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!


  1. hmm, I should have mentioned to check out the place before entering, especially if you went to a hydroponic place in Seattle. Most are gardener friendly places well others are lets say for a different kind of gardener. Sorry.

    To bad they wanted $6 each for their baskets as I am sure you could add some fabric or something to wick the extra inch or two.

    Good to hear your tomatoes are coming up, it is always exciting when things start sprouting. If you ever need some extra heat you could use a heat mat. I just picked up one and I have some brugmansia sanguinea germinating on it at the moment. At night it keeps them at 71f and when the light is on it is at 84f. The one I have is 17watts so it would consume a lot less power then a heater.

  2. Sinfonian - you want to place the light right on top of the cups - not rubbing the bulbs, but almost. After seeing your small number of cups, you must think I'm insane! Ha! Yeah, there's been alot of discussion about the wicking basket size for swc's. I have the big one's that raybo first recommended, but will restrict them by half.


  3. Awesome tomato starts! Very cool. Heh, I had a very similar experience at the local hydroponic store recently. I agree, they're catering to a different kind of gardener. The guy who usually mans the store knows alot about various kinds of gardening, but the owner is on a different wavelength.