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Showing posts from 2015

First microgeens harvest

In my first successful harvest of microgeens, sunflowers yielded .24 pounds from one tray, and radish also yielded about the same amount at .23 pounds.The sunflower tray was sparse and could have been sown more densely. The radishes took a tumble in the greenhouse after I bumped into them, so I could not harvest the whole tray. Therefore, I expect that average yield from each 10-20 tray will be a quarter pound.

Microgreens sucess!

After almost a year of trying to grow microgreens for market and failing with each batch, I've finally had success.By using a mixture of coconut coir and perlite, and by placing my 10x20 trays in the natural sunlight of a temperature controlled greenhouse, my test trays of spicy radish microgreens and mild kale microgeens flourished into a healthy crop in 10 days.A test tray of sunflower microgreens is showing much better progress, but has not yet produced the results I'm looking for. I think that I have kept the growing medium too moist and a little bit of damping-off has occurred.I don't know if it is the sunlight that has brought about the desired results as compared to the artificial compact fluorescent lighting that I had been using before, or if its the fact that I have abandoned Sure-to-Grow brand growing pads in favor of a more traditional growing medium.It could be also a combination of these two which have produced a wholly improved growing environment for the mi…

Microgreens Restarted

After several rounds of failed microgreens using Sure-To-Grow growing pads, I've now opted for coconut coir.

The problems that I've had with the pads are that they either dry out too fast between waterings and stay soggy too long after a watering. They also seem prone to growing mold.

My trial microgreens crops are radish, kale and sunflower (one tray of each), started today, November 30, 2015.

I'll now see if I can be successful with a more traditional medium. I suspect that the pads are a poor medium, and that the coir will provide a more evenly moist growing environment.

Heavy rain falls

Last night, about 2 inches of rain fell. Today's highs were in the 60s, and tonight will be chilly but well above freezing.

The soil is too wet to work in the field or in the raised bed garden.

Microgreens started, again

After several failed attempts to grow microgreens, I have started several new trays today.

I have a shelf dedicated to microgreens productions, now. It has an array of lights to help their development.

Wildflowers bloom

This week of variety of springtime wildflowers bloomed.There is a beautiful showing of bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, and verbena along with false garlic and dandelions.

Greenhouse cucumbers set fruit

This week, the greenhouse cucumbers, which are only about a foot and a half tall as they climb up jute strung from the cieling, set fruit.

Reseeded melons

The first row of Israeli melons that I planted before the last rain had shown no signs of germination by today, so I reseeded 3 seeds into each basin.I used the seed I saved from the best melons from last year because I was afraid that the Willhite seed was too old (from 2012).I was almost finished reseeding the basins when I dug one up, just to check the seed. When I did, I found that the seeds had taproots and were indeed germinating.

Hummingbirds return

Today, I saw two hummungbirds feeding from the red Texas honeysuckle in the landscaping. This was the first day of their return.

Second group of Israeli melons in Dutch buckets moved outdoors

18 basins of various melons sown

Today, I sowed 18 more basins of melons in a third row.The melons sown were:
Sugar Baby Watermelons
Ancient Watermelons
Gaucho Melons
Afghan Honeydew
Casaba - Golden Beauty
American AnanasI used only Agronomic Partners IQ - Amino-N to prep the soil.

18 more basins of Israeli melons sown March 30, 2015

I sowed 18 more basins of Israeli melons. I used seed saved from my best melons last year.For soil prep, I used only Agronomic Partners IQ Amino-N.

Basil harvest

Today, I harvested half of the trial hydroponic basil. The weight was just under 2.5 pounds.I delivered the basil samples to a potential customer for evaluation.

Israeli melons started

Today, I planted 18 basins of Israeli melons, old original. I sprinkled Agronomic Partners IQ Amimo-N into each basin and planted about 8 seeds from a 2012 bag.I will plant another 18 to 36 basins in the next few weeks.Additionally. I will install 20 bato buckets of melons started in February and March (10 from each month) to determine if I can hasten a harvest by starting melons early and growing them hydroponically.

Large Swiss chard row germinates

Last week before rainy weather began, I planted a row of Fordhook Swiss chard as a trial to see how well mass plantings of it will work in the field.The seeds have now germinated.

Hydroponic melons moved outdoors

Lows at night are in the 50s and highs in the day are in the 70s at this time in March.I've now moved to the outdoors the melons that I started in hydroponic buckets back in February.After about a week of hardening off, they will be spread out in the field.

The mulberry trees have budded

It's only been a little more than two weeks since temperatures at night were freezing.Now that warmer weather has arrived, our mulberry trees have bloomed and budded.

Hydroponic basil update

The hydroponic basil that I started in January has taken longer to mature than I expected.

I've also discovered that stacking the tarys on shelves will necessitate artificial lighting as the basil on the bottom shelf is growing the slowest, and on the top shelf the fastest.

Parthenocarpic cucumbers and squash progress

The greenhouse varieties of cucumbers and squash that I planted last month continue to progress nicely.
These parthenocarpic plants need no pollination to set fruit, so they are perfect for growing in a greenhouse where no bees will be able to visit their flowers.

More hydroponic melons started

Today, I sowed Israeli melons in 10 more Bato buckets. Unlike my previous starts in Oasis cubes, I directly sowed the seed into the medium in the buckets.

The medium is composed of about half and half perlite and coconut coir.

I've placed the buckets in the greenhouse to keep them warm, as nights are still chilly in the 50s. In the greenhouse, lows stay in the upper 60s, so the melons should germinate faster.

If the starts are successful, then I should harvest melons from these buckets about two weeks earlier than melons sown directly in the field at the first of April.

As for the melons started in February, they're growing slowly after having dehydrated. I was unaware of how dry perlite can be, and when I transplanted the seedlings into the perlite, I did not water the buckets thoroughly enough. They are recovering, but I think I've lost some of their potential advantage.

Plum trees have bloomed

Two plum trees are in full bloom, and one Methley is about to as well.

The native plums have not bloomed yet, and they show no sign of doing so anytime soon.

Warmer weather finally arrives

For the past several days temperatures during the daytime have reached into the upper 50s and only gone down at night to the lower 40s.

Ground begins to be saturated

For two weeks now winter precipitation and light rain fall has been frequent. slowly the moisture has penetrated the soil and is now beginning to saturate it, which should provide some relief from the continuing drought this summer.

50s today, 20s tonight

Today's high at 50 degrees was a welcome relief from the bitter cold of the last week. The low tonight will be in the 20s, though. The weather forecast calls for a general warming over the next few days.

The direct sunshine today helped seedlings in the greenhouse put on more green and stand up a little.

Winter snow melts, high in upper 30s, low in 20s

Last night's snow has melted away today. Some still lingers in the shadows of trees and buildings. Today was in the upper 30s, and tonight will be in the mid to lower 20s.

Winter precip continues

For the last week, temperatures have barely been above freezing, and some days haven't been out of the 20s.

Keeping the greenhouse warm for seed starts has been more challenging, as several times the propane bottles have run empty.

The propane heater in the greenhouse has been able to keep interior temperatures in the 60s even when it's in the 20s outside, but pepper seeds and similar crops needs temps in the 70s or 80s to germinate. No-show's and damping off have been the result of the cool, wet climate indoors.

Most of all, the days have been cloudy. The lack of direct sunlight is leaving the seedlings that have come up a little stunted. Basil has almost ceased growing at all. Two trial hydroponic tomato plants are almost dead, and a trial eggplant that has had a fruit growing for about 3 months now is just remaining static, and the eggplant is turning yellow, not purple.

Trial begins on whether melon crop can be advanced for earlier harvest

Yesterday I transplanted melon starts that I began in Oasis cubes.The transplantation to Dutch buckets took its toll on watermelon seedling especially. I think the problem was that I did not wet the perlite before I transplanted them and it dehydrated the seedlings.The mixture in the Dutch bucket is about 20% coconut coir an 80% percent perlite. My hope is to advance a melon harvest by about 2 months so that I can have melons ready by May instead of July.

Oasis Cubes better than seed starting mix

In my comparison of using a seed starting mix and Oasis cubes for germinating seeds, I have found that the Oasis cubes far outperform the seed starting mix.Not only is damping off not an issue with the cubes, but there has been a greater success of germinating pepper and tomato seeds with the cubes.It remains to be seen if the advantage of the cubes continues on to transplantation.
It may turn out that the cubes simply do not measure up to a root ball of seed starting mix when it comes to putting them out either in the garden or into hydroponic media.

Genovese basil in progress

My trial of growing basil for commercial production has been very rewarding and shows promise.I have seen that I need to rearrange my trays as basil apparently needs full sunlight. Trays at the top that receive more sunlight grow faster and trays at the bottom have been sluggish and are taking too long to grow.Altoghether though I see how growing basil for commercial production year-round is within reach.

Temps plunge

Colder winter weather has moved in after a weekend in the 60s and 70s.

The high today was 28 degrees, and the lows are in the mid 20s.
The greenhouse ran out of propane last night, and the temperature inside was about 54 when I discovered the heater was out at 3:34 A.M. 
Even with the Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater on its high setting, the temperature inside only reaches 60 when it's 28 outside. At night, the heater keeps the greenhouse in the 50s.
A tray for sprouting peppers is near the heater so that it can stay in the 70s to aid germination. The rest of the plants and germinated seed should fare well in the 50s.
Elsewhere, rain barrels have frozen over, and icey precipitation has accumulated on the ground.

Microgreens reseeded and making progress

It's been a week now since I reseeded my tial microgreens trays. Last week, I placed the trial trays in a greenhouse to green the seedlings up a little, but by the time I was back from an errand one day, the trays had dried out, and the greens died.

I reseeded them immediately, with new growing pads, and kept them out of the greenhouse.

Before they were killed off by the heat and dryness, I saw that I had not sowed the seed densely enough. In this second attempt, I have placed 4 - 5 tablespoons of seed into each 10/20 tray.

Now a week old, the greens are about two inches tall and dark green. In another week, they should be ready to harvest.

In order to keep the supply of them from running out, I will start new trays this week, and they will be ready a week after the current trays are harvested. Staggering them in this way will allow for weekly harvests.

Microgreens sprouted, steamed

My six trial microgreens trays have now sprouted. I have left the clear tops in place for two days in a row now that they're in the greenhouse, and this has been a mistake. Temps inside the trays rise high enough to steam the greens.

So far, they have all survived. I will need to leave the tops off a little from the trays so that heat does not build up in them.

I hope that their flavor has not been altered by the excessive heat, as heat makes greens taste bitter.

Melon seeds have sprouted

Last week, I planted an Oasis Cube platt with melon seeds, some variation but mostly Israeli Old Original. These will be an experiment to see if I can start Dutch buckets of melons early in the ear and set them outside when the temps allow in March.

My goal is to have a melon Harvest that begins at the end of spring and the beginning of summer rather than only at the end of summer as happens when I plant seed outdoors after the last average frost date.

The seeds have sprouted by this week.

Microgreens started

I am now testing microgreen production to see if it's a viable option for sales in the winter. Today, I started six 10/20 trays, three with a mild mix and three with a spicy mix.

I expect them to be ready by February 13.

Springtime weather last week of January

The weather this last week of January has been warm, with nighttime lows in the 40s and 50s.

Sunny days have heated the greenhouse up early in the morning, keeping temps inside in the 80s, which is excellent for germinating the seed starts I planted two weeks ago. The heat has also benefited the hydroponic basil growing system that I've begun to experiment with.

Effective control of crickets

After losing successful starter seedlings to crickets, I have had to undertake a total cricket eradication program in the greenhouse.This included removing all dead leaves and debris from the floor, getting rid of clutter an extra buckets and other items that were not in use, and spraying the greenhouse floor, wall and doorway with an organic pesticide.Essentria IC3 is an organic pesticide with plant oils as its active ingredients. Although I was skeptical that the product would work as I needed it to, it turns out that after two applications I have almost totally eliminated all crickets that were already in the greenhouse and ones that migrated into it after application.I still must follow up with a light spraying daily in order to control the crickets that have entered each night through crevices and cracks between bricks in the floor of the greenhouse. But I have lost no more seedlings since I have using the product..

Sprouts beginning to pop up

Several trays of the seeds I started last Tuesday have sprouted, just a week later.

Seeds that have sprouted so far are:
tomatoesartichokesSwiss chardkalebrussels sproutscauliflowermarigoldscalendulaTulsi basil Temperatures in the greenhouse have been maintained at 65+. Under one side of the wire bench that holds the tomato trays, I've placed a small electric room heater so that warm air envelopes them.

Gladiolus started

I am experimenting with cut flowers in a hydroponic setup. I have planted 8 gladiolus bulbs in 4-inch net pots. As these grow up, I will build a flood and drain table to keep them moist and evenly nourished.

January seed starting begins

Today, I will complete my goal of starting several varieties of tomatoes, egg plants, peppers and other warm season crops indoors, in starting trays, for transplanting in the spring.

This year, I am mixing only coconut coir and perlite as a seed starting mix. The mix consists of equal parts of both. I am not adding vermiculite to the mis this years because it doesn't seem to add any benefits to the mix.

A simple Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater is keeping the 144 s.f. greenhouse in the 50 on medium and in the 60s on high, even on the coldest nights when temps dip into the 20s.

I expect the seeds to sprout in a week or two, then grow for two months before being set out into raised beds by late March or early April.

January begins with cold, wet weather

So far, the month of January 2015 has started off the year cold and wet. The 18,000-gallon capacity of the rainwater collection system is almost full, in part from December rains.

Most of the nighttime lows have been in the lower 30s, with an occasional dip into the 20s. A frost blanket over a raised garden bed of artichokes has so far proved competent at keeping them alive through the freezes.