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!


  1. I usually thin to the best looking seedling. If the only difference is the length of the seedling I would go with the shorter one.

    That's odd that you still have to wiggle the lights some times. You should try taking them out and putting them back in making sure they click into place. You should be able to feel them lock in. I believe they will turn 2 or 3 times before clicking in and they both have to be in to complete the circuit.

    Nice looking broccoli seedlings. I'd have to say they are my favorite vegetable. I will be starting them very soon, that is if my pinetree order ever arrives.

    I agree with you on having more recycling pick-ups then garbage. I was just reading in the paper that because of the material costs dropping so much recyclables are being stock piled as there is no cost incentive now to use them. Not really good news as recyclables may start being dumped in the landfill.

  2. Sinfonian.. I've followed you quite awhile. I remember your window-sill seedlings a year ago!. This year's batch are looking great! I am doing the same as you (shoplights). I got mine setup last year and they definitely made it easier to grow my tomatoes and other seedlings. I added 2 more lights this year to bring me up to 6 lights. I am growing over 50 tomatoes in sawed-off Sam's Club foam cups (we drink alot of their 87-cent pop) with intent to sell some in May during neighborly yard-sale weather. If I can sell them for $2 each, I will have quantified some of the other gardening stuff I am buying.

    Your talk about the self-watering-containers was intriguing and now I am hooked on trying the same thing dang it! I can't find a small wicking basket either and was wondering if it is possible to just use a small basket with window screen tightly wrapped and woven to the outside of that basket. Think that would work?

    So are you using 100% Mel's mix in your SWCs?

    I will keep tabs on your SWC construction project, so please do tell all. :)

  3. Seedlings all look good! I would keep the shorter tomato plant if it is equally robust.

    I noted you mentioned starting cukes and I thought I would chime in that this is way too early for cucumbers because they are ready to transplant within about four weeks of starting (fast growing and they don't like their roots messed with so they need to be transplanted young). If you start them now they will be in the garden when the soil is around 50 to 55 degrees and they will (at best) totally stall out and not thrive. Tomatoes are heat lovers too but have more cool tolerance and can be transplanted easily so delays for bad weather conditions do not hurt them - but cukes will not tolerate the same.

  4. We have also done this. We do spend the extra on compostable cat litter. It's not as good, but I do believe the environmental impact is really worth it.

    We have cut down our garbage to only 1 small kitchen garbage bag every 2 weeks.

  5. Yay! You're actually gonna flip your compost....hehe. The seedlings look great, and I would definitely keep the strongest looking plant. I had to separate some seedlings yesterday, and moved the extras to their own cups. Now, I have 74 seedlings, instead of 72. That's so cool about Mr. Sabel - he's the man! Enjoyed all of the pictures!


  6. Your kids are too smart to eat rhubarb leaves! They taste awful. And, if you give them a stalk with a little bit of sugar to dip it in, they'll learn really quickly. I grow mine using grass clippings to fert and it is VERY healthy.

  7. Great looking seedlings! I have to agree, so much better than last year LOL But, that's the thing about gardening.... it's something that you continue to work with, experiment with, and you can learn new things all the time. I know that I'm still learning.... and experimenting LOL

    I haven't seen the compostable cat litter -- what is it made out of?

    Rhubard.... hmmm, I haven't ever grown the stuff myself. Actually, I don't really know anyone down here who has. My sister has talked about making a rhubard pie before (she brought it to a work function) but I've never even had it.

    We have twice a week garbage pickup. They don't really recycle much around here. I don't know why. I wish that we had a plastic recycling center somewhere near. Great job on all of your kitchen scraps! Those will be really good in your compost bins.

    On the wicking baskets for the SWC, I found mine at Lowe's and also some at Home Depot. They were in the "garden pond" area.... is this what you are planning on using? You know, I kinda wonder if a household strainer from the dollar store (that actually costs just $1) would work....