Monday, March 14, 2011

Starting the SIP's for the tomatoes.

I started to transplant my tomato and pepper seedlings into their homemade sub-irrigated containers this weekend. I was able to make and fill 7 of the units with the amount of potting soil/compost blend that I had on hand. I only used containers in the bottom of the 5-gallon buckets for the water reservoirs. I’ve decided that a one-gallon jug from a particular juice company is the best for my needs. When I cut off the cap and the threaded neck, it fits perfectly into the bottom of the bucket. About 50 quarter-inch holes and an inch-and-a-quarter hole for the fill pipe and I was done. A quick drain/overflow hole in the side at the level I want the water to stay and then fill the bucket with the potting mix. I did add some garden lime to the mix and sprinkled some organic vegetable/tomato fertilizer on the top in a ribbon to feed the plant throughout the season.

I now need to make the covers so that evaporation isn’t a problem. I looked at the store and the home center for a suitable plastic trash bag but was unable to find one that would work without being too large for my needs. I’m toying with the idea of using a disk of corrugated sign board from some political signs that I have repurposed. They are lightweight, white for reflectivity and free. If it’s free, it’s for me. I’m going to experiment tonight and see how they work out. If I use them, I may have to anchor them down with some homemade garden staples (also free) because we do have wind here in Las Vegas.

It will look interesting to see all the different types and colors of buckets. Most of them are white-ish. Some are gray, some are blue. Most at 5-gallon, some are 4-gallon. I only have round ones right now, I’ve seen square ones, too, but I don’t have any of those buckets, yet. I have about 24 more seedlings ready for transplant but my big problem is the planting mix. I have a compost machine in the backyard and it is doing its thing, but I could use a huge supply of horse manure to go with the straw that I have and really get some compost produced fairly quickly. But because I need about 150 gallons of planting mix, I’m afraid I’m going to have to buy (gasp!) it from the neighborhood garden shop. Now, all I need is a neighborhood garden shop…

I got to work this Monday morning and found that my nasturtiums had all sprouted and grown quite well over the weekend. I only planted them this past Friday in their seedling cups. I’m very impressed. As I mentioned before, I haven’t done much with flowers before so I don’t really know what to expect. This is all very exciting. The idea of new growth is energizing to me. My office cilantro plant is ridiculously large. I’m going to have to eat a bunch of it in my next salad. That’s fine with me, I like cilantro.

My office radishes are weird. Because of the crappy light I have in here, they always get long and leggy. I attached some aluminum foil as a reflector to increase the available light from the west-facing window and that has helped, but they still are weirdly long. I’m wondering if they will bulb out. If they do, I might have some 4” long radishes that were of the round type like a Cherry Belle. It will be interesting to see what they do. I’m also looking at bringing in a floor lamp into which I can place a full-spectrum bulb. I’m sure that would help.

I’m also looking at a 12” x 12” LED light that mixes the red and blue LED’s. I’ve seen them for around $30 so I might save my pennies and buy one. I’ll be the most high-tech thing I’ve ever used in growing anything. This comes from the guy that has a hard time paying for seeds.

Speaking of seed, I guess I have my kids trained right. A couple of my daughters went shopping last Saturday and when they came home they handed me 6 or 8 packets of vegetable seeds. (You can never have too many seeds.) They told me that when they were at the store, they passed a rack of seeds on display and decided that they needed to get me some more. Score! Kids are so smart these days.

I’ll be cutting lettuce greens in the next few days and pulling green onions for salads, too. This past weekend I transplanted a few dozen beets and I am looking forward to both the beetroot and the beet greens. My chard is coming along nicely, both the red and the white stem. My spinach is doing nicely, couple weeks for the first cutting. Since I’ve never grown cabbages before, the fact that they have come up and are doing fine so far is quite a new and exciting thing. I’m not sure why I’m growing them, I guess I succumbed to some of the hype in the garden catalogs this year. Oh, well. I do like coleslaw.

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