Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things are getting exciting

Here is the veggie updates with entirely to many photo's, sorry if they load slow. I will start outside as that is what I am most excited about. Saturday afternoon I completed the oak barrel greenhouse and planted a 1/4 of the soil with Mesclun Mix lettuce. I will plant a quarter at a time every two weeks to spread out the harvest. I checked the barrel Sunday afternoon and the plastic was all steamy with an inside temperature of 20c(68f). They should germinate in no time with these conditions. It's great when things work the way they should.

The cold frame is also doing very well. . The early tomato & second seeded onions have been out in the frame a few times and soon will spend most days outside under glass. I have also seeded a few things, germinated them in my propagator and then will place them in the frame once they germinate. This includes kohlrabi, assorted lettuces, tatsoi, bright lights chard, rutabaga, peas & broad beans. My indoor broccoli has grown pretty leggy as you will see below so I start some more in the frame to see if they grow better outdoors. They are growing much slower in the frame so I think for now on I will start the broccoli transplants outside in the frame. Here are some photos of the crops in the frame:

'Bonsai" Bok Choy, also called Pak Choy.
You plant this like you would broccoli.

Kohlrabi, nice and purple.

Tuscano Kale

Romaine Lettuce

Veseys Baby Leaf Blend

On Saturday I planted a few rows of radishes & spinach outside in the soil. I sowed them right against the foundation in a sheltered spot by the redundant chimney. It is a little early to plant out in the open but this sheltered spot should hold enough heat for them to grow.

Spinach seeds planted.

Here is the photo of my garlic. They have pretty much completely sprouted like Chiot's Run reassured me last February when I thought half of them were dead. Cool heads prevail.

Garlic. The radishes and spinach are planted
between the garlic and chimney.

The last thing to update outdoors is I have started to blanch my rhubarb after watching it done on Down on the Allotment blog. I planted this clump 5 years ago, it is not a very nice tasting variety so I am hoping the blanching makes it much nicer. All you do is cover it to exclude light, leave it for a few weeks and then harvest. After harvesting then allow the plant to grow uncovered to re-feed the crowns.

Now for the inside seedlings. Almost everything that has to be sown indoors early has been and is growing under the grow light. I am still waiting on some herbs & ornamental annuals to arrive that I ordered late. Here are some photos of whats growing:

Peppers from small to large: Ancho, Jimmy Nardello's & Big Chilli II
The two short ones were started March 12 & the big one was start
Feb 16th. I will start all my peppers in Feb next season.

Purple Beauty Pepper, seeded March 18th
& is starting to germinate well now.

Second Seed onions, Yellow Storage & Shallots

Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli, They are doing so so. They are stocky yet floppy at the
same time. I don't think they like the heat from the grow light.


Eggplant, I am also going to start the eggplants in February next year.

The 14 tomatoes I started March 20th. Most are getting their first true leaves currently.

And I will end with Mister Early Tomato that is looking rather lovely.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Recent Veggie Patch Happenings

I am building again. To the right we have the beginnings of Rich's famous Build As You Grow Potato Bin to be made with 1x6 boards and structured with 2x2 & 2x3. In the center we have 1/2 pvc electrical conduit, most will be used for a small greenhouse over an oak half barrel planter and the left over will be use for an electrical outlet I am installing out front. The last bunch is assorted lengths of 2x8 and 2x2 to be used for the additional raised beds I am installing this season.

Are the ripples drops from heaven or a crafty photographer?

I started soaking my peas & broad beans on Friday for planting on Saturday. I am going to start them in peat cell packs in the coldframe. This way they will germinate fast in the warm soil and the squirrels won't eat all my seed. I will transplant them out into the cold hard world April 12th(ish).

Here is the small greenhouse over the oak half barrel planter. I will use this to grow mesclun mix lettuce during the spring on a cut and come again basis. The lettuce and greenhouse will then make way for the three Jersey Devil tomatoes I am growing this summer for salsa and sauce. The tomatoes will then make way for more greens in the fall. Pretty busy planter I must say. I used 6mil vapor barrier plastic I had in the basement and held it in place with a ratchet strap that was in the truck. Well on the greenhouse topic, the 11mil plastic was ordered for the poly tunnel last week and is on its way.

Here we have the first ornamentals of the season, pansies. I plant these ever year around this time in the urns out front. In previous years they have been frosted, snowed on and pelted with sleet and still grow just fine. I will plant them today in the rain, that's how much I need to garden after a long cold winter!

My next post will be an overall update on the seedlings inside and out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mister Early Tomato Post

Tuesday I decided to pot up the early tomato I started Feb 16th. This is the tomato I started early in hopes of getting it to produce tomatoes by the first week of June. I must say I am rather confident that I will be harvesting tomatoes by late May/early June from this plant because it is growing great. I chose the large pot so I can start placing it outside on warm days and I will not have to be concerned with it blowing over or drying out to fast. The coldframe has been running at an average temp of 25c(77f) when the sun is strong. With these temps I am going to start placing the tomato plant in the frame during the day and then bring it in at night, weather permitting of course.

Here is a photo of the root ball. Nothing to complain about here.

Here it is potted up and getting a deep drink of warm water & Wegener's Organic fertilizer.

Well I was outside potting up the tomato I came across the first bloom of spring in the yard. These photos are of the Iris reticulata that I photographed a few posts ago just emerging from the soil.

Iris reticulata
I took this Tuesday when the flower first came up.

Iris reticulata
This one I took today, Thursday, when it unfurled after the rain we had.

I will end by noting about my mutated tomato. A few weeks ago I was reading about a seedling that produced 3 cotyledon leaves(seed leaves) on Vegetable Heaven's blog. I found this very interest as many of you know seedlings normally only develop one cotyledon in monocots or two cotyledons in dicots. Then last Wednesday I went to check my tomato seedlings and was very surprised to find that one of my tomato seedlings also formed 3 cotyledon leaves. The tomato is 'Beauty King' from Wild Boar Farms and I received the seed in a trade with Judy's SFG. It will be very interesting to watch this tomato develop.

Tomato Mutation

Monday, March 23, 2009

My photograph made news

I sent in one of my Bald Eagle photograph's to Global News in Toronto and on March 12 they put it on the news. It was pretty exciting. The image below is the photograph they aired and below that is a video clip of it. My photo is about 30 seconds into the video.

Set

video

I also took the two shots below on the same day, Feb 28th. I have been photographing the eagles up river from the nest when they feed in the morning. I am unable to get any more photos of the nest because the Ministry of Natural Resources has since closed the trail. I think it is a really good idea and I will stay out of the area to let them nest.

Ready

Go

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Seeding

Well spring has sprung, unfortunately it has brought cold weather with it or should I say more seasonal weather. Today I potted up the rest of the tomatoes I am going to grow. It is actually hard to believe in just 6-8 weeks I will be planting them outside. They are now cooking in the propagator and I am hoping for germination in about 3 days. I will have a total of 15 tomato plants this year and of those 13 are different varieties.

Other things to update are, I have placed my first seeded onions out in the cold frame. They frankly look like crap so I just stuck them out there and if they grow great, if not oh well. Good thing the second seed onions are looking so good or it might have been an onion bust this year. I have also potted up shallot bulbs that I picked up at the grocery store. They should presumably grow and multiple into many shallots by fall. They are currently in a south facing window and will go into the cold frame once they start growing.

The thin pot is the Yellow Onions that I dropped on the floor & the thicker pot is the shallots. Both were definitely to far from the light. Good thing there is always second chances in the garden.

Also on the seed front I have had germination of the Jimmy Nardello's Peppers & Rosa Bianca Eggplants in 6 days. The Ancho Peppers have still not germinated and are getting a little moldy, not a very good sign. I have also seeded Purple Beauty Peppers on March 18th that I received from Granny over at Annie's Kitchen Garden.

I will end with some 'artsy' photo's of the seedlings under the grow light:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Beginnings of a Poly Tunnel

A few weeks ago I started to build the poly tunnel I have been think about since last spring. It was revised many times in my head up to this point so it is nice that it is coming into reality. I am making it out of 2x4 cedar for the base and 2x2x48 cedar balusters for the upper frame. My plan is to permanently attach the plastic to both ends and then attach the top piece with velcro. The velcro will make for easy access and will help with wind resistance. The plan is to have the one side of the velcro sewn onto the top piece of plastic and the other side of the velcro will be stapled onto the 2x2 frame. The completed poly tunnel will be approx. 36"Wx48"Lx31"H.

In retrospect I wish I made the roof form a peak at the top for better shedding of water and snow. I will however add a support down the center so it should not pool water very much. I guess a certain amount of pooling is inevitable no mater what the design is when working with plastic sheeting.

Now for the good part. After reading about all the hardy vegetables in the "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening" book, I have been searching for a good mix of things to grow this fall & winter in the coldframe & poly tunnel. Here is a list of what I am planning on growing and a short description of what they are:
  • Arugula - narrow leafed green with a peppery taste.
  • Corn Salad (Mache) - mild tasting leaves on plants that form a small rosette. can reportedly be harvest year round in my zone
  • Endive - forms a large frilly head, slight bitter taste
  • Chicory 'Sugarloaf' - produces a head of lettuce similar looking to romaine, mild taste that is sweetened by the cold
  • Radicchio - another head lettuce with a bitter taste. Used sparingly in salads or slightly grilled to sweeten
  • Mizuna - asian green with very finely cut foliage, vigorous grower.
  • Tatsoi - asian green the forms a flat rosette of drumstick shaped leaves, hardy.
  • Bok Choy - asian green that forms a vase shaped rosette. it has thick, crunchy stems and leaves that are treated like spinach.
  • Kale - any low growing kale will overwinter as a fall crop with protection. i am going to try 'Vates'.
  • Swiss Chard - a thicken stemmed green that can be harvest up to December. the stem can be eaten like celery.
  • Spinach - a hardy green that can be harvest most of the winter with protection.
  • China Rosa Radish - very hardy radish that will only grow bulbous roots in the fall. tapered like a carrot with rose coloured skin and white interior
  • Long Black Spanish Radish - also grown as a fall radish, produces tapered roots with black skin and white interior. can be dug in late fall and stored all winter, will stay rock hard until April.
  • Red Celery - a bit of a contradiction as I said I was not going to grow celery. this one is very hardy and produces red & green stems that are good for cooking. will be useful in the cold months for stocks & stews.
  • Tonda di Parigi Carrot - a very short carrot that is well suited for growing in a cold frame or poly tunnel.
  • Potato Onions (multiplying onion) - these are extremely hardy onions that multiply into bulbs a little bigger then a shallot. you can harvest green onions for most of the winter and harvest bulbs when they develop. i first saw these onions on Oklahomegrownveg Blog
As you can see there are many unknown or otherwise under utilized veggies to extend your season. I will be giving many of them a try this year and will start planting in August for fall/winter harvest. Almost all these varieties can be purchased for a little over a dollar at Baker Creek Seeds, Sand Hill Preservation Center & Territorial Seed for the red celery

Monday, March 16, 2009

Seedling Update

I was a bit torn today about what to post about, the seedlings or the beginning of the cedar poly tunnel. I chose the seedlings but will follow up in a couple days with the poly tunnel post that is sitting in draft form.

I will start with the outdoor seedlings as the weather has been so nice. This last weekend we had clear blue sky's and highs of 12c(54f) so the seedlings in the coldframe look rather happy. The coldframe ran about 20-30c(68-86f) over the weekend which is a very good result. I am really going to have to monitor the coldframe closely now because it may start cooking everything as the weather starts getting warmer. There is still lots to learn about the coldframe and some kind of system has to be introduced to keep the lid open.

Here we have the Mesclun Mix Lettuce, Romaine, Bok Choy, Radicchio &
Tuscano Kale. The Green Onions are not germinating so I will start some
fresh inside and place them out once they germinate. I also have some
thinning to do as you can see.

Indoor seedling overview.

Broccoli seedlings, looking a little leggy. Not sure if this is normal growth for them?

The Tomato I am try to get producing by June. The other 12
or so tomatoes will be started within a couple weeks.

Brussels Sprouts seedlings looking very nice.

This is the second seeding of the yellow storage onions after dropping
the first batch. I am very happy with their progress and they are
looking much better then the first seeded onions.

After having such good luck with the second seeded onions I started
a second seeding of the shallots. They are doing well and again looking
much better then the first seeding of shallots. I think I had the first
batch to far from the light.

Finally these are the Hot Peppers I started in Feb. They are looking
great, to bad I didn't have the rest of the hot peppers to seed at the
same time as they would all be this big.

This evening I will thin all the seedlings indoors & out. I will also apply a weak solution of Wegener's Liquid Organic fertilizer to everything as well. I used this fertilizer last season and have been using it with every watering on the seedlings. I really like this fertilizer, it is a mix of blood & bone meal from fish as well as a bunch of other stuff. It doesn't cause excess growth like chemical fertilizers can and has the benefit of building your soil as well.

I will end with one more note on the onions. Since I have start new onions I will have much less plant stock so I am going to try some sets as well. I picked up shallots at the grocery store and will pot them up in the coldframe very soon. From what I have read one shallot bulb will multiply into a clump of 5-8 bulbs by fall. Should be an interesting experiment. I will also pick up some yellow storage onion sets from the store once they are available.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seed Orders, Planting & Germination Already

I received two seed orders in one day on March 12, it was like christmas. The pinetree order finally arrived and took about one month. If I had read their shipping info first I would have already known they take up to 3 weeks to ship. The Seed Savers Exchange seeds arrived in about a week after placing the order. I am now very pleased to have all my seeds in house and ready to be planted.

I have moved my seed propagator upstairs and have placed it on top of the fridge. It is easier to keep tract of them there and the heat from the fridge makes the heat mat run even warmer. I have seeded the following:
  • Green Goliath Broccoli - seeded March 11/germinated March 13
  • Jade Cross Brussels Sprouts - seeded March 11/germinated March 13
  • Bonsai Bok Choi - seeded March 11/germinated March 12!!
  • Tauro Radicchio - seeded March 11/germinated March 13
  • Tuscano Kale - seeded March 11/germinated March 14
  • Ancho Peppers - seeded March 12/no germination yet
  • Jimmy Nardello's Peppers - seeded March 12/no germination yet
  • Rosa Bianca Eggplant - seeded March 12/no germination yet
I really can not believe how fast some of the seeds have germinated. Everything that has germinated was planted on a day with a full moon so maybe that has something to do with it. Anyone know anything about planting by the moon? It also must have something to do with the heat mat, I like to think of it as my magic carpet :-) Here are some photos of the little sprouts:

Bok Choi
(will be move to the coldframe once a few true leaves grow.
they may freeze or flourish, its all an experiment)

Radicchio
(will be move to the coldframe once a few true leaves grow.
they may freeze or flourish, its all an experiment)

Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli