Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 28, 2009

Well, today was a fun day all around.  I spent the morning with the kids, then while the youngest was in music class, the oldest and I went out back to work in the yard.  He helped me with my compost pile.  I flipped it for the first time since last fall.

Here's the bed about to be made after awakening from a long winter's nap.

Here's the new bed.  When I was fluffing the old bed, I found tons of leaves that weren't quite decomposed, even more corn stalks that I didn't bother chopping up into tiny pieces last fall, and some random clods of seeminly fresh grass clippings.  All that went into the new bin.  I need to get some coffee grounds to work into it, but for now I'm happy with the old bed getting pretty ready for use this planting season.

I really should build a screen to create fine compost for the garden and leave the rest to further decompose in the new bed.  Maybe when I find time to seriously shop for wicking baskets, I'll pick some supplies up.  At times like these I wish I was EG, hehe.

Here's what's left in the old bin.  It's not quite ready, though it's looking really good.  I found more than a handful of worms in the compost.  Boy am I glad they finally showed up.  I knew they should, but hadn't seen them all year.  I couldn't have been prouder of the little compost bin that could, hehe.

And yep, that's the big 5 year old in "his" compost bin.  He had fun with his tools, but jumped at the chance to pose with mine.

Then it was time to go check on the garden. I hadn't been out there in a week.  Look what the winter storms have done to the hoop covers.

I fixed those and added a stop-gap binder clip to the top of the hoop to keep this from happening until I have time to fix it properly.

But what did I find when I looked underneath?

If my eyes don't decieve me, those are carrots growing all over the place.  That's where I had my carrots planted last fall. Remember, the ones that the raccoons beat me to?  Well what do you know, more are growing for some reason.  I haven't planted more seeds.  Odd, but my son will take it.  He had to remind me again that carrots are his favorite! hehe.

The last picture I've got for you is a progress picture of my garlic.  It's clearly overwintered as promised and is growing quite well dispite snow and frost all over the place.

So one thing got taken off the to-do list.  Unfortunately I didn't do much else because my niece asked me to go play tennis with her.  She's trying out for her high school team Monday and she wanted some practice.  It's been over 15 years since I've played seriously, but I found I could still sustain a rally, even if my serve was way off. I shouldn't say that I ran my niece and her friend all over the court, but this old man's still got it, hehe.

Of course now I feel like I need to take some Alieve and a bath before bed, hehe.  What was that about being old? hehe.

We'll see what I get done tomorrow.  Busy, busy day.  I'm torn about starting my cukes inside.  The packet says not to.  It sure would come in handy to get a jump on the germination.  It's one of the slow ones at 55 degrees, per the chart I have

Though as you see, if I could get them germinating at 77 or so (like on top of the monitor, or maybe on top of the ballast of the light system) it would cut down the time considerably.  Then I could plant them out around my Last Frost Date and they'd be growing full speed ahead.  By the way, my brother estimates the LFD to be mid March this year.  I was thinking mid April, even though we had a week of snow starting April 22 last year.  I figure I can put them out early and cover with my hoop covers if necessary.  Anyway, time to hit the hay.

Enjoy your garden!

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009

Wow, I'm excited.  I got an email today that made my day!  As great as it is to be "published" in Patti's newsletter every month, this seems more real... I got a post over on my Build-As-You-Grow-Bin page from a reporter with the Seattle Times.  Yep, the paper that ran the article that started it all in 2005 is doing a follow-up of sorts.  They're writing about the 20-30% increase in seed sales this year, focusing on Greg Lutovsky's seed farm over in Ellensburg.  They would like to use my page as an example of someone using his design in the local area!  How cool is that?

Anyway, I may very well have to buy new seed from him this year.  I checked my seed boxes that I saved from last fall, and unfortunately all my seed potatoes have sprouted, along with the ones left in the storage boxes.  Seems they don't last quite as long as I'd like, even in the proper conditions. I sure would like to make potato soup out of the remainder of my eating potatoes, if they're edible.  Any ideas folks?

Well, on the seedling front, three of my four Red Sails lettuces sprouted today, so they went up stairs.  And one of my mustard greens is considering poking it's head out of the dirt.  I'll wait til tomorrow to see if others join it.  Oh how I look forward to checking my seedlings when I get home after a long, stressful day at work.  Man I'm glad gardening season is upon us. I don't know how I would survive without it.

Guess that's it for tonight.  Busy weekend planned.  Take care all, and enjoy your garden!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 26, 2009

Well, the week is almost nearly over.  It can't end fast enough. I think I'm buring the candle at both ends again.  Shame on me.  My eyes have been puffy and watery for the past two days and today I hit a wall and could barely keep my eyes open.  So today's post will be short and sweet.  EG will like it because I have pics! hehe.

First off, I snapped a pick of my light system.  Today was the first day I was giving it both barrels!  I've got them crooked to provide high spots for the tomatoes and low spots for the soil blocks.  It's not perfect but hopefully I'll get stocky seedlings anyway.

It's odd that I still have to check the lights daily to make sure I don't need to wiggle the bulbs to get them to turn on.  Shame.  I was hoping for a more trouble-free system.  Still, the plants don't complain.

Next is a closeup of my best tomato seedlings starting to grow their first true leaves.

Notice in the back cup I still have two tomato seedlings competing for survival.  I haven't decided if I want the bigger or the smaller seedling.  The bigger is growing faster but the smaller may be more stocky.  Which would you choose?

Next are my two broccoli all by their lonesome in the other tray, getting the second light fixture all to themselves.  Check back if you like to February of 2007 to see how leggy my broccoli was at that time.  Now compare them to this...

Couldn't have asked for better seedlings.  Oh, and I moved the fan to the middle of the shelf so it will hopefully blow on all the seedlings instead of just the tomatoes.

The last picture was snapped when I was taking out the trash.  I know it's not a garden pic, but it does demonstrate the power of my sustainability efforts.

It's tough to see, but would you consider this 20 gallon trash can to be half empty, or half full? hehe.  I see it as the power of kitchen composting and our striving to recycle everything we can, and only buying things in packages that can be reused or recycled.  What you can't see (thankfully), is that more than half of the garbage there is diapers and cat litter.  I'm not convinced spending the extra money on compostable cat litter is the way to go, but our youngest will be potty trained within 6 months so those will go away.  I sure wish I could switch our garbage pickup to every other week and our recycling to every week, rather than the other way around as it is currently.  We always overfill our recycling. /sigh.

Well, as spring is in the air (sort of), it's time to get back to my Thursday To-Do lists.  So with no further ado.

- Flip the compost pile and add to it.  Either that or if it's done, create a new one in my empty bin.

- Start more seeds, I think cukes need to be started indoors, and maybe some others.  That means more soil blocks!  I think I have room for about 40 in a tray.  Not sure.  Can't wait to find out though.

- Shop for wicking baskets and tomato cages to complete the shopping list for the SWCs we're building soon.

- Convince my wife to let me plant a rhubarb crown on the side of the house where any future garden expansion would occur as neighbor beds.  It's outside the back yard where the kids would need to be monitored if they played.  And our kids are wicked smart as my niece would say, so I'm sure we can convince them not to eat the leaves.  They didn't touch the tomatoes or the potatoes (both poisonous I believe).  Worth a shot, my mom keeps bringing it up and my wife keeps vetoing it. /sigh  Of course I don't even like rhubarb. hehe

-It's not gardening, but sometime this weekend I'll be helping my folks renovate their home to sell.  Gotta get that done.

Lastly, my good buddy EG posted about a gardener who's trellises he admired.  Turns out the gentlemen is 93 years old and a WWII vet. He has been gardening his entire life, including his time in the South Pacific.  While he was there, he grew flowers and vegetables for himself, his men, and eventually as a project to supplement the hospital with fresh fruits and vegetables.  He guesses that his seeds are still being used to grow flowers and vegetables in the South Pacific after 40+ years.  Wow, amazing in more than one way for sure.  Go ahead and read his adventures here...

Enjoy your garden, for a very, very long time!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24, 2009

Well, today was a busy gardening day, and I didn't get home until 7 from work. Hehe.  No, I didn't get out in the garden, it's pouring down rain.  But I did move my garden forward, which is what this month and next is all about.  Getting ready for spring and summer gardening season.

So when I got home, I checked my seed starting setup in the kitchen.  Sure enough, four of the 10 tomatoes I started for our teacher came up, so they needed to head up to the light system next to my seedlings.  Then I noticed both my broccoli seedlings sprouted from my soil blocks.  They had been pregerminated in coffee filters, but they both decided to sprout wile I was at work. 

So up they went too.  The cool part is I finally get to use my second light fixture.  It's down really low to hover just over these little guys.  I can't wait for the cauliflower to sprout next (also pregerminated).  Then it will be a race between all my greens.  This sure is fun.  And it's both getting my garden ready for spring and satisfying my garden addiction. hehe

Oh, I almost forgot this picture.  I took it this morning when I checked on my seedlings before work.

See how the leaves fold up and even cross.  Well they do that every night and then unfold when the lights come on.  It's really amazing.  I've never seen other plants do that.  I'm sure it's normal, just really cool.  Maybe some knowledgable reader knows why that happens?

After the kids went down, I took some time to whip up my next contribution to Patti the Garden Girl's monthly ezine.  It's cool that she has me contribute to the SFG portion that is an integrated media feature with Mel himself!  This month I get to preface his comments while you watch March's installment of the Mel and Patti garden show.  Look for that in your email come March.  It's not too late to sign up for it over at her site (linked on the right).

Another site linked on the right is my good buddy EG's blog.  He is one of the most amazing men I know.  Right now I'm giving him a hard time over on his blog about folks calling Mel's Mix and compost soil-less.  Bah!  Dirt is dirt, hehe.  I think it's humorous anyway.  He's probably annoyed with me by now (not true, nothing makes EG mad).  Anyway, if you're not a regular reader of his blog, you won't be disappointed!

So, as you can see, tonight was all about gardening, and I never stepped foot in my garden.  Pretty cool, huh?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22, 2009

Well, my post marks the end of a very productive weekend.  Today was more of a work day, but enjoyable none-the-less.  I worked over at my folks place hanging drywall to cover lath and plaster that had seen better days 30 years ago.  We'd taken down gaudy paneling because that won't sell a house, even in a good market, hehe.  Anyway, I'm not sure I told you, but their (former) neighbors created two neighbor beds out on their parking strip.  4x6 beds to be exact.  Well, today, they were installing hoop covers just like mine to warm up the soil a bit.  The only difference was that their hoops peaked at a T connector for the peak brace pipe.  Ingenious, but not my preferred choice.  An arched pipe won't go into a straight connector well.  I like my method of bolting them together.  Of course, I've been too lazy to drill the holes and buy/install the bolts.  /shrug

Anyway, after he installed the hoops, he covered the beds with plastic.  He clearly had more plastic to work with than I, because he rolled the plastic up over a 2x4 that rested on the ground.  In other words, the proper way to do it.  Made me think I should shorten my hoops consierably to allow for a better seal like they had.  Hmmm...

After that, the guy started removing sod between the beds.  Neither my brother, nor I could think what he was doing (my guess was to put down mulch to not have to mow).  Both of us went out to talk to him (he was having MUCH more fun than we were, hehe).  Apparently he was going to install an irrigation system to the beds and was going to drive a rod under the sidewalk to his yard to run flexible PVC pipe and set up a drip tape.  Very clever.  By the time we left however, he hadn't got the tunnel pushed through.  Some sort of rock or something in the way.  Shame.  It was a really good idea.

Yeah, yeah, I'm spending most of this post talking about someone elses's garden, yet again.  Well that's because there's not much to talk about in mine...  Sure we're having a bit of a heat wave this weekend, but no doubt we'll have many more frosts before spring truly arrives.  Last week I counted 3 frosts in a row, one pretty heavy.

So, now that we're on my garden, I can report that nothing has sprouted from my soil blocks, not even the pre-germinated seeds.  Oh, and neither have any of the tomatoes for our teacher.  Of course I wouldn't expect it yet for them.  However, on a related note, I did some brief research that said you can either mist or water from below for soil blocks, though below is the typical method.  It talked all about getting the proper water level for the specific amount of soil blocks.  A bit too technical for me.  I did like the recommendation to under water because plants can handle it.  I think I'll do that.  Until mine sprout, I'll continue to mist daily.  Once they sprout they'll move upstairs and get watered by wicking action there after. 

Oh yeah, I took a picture of my light system and seedlings from a new angle.  I hope you like it.

I've been trying to figure out how to make all my seedlings fit in this system.  About the only way I think I can make it work is to somehow put all four trays on the shelf like the one above is turned.  I don't know if I have enough room to fit all the tomatoes in two trays, but the other trays will need be used with the lower light for the soil blocks.  Can you tell I'm not pleased with my trays?  I like the height, but not the size.  Guess I should be on the lookout for some better ones.

Also, when my brother and I were talking, he was talking about the light setup that he's building.  He only has a 3 foot area, so he's building a 4'h x 3'w x 1.5'd shelf system out of my dad's left over and recycled oak plywood (nothing but the best for his seedlings, hehe).  He'll be stuck using T-12 2' lights with the same bulbs I'm using, but I'm glad it's going to look good because it's going in his den.  I'll try to take a picture when his is up and running.

Lastly, I grabbed something on the way out of my folks old place.  I have been trying to figure out how to add a fan to my light setup to create nice stocky seedlings.  I'm not electically inclined like EG to wire up a CPU fan, and I couldn't easily find any of the fans I think I may have in the mess that is our garage.  Well, I saw an oscillating fan not being used there, so I commandeered it.  The only place I could find to put it was in front of the window, behind my set-up, which is perfect.  I have it plugged into my surge protector on a the same timer as the lights.  So 12 hours a day the seedlings get an intermitent gentle breeze that just makes the stems flutter a bit.  It only has two settings so I think low is best.


Now I think my light setup is complete.  I can't wait for all the seedlings to be under there growing away while I'm at work!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Thank you to all those who comment on my blog.  We finally hit 1,000 comments. Thank you and keep them comming!

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 21, 2009

Wow, what a day!  The sun was out, the temps were in the upper 50s, maybe even the lower 60s, and I got a ton done.  Well, not a ton, but I had a lot of fun.  And boy did I need it!

While my youngest was at music class, my eldest and I set out to make some soil blocks and plant some seeds.  I really tried to get him involved, but being the first time for me, I'm sure he was bored a bit.  There will be other times, but at least it turned out very well.  Here's the setup.

I took John's advice and threw some blood meal, and wheat flour to hold the blocks together.  My son helped dig some Mel's Mix out of my left over bags and put it into the bucket and mixed it all in with water til it clumped in my fist.  Then came the fun part. Using John's soil block maker, I set out to make some blocks!

The blocks ended up between an inch and a half and two inches high and were very solid.  I ran out of soil mix and time so I didn't make as many as I needed.  I was about 7 short.  So I planted 4 each of 3 different varieties of lettuce, 4 mustard greens (I hope they're 4 per SF), and 2 each of broccoli and cauliflower that were presprouted.  I was going to do 9 spinach from my pre-sprouted seeds, but I didn't have the blocks for it.  So I went outside and planted them under the hoop covers.  I figure they can handle it.  Heck, the spinach I overwintered held up far better than anything else. We'll see.

So, after I planted all those seeds, I set them in the kitchen as high as I could find space, to germinate.

Hehe, I just thought of something.  The broccoli and cauliflower should poke through the dirt much sooner than the greens because they were presprouted.  Hmm?  I suppose they should be solid enough to move upstairs separate from the tray.  We shall see.

Another issue that my brother raised when he stopped by to see my light set-up (he doesn't read my blog) and pick up a bag of Mel's Mix to start his seeds (this is the guy that pooh-pawed Mel's Mix this time last year, hehe).  He asked how you water these blocks.  I will do some research, but if anyone uses soil blocks and knows, let me know.  We don't want to water them and turn the soil to mud such that it loses shape.  I'm sure it's a balancing act since you don't want it to dry out and lose shape either.  Hmm. I hope this isn't a bad idea. hehe.

Well, after we did that and played outside, it was time to head out for one of two birthday parties with grandparents for my eldest.  Hehe, he gets 3 birthday parties this year.  Don't ask me how that worked out.

Once we got to our friends, we decided to go to a park and enjoy the weather.  We went to a Redmond park where they have animals!  It was cool.  They had goats, bunnies, chickens, turkeys, cows and ponies.  Here are a few shots as they were being put in for the evening.

Chickens (I put this one in for Judy, who just got chicks!)

This pony turned around to face the camera.  Too bad my youngest missed that.  He just saw the back end, hehe.

It was pretty cool there.  They even had some raised beds.

And here's a closeup over the fence.

Several comments here.  First off, the wood these professionals used was pressure treated.  There are always arguments over what to make your beds over on GW.  Much as I'd LOVE to make them out of something healthier, anything less than pressure treated will rot in one winter here in the PNWet.  Secondly, they angled one of the beds to make room near the gate, similarly to my angling for the pathway.  Makes me feel better about my design.  Also, you don't see it here, but they left their corn in the ground through the winter, only cutting the stock off about 6 inches above the ground.  I wonder why they left the roots?  I composted mine.  Lastly, I saw a cool thing where they planted perennial strawberries down the middle of a bed and carrots on the outside.  It looked cool and seemed like a good idea.

It was a very fun outing.  I never knew it was there.  The kids loved it.  We got straifed by a turkey and saw a month-old goat!  I enjoyed also.

I sincerely hope you all had a relaxing, stress relieving day!

Friday, February 20, 2009

February 20, 2009

Well, it's been a few hectic days around here, and unfortunately not much gardening has happened.  Such is the state of the economy.  However, the one bright spot in an otherwise very dark economic situation, is that countless folks are getting into gardening for the first time!  It seems folks want to take a bite out of their budget and so they're wanting to grow their own vegetables.  To that, I wish them the best of luck and enjoyment from their gardens.  And I sincerely hope that taste alone convinces them to continue to garden, even after the economy rebounds.  If that happens, then we'll be well on our way to creating a more sustainable future for our kids!

It's Friday.  I expect I've got a very full weekend ahead of me.  However, I do have some things I'd love to accomplish.  For instance, my cole crop seeds have germinated.  They may have done so yesterday but I haven't checked them for two days.  So tomorrow I want to mix up some wet Mel's Mix and use John's soil block maker to plant my broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and the direct sowing of some spring lettuce.  I can't wait, it sounds like so much fun!  I just hope I can make up a mix that sticks together.  Of course I could add some bloodmeal like John suggested, or maybe some wheat flour to create paper marche.  First I'll try it with just Mel's mix. 

I hope I have it right that it is the stem that grows out of the seed, not a root.  Meaning that I should plant it up or even sticking out of the soil block rather than poking it into the soil.  With my corn I just planted it sideways to let it do it's own thing.  Maybe a reader will let me know.

Anway, I have to remember to start early because I'm sure my father wants my help tomorrow.  That and I have a party to go to tomorrow night, and likely more work on Sunday.  Boggles the mind.

I'd also like to mention that my light system is kinda on the fritz.  I found this morning that the lights weren't on when I went up to check why the temperature was so low.  It took some tinkering with the bulbs to get it working.  Grrr. So much for an automated system.  Ah well, I was going up there every other day to check on the spacing and moisture.  Now I'll just do it every morning (I can't do it at night because I'm never home by then, hehe).

Lastly, the more I think of it, the more I'd like to do garden tours with my kids' preschool classes this year.  It's my eldest's last year and I'd love for him to show off "his" garden.  Depending on how well it grows, I'll have to ask my wife to mention it at school.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 18, 2009

Well, today was a hectic day.  Not insane, but hectic.  Mostly it was because all around me, panic was in the air.  If we don't catch up soon, heads will roll.  We don't know who, but likely our boss, which would be bad.  It's not his fault, he's treading water as fast as he can.

Of course, In between working like a dog, I took some time to converse with Ribbit about kids.  I figured you all didn't want to hear about all that on a gardening blog, but safe to say, Ribbit and I have similar situations with similarly aged kids.  Ain't parenting fun.

So, tonight, after putting the kids to bed, I decided to unwide the best way I know how.  Seed starting.  And sure enough, I had to start 10 tomato plants for one of the teachers my sons' school.  So, out to the garage I went to fill some cups.

You see the bag-o-vermiculite there.  It was the first bag I bought because I couldn't find a large bag.  It's out because I had run out of Mel's Mix.  So out to the garden I went to refill my Folgers can from one of my many bags of Mel's Mix.  Thinking that it didn't have enough vermiculite for seed starting (some folks start seeds in only vermiculite, though it didn't work so well for me last year).

Sure enough, after filling the remaining cups and wetting them, they didn't drain quite as well as I'd like.  More to say that the mix held water like nobody's business, hehe.  Not sure if it's good to have it so wet, but I wasn't about to start over.

You can definitely see the mix with mostly vermiculite and the one with more peat.  Anyway, I dug through my seeds and found 9 different varieties to plant (makes me mad I misplaced my Gardener's Delight, that would be 10).  So I dilligently labeled each cup and planted tomatoes. 

It's now perched on top of the fridge germinating.  I decided against doing the coffee filters because it would have been 10 bags and 10 filters to germinate the seeds.  Just a bit of overkill.  Here's hoping they germinate a bit faster this time.

So, hopefully these will all germinate and grow nicely in time for planting outside.  Only time will tell.  I've only had experience with six-inch seedlings purchased from Territorial.  I hope I can successfully get them all to that stage.  She's going to get me some quart pots to pot these up into.  Apparently Emery's Nursery has a pot recycling bin where you can pick up used pots for free.  That's cool. I never noticed that before.  Hopefully that will be enough.

So, that's it for tonight.  Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17, 2009

Short post again tonight.  Duty calls as a parent.  I spent the evening at our co-op preschool dealing with preschool business, then following it up with some great parent instruction on siblings and defiance.  Great topics.  Anyway, one of my sons' instructors is an avid gardener and despite her experience, always comes to me with questions.  I feel a bit odd advising her on gardening, but she asks and I answer.  It's fun to talk gardening after talking parenting.  Hehe, my two favorite things, or at least my only two hobbies.

Well, tonight after the meeting we were chatting about gardening.  I let her know it was fine to effectively winter sow under hoop covers (she built hers like mine after touring my garden).  I don't see why it wouldn't work just like a take-out container, hehe.

Then I mentioned it was time to start cole crops, greens and tomatoes indoors if you're starting from seed and want to transplant your own seedlings.  Apparently she does not have a good window to even give it a go, so I went and offered to start some tomatoes for her.  After rattling off the varieties I am growing, she said she would like a random sampling of 10 tomato seedlings.  Boy, that's a ton compared to my measly 6.  Well, at least I'll get good mileage out of my light setup.  I've got the room and I should be able to make the light work for varying height tomato plants.

Speaking of my tomato plants, tonight when I got home, all three of the rest of the tomatoes had sprouted, so I took them upstairs after the meeting.  Then I grabbed 2 Rubbermaid leftover or sandwich containers that were past their prime and put three cups in each.  That way, when I watered the seedlings heavily like EG does, the water leached out into the container, to be wicked back up tomorrow or the next day.   Oh, and I used DoubleD's water bottle method.  It's the same one I use to refill the cats dishes, hehe.  As Alton Brown says, multitaskers...

Lastly, I found that the coffee filters were drying out so I respritzed them.  I checked but no sprouting yet.  I hope I didn't mess it up by letting them get too dry.  Ah well, if there are no sprouts by this weekend, I'll do the soil blocks anyway and sow directly into the blocks instead of placing the germinated seeds.  Makes little difference in the long run (a week earlier or so).

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16, 2009

Happy President's Day.  5 years ago at 6 am my eldest was born, on President's Day.  Don't ask me how he gets a holiday twice in 5 years, but oh well, I'm not complaining.  That way I didn't need to take a day off work to be with the family.  We had tons of fun, cake and ice cream.  I always figure you need to give the kids cake and ice cream before they go run around instead of after.  Of course I was overruled.  Anyway, twas a fun day!

Well, now I've got 3 of my 6 tomato seedlings under my lights upstairs.  That and I've had 24 hours of seeing how my light set-up works.  I'm worried that my seedlings are going to bake under those lights.  Even with the door closed off providing no heat to the room, the ballast alone boosted the temperature to 75 degrees under the lights.  The low for the night last night was 60, but with the door closed it may drop to the low 50s.  Is that range ok for growing seedlings?

I'm still trying to figure out how best to water these things.  Now that I've got seedlings up, I could probably top water.  How do you normally do it?  I know EG uses larger cups underneath that can be filled with water to water from below.  I may just have to pick some up at the store for that purpose.  Plastic coctail cups would work well I think.  I don't want to flood my tray like I do with the Pyrex casserole dish I use on top of the fridge.

Otherwise, I sincerely hope you had a great weekend and got a chance to do SOMETHING for your garden.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 15, 2009

Hey folks, sorry if you've come here over the past few days looking for a new post.  I had nada to post so I didn't bore you with nonesense.  Yesterday was spent working on the old house, so nothing to tell.

Well, unless you want to hear about my experience with my local hydroponics store.  I went there on Dan's suggestion to get wicking baskets for my Self Watering Containers.  When I walked in Saturday, there were a half dozen folks in the store.  My immediate reaction to them were that they were all much younger than I, dressed grungier than I, and were purchasing large quantities of stuff for indoor gardening.  Much more than anyone would need to start seedlings.  Hehe, if those gentlemen were veggie gardeners, I'll eat my hat.  Sheesh!  Anyway, no dice on the wicking baskets.  The baskets were a nice 6 inches wide, but only 4 or 5 inches deep.  I want at least a 6 inch reservoir, so I'll look elsewhere.  I hate to spend $6 each for the basket to get what I got last year, but if i have to.

On a related note, apparently there is some high tech talk on some GW forum about the size of the wicking basket and overwatering SWCs.  Thankfully I went as small but tall as possible last year because I was using a small 18 gallon bin rather than Raybo's 31 gallon bins. 

So, today was a garden day (after working a few hours at the house).  No, not out in the garden, but garden related at least.  You see, Cynthia, my garden buddy from SoCal, is going through the LA Master Gardener program.  She found that UC Davis has their programs recorded and available online for free.  Very cool of them.  She posted the vegetable presentation (2 one-hour parts). Hehe today I watched both of them. Fascinating!  Hehe, I must say though, I felt really good that I already knew 90% of what they talked about.  Seems all the hours of online research and books I've read have done a good job educating me.  Very cool! Thanks Cynthia!

Well, after I saw those videos, I had a strong desire to garden.  Since it was below freezing outside today, I decided not to go outside.  Instead, I decided to get my cole crops started.  Well, germinating anyway.  Based on EG's advice, I decided to use my coffee filter method to germinate the larger seeds.  Larger is a relative term I guess.  I set up the first successions of broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.  Once they germinate, I will use John's fancy soil block maker and plant them in soil blocks.  I'll wait to plant the lettuce directly into soil blocks as the tiny seeds don't appear to be worth using coffee filters to germinate.  Correct me if I'm wrong here.

After I spritzed the filters and put the seeds into them inside open Zip-Lock bags, they went on top of the fridge, right along side the germinating tomatoes.

While I was working away, I noticed something odd about two of my tomato cups.  I know it's difficult to see, my phone wouldn't focus for some reason...


Yep, that blury loop is a tomato plant!  I had two of them that looked exactly like that.  My Sunset Red Horizon and my Ildior however it's spelled.  Two down and four to go...  It only took 7 days for these two to germinate.  It'll be interesting to see if the second seed in each container sprouts, or if just one does...

I think I'm most excited about this next pic.  I finally get to see my light system in action! 

Now the lights are only two inches above the tops of the cups.  Not sure if I need them any closer.  Oh, and I found an old shelf that's 4 feet long that will replace the warped plywood when I get a chance.

So, only one of the two lights is on.  I will turn the other one on when the soil blocks need it, since they'll be shorter than the tomatoes.  We'll see if this works.

And based on a reader's recommendation, I have a heater on in the room, tied to the same schedule as the lights.  Right now, 2 hours after the lights went out, the seedling area is 62.2 degrees.  Not bad.  It shouldn't drop below 55 degrees at night with the door open.  I sure hope that is ok for growing sturdy seedlings.

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009

Well, ask and you shall receive Matriachy.  Today's post will be on soil block makers.  Soil blocks take the place of peat pellets or seedling pots.  They are compressed blocks of soil.  One of the benefits I've read about them is that unlike peat pellets, roots don't leave the block and go everywhere.  Instead they turn back around the stay nice and cosy inside the moist soil.  Then, when it comes to transplanting, you simply burry the block.  Simple as pie!

So, a soil block maker, is a tool to make soil blocks.  Duh, right?  Well, it does this by compressing soil and creating a divot for the seed to be planted.  You can see and buy them here.

I want one of them for sure.  You can make four blocks at once.  But, John came across a home made one and made his own from left over prescription bottles.  He posted about them on his blog and on GW.  He did a great job of describing how to build one yourself, but for some reason I couldn't get it.  So instead of humming a few more bars, he graciously offered to make one for me!  Sure enough. I got it the other day.  I'm excited to take it for a test spin this weekend to plant some broccoli and cauliflower.

Tonight I was checking out my tomatoes, to see if they'd germinated.  They hadn't by the way.  This is where I get impatient.  How long to tomato seeds take to germinate at 70 degrees?

Ok, that's not the point, the point is that I saw something that caught my eye.  Prescription bottles are a good size, but soil block makers come in various block sizes.  Look what I came up with...

If I can figure out how to make one of those, I could make a bigger size for the next level.  This bottle is 3 inches and I have another that's 3.5 inches.  Ok, it's just a thought.  The construction's pretty easy, except for the plunger.  I can't figure that out.  Guess more research is in order, hehe.

I tried to find a video of the use of soil block makers.  I know I've seen them before, but YouTube wasn't being cooperative.  Maybe a helpful reader will like one for us.  It's late and today was a bad day.  Hope this all makes sense.

Lastly, I talked a long time ago about my malfunctioning thermostat.  It won't program anymore, so I have to turn it up and down manually.  I've done pretty good at only turning to 70 when it's cold at night then turning it down to 66 the rest of the time to save energy.  A local reader contacted me saying that they were replacing theirs and it still worked, so I could have it.  Well, today I met up with Jennie and she handed me a good-as-new digital touch-screen thermostat.  It's very cool!  She's so nice and generous, not only because she gave me the thermostat.  I met her at a community center just outside Downtown Seattle.  She volunteers there every week doing taxes with United Way.  VERY COOL!  Of course, I feel like a heel.  I saw that same opportunity and was too busy to volunteer.  She wasn't.  Bravo Jennie!  And thank you!

Take care, and enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 11, 2009

Man am I frustrated.  I got home thinking I'd have a nice quiet evening, but instead my wife hands me a letter from Comcast Cable.  The next two hours was spent on the phone with Comcast and TiVo, trying to salvage TV in my house.  Frankly if it were up to me I'd cancel cable and read, but my wife and kids would be lost without it.  Sorry to say it's true.  So my night was completely ruined by the back and forth of no TV and maybe TV.  I spent so much time trying to figure out how to get cable to work once they switch to all digital (different from the Federal thing).  In the end, if I have some cord with little feet on it that came with my TiVo, then it will work, but I won't be able to record two things anymore, which is why I bought the thing.  Funny thing, I NEVER saw this coming.  I spent tons of money to get a TV that works.  That's what I want.  I could care less about digital or whatever.  So fingers crossed, we found one of the two cables we have.  And in a month we'll see if we have TV.  Boy will my kids be upset if Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and Curious George don't stick around. hehe.

On a brighter note, I received a package from John over at GW.  He graciously offered to make me one of his fancy soil block makers!  It arrived today. THANK YOU JOHN!  YOU ROCK!  I can't wait to use it (hopefully this weekend) to make soil blocks for my cole crops.  I should really start those soon, hehe.  Thanks again John!

Lastly, I love Dan's suggestion about the baskets from that online hyrdroponics store.  Well, sure enough, we've got a local hydroponics store in my area.  Who knew such a thing existed?  Unfortunately they close at 6, which makes it impossible for me to get there during the week, so it looks like I've got an errand on Saturday.  See, I want to check to see how tall the 6" baskets are.  That matters in Self Watering Container construction because that determines the size of the water reservoir.  About 6" is what I'd think is necessary in height.  So I want to take a tape measurer with me.  They'll think I'm wierd if I buy like 10 of them, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10, 2009

Wow folks, just wanted to let folks know that there is a sale at Fred Meyer (Kroger owned) on Rubbermaid Roughneck 18 gallon bins that I use to make SWCs.  I know that the EarthTainer (TM) uses the larger 31 gallon bin, but I don't have room between my beds for more than a 2 foot wide bin.  Just so happens that the 18 gallon bins fit perfectly.  Hmm... at least the OLD style Rubbermaid bins did. I sure hope the Roughnecks do,  hehe.  Anyway, they're on sale for $6.99 through the 28th, so feel free to check it out.  Oh, and they only had the blue where I was.  That's ok, because my existing one is blue, and I don't care about color.  Heck, I could paint it if I wanted.

So, I picked up 14 bins. 

No, they're not all for me.  We're going to get together with another couple and have a SWC building party.  They want 5 and I need 2 more of that size (plus one larger one for my cantaloupe).  Boy do I need to pick up a TON of tomato cages, and maybe two or three PVC pipes, hehe.  Now I need to consider baskets.  I'm not certain the $1 store baskets will work well, but the pipe end caps that I used last year are a bit costly ($6) each.  I think a trip to the hardware store is in order.

Lastly, the spammers are at it again.  I'm getting over a dozen spam comments a day again.  Must be spring, the spammers are coming out of the ground, hehe.  Don't worry though, my spamm software catches them.  But I am worried.  You all have only a slim lead over the spammers.  It would be a shame to have more spam messages caught by my spam software than I've received from concerned readers... So let's keep ahead of the spammers!

What do you suggest I use for a wicking basket? It's got to be about 6 inches high and only 6 or so inches wide.  Oh, and cheap enough to get tons of them, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009

Short post tonight.  Snow is coming down something fierce.  We don't get this much snow in a season, let alone multiple times.  Gotta love the havvoc global warming creates!

I just had to share my successful watering technique for my tomatoes.  I had sprayed the tops with my mister, but the rest of the 3 inches of Mel's Mix was dry.  So I filled the dish they were sitting in with a half inch of water.  Today all the water's gone and the plants wicked up the water.  Very cool!  I had been worried that they needed air and that I was doing something wrong, but so far so good.  I'm not sure I'll do it again like that, but it is an effective way to water the plants.

Oh, and my timer works well. I checked when I woke up and sure enough, the light was on upstairs.  I turned off the surge protector to save light and energy as my plants aren't up there yet.  Temperature wise, it's 55 degrees up there with the door closed.  It's 60 when I open the door, though I'm concerned the cats will eat my seedlings.  I don't know if 50 degrees is enough for seedlings, or if the temperature under the lights will be warmer at all.  I don't know.  Experimenting will be in order I guess.

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 8, 2009 Wrap-up

Today was a full day.  Without the kids and having taken Nyquil last night, I overslept.  No surprise there.  Thankfully, when I called my father I found that my brother had just woke up an hour after we were supposed to start demo work, so at least we carpooled, saving the environment one car ride at a time...  It also meant that we got a great chance to talk gardening, seed starting, soil blocks and the like.  We also hit Home Depot on the way home (nothing there), and then Sky Nursery.  I kinda hate going there because it seems they've added $1 to $2 to each item to help pay for their substatnial remodel.

Still, they are a nursery, so they had a much bigger selection.  Unfortunately, they had a very limited seleciton of seed trays.  I had expected to see Plantel quality down to flimsy throw-aways.  Instead the best they had was slightly thicker throw-aways and the cheap things (to which they added $1 to Home Depot's price).  Wanting to be done with it, I settled on the not-so-flimsy ones.  They're not quite the right size, but I'll make do.  Here's a picture of them lined up under my light system.

Oh, I couldn't get the bow out of the 3/4 inch plywood, so I just turned it over.  It works better that way I think. Besides, maybe gravity will take some of the bow out over time. /shrug  As for the trays, they're too thin and too long, if that makes sense.  You see, they're 10 by 20.  My lights span about 15 inches to get full light coverage.  That means the edges of the trays get poor light.  Not sure I can live with that, but hey, they were $3.50 each. 

While I was typing this, I got an idea to check out how close together I could get the lights.  Sure enough, I can get them so close that they are about 10 inches across.  So in the interim, while I've got little to start, I will change it out so I only use two of the four trays and get the most light possible to the plants on them. 

Another thought I had was that some people bolt the two lights together, so they move as one and are great for focusing the light.  I think I'll leave them separate.  That way, I can leave one high for tomatoes and the other one low for cole crops.  Sound good huh?

Well, on the way home from my brother's, I head back to my local True Value.  It's a half mile from the house, so it's convenient.  Notice that I was just there yesterday, but I forgot to ask about timers.  Sure enough, they have them, and they were on sale!  Bonus, hehe.

So, you know what that means?  I'm FINALLY done with my light setup.  The timer's set for 12 hours of light during roughly daylight hours (6-6), and the trays are all ready to go.  The only thing I don't have is a soil block maker. (John, thank you so much for your offer to make me one, I am seriously considering it.)

I talked to my brother about block makers and we may go in on a 2" 4 block maker.  He's seen the videos on them as well.  However, he wants a whole set-up for it, with a table to mix and make the blocks on.  I thought I have a board that fits nicely between two of my beds.  I could mix it in a 5 gallon bucket and dump it on the table, then make the blocks.  The left over could be brushed into the beds, no biggie.  Guess to make my brother happy I'll have to add three sides to the table.  Kinda cuts down on the multi-purpose nature of it, but we'll see.  I'm working on my taxes right now and if I get back anything like what I got back last year, I'll splurge on a soil block maker and some new dress shoes (mine have holes in the soles, hehe).  Yep, I'm being frugal to a fault right now.  My saying has always been don't worry about things you can't control, but if you can control it, do something about it... I can do something to prepare for the worst!  I'd thought my birthday is coming up and now I'd have something I wanted for it, but it's in March which is way too late to be starting seeds indoors, hehe.

Ok, back to my day.  When I got home I was so excited.  I had everything ready to go to plant seeds.  So I headed out to the garage and set up everything for planting my tomato seeds.  Unfortunately when I got my seeds out, I couldn't find Cynthia's Gardener's Delight seeds she sent me.  I'm sure they're here somewhere, but I couldn't find them.  Fortunately, when she sent me my Red Horizon from our joint Tomatofest order, she also graciously sent me samples of all the ones she bought!  So instead of Gardener's Delight, I planted Idli, which is a yellow, extra sweet, extra early cherry tomato, so it should be good for my area.  I'm not sure if it's odd to have two yellow cherry tomatoes, but maybe, just maybe, I'll get my eldest to try them since they're yellow (his favorite color).

Notice that I labeled each so that I could easily peel off the sticker to move to the next container as I pot up the tomatoes (they like that I guess, wierd I know, what plants LIKE to be transplanted? hehe).  Pardon my poor grammer this post, it is just flowing that way.

So each cup got tamped down to create a solid block-like soil mix, then two seeds were put into a divit and dirt was brushed over the hole.  Don't they look good all potted and labeled?

After that, I took my spray bottle and misted the tops about 20 times and placed them on top of the fridge to germinate. 

Once they sprout, it's up to the light system, where they'll get 12 hours of sun bathing 2 inches from the sun, hehe.  Very exciting!

Next up will hopefully be some cole crops.  Broccoli is 12 weeks before the Last Spring Frost (LSF), while cauliflower is 10 weeks before LSF.  Guess that means I should start the broccoli soon.

What a satisfying day.  I hope yours was the same!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 8, 2009

Ok, I figured three posts in a day would make me like the Dervaes, and I'm NOTHING like them and all they've got going.  So this post will be for Sunday, even though I did the work and took the pictures last night.

I took an opportunity to finish off my light system, thanks to having a night off without the kids and a helpful sales person at my local True Value.

You see, when I got the lights out of their boxes, I found the chains on the lights far too short to hang from my PVC stand.  So off to my local store down the street.  It's locally owned and they're always helpful.  Sure enough, I got 8 feet of the exact size chain, cut in 2 foot increments.  They even showed me how to remove the hook and directed me to the hooks so I can easily adjust the lights. 

So, first I laid out the lights on the wood I had to put down to extend the shelf and to have a place to put the trays (which I still don't have).

You can clearly see the black chain that ended up being longer than I needed, but I wasn't sure.  Then I tested out the chains, and they held like a charm!

I had a bit of a problem installing the bulbs.  Funny that the instructions for the fixtures didn't explain that you have to twist the bulbs 45 degrees.  Thankfully my father just installed four of these exact light fixtures in his garage a month ago.  So one call to him solved my problem of the light not coming on.  Of course I had to endure his telling me to pull the chain to turn it on... ha ha ha, very funny.

Tada! We have light!  Note also that I put down the top board.  Now I have a flat surface to place seedling trays.  Well, I hope to have a flat surface once the bow comes out of the board.  Gonna put some heavy books in the middle to work it out.  I'll use books because this room is the "was-to-be" library and we've got TONS of boxes of books in there, hehe.  Don't ask me what we'll do with them when it becomes a kid's room, hehe.

Lastly, I thought I'd share a bit about the bulbs.  I decided on one Kitchen and Bath bulb and one Daylight bulb.  That way I get more of a full red and blue spectrum.  Apparently it helps for different stages in the growth of plants.  Anyway, I figured it would be impossible to see the different light spectrum with our eyes, that somehow only the plants could tell.  But I was wrong.  Look at this!

Pretty cool huh?  So I'm ready.  Actually, all I need it a timer to turn it off and on every twelve hours.

Not sure when I'll get around to finding the seed trays.  Maybe I'll splurge and buy the one I posted a few posts ago.  Who knows?

Enjoy your garden!

February 7, 2009, Evening Edition

Well, I had hoped I could simply edit my earlier post today, but alas, there's something wrong with my blog edit feature.  Nothing comes up when I try to edit posts.  So that means you get two posts today.  Funny I know, since it's been ages since I was regularly blogging.  As I've said before, between being busy as heck at work and home, and being a bit burned out with no creativitiy, I took a bit of a break.  But don't worry, spring is heating up and I'm doing more gardening work in my limited free time, so expect more posts from here on out.

Anyway, I did take a swing around the garden today, and nothing surprised me.

First off, there's nothing left of my cauliflower.  I should have started it much much earlier to get it growing.  Not to mention keeping up with the predator urine to detract the raccoons, hehe.  But look at these perennial green onions!

Oh, and as you can see, the jute twine I used to make the SFG grids have broken down much faster than I had expected.  I've got more though.  Gives me a good excuse to get my wife out into the garden again.  See, she's got the spacial recognition to string a grid without cutting it. I don't. 

Well, that's about it for the good news.  Green onions, great...

Maybe the spinach is doing well, not sure. I doubt my wife would eat it.  It's not as easy as it looks to get into there from the sides.  It's not hard, just a process.  Maybe I'll try to salvage it.  Maybe I'll just rip it out and replant for spring.  Not sure.

Oh boy, doesn't this look like a bomb went off?  Nothing left of my wonderful lettuce.  And my succession lettuce there in the middle?  It hasn't grown an inch in over a month.  Bah humbug.  Ah well, according to Steve Solomon's book, it's about time for replanting for April and May lettuce harvest.  I think I'll plant a mixture of lettuce, spinach and mustard greens.  Doesn't that sound like a great salad?  I'm getting hungry already.  Come on spring!

Enjoy your garden!

February 7, 2009

Well, thanks to reader's comments, I think I've found a good solution to my seed trays.  Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting for me folks!  Look what I found... 

According to Charley's Greenhouse, it's 12"W x 17-1/2"L x 2"H. That way I can fit four of these under my four foot light system.  Then, if I someday get the 2" soil block maker, it should hold five or six across.  Not sure if I need to get an insert try to keep the seedlings off the bottom of the tray, but this will keep the water off the board and out of the room, hehe.  At $10 each though, this seed starting system is getting more and more costly as I go through.  Silly me for not planning better.  What was I thinking? Hehe.

I didn't see anything like this at Lowes, so I guess a trip to Sky or Emery's is in order.  Tomorrow's plans just got changed, so I hope to rush out and get some work done in the yard before I have to help my folks.

Hope your weekend is going swimmingly!

Friday, February 6, 2009

February 6, 2009

Wow, time flies when you're dodging the economy.  There's a saying around the office that things don't change every week anymore, nor every day.  You shouldn't leave your computer too long or the world may have changed.  Yep, it's that ugly out there!

Well, I know I should have posted my to-do list yesterday, but I was exhausted so I'll get it out today instead of actually accomplishing anything on it.

First off, the weather.  Seems to be a popular thing to blog about as spring approaches, but here the groundhog saw his shadow in the puddle so we have 6 more weeks of this...


Partly Cloudy

45° F | 31° F

Chance of Rain

43° F | 34° F

Chance of Rain

41° F | 31° F


40° F | 31° F

Chance of Rain

43° F | 29° F
Partly CloudyChance of Rain
30% chance of precipitation
Chance of Rain
40% chance of precipitation
70% chance of precipitation
Chance of Rain
50% chance of precipitation

So, tomorrow's the day to visit the garden it seems, and wear a coat.  There will hopefully be some salvagable plants (like the succession lettuce).  I haven't seen it in a month, so I hope it isn't dead from lack of water.  Mostly however, it will be clearing the dead plants out of the garden in time for replanting.

Another outdoor activity would be to flip the compost pile.  I would love to see what's down at the bottom.  And I think my kitchen compost bin is about ready to spread onto plants it's been so long under the sink, hehe. 

The rest of my weekend will likely be spent indoors as it's too cold and wet to do too much.  I really would like to finish my light setup.  I have the wood for the base and the shelf, and I have the lights to put together and hang.

However, I still need to buy some seed trays, where do you get them?  And I need a timer.  Should have one laying around, but can't find it.  So I need to pick those things up to complete the setup. 

Then I need to figure out how to plant my seeds.  I'd hoped to use soil block makers, but I am under strict self-imposed purchasing restrictions so I can't buy it from the Dervaes site.  Much as I'd love to. 

Lastly, I need to figure out when to plant everything.  Thanks all for the links and help to figure it out.  I just need to sit down and map it out so I feel better.  Now I have the sinking feeling that I'm late, even though I know I'm not.

So, enjoy the weekend, and enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 3, 2009

Ah, how time flies.  Before you know it, it will be spring.  And me, I haven't even finished my light system.  Sure I've made the unit, and bought the lights.  But where are they?  Still in the garage in their boxes.  I've just been too busy (read lazy) to finish the project.

Oh, today I did get my father to pick up a half sheet of plywood to put under it.  In fact, I had them cut it into 2x4 pieces so I can have one under it for support and another on top for a shelf.  He got 3/4 inch plywood so it should be sturdy enough (to stand on, hehe).  Now I just need to find seed trays and a timer, neither of which I could easily find myself at Lowes, and they're SOOO helpful there it's not even funny.

So, thanks to all my garden buddies, I've got all my tomato seeds in house by now, even if my Territorial order is still en-route.  I'm still kicking myself that I didn't get any Legend tomato seeds from Territorial now that EG convinced me to utilize at least one of my SWC scraps to grow more tomatoes.  Of course, thanks to Cynthia, I now have samples of every tomato seed she bought from Tomatofest.  Bless her heart!  Ok, just for her, Druid's rock! (and so do Bards) hehe.

I'd say tomorrow I'd set up my light system, but tomorrow we have a play to go to.  The Imortance of Being Earnest should be fun, especially since we'll have dinner and see the show with our dear friends.

I can't say I'm too worried about not starting my tomatoes quite yet.  My readers commented below about starting now, and JRo's right.  If we started them now, they'd be ready early March.  The rule of thumb around here is that tomatos shouldn't be planted outside until early to mid May.  I did mine in early May last year, but this year I'll plant them around April 1 and protect them under plastic for a month or so.  I'd hate to have a repeat of our April 21 snow storm like last year.  Not sure when that means I need to start the seeds.  I figure I'll just use plastic cups, then transplant them into cottage cheese containers.  Those should be big enough to grow tomatoes until it's time to plant them in my SWCs.

Oh yeah, and I came across some of my winter sowing containers.  That reminds me. I think I'll throw out two tomato seeds planted in 2 liter bottles.  It will be a good expriement between winter sowing and my light system.  I sure know which is more cost effective, hehe, those lights cost $60.  Sheesh!

Anyway, sorry for my sporatic posting.  It's not that I don't have things to do, I've got tons.  But with work and my hectic schedule, my motivation isn't always there.  /sigh  Well, take care and...

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February 1, 2009

Wow, excuse my absense.  I've been out of town all last week and spent the weekend with the family, resting up to hit it hard at work starting tomorrow.  I want to say what a game today.  Very little reminincense of 2005 when the referees beat the Seahawks, I mean the Steelers.  hehe.

Well, I just read an article linked from from NPR saying that the damage done to the planet by burning fossil fuels is so bad that even stopping completely now would not turn things around within our lifetimes.  More likely it will take 1,000 years to normalize, if we stopped now, which is impossible.  My first thought... that there will never be a baseline for me to get a handle on this gardening thing.  Every year will be crazy and unpredictable.  Crap.

So, today was beautiful, but unlike a good gardener, I did nothing outside.  The only thing I did was to buy the light fixtures for my system.  I went the T8 setup because they said it's likely that the T12s will be discontinued next year.  For the bulbs, I went a 3,000k Kitchen and Bath bulb, to be paired with a 7,500k Daylight bulb.  That way I get the red and blue hues, or whatever, represented.  I sure hope I chose right.  I didn't spend much time doing research because there seems to be a ton of strong opinions out there.  Besides, I went the cheap light fixture with the weaker ballast, whatever that means.  As long as it works.

I also picked up a surge protector so I can have a light switch.  It'll also work well to plug into a timer.  Of course, we can't find the one we bought years ago, and I couldn't find one at Lowes.  So I'll have to come up with one or manually work it (not likely).

Well, according to my brother's research.  Today is the day to start tomatoes indoors.  I posted a question on about how I should germinate the tomato seeds I've got.  Should I use my standard damp coffee filter in a baggie on the fridge?  My seed starting room doesn't get above 60 degrees so I don't think things would germinate there without some help.  So I was hoping to germinate them in baggies and then plant them in the dirt upstairs.

Speaking of planting them.  I expect my first tomatoes will be planted in cups, but soon I should make a decision to buy the soil block maker or not.  So it would seem that I've got some planting to do this week.  Goodie!  Spring gardening is starting for me (finally).

Enjoy your garden!