Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grow Table Etc.

In my last post I said I would show you my old greenhouse. Remember the high desert extreme weather conditions. I built this one about 6 years ago. We mostly use it for tomatoes and zucchini now. I can't grow tomatoes outdoors in this climate because we get a killing frost during any month of the year. It was 27 degrees three nights ago. But with this greenhouse I can keep harvesting tomatoes until Thanksgiving. My goal is ripe ones by the 4th of July. We'll see.
Here you see the south end of the greenhouse. Notice it is attached to my shop at the north end.
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These are Black Russian tomato plants on the left and Brandywine on the right. Both are heirloom varieties. The flowers in the back are on a workbench where I make hanging baskets.
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This is a shot of some of the tomatoes on the vine in one of my earthboxes. This is the first year I've used earthboxes. I've always planted directly in the ground. So far everything looks good.
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Here are some flowers ready to be planted in baskets. The Martha Washington geranium in the front was purchased for 50 cents from Home Depot because it was almost dead.
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Now I'll show you the new addition in my new greenhouse. I built this new grow table because I wanted to try gardening by the foot using the mittleider method. However, I've found it's impossible to by bulk fertilizers like they recommend from the old days. I'll be trying different compost teas and different brewing techniques as well as my earth worm castings. When I find good formulas I will pass them on. If you know of any, please share. PS: It is okay and encouraged to comment on this blog. You can see from the photo that the box slants downward toward the front for drainage. I also used metal roofing for the bottom of the box which I covered with the type of ground cloth used to prevent weeds. This is to keep the dirt in the box and not running out thru the drain holes. By the way, this is not really dirt. It is vermiculite, worm castings, lava rock artificial dirt that you can buy in bales. I think it's mostly peat. You must add nutrients to a combination like this. I'm experimenting with making my own organic nutrients.
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Here it is from the front. I will have a seed bed on the bottom where the wire screen is. And grow lights mounted under the box. I plan to grow carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips in this box. The depth is approximately 18 inches. The other measurements are 4 feet long and 3 feet wide. I'm saving room for my aquaponics project.
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Here is a top view of the box with a few little lettuce seedlings getting ready for the hydroponic bed.
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My red sails lettuce is about ready for harvest. I'll be cutting back nutrients so that we have full lettuce flavor. The good news is that we just passed the summer equinox and my greenhouse has not gotten so hot as to cause bolting which always happens outside about now. There's been enough natural light and my temps are staying between 60 and 75 Farenheit, even when we have had ranges of 20 degrees to 90 degrees. Remember, I put a 65 degree angle on the south face of the greenhouse. The light goes over the top during the summer and goes straight in during the winter. Also, remember that this is a pit design and it is 4 feet below the ground surface.
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The next two photos show some of the basil, spinach, cilantro and chard as well as more of the lettuce, both buttercrunch and valmaine.
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I am excited at the prospect of continually growing throughout the year. This winter will be a real time of learning for me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Growing Update

It's been a while since I have posted. A few of you may be curious how things are growing in the greenhouse. I must admit...I continue to learn what works, and what doesn't. Here are a few things I have discovered, being new to hydroponics.
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In the above photo, I have red sails and buttercrunch lettuce growing in the hydroponics. What I didn't realize is that it is okay to start the plants in the little peat pots, but you must plant them deep enough in the baskets that you put into the hydroponic tubes or they can flop over. In addition to that I now know that the starts should also be put under lights so they don't stretch for the light and get "leggy". That also makes them prone to flopping over. Plants are good at compensating, but why not get it right? That is what this year is all about. Learning and improving as I go.
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The second photo shows how some of my cilantro and chard is doing. In this third photo, note the lettuce in the uppermost tier is laying over. I will be avoiding this in the future by planting deeper and using lights prior to the plants going into the hydroponics.
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In this photo you can see that my Currant tomato plant is quite happy. Note the basil, spinach, chard and Valmaine lettuce further down.
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In addition to what has been previously shown, I just added a couple of tubs with growing medium in which I have planted potatoes. Here they are. We'll see how they do.
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The potatoes are Yukon Gold, which I tried last year and they did well. I want to see what they will do in a greenhouse setting.
All in all, things are changing and growing and I am seeing what works and what doesn't. In the next post, I will show you what is happening in my old greenhouse.