• Tag Archives Hydroponics
  • The Growing Season Begins. Now.

    Winter                                             Waning Moon of the Cold Month   -13 at 8 am today

    Just slept 11 hours.  After a two-hour nap.  And ten hours the night before.  My body is at work, fending off this chest cold I have.  I feel pretty good right now, but I don’t think it’s quite done.  Still, fluids, steam baths and rest.  That’s the ticket.

    Today I put some seeds in their places:  leeks, lettuce and chard.  The lettuce and chard, once they reach two leaves in size, will go up into the hydroponics for use now.  The leeks will 06-05-10_leeksandpeas670keep on growing, too, also up in the hydroponics once they become youngsters and not babies, but they will go in the ground outside as soon the ground can be worked. (I think.  May be a bit later.)  Over February, March and April other plants will follow the same process, growing up to two leaves, then getting transferred to the nutrient baths of the hydroponics.  Each one, in its own time, will go outside to the waiting beds.  They will augment the garlic, the strawberries, the raspberries, the asparagus already growing there.

    This year our planting will be more informed by several years of growing vegetables together, Kate grew some before.  We’ll plant what we need for canning, preserving in other ways like drying and freezing.  We’ve eaten well from our gardens over the last few years, but not as well as we could.  There’s always room for improvement.

    One area for improvement is management of the orchard.  That will occupy some serious thought in March and April.  Fruits, especially trees, are different from vegetables, more vulnerable to insects and disease.  We’ll see what there is to do.

    This will be the first growing season with Kate home full-time, so we’ll test out how that works.  Bound to help.

    Then, too, in April, the bees begin to come out of their winter ball.  I over-wintered three colonies though I’m unsure about their survival.  I’d be surprised if all three pull through the 06-20-10_garden_6703winter, but delighted.  I’d understand if only two made it, but I’d be disappointed with one.  I’ve got a long ways to go before I’m a good bee-keeper, but I have years to go before I sleep.  Time enough.

  • The Moon of Full Flower

    Beltane                     Full Flower Moon

    The full flower moon rises tonight on beds full of daffodils, tulips, snowdrops and small blue flowers whose name I don’tdaffodils675 recall.  The furled hosta leaves that come up in a tightly packed spiral have begun to uncurl.  Dicentra have full leaves now, though no flowers yet.   A few iris have pushed blossoms up, a purple variety I particularly like opens early.  Even though they will not bear flowers until July the true lilies have already grown well past six inches, some with gentle leaves and others with leaves that look like a packed icanthus, an Egyptian temple column rising out of this northern soil.

    My hydroponically started plants will stay outside today for four hours, working up to seven until they graduate to full time outdoor spots.  All of the three hundred plants began as heirloom seeds and have had no chemicals other than nutrient solution.   Unless we paid Seed Savers to ship us transplants, there is no other way to get heirloom plants that need growing time before the date of the last frost.  Too, the selection of vegetables and their varieties is of our choosing, not the nurseries.  I don’t have anything against nurseries; I just like to grow what I want, not what’s available.

    The big daylilly move underway will make way for a full sun bed of sprawlers like squash, watermelon and cucumbers.  The perennial plants like the lilies, iris, daffodils, hosta, ferns, and hemerocallis have their complexity but I’ve majored in them for the last 14 years.  Now I understand their needs, their quirks, the rhythm of their lives and their care.  Vegetables, on the other hand, only this last two growing seasons have received any concentrated attention.  Their complexities are multiple because there are so many varieties and species with so many varying needs related to soil temperature, ph, nutrients, length and temperature of the growing season.

    The learning curve has been steep for me so far, though the experience gained from the perennial plants has kept me from being overwhelmed.  In another couple of years I should have a good feel for what does well here and what does not.  After that, the vegetable garden will become more productive while at the same becoming easier to manage.

    By that time, too, I hope to have had two successful bee-keeping years under my belt and have grown my colony to three hives or more, enough to justify purchasing an extractor.  At that point this should be an integrated and functioning micro-farm.  If it works well, I hope it will serve as a model for what can be done on 2.5 acres.  We’ll see.

  • Under the Lights

    Spring            Waning Moon of Winds

    The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem. – Walt Whitman

    Business meeting and plants this morning.  The business meeting went just fine, our financial management continues to work for us and not against us.  Wish I could say the same for the financial markets.  Sigh.  Decided to check.  Wish granted: Dow Leaps 497 Points on Treasury Plan.  Yeah.

    My seedlings, grown over the last couple of weeks, sprouted roots which is the time to move them to their next medium, in this case soil in peat and coconut fiber pots with the exception of four chard and one mustard green that I put in lava rock and in the hydroponics.  The broccoli, egg plants, onions, leeks, mustard and collard greens, cauliflower and huckelberry now have soil around their sprouting medium.  They are all under the lights still.   Moving to larger size containers strained my space, though with some jiggering I got them all in new places and still under the lights.

    Some of them have to move out soon to make way for the seedlings that need to get started on April 1st and April 15th.  Just when they were getting comfortable.  Hmmm.  I may have problems here.  Seems onions started by seed should not go outside until May.  This will definitely cramp the April batch of plants.

  • One Place Above All Others

    Imbolc       New Moon   (Moon of Winds)

    Kate’s making red velvet cupcakes for Anne’s birthday lunch tomorrow.  I finished cleaning out the hydroponics and will start later today planting huckleberry and mustard greens.  The leeks don’t have to go in the pot until next week or a bit after.

    When the arugula, pepper and lettuce plants came out of the pots, they had the aroma of the fresh earth.  It reminded me that in all the jobs I’ve ever had there was one place I liked above all the others:  the produce locker at Cox’s supermarket.  The combined scents of apples, pineapples, lemons, lettuce, radishes, oranges, grapes and other fruits and vegetables smelled as close to heaven as I can imagine.   There were sweet notes, tangy notes, but most of all there was the odor of life, not the odor of sanctity, which is roses, but the vital perfume of the plant world.  The root systems of these spent plants had some of that quality.

    So far today has been more manual labor than anything else.  I miss that and find it soothing.  Working with plants and the living earth has a powerful cleansing effect on me.

  • Dis and Dat

    Quick note:   Finally, after over 4 years I’ve cleared obstacles between garage bays, set up during and just before the renovation.  Much better.

    Today I also changed the nutrient solution in the hydroponics and tried again to the encourage the eggplants to fruit.  I now have several peppers at various stages of growth.  Very cool.  At least to me.

    Last I got out the chain saw and cut up the trees I cut down last week.  They went on the extra large Varmint Hotel.  You might know it by its other name, brush pile.

    That seemed enough for the morning, so it’s nap time now.

  • Two Little Peppers and How They Grew

    34  bar steep rise 30.05  2mph W  Windchill 31  Samhain

    Last Quarter of the Dark Moon

    The big news!  I have two peppers emerging in my  hydroponic garden.  That means the fertilizing I’ve done has succeeded.  This is the first fruits I’ve been able to coax out of the hydroponics.  But, not the last.

    More time on the forest’s edge.  Whacking down tall weeds, cutting down acacia new growth, a little pruning and general clearing.  One more major project before laying down the plastic and mulch:  cut up, move and burn a tangle of vines, small trees and branches cast off during a clearing operation in this area last fall.

    Working outside when it’s cool appeals to me.  The work heats me up and I can strip down to whatever level of clothing fits.

  • Hydroponics, Pt. II

    77  bar falls 29.72  2mph ENE dew-point 65  sunrise 6:11 sunset 8:24  Lughnasa

    Waxing Gibbous Corn Moon

    With Kate I decided on the next hydroponic plantings.  One bed of different lettuce varieties and the other, lower bed with a sausage like green tomato, Rainbow Chard, Red Buran peppers, sweet long peppers and an egg plant.  This is more ambitious than the first batch, but I believe I understand the process better.  We will also start oregano and rosemary plants later on, perhaps September.

    Kate’s going to go to Interior Gardens with me sometime this week and look at the gro-room.  This setup would have to go in the furnace room.  It would have lights on rails so they can move and hydpronic bathes on the floor or on platforms.  This would allow us to grow larger plants that our current setup does not allow, primarily due to height restrictions.

    If we do this, I’d like to see it set up for winter.  I would then turn the upstairs set-up toward flowers and start-ups for next year’s out door garden.

    Tomorrow morning I plan to head in to the Sierra Club for candidate screenings and to help with a mailing.  Then back home for a nap, and in again in the evening for the meeting of the political committee.

    It’s sunny out after a rain.  The garden glows.

  • Dig In!

    79  bar steady 29.88  3mph NNW  dew-point 56  sunrise  6:07 sunset 8:28  Lughnasa

    First Quarter of the Corn Moon  moonrise 1432  moonset 2259

    More empathy for the sandhogs and ditch diggers from the old sod who threw the new sod.  The pit is down as far as I need to take it.  Kate and I have to decide now how we want to trick it out.  Stone?  Metal?  What kind of seating?  Cooking? When she gets back, we’ll figure it out.  She’s the detail person, the finished carpenter to my laborer. 

    The notion of standing stones in the yard still draws me, makes me want to find the right ones, ones that look like the standing stones in England, Ireland and Brittany.  I haven’t put a full court press into it, but I will here at some point. 

    This afternoon after the nap I’m going to sterilize the hydroponics and set little cubes of various kinds growing in the nursery.  I plan to have salad material growing, probably all but tomatoes.  They will await another iteration of the hydroponics. 

    An African object written up, then back to the novels.     

  • An Appetite for Nutrient Fluid (not an alien)

    56  bar steady 30.05 4mph N dew-point 43  Beltane, sunny and cool

                              Waning Gibbous Hare Moons 

    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

    Less is more -always; and explore constantly.  Mario Odegard, Viking Explorer and Woolly Mammoth

    Up earlier again this morning to take advantage of the cool temps.  Amended the second tier bed close to the house where we have had problem after problem with growing things.  This time I added two bags composted manure and a cubic foot or so of sphagnum moss. 

    It’s too shady for sun plants and too sunny for shade plants.  Gotta find something that swings both ways and can tolerate our winters. 

    Meanwhile on the hydroponic front my tomato plant started from an heirloom seed now reaches close to the ceiling.  It’s a good 2.5 feet tall, headed toward its interior limitation.  It has several small yellow flowers, but no fruit as yet.  Yes, the tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable.  The astonishing thing is its appetite for nutrient fluid.  It’s going through about a gallon every four to five days.  When the fruit begins developing, I imagine its appetite will increase again.  The lettuce produces enough leaves every few days for a salad a meal for lunch and dinner.  Both the lettuce and the tomato plant are the products of one seed germinating, coming to maturity and growing its edible product.

    Outside, however, if we were pioneers and our lives depended on the crop, I’d be seeking part time employment.  To pay for food next winter.  The cucumbers and morning glories I grew inside so well atrophied and died outside.  The three tomato plants, on the other hand, have done fine outside.  After puzzling over the difference for a week, it came to me this morning.  The tomato plants were in soil in pressed peat moss containers.  They had a much larger soil contained root system.   The morning glories and the cucumber were in smaller, compressed soil seed starting clumps.  That meant their root system was much more exposed, having grown in the nutrient solution rather than soil. 

    The take away for me is this:  if I’m going to transplant it outside, start it in a larger ground ready pot with potting soil.  It’s a learning curve.

    On the other hand, we do finally have several germinated seeds in the garden, too.  The Country Gentleman corn has begun its skyward journey as have the Ireland Annie, Dragon’s Tongue and another one I can’t recall.  We also have beets, carrots, peppers and onions, lots of onions, doing well.  We need a stretch of hot weather to get these puppies on their way.  So far they’ve been sluggards.

    Though I’m signed out now for the summer, I’m headed into the art museum today for a noon tour.  Carol Wedin, a fellow docent who prefers Asian tours, called me, sick with a cold and asked me for help.  Sure.  She is a wonderful botanical illustrator/artist.

    Kate’s off getting her nails done; Lois is here cleaning house and I’ve got to get in the shower to get ready for my tour.  Bye for now.

  • Novels In Vitro

    48  bar rises 29.83  1mph NW dewpoint 38  Beltane

                First Quarter of the Hare Moon

    Once again the papers and books pile up while I focus on the task du jour, getting the garden planted, cleaned up, preened, weeded and planned.

    Significant news on the hydroponic front.  The heirloom tomato plant I’ve kept inside has flowers.  That means tomatoes sometime in the near future.  Most of the early work with the hydroponics has come to fruition, literally.  I eat a salad from it at least every other day and the tomato plant flourishes.  Three tomato plants, four cucumbers, six basil and four morning glories have gone outdoors. 

    Phase II starts soon.  Phase II will see cherry tomatoes, peppers and eggplant first as seedlings, but then as plants to continue growing indoors.  If this works well, we might expand the hydroponics to include flowers and more plant starting for outdoors.  We’ll see.

    I have two or three novels in various stages of development.   Two of them, one about werewolves and the other about witches and magicians, both set in Minnesota have promise, but I’d have to get back to work on them full time.  Again, I don’t seem to do it.  Thinking about this because there are so many bad werewolf movies and books out there.  I did, though, mention Sharp Teeth here, I believe.  This one’s a keeper.  Done in blank verse.