Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter all! I hope you spent this time with family and friends and all the kiddos enjoyed it as well. Mine sure did, despite missing the egg hunt at our local nursery twice (we went yesterday too, a day early).  We showed up at 9 am and it was "over" having started at 9.  Ah well, it gave time for the Easter Bunny to make it to our house which was the main reason for going. Everyone knows the Easter Bunny won't come if you are watching... just like a pot won't boil or seeds won't germinate.

Anyway, I've not been posting much of late, as I've said, because my wife's been out of it so I've been stuck doing everything for the family.  That hasn't meant I haven't been gardening, just not blogging.  Priorities, I'm sure you will agree.

As much as there is good news on the chicken front to share, as Alton Brown of "Good Eats" fame likes to say, "that's another show."  This post will be all about tomatoes, namely extricating them from my light system and starting the whole hardening off process.

As you may remember from my last garden post, I was at the end of my rope... er... chain again upstairs under the light system, and I didn't want to figure out a lower box to set the tomatoes on, so I'd left it alone for far too long.  When I finally tried to move the tomatoes, several of them had actually grown AROUND the light bulbs, making me damage some branches removing them.  In hind sight, I guess I could have taken the bulbs out, but I did it late at night and just wanted it finished.

As for the dead branches lower down, that's a lack of water. I just don't have big enough pots to pot up these babies another time. I've never had to before as they'd be much smaller when it was time to plant them out into the SWCs.  This was a test to plant much earlier.  I should have planned ahead and scrounged up bigger pots like my brother did.

So, one by one, with minimal light in the room as I couldn't get to turn on the lights manually with this extended setup, I moved them downstairs to the unheated garage. They would spend each night in that room sitting on top of my all-purpose chest freezer that is about the only flat surface of the house that is regularly cluttered but always cleared as we need to get things out of it (if only the whole house was like that).  It took an inordinate amount of time, but finally they were downstairs and ready to rock.

The funny thing about the picture above, is that I couldn't fit all the plants into the picture.  I could either get the bottom of the pots, or the top of the Black Cherry tomato plant.  Man has it skyrocketed.  It won't even say straight up with a stake in it, it's so top heavy.  Actually, many of them are having troubles with the staking.  They really need to get hardened off in a hurry.

The next day was the first sunny day in a very long time.  I needed to get them in the best light possible as they would be up against the east side of the garage, which gets full sun from dawn until about noon.  Unfortunately where it sits it's blocked by a garden bed.  So, to raise the plants up above the bed, I grabbed two 5-gallon buckets and threw a few 2x2s over them to create a make-shift table.

In case you're wondering, if I ever get the funds to build or buy a greenhouse, this is the only spot for it.  Not the ideal location given the sun conditions, but I could fit a 6x6 greenhouse there if necessary.

Anyway, the tomatoes went on two seedling trays to give them room to get enough sun.  Boy to they look ready to plant!  Too bad they weren't hardened off.

Fast forward three days and various weather conditions (they're protected from the rain by the eves), and they don't look very healthy, in fact, my Sunset Red Horizon is on death's door, and it's one of the smaller plants.  Maybe I shouldn't have left them out there about 10 hours each day, sometimes until it was very dark and the temps had dropped to the mid 40s, but life commitments made bring them into a light setup after a few hours impossible.  I sure hope they come back.  I'd hate for all this work to be for not.

Enjoy your garden!


  1. wow, I hope they recover, you've gotten so far with them! I planted lettuce and spinach in my beds, a month ago, from seed, and they have only just popped up, I should have started them indoors.

  2. I hope they make it! Sometimes one extra thing is too much around here, and everything goes to the wayside. I do know that Lowe's has $.50 pint sized seedlings through today, and the ones I grabbed as potential backups look pretty great. Just in case you're in need. :)

  3. Aww.. I hope they bounce back for you. It is easy to go too long with the first exposures. A few hours and in "best" conditions then back to the house they go!