 6 View Page
Planted an autographed 'DY' 1622 Young 2011. Now thats something you cant do with a baseball card. Maybe that seed was worth a fortune, idk. Too late now, its already gotten soaked for a bit & now its proceeding into the Clayton 2023 lineup... 14 years old so its probably now or never.
Monday, February 6 View Page
Since typos are getting the best of me, I'll go with a pic.
Monday, February 6 View Page
I thought this was a really good look at the affect of seed age on germination! Left to right, a fresh seed (1 or 2 years), a 4 year old seed, and an 11 year old seed. These were planted at the same time, (the 11 year old seed was actually presoaked ahead of the other two)... but even so its lagging way behind... this is why old seeds can be started a full week ahead of new seeds for approximately equal planting date! They can be very slow out of the gate.
Wednesday, February 8 View Page
1622 Young 2009 gets the old seed "tissue culture style" germination. If its alive it should begin to green up in 2-3 days. If its totally dead it will remain white. I will spray it with H202 and re-rinse as needed. When they are this weak, even the beneficial organisms aren't really beneficial. The way beneficial organisms work is the plant basically pays them to be beneficial (with extra energy/sucrose). And these old seeds simply do not have any extra energy to pay the "good guys". Without that root exudate "payment" they cant do their job so it ends up making more sense to just keep things sterile.
Wednesday, February 8 View Page
Some further explanation if you want to understand the setup in the previous picture: The white seed embryo in the pic was taken out of a presoaked seed. The seed was planted in starting mix for a couple days, but no root showed in 48-72 hours, so --in my experience-- that likely means the seed does not have much vigor and its at risk of rotting. ... Thus, since its been moist long enough, its now possible strip the seed coat and embryo sack relatively easily without damaging the embryo (the root tip is the critical part, you can accidently break bits of cotyledon edge off and thats not a huge deal but if you break the root tip off then its all over! So starting at the edge break the seed coat off bit by bit then work your way down until you remove enough of the seed coat to be able to gently free the root tip.) The soda lid may provide some extra heat and humidity, but its not really necessary, just some occasional misting might be helpful, (or even better) because mold actually needs humidity more than the seed embryo does. If you have further questions please post in the seed starting forum, or email me!
Thursday, February 9 View Page
Good weather. First pollen today (on bees legs). Not having much luck with anything other than the weather.
Friday, February 10 View Page
Planted 6.xx young tomatoes x 4 and 7.95's x 4. Its probably way too early but oh well. Planted 1486 Gadberry. Also too early I'm sure, but I guess I enjoy the challenge/ pushing the boundaries. The 1622 Young 09 appears to be dead... too old. I guess it should have been left in its packet for its "baseball card seed" novelty.
Tuesday, February 14 View Page
Setting up a "rocket stove" to heat a barrel of water.
Tuesday, February 14 View Page
I had infrared foil and sunlight helping. The rocket stove was very efficient it didnt burn much quantity of wood but the wood being a bit wet kept the fire temp a bit low. It heated the water to about 110 degrees, which I then dumped onto the floor of the greenhouse hut. All of this has no purpose other than trying an alternative heating method (besides electricity). Granted electricity is cheap so it saved very little money maybe $5. Last year the heating effect lasted about 10 days. Temps in the 20's tonight so wondering how much this heating method can boost that. Just experimenting. It didnt consume much wood, hence the rocket stove setup has proved itself superior to a standard camp fire in that regard.
Wednesday, February 15 View Page
The heating didnt do as much as I had hoped. It raised the temp 10 degrees or so which is about the same as last year. I think if I had used boiling water I think it would have raised the temp 15-20 degrees, but this requires a foolproof plan to not get scalded and it would also require bone dry wood to fuel the rocket stove.
Saturday, February 18 View Page
Hopefully just one more cold blast before the winter is done here. 8/8 good germination of the Young tomatoes, which I am excited to try. All 8 could go in a one long hoophouse just for them. I need to remember that lots of healthy roots will be what makes or breaks possibly getting a big tomato. After that, it will probably mostly be luck, since I'm still a bit short on brains, lol...
Monday, February 20 View Page
Trying to make apple cider vinegar from the apple pulp from my cider making. Meanwhile, I think I made some pretty good hard apple cider. I dont think the constantly increasing alcohol smell has been good for me though. A 5 gallon bucket of fermented pulp made these halfway finished jars... and a big mess too. The "Roma sauce maker" hand auger press that I used to squeeze the pulp worked like a champ.
Tuesday, February 21 View Page
Every year I vow "to not do any more gardening" until I build a garden shed, and it never happens... I start a bunch of seeds and the cycle starts all over again, again with no good place to store my tools or fertilizers. I guess having zero knack for carpentry is whats really holding me back. Maybe I need to watch some of those youtube videos where people make things look easy. Or I could draw inspiration from watching a real dummy-- then I could say to myself, "Gee, I could do better than THAT."
Thursday, February 23 View Page
Winter tomato liked the sodium bulb a lot, it went crazy. Pumpkins on the other hand have been unhappy with the homemade potting mix. So... round 3 coming up, one last attempt to salvage this debacle. (There wont be a Round 4/ Round 4 will be the purchase of a bag of potting mix.)
Thursday, February 23 View Page
1486 Gadberry is the next contestant. Shallow tray, only a few inches deep of the home made potting mix, but the roots might spread outward more, which will be an important factor in getting a successful, shock free ultra early start. (My theory.) The white stuff is just some coarse dolomite. Its basically sand, so coarse it wont change the ph too drastically. Using it to brighten the grow space, since I'm paying for the lights I want to reflect light off the dirt if possible. Save $, or get a slightly more robust plant, maybe? Maybe.
Friday, February 24 View Page
Suburban gardner-- I will try to keep little Monsterette going as well. No luck with the weather forcast so far though. Going below 20 Fahrenheit tonight Its probably warmer up in Alaska. My redneck foolery cant overcome this level of cold.
Sunday, February 26 View Page
The thing about these tray-type setups is that if the dirt gets pushed around at all, big cracks will form and presumably this isnt great for the roots. Here, I thought the dirt was resting (hanging, really) only on the plastic but it was also resting on the bottom of the tray. I know the way Im saying this isnt going to make much sense. Long & short of it is that I want a healthy mat of roots and I dont want the soil to be cracking like this, just because it can!
Sunday, February 26 View Page
I spread the coarse dolomite directly onto these pepper seeds, about 1/4 inch so that there would be enough weight on the seeds that they could pull the seed coats off. Thought the high ph might kill them but it worked great. Proves the coarse dolomite isnt too chemically harsh. They look like they are doing well in their miniature "white sands national monument" lol. Peppers are touchy seedlings-- its easy to mess them up especially with overwatering.
Wednesday, March 1 View Page
The latest redneck attempt-- I heated a barrel of water a bit hotter probably 150. Sure enough when I dumped it some splashed on my boot so it was good that I was wearing boots and that it wasnt boiling. The soil temp was 40 last I checked. So, maybe it should be 50 now? I also made room for a barrel of organics, to add a natural heat source. So this little hoophouse will be my version of a walipini greenhouse, its dug almost 3' down in the middle. Put some LEDs on my wish list.
Tuesday, March 7 View Page
I made a "rocket stove" out of a large round of wood. It worked very well. But transplanting the pumpkins on the plastic did not go well. The plastic stuck to everything way more than I would have guessed so I couldnt pull it out from under the plants. Then I accidentally broke the largest leaf on Monsterette so Monsterette is rather hopeless now, as with all my punpkin efforts thus far. I did plant my kid's giant cucumbers though and that went well. I'm not really hoping for a giant cucumber I'm actually just hoping for some edible cucumbers to go with the winter grow cherry tomatoes. I might regain my sanity and just wait until April or May. The forcast still isnt that good, not even for growing things in a hoophouse.
Tuesday, March 7 View Page
I couldnt figure out what the heck was wrong with that homemade soil mix, but when I was attempting to transplant the pumpkins today I figured out that they were waterlogged lower down, despite drying out on top. So all of my guesswork about missing nutrients was the wrong concern. It was all because their little feet were way too wet (in my experience this always ruins the uptake of minerals regardless of the prevalence of those minerals).
Friday, March 10 View Page
Started 3 x 1133 Yohe Squashkins 1 x 1702 Sherwood Thanks for the seed exchange seeds everyone! I got to rethinking the flat tray thing after pumpkinpal sent me an email. I can resolve some of the problems. Winter is really dragging its feet this year, I think number one on my bucket list: one of these years... is to literally hibernate.
Sunday, March 12 View Page
Potted the Young tomatoes up. In front 6.48 x 4 and 7.95 x 4. I'd be quite happy even if this was the only thing I was able to grow this year. The tomato plant in the back is the 'Koralik' variety this plant was volunteer that sprouted out of my homemade back around Christmas. I had no clue it would go this crazy... The semi determinate habit is neat it seems like it would be perfect for a porch or patio. It self prunes in a way that just creates oodles of little tomatoes. And they taste good. The best part is, these 'Koralik' seeds (hopefully!) made it out to most of the seed exchange participants. The original strain was from Territorial Seed Co. but the ones that went into the seed exchange might have been selected from a plant that produced slightly larger tomatoes.
Sunday, March 12 View Page
*homemade potting mix (No superb results so far. I hope the Young tomatoes tolerate it well enough.) Peppers and celery, next.
Thursday, March 16 View Page
1487 Gadberry x 1 First nice weather we've had, wish I had a bigger plant to set out. This one took forever tp germinate but its got healthy roots. EZ part done, now just need 21 ft of vine and a female flower!
Thursday, March 16 View Page
Weird wint started his tomatoes at about the same time, and used some the same seeds. If you check his latest entry you can see his plants look different. I thought this was interesting. Im not sure whose plants will grow a bigger tomato, all I can say is I took a big risk on my homemade seed mix after poor results the first two times. I spent about an hour trying to figure out what was wrong and finally came to the conclusion that there was excess chloride interfering with sulfer uptake. Anyhow I flushed the soil with dilute magnesium sulfate water. It seems to have worked and they are now recovering and growing. Anyhow, thats some of the difference in how our plants look.
Saturday, March 18 View Page
Hut, hut, Grow! 300 sq ft
Saturday, March 18 View Page
I used bamboo rather than pvc. Worked GREAT. Bamboo grow huts this year... environmentally friendly and frankly better than pvc. This hut is just for stir fry type veggies, 1702 Sherwood planted yesterday in a different hut though. With it I am trying an "almost direct seeding" method where the roots wont be constrained. Adding superphosphate, cal nitrate, blood meal, maybe ammonium sulfate, epsom salt, coarse dolomite lime, and standard mircacle grow. My flash-in-the pan nutrient wake up recipe. I might add bone meal atop the ground too and let the worms deal with it. Fish fertilizer would be really good for early season nutrients but I dont have any.
Saturday, March 18 View Page
The variety of bamboo I have to work with is called incense bamboo. If you're up for trying growing bamboo, I recommend this variety. Ive had it for a number of years, its over 20 feet tall but the canes are still getting bigger every year. If you're slightly clever, its like free pvc!
Saturday, March 18 View Page
My Stihl electric chainsaw works good on it. A miter-box type hand saw should work...? Something with fine teeth. Spring is finally here! Have a great year...
Saturday, March 18 View Page
Advancing Eco Ag Nutrient Diagram... their website is what helped me diagnose the chloride problem. Lots of other stuff to try to understand. Part of the experiment with the 1702 Sherwood is to add no heat at all. Today was sunny, so off to a good start. Two layers of clear plastic on the ground around the plant, one layer over the plant (for a grow hut) plus an extra layer at night. With just one sunny day measured the soil at 80 degrees 2" down and 56 degrees 5" down. So perhaps the root zone currently just 3" down was right on target at 70 or so. I wish I had a large plant to set out, but maybe it is for the best, because a large plant could outgrow my gimpy grow tents a bit too fast.
Sunday, March 19 View Page
I burned the grass off some new plots. Unfortunately, the rhizomes are still there. Its really great to get rid of the slugs and bugs and disease though. I wonder if there is a cover crop that could be burned off, but not have the pernicious rhizomes? It takes a somewhat thick layer of thatch to get an effective burn and I'm not sure the best way to recreate that.
Tuesday, March 21 View Page
Uh oh, nearly potbound. 1133 Yohe Squashkin needs a new home.
Tuesday, March 21 View Page
Tray method, 3rd try... I decided on seven layers of newspaper because its already soaked from the potting mix and it needs to have some integrity to survive pulling the plastic out from under it later. Damp newspaper is of course very weak. I could have used a number of other things to give a biodegradeable platform for the dirt to sit on such as very thin strips of wood lathe or cardboard but hopefully this will be enough strength (I may let the soil dry a bit prior to planting through.)
Tuesday, March 21 View Page
The plastic bags were cut on the bottom corners on the inside where they are crimped. This is important to create a space for the holder sticks, which will lift everything off the tray, and later at planting another cut will be made up the edge of the bag, at which point the bag will just be a doubled layer of plastic and pulling the bottom layer will theoretically free the plant from anything non-permeable/ non-biodegradable.
Tuesday, March 21 View Page
Two yellow/golden chain trees from the seed exchange sprouted which is cool, although I think I planted around 10 seeds. They are showing a severe iron or zinc chlorosis whereas the tomato looks to be ok. Its interesting that some plants will give indications of soil deficiencies which are more easily observeable than others. Any signs of a deficiency in the tomato plant is much more subtle. The onions are from seed I saved. I've got a large amount but I wasn't sure if the seed was any good so I didnt include it in the seed exchange. Good germination, well then... if it grows some nice onions I can send it in next year.
Tuesday, March 21 View Page
My new favorite tool is a two prong broad fork. Its doing great at harvesting potatoes and its quite effective against my wire grass and bindweed/morning glory nemesii and it tills the soil almost effortlessly, with the least damage to the soil tilth and worms... I wasnt too keen on it when I first contructed it (destructed, really... took two center prongs off of a four prong tool) but now its like, how could I live without it! Might post a pic of it tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 21 View Page
Winter is over, my winter tomato grow yielding some ripe cherry tomatoes. Might be sick of cherry tomatoes soon. I didnt know what variety it was when it sprouted. Obviously not how to grow a big one.
Wednesday, March 22 View Page
Possibly should have divided the plastic into four pieces for the 'tray method.' Adding some cardboard should help instead. Just redoing it to give more depth. I don't see how this could fail. Famous last words:)
Wednesday, March 22 View Page
The tray holds about 2 gallons of dirt. Using my best garden dirt rather than potting mix, I deep froze it to give a bug free start. The cots are weird at the moment, so soaking 1643 Kisamore's as backups. So the current lineup is: 1133 Yohe x 2 1487 Gadberry x 1 1702 Sherwood x 1 1643 Kisamore x 2 Whichever plants seem the most promising by the end of April will get the most care, and I will try for a decent result from one or two of them.
Friday, March 24 View Page
Some observations here, first is that everything is struggling with nitrogen despite my attempts to care about that early season issue, I'm probably just not adding enough. Low oxygen, low temps, less-than- sunny-days, nothing favors root growth. But if the nitrogen is very close to the existing roots the plants can maybe pick it up and thrive, some are doing ok, maybe in the spots where some blood meal was very close to the roots? So a bit of improvement is needed either targeting the small roots directly or via foliar spray. The nutrients need to be very close, basically in contact with the roots. Kind of a 'duh' thing I guess. Second is the soil temps were as good or better under the double layer of plastic laid on the ground for simple solar heat collection than in the area where I dumped 55 gallons of hot water?? So it seems the single or double plastic (or a lasagna of plastic scraps) achieves what I want, which is an acceptable soil temp. for the top 6" for less work. Interesting. Last of all the rotted round hay bales started to further "spontaneously combust" they used to be cold but now one is at 70+ the other is at 90 degrees. This is providing as much heat as running a small heater. They have a lot of mass plus they generate a bit of their own heat plus they are wrapped in white plastic so they reflect light well. They generate CO2 (...maybe too much, if I close the tent, between them and the soil they might be stealing all the oxygen). Anyhow, I think all this new info I am getting could help me be successful. Its exciting.
Friday, March 24 View Page
Using the envelope the SNGPG newsletter came in to sketch out a possible 150 sq ft solution. I have plenty of indestructible 5 ft cedar to make square garden beds.
Friday, March 24 View Page
I've figured out that Four 3,4,5 right triangles = 24 sq ft. Add in five 5x5 squares = 125 sq ft. Equals 149 sq ft total. With these basic shapes there should be endless good and bad configurations. I'll do most of the work, but maybe I will let the younger kids pick the seed, plant the seed, and/or design the patch. Three kids x three tasks, so no fighting right??? This should be fun for them and it may be interesting for me.
Saturday, March 25 View Page
Again, seeing how effective the clear plastic is at keeping the ground warm. Ground temp measured 65 this evening 5-6" down, even with one end of the hut open. No heating cables, in the midst of a horrible spring cold front! The plastic on the ground IS the way to go. My other double plastic tent gets quite hot during the day, but the ground temp there is 10 degrees cooler. I'm sure if I put plastc on the ground there, the temps would go up there as well. The tomatoes will need to be transplanted out soon. This could make a huge difference, it will help avoid a total disaster anyhow.
Tuesday, March 28 View Page
150 ft idea. This design has a perimeter equal to Steve's 6x25 setup. I'm not having any luck with the AGs this year. I haven't got any plants I feel good about yet. I guess I'll just keep trying. I would like to pick a pumpkin in mid August for the southwest WA fair but if I get it one on track for a personal best it will be tempting to leave it on longer. Its been a frigid spring so far. Dandelion #2 was in full bloom today but all the fruit trees, daffodils, etc. are budded up tight still.
Thursday, March 30 View Page
Main patch today. I started a whole bunch of seeds, only looking for two good plants, can sell any extras on the side of the road, but at the rate I am going its going it may take 40 or so seeds to get two good plants. Considering I have about 4,000 AG seeds of my own and 400 packs from other growers, even at this rate I still have a lifetime's worth. Giant celery from GiantVegSeeds.com came up/germinating well. Thank you Mr. Fortey. A bit of a late start on these but oh well...
Friday, March 31 View Page
Two 150 ft configurations. Perimeter (P) should be 61 for the one on the left, not 63. Steve's winning pumpkin had a patch perimeter of 62 ft. I dont want to fudge with the perimeter in ways that would be unsportsmanlike. Even though my chances of winning are around 10,000:1 against I'm nevertheless still interested "in what would be fair." Even a regular patch 1375 would still be quite an acheivement for me. Anyhow, those are the two designs I came up with. Both designs based on 5 ft squares, half squares, and 3,4,5 triangles.
Friday, March 31 View Page
Or here, back to the Easter themed 150 sq ft pumpkin patch. This would have a perimeter of 70 (14 x 5' sides). Fair competition wise, it looks fair enough to me, although having more perimeter does give places to hang some extra leaves out past where the vines must end.
Saturday, April 1 View Page
Finally growing, tucked in the jungle here is the 1133 Yohe squashkin which will compete directly with some of my 541 seeds. The plants like the hps bulb, its a lot like growing in Florida sunshine, although it costs 3x more to run than a strong LED would. HPS is costing me $1 a day not too bad, using it since Christmas = $100. (An expensive cherry tomato plant, they are ripe now and they are quite delicious, the quality is same as the best outdoor tomatoes, no joke!!!) An LED would pay for itself in a few years. On the other hand, every LED I've ever had has broken within a few years. The T-5s win for best all around setup. They score points for being pleasantly trouble-free, very little can go wrong.
Saturday, April 1 View Page
Snowing. Nature's way of saying that starting things here prior to April 1st is foolish.
Monday, April 3 View Page
Tomatoes have gotten fully acclimatized to very cold outdoor temps not sure thats a good thing though. I can see the first flower buds, but I'm worried I wont be able to get any of them to grow properly because the plants have switched to survival mode. Frigid & snowy weather for the past few days, with more to come. I think at this point only some some fish fertilizer could snap them back to life, but I dont have any on hand. Such a cold spring.
Monday, April 3 View Page
Well the tomatoes needed to get planted so they went into this tent. The other area where they were going to go can be used for something else. The home made potting mix was again surprisingly soggy, I could try airpots or something. The problem is that it isnt wicking the water up very well. When the surface gets dry but it doesnt wick the water up from the bottom of the pot. I made the some bee tea since I dont have any fish fertilizer. The bee tea is good amino acid type stuff, but it might not have enough calcium. Horrible weather. Just doing the best I can.
Tuesday, April 4 View Page
Such a terrible spring its like we are having a second winter... Its forcing me to rethink everything.
Tuesday, April 4 View Page
Good weather for growing... moss?
Wednesday, April 5 View Page
Pumpkin off the plastic tray now, and into the grow tent... will this new method work?
Wednesday, April 5 View Page
The plastic bag was stuck solid to the newspaper but eventually I successfully pulled it free. My conclusion here was that a thin layer of sand/grit could possibly reduce the stickiness between the newspaper and the plastic.
Wednesday, April 5 View Page
2nd piece was easier. So I think I did the impossible, and got this method to work. It really went well. Better than the gallon pots I've used in the past. I surrounded the tray with the compost so the roots can continue to spread laterally which is what I want this time of year. I put blood meal and rock phosphorous under the plant and gave it a little "beehive tea." I'm very curious to see if this setup results in a good plant. BTW the best plant in these pictures is the 1133 Yohe squashkin, but there is also a 1643 Kisamore and a couple of my 541's. These would all be fun to grow, but it will slowly get thinned to a one-plant PB attempt, the other plants might get used for tissue tests and/or as pollen. A big problem with an ultra early start is there wont be a lot of males around. I have a pot of my 424's for my 150 sq ft entry, but after that no backup plants, so I guess I need to start even more seeds.
Thursday, April 6 View Page
Trying a new tray, this time with some sand/grit between the plastic and the newspaper. Other gardening news, the wyoming rhubarb from the exotic seed exchange is sprouting... Which is cool, rhubarb doesnt always have the best germination but there's 13 of em up so far.
Thursday, April 6 View Page
It took 4 of the orange pots to fill this tray, which are nominal 1 gallon size but I think they only hold a half gallon, so about 2 gallons of dirt. Next year I could try a bigger tray but I'm not sure how much that would really help grow a bigger pumpkin, since a really large plant really early would quickly be subject to half a dozen or so other limiting factors.
Thursday, April 6 View Page
The newspaper wicks excess water out from under the plant which is useful especially because the main problem with my potting mix was not wicking any water up. Its too bad my supply of newspaper (kids wont even know what it is) is coming to an end... I think brown paper bags would be the next best thing. Caught up on reading everyone's diaries, now I gotta find a few hours to tackle Jadam/Korean farming.
Thursday, April 6 View Page
Posting too much. But still there's a lot I don't post, lol. I started my 378 squashkins for backups. Both plants had good traits, it would sure be crazy to end up growing two squashkins but I havent saved any other seed in the past three years (if I have I cant find it) so for vigor and maybe an orange pumpkin (I read that green x orange should = orange) its a logical choice. Smaller parentage so maybe not weigh-off winner but maybe its got some potential for nice porch pumpkins.
Sunday, April 9 View Page
Soil temp 60 outside temp 50. Nicer weather next weekend. No hurry, but probably run the space heater a bit to keep things from stalling completely.
Sunday, April 9 View Page
4" so far. About 15 ft to go lol. Having the grow light over to the side in the direction I want the plants to go is helping, even the smallest one which is the McMillan is tipping in the correct direction. So I should have three going in the correct direction. I will probably not cull any right away despite being cramped. There is a benefit to having more than one plant which is it effectively divides the number of insect pests by the number of plants and they do better as a group kinda like wildebeests huddled together on the Serengeti do better than a single one out on its own. But most growers have other ways to get rid of any bug pest pressure, and for them there wont be a benefit to grouping plants together other than to compare the growth rates.
Monday, April 10 View Page
I've started some La Rue marrows and the 2356 Booth. Not sure what the plan is yet for the Booth, maybe a pollinator, idk. I want to do the master gardener thing. Not at all in an I-want-to-win way but just as a challenge to see if I can do it. In order to enter the minimum five categories, I will attempt a pumpkin, field kin, marrow, watermelon, and tomato.
Monday, April 10 View Page
This is a different sort of paper towel method: I dried these tomato seeds on a paper towel but then as they dried they got stuck to it so then I just figured, "what the heck" and I planted the whole piece of paper towel, with the seeds from an entire tomato on it. If I can separate them, a month from now I will be selling or giving away some nice tomato starts!
Tuesday, April 11 View Page
No 60+ degree weather in the 10 day forcast... uggh. Pacific Northwest gardening calendar 2023: January, February, Marchuary, Apriluary... & Mayuary next I suppose. The daffodils did finally bloom though. Nary another bud has popped.
Tuesday, April 11 View Page
Soil fertility experiment/ extra plants to sell.
Tuesday, April 11 View Page
Trying the best I can but after 2 days of no sun the plants have stalled, it has literally been raining 48 hours straight with no breaks. Its driving me nuts. I took the heater away from the plants because I figured I didnt need "fast" growth but that was a mistake because now I've got no growth. Moved the grow light closer; its been dark out even during the day.
Thursday, April 13 View Page
I put a thermometer in the grow hut overnight and it showed the plants have been colder at night than I thought, even though the soil temp reads 60 and the daytime temps are 60-80, the temp last night hit a low of 39 inside the hut... this is a good explanation for why they seem hesitant to grow at full speed. I guess I was being nave and over optimistic. If thats the only problem, then that will be an easy fix! In other pumpkin news, I used a new method to do a seed germination test of an old Mombert x Halbert seed I grew quite awhile ago. I used a rinse & repeat method very similar to the method making alfalfa or broccoli sprouts, where I soaked ALL of the seeds (200 or so) in a quart jar for half a day, and after that I i drained the water, and after that I rinsed them with water twice a day. The germination was poor, only about ten seeds sprouted, but nevertheless it seemed like a good method, and if growers had chlorinated water, I think it would work even better. I could see this being a useful technique for selecting the last good seeds from hundreds of old seeds where most are dead. With this method, its easy to spot the roots and pick out the ones that are still good. It doesn't require a large amount of paper towels or potting mix to narrow it down to the best ones. Just water and a mesh screen But it only makes sense to do this for very poor germinating seeds where whole lot is otherwise slated to be compost/trash, and the opportunity to plant them is now or never... Because once they are soaked there is no turning back.
Thursday, April 13 View Page
Just water and a mesh screen, and some hydrogen peroxide maybe. A shorter soak time might reduce rot a bit, but either way as long as the water is clean and fresh and the seeds are rinsed regularly then its not a bad method. Rinsing them 3-4 times a day might be better but twice a day seems to be ok. No pics yet, sorry.
Friday, April 14 View Page
I have one tomato plant which is crazy strong, but of course I forget what various things I gave that plant. For all the posting I do its far from adequate in terms of record keeping. I still dont have a simple logbook of what I've done each day. Nor do I have a plan for how to spend my time and resoucres wisely, except I am getting a truckload of free compost from my neighbor every saturday. My scattershot approach has hit the mark a few times this year. I have one tomato plant that looks like it is on steroids. I did something right, not sure exactly what. Now I can try to get them all to look that way.
Friday, April 14 View Page
Season is over. Elaine has decided to allow contempt of court charges to proceed against me, will be spending 90 days in jail during the height of summer... my guess is that will affect my ability to garden. Anna, on the other hand, declined to persue any contempt of court charges against me. You can guess which ex I like better right now! Thanks a lot Elaine.
Friday, April 14 View Page
I learned a lot this year already though, so its all good. Someday I'll be back at it... Grow big y'all.
Monday, April 24 View Page
Hang in there, grower friends. And to my non-grower frienemies, God's blessings be upon you.
Tuesday, April 25 View Page
"Scribbling and bibbling, bibbling and scribbling." -Amadeus Gonna be so hot later this week maybe I can direct seed some field kins. Maybe even solarize a spot for a watermelon.
Tuesday, April 25 View Page
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Tuesday, April 25 View Page
...Won't you be my pumpkin. I haven't babied this plant too much, just trying to avoid any epic fails. The 1" hardware cloth is useful in that regard, its quite sturdy really. Dealing with the usual cold weather bs nutrient-wise, I believe critically low in manganese & zinc mostly. Pretty sure the nitrogen is there, it just cant process it & make chloroplasts without the manganese. I did overestimate how warm the plant was at night plus and while the roots probably arent too cold the compost/soil/soil biology I'm using is maybe only halfway awake from its winter slumber... adding heat is like a person setting an alarm for 5 am, the micro organisms keep hitting the snooze button, you just cant fool them into working 12 hour days, not without giving them a triple-overtime pay raise anyhow.
Tuesday, April 25 View Page
Straight from grow huts to sun shields, which is just a matter of fastening the plastic higher up and leaving at least one side open. Foreground: I am not sure if the biochar thing is helping other than darker soil warms up faster. It has a high CEC so I can be wishful and think it will maintain higher levels of soil fertility rather than to have all the nutrients getting washed away. I actually applied a nutrient drench directly onto the "straw charcoal". Maybe this will cause amazing results. Who knows.
Wednesday, April 26 View Page
150 sq ft plant has a ways to go. The "tray method" needs further revision, these plants are effectively potbound because the roots are choosing to not penetrate the damp newspaper despite it being soft. Also I think the newspaper (plus my homemade potting mix) holds moisture too well. Other than that, there's lots of roots extending outwards which was the goal. Hence it's not a total fail, but it does needs some improvement. As it currently is, it's creating as many problems as it solves.
Saturday, April 29 View Page
Garlic (foreground) looks identical to rye (background). 2nd day of solarizing Ive got about 300 feet under clear plastic which will be lightly toasted by this evening... helps with weeds and bugs. The remaining 400 ft can get solarized later in June if the plant needs more space. If everything goes well the final 1133 Yohe plant (or 541 Clayton) can be 650-750 sq ft. Unfortunately the McMillan isnt looking like a viable choice.
Thursday, May 4 View Page
Slow and steady. Secondaries are coming along well, the sunny weather helped. Back to cool rain now. Should be on track for a mid or late June pollination I think.
Thursday, May 4 View Page
...and speaking of that upcoming pollination, I need to remember to not cull anything that might provide some male blossons at the right time.
Thursday, May 4 View Page
Battling some nutrient & cool weather issues. The compost I am using is poor quality, its got some severe issues which I am trying to fix.
Thursday, May 4 View Page
Its time for some more gardening thoughts so here it goes: I think morning glory is harboring potato virus Y (or whatever else) not to mention the potatoes themselves. The virus got into my best tomato plant, which is annoying. Enough of the interplanting/companion planting! It is good to some extent but I do need to switch how I do things so that I am planting only the healthiest spuds, etc. into the cleanest dirt possible. So basically I need to do a better job of crop rotation and composting. So that weeds and diseases arent getting moved around. Ps ^ new hoop and new light, looks like the sun just came out and this week's forcast changed!!! Hopefully this adds 100 lbs to my next pb.
Wednesday, May 10 View Page
The young tomatoes produced excellent megas, however I dont expect any to set good tomatoes because I've neglected them too much. Neglect/poor care aside, I can tell they've got some fantastic genetics it's just a shame I can't focus more attention on them.
Thursday, May 11 View Page
Overcoming a severe magnesium deficiency. Looking better now than it did. It has been a bit short on copper and phosphorus too. Self diagnosing all of this... but partly based on past tissue tests from past years. Plenty of nitrogen at the moment.
Thursday, May 11 View Page
Off life support and ready to roll down the runway. Seed is the 1133 Yohe squashkin. Favorable forcast, so aiming for mid June pollination.
Thursday, May 11 View Page
From winter to summer!
Sunday, May 14 View Page
The Young tomatoes are impressive, very robust flowers, my plants/ leaves are lagging a bit behind though. I've got a yard of compost which may help I think its contaminated with extra chloride though. But maybe I can drip irrigate the extra salt out of it. Salty tomatoes... they should taste good anyhow.
Monday, May 15 View Page
Red rover, red rover, send CO2 over... to all the other pumpkin growers east of me (which is most of you). Vine measures 6 ft. today so I'm behind quite a few growers (and ahead of others) exceptional weather but barely eeking out 6" or so growth per day. I wish it was more, but its solidly on track for a mid June pollination at 16-17 ft out and thats good.
Tuesday, May 16 View Page
Solarized a spot here in case I need more garden space. In this picture its sharply apparent where the heat was! It helps to seal the edges with something to hold the plastic down so the heat doesnt escape. Even a 1" gap lets a lot of cold air in/ heat out. And a summer weather sidenote, don't leave pets or children in a car with the windows up. This shows clearly what will happen.
Tuesday, May 16 View Page
I solarized this area as well. I planted a row of field kins x 2 ea: 16.50 Peine 105.5 Cleaview 35 Peine 102.5 Goodwin and 46.25 Ives. I'll probably plant a couple 130.5 Treece and 111.5 Handy kins elsewhere as well. Just one more category, and then I can qualify for the master gardener competition! I've got tomato, field kin, AG, and marrow so next will probably a watermelon.
Tuesday, May 16 View Page
Corn with potatoes in between. Unlike the three sisters planting combination, which I've never seen work, this combo will actually work. Potatoes and garlic will work also. Carrots and lettuce in the smaller area in back.
Wednesday, May 17 View Page
...I'm also doing corn with swiss chard which has been a successful combo in the past. Overwintered kale would be good with potatoes possibly, too, if it was spaced on at least a 2' x 2' grid. But kale is a real hog for water and nutrients and light, maybe even more so than corn or potatoes, so idk...
Friday, May 19 View Page
Started some Ciesielski watermelons with these couple weeks of 80 degree weather I feel like I am a month behind on starting these. Starting a few more tomatoes and a butternut and some odds and ends. Trying to keep the tomatoes pollinated and to get better than 6" a day from the 1133 Yohe pumpkin vine but don't know how. I think its putting its extra energy into roots and secondaries right now. Plenty of room for improvement...
Saturday, May 20 View Page
9 ft. 1133 Yohe
Saturday, May 20 View Page
Breakfast/lunch for a few bees tomorrow. No pesticides...
Sunday, May 21 View Page
The last tray test. After a month or so a couple roots penetrated the newspaper. Cardboard would work also. If either method could be made concave up then excess water could drain away easier. A sand or compost layer for good drainage might be worthwhile too.
Monday, May 22 View Page
This is not half uncovered for to take a picture, its half uncovered because the spring weather turned a bit Dr. Jeckyll/ Mr. Hyde. I figure the barrel of grass clipping is putting out about 500 watts of heat, its quite warm. That plus the rotting round bales makes a noticeable difference. The hay bales arent putting off as much heat as the fresh cut grass but every little bit helps...
Wednesday, May 24 View Page
Coulda had my first successful May pollination! 15 secondaries behind it, but sticking with the mid-June plan which if all goes well, may have an outrageous 28-30 secondaries behind it... Not the biggest vines ever, but there will be plenty of them.
Thursday, May 25 View Page
Past 5 days growth = 2 ft. So growth dropped to just under 5" per day during the cool, cloudy weather. I found myself wishing I was growing on some sort of reflective plastic mulch like McMullin. I think it would help a bit, on the less favorable days... Maybe on the sunny days too, idk.
Thursday, May 25 View Page
Nutrient guesses...?
Thursday, May 25 View Page
Nutrient guesses # 2.
Thursday, May 25 View Page
Nutrient guesses #3.
Thursday, May 25 View Page
No more guessing :)
Saturday, May 27 View Page
Have a blossom about 5 days out and another about 15 days out. Its been tedius chores up until now, but now I am excited as I've ever been. The prize for all the effort is already within sight.
Sunday, May 28 View Page
Rye made it to 6' tall, not sure if any of the seed heads will mature before the pumpkin vines reach them though. I discovered two more little pumpkins in the vine tip so my guess now is I could have a main vine pollination in about 4, 14, 18, or 20 days.
Sunday, May 28 View Page
It would be a good idea to turn this couple feet of lawn into a garden bed so the pumpkin roots can extend all the way around the rotting hay bales and have full access to those nutrients. Granted, the local grass hay here is quite deficient in certain nutrients. But... the bales will make a nice buffer zone if I water the correct nutrients down through the bales??? I must be high on something huh. Anyhow, redneck pumpkin growing at its finest :).
Wednesday, May 31 View Page
My original plan was to have the potato patch become a 150 sq ft pumpkin patch, but the potatoes are doing so well that now I figure I ought to give the pumpkin vines their own 150 sq ft area in front of the potato patch rather than interfere with the potatoes. The question is, can I grow more lbs of pumpkin in 150 sq feet, or more lbs of potatoes. Pumpkin vs potatoes.... the competition begins!
Wednesday, May 31 View Page
Pollination attempt #1 is coming up soon. 1133 Yohe x self.
Wednesday, May 31 View Page
Pic.
Wednesday, May 31 View Page
Its Beauty & the Beast time. And (unfortunate for my attempt at a pb) it looks like he is the beast and she is the beauty. Well, whatever. This dude's gonna Netflix and chill in the refrigerator for at least 36 hours.
Saturday, June 3 View Page
Cold night, copious dew on the tomatoes. Pic doesn't do justice.
Saturday, June 3 View Page
Not sure if this pollination will take. Male was in refrigerator 55 hours, a bit faded. Female looks worn out too, like the past few days were too cold.
Monday, June 5 View Page
Frost damage. At least 50% of my plant killed. The leaves have yet to droop, they are still frozen.
Monday, June 5 View Page
This is what did it, I live under the clear band of air in the middle of all the clouds. I wasn't sleepy late last night... I guess that's God's way of saying I should have been awake doing something... like irrigating the patch to keep the frost away... I knew it would be cold, and we had one other frost in June before, but I thought to myself, "oh but whats the chance of THAT happening again." Answer: 100%.
Monday, June 5 View Page
I am so disgusted. I want to tear the whole plant out... but I know I could probably still produce a nice orange pumpkin. So, quick change of goals. Goal now is back to the usual... a small orange blossom down pumpkin.
Monday, June 5 View Page
Miniscule frost damage on my 541 plant. This was the one I pulled out and replanted. I also lost one patch of corn, and some potato plants. The thermometer on my porch says it was 38 last night. But there was ice on my vehicle this morning! The radient heat loss dropped things below freezing. Damage to the 1133 was 100% preventable, the plastic covers are still lying on the ground. That, or irrigation, either would have been enough. The bit of plastic over the stump preserved those leaves perfectly even though its not an enclosed space it prevented radiant heat loss in that area. Anyhow, now we'll see what the 1133 Yohe can do with one arm tied behind its back. Cover your plants Gads & Elaine, it might be you guys next...
Monday, June 5 View Page
Right side more damaged than left side. Still have one undamaged baby pumpkin on the main. But I bet that cost me 300 lbs. Darn it.
Wednesday, June 7 View Page
Ouch! But... its acting like it still wants to grow.
Thursday, June 8 View Page
The June 3rd pollination didnt take, either because of the 2 day old pollen or the freezing weather stressing it. But look at that color! The early bright canary yellow showing on the edges means that if I do grow a pumpkin... she aint gonna be white or green. Backup pollination, on the best side vine, will be open tomorrow. The last one on the main will be pollinated a day or two after.
Thursday, June 8 View Page
Some other gardening stuff. The garlic has been pushing up a pound of garlic scapes every day for the past few days. The potatoes are filling in nicely between the garlic rows. I could even see tomatoes and garlic working together but tomatoes have long roots that would be disturbed when the garlic was dug. Potato roots dont go as far. Poppies or sunflowers between the garlic? Maybe. But the fact that I can hill up the potatoes as I harvest the garlic makes that a logical choice. Carrots & garlic has worked in the past but I forget the planting dates that worked.

 

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