Gardening in the Blind


Starting seedlings
March 25, 2012, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, Seedlings

After three weekends worth of cleaning in the basement, it was finally ready to start the seedlings.  I thought I would document just what I do as I have never done that before.  To start the seedlings I have heating mats that are designed for gardeners.  I leave these on the entire time.

Using a smaller plastic, fill it to the top with some good organic seed starting soil.  I try to not have a lot of peat in it as I find it dries out too quickly.  I then have to go upstairs to the kitchen sink to fill it with water as I don’t have access to running water downstairs.  After you pour a lot of water in it, mix it will with your hands.  Make sure the entire container of soil is wet.  You want it wet but not so wet that you can grab a handful and wring it out.  Too much water will hinder the germination of most seeds.

After you have mixed the soil you are ready to fill each cell of the tray with soil.  Notice I have a solid tray that it sits in.  This prevents water from leaking out every which way when I water it.  You want to make sure it is packed firmly in each cell.  I fill it to the top as I find it is easier, but it creates an additional step that you need to do before putting the seeds in each cell.  Some might find this a nuances, but I find I spend less time skimming the dirt off the top before planting then trying to get each cell filled just right.

After I use the soil that I have wet (it fills three trays for me most of the time) I start to pull out the seeds and figure out how many of each I want to start with.  I never do just one.  On a rare occasion I will plant just two.  I want to make sure that if I don’t have strong germination I still have one that I can use.  I grow more than I need so I can pick the stronger ones for my garden.  Every year I try something new for labeling.  This year I am on the cheap.  I have chopped up index cards and used a sharpie.  I might have to replace as we go, but it is the cheapest I have done!

After you have the labels, skim the soil off the top so that you have room to cover the seeds.  Be careful and read the seeds as some will need the light to germinate, thus no soil to cover it.  I then go through a tray is a very systematic way.  I place the labels in the cells for one item I am growing.  I then open the seeds and place two seeds per tray and repeat this process until the entire tray is finished.  Then I grab some of the soil I skimmed off the top and start from the back forward covering each cell so the seeds are not visible.  I lightly pat it down and place on my heating pad.  I keep the lights on it from 5 am until 8 pm.  The heating pad is left on throughout the night to keep them warm.  I will post what they look like in a few days.



My Victory Garden
May 30, 2011, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, outdoor gardening, Seedlings, Squash

image

This year I was going to do something completely different in the front.  I would need to expand it, tear up the “grass” and supplement the soil.  Well, it took one hot day for me to change my mind.  The soil was rough and the weather was HOT and HUMID.  So I went back to the drawing board quickly.

Here is what I decided on doing:

I expanded the garden by 12″.  I then turned all the soil and leveled it out a bit.  Last year I dumped a lot of leaves on top of the garden, then continued my efforts of supplementing the soil by dumping all my pots on top.  This worked out better then expected.  I think do it again this year for one or two beds.

Next I planted a row of tomatoes.  (at this point 31 tomatoes planted) After planting the 7 tomatoes I marked out two rows of 3′ squares. Here I planted CT field pumpkin, zucchini, ground cherries and butternut squash. The remainder of the space was for terragon and cucumbers.
After a trip to home depot, I put a fence around it and will keep my fingers crossed!



Hardening off plants
May 17, 2011, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Herbs, Indoor Gardening, outdoor gardening, Seedlings

It is just about the time I start to harden off plants for the great outdoors.  My plants are much smaller than last year.  I didn’t start my seeds early like I have in the past.  I feel almost self conscious about it.  It was just such a hard winter, it was hard to think of spring.  My fault.

Celery and Thyme Seedlings

Because plants have not gotten use to the bright sun, one must gently expose them so that you don’t get a sunburn.  Many plants will not survive or be as productive as they should when they have to try to recover from a sunburn.  To prevent this from happening, you can not have tough love with them.  You need to be gentle and loving.  This week is partly cloudy and raining, but still in the high 50’s-low 60’s.  This has proven easy for the plants to have a transition.  I started with my thyme, lavender and leeks.  I set them out on my covered front porch that will get limited sun and be protected from the rain.  I bring them in the first couple of nights and leave in my bathroom, setting them back outside in the morning.  After 2-3 nights indoors, I start to leave them outdoors for nights as well.  I will slowly move them to a protected space that gets even more sun, then pending on the plant, I will plant them.  The whole process takes about 1-1/2 weeks to 2 weeks to complete.  Yesterday I brought out celery and more thyme.  Tomorrow I will bring out the rest of the thyme, marjoram, summer savory and maybe a few more herbs.  I won’t start the vegetables until this weekend, when the weather gets just a little better.



My seedlings
April 5, 2011, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, Seedlings, Uncategorized

Today is April 5.  The day before my father’s birthday.  So dad, if you read this, “Happy Birthday”.  I hope I beat Wendy in saying it first!

Veggies starting to grow

So I have all tomatoes planted as of last weekend.  It is too early to have it germinate yet, so I have an update as to what has germinated in my basement.  

The furthest away in the picture is shallots.  I am trying shallot seeds to see what will come of them.  I also have a six-pack of Radiator Charlie tomatoes I started before the rest of my tomatoes.  In the front which you can just see the seedlings emerge from the soil is Apple Bell Peppers.  My hot peppers are coming up, but it is taking a long time.  My basement is running cooler than last year and the hotter it is for them, the better!

To say I am ready to get outside and have another successful (hopefully) year is a understatment!  I even started celery to try to plant this year.  Mustard seeds are going into the ground this weekend along with a few others I think.  I will let you know what I end up planting in the dirt outside after I do it this weekend!

I hope you enjoy the little breath of life in the picture.  And again, Dad if you are reading, Happy Birthday!



Starting Planting Season
March 14, 2011, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, Indoor Gardening, Seedlings

The snow is melting, the daylight is getting longer and my hands are aching to touch soil in lieu of snow.  It is right about time to start planting. 

My white shelves

This winter I found something terrible had happened.  During the summer our humidifier stopped working.   It was a couple of months before we realized it.  By that time I had mold on my shelves.  It took three weekends and I am almost finished de-molding my shelves and painting them with Kilz2.  It brings a smile to my face to see all the shelves white.  I know it is clear I have not used them like this.  Soon, they will be the color of soil and have green plants growing up from them. 

Next I organized all the planting items, got seed starter and realized I really needed to disinfect all items before planting in them.  So as my tallow is cooking down, lard is starting to work, my dishwasher is finally washing what I need to start my seeds.  It is only making me a week behind though.  Simple to catch up.

Newly planted seeds

After the round in the dishwasher, I took my “bucket” and filled it with the starter.  I then carried it back upstairs and added water.  Oh how my hands had been craving the opportunity to be covered with soil.  It made me smile ear to ear!  Mixing it until moist, I then filled each pot that I had washed packing it tightly.  Placing the seed on top it was placed on a tray on the heating pad.  Celery, Rosemary and Thyme to start, leaving room for the weeks to follow. 

Oh how I have missed the soil and seedlings and plants and sunlight and green stuff…Here is to another year!



It’s that Time of Year Again (Part 1)
May 25, 2010, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, outdoor gardening, Seedlings, Tomatoes

Even more tomatoes!

This is a tale of tomatoes.  It started innocently enough.   I planted one of my tomato beds.  I laid it out and painstakingly took time to get the tomatoes just right between the plots of seeded carrots.  I placed the tomato cages over each tomato and stood back to see how great it looked.  Wow, tomato count is officially 10.

I moved to the front garden.  I thought why not expand it just a bit.  What the heck.  I could make it just a little bigger.  I grabbed more tomatoes, tomatillos, fairy tale eggplant and acorn squash.  I was ready to go.  But wait I just relocated the feverfew and bee balm that was growing and I expanded it.  I did what any normal person would do.  I went and grabbed a couple more tomatoes.  I laid it all out and planted it, leaving space for a couple of pole beans.  I again placed the tomato cages over each tomato and stood back to see how great it looked.  How quick is this?  The tomato count is officially 20.

I went back to the raised beds in the backyard.  I thought while I’m at it I should plant the other tomato bed.  I laid it out and painstakingly took time to get the tomatoes just right between the plots of onions, parsley and marigold of which only the onions were already planted.  I placed the tomato cages over each tomato and stood back to see how great it looked.  Now I’m cookin’, tomato count is officially 30.

I was puttering over by the plants and decided to fill a few pots.  Why not.  I planted a few peppers (hot), a nicotina plant and a few others.  Oh wait, I forgot, I also planted a very beautiful tomato plant.  Tomato count is officially 31.

I then noticed something was missing from the onion bed.  Oh, the four corners need to get tomatoes.  I planted them, putting the cages carefully over them.  Now, that looks much better.  Oh, and by the way the tomato count is officially 35.  Not bad.  I haven’t even started planting the pots really.  I wonder what it will end up as….I am guessing a little over 70. 

Stay tuned for where else they will be planted.  I have a surprise or two this year!



Growing indoors
April 1, 2010, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, Seedlings

Right side of Shelving

Being almost a year since I started this blog, I decided to revisit how I have set it up for growing the seedlings indoors.  This year I have been placed in the basement so that we could actually have a guest room.  For what I am not sure.  I guess the cats won that war.  Anyways, I didn’t think that I would like it down there, but I have grown to love it this season.  The base of this consists of purchased metal shelves that were 48″ wide from the local hardware store.  We drilled holes in each side for a hook and purchased shop lights to hang by chain.  2 lights per shelf.  In each light I have made sure that there is one cool and one daylight lamp.  This helps to lessen the flourescent burns on plants.  I have never had any which is even better!

Left side of Shelving

I use a shelf for storage of pest stuff as well as the Rubbermaid tub I use for the soil.  I fill it up add water and mix.  Any soil that I don’t use, I keep handy on the shelf.  Also I store my pitcher that I use for watering the plants on this shelf.  I have both of the heating pads on the right side just mainly due to outlets or should I say lack there of.  I am maxed out on things that I can plug-in now.  But that is ok.  I don’t see anything else I will be needing to plug-in.  I also store a stool which for the most part I just use as a portable work surface, sometimes I do use for sitting as well though I find myself sitting on the carpet looking up more.  I also keep an apron down there.  Right now it is overly due for a wash!
 
The shelf configuration allows for smaller plants on top and as they grow they are shifted to the bottom where they get more room between the top and the lights.  Very important.  The left shelfs are where I place the bigger seedlings ready to be removed from the heating pad. 
 

My Workspace/storage space

I have a U shape configuration now that I am in the basement and I have to say that it works much better.  I have plants/lights on either side with a shorter smaller workbench shelf at the end.  This allows me a much-needed workspace for watering etc.  I love it.  It is much better then placing on the floor for watering as well as trying to transplant sitting down for long periods of time.  Soreness really use to set in.