Sunday, March 22, 2009

Catching Up!

Well! It seems I'm being heckled into updating my blog! LOL! It's nice to know it's being read... thanks, Dennis, for the kick in the pants. (And you better be glad I have a great sense of humor! LOL)

A lot HAS been happening garden-wise around here. But it's all happening IN my house! Specifically, in the sunroom, which is normally the kids art area. OOPS! Well, thankfully the weather has been pretty nice, so the kids have been outside quite a bit and haven't missed using their area TOO much. Plus, they get to play in water and dirt with Mom. What could be better?!

The seed-starting operation has expanded to a potting-on operation, which means that everything takes a lot more room. Currently, we have the original shelving unit which holds 8 flats, and have added a 8 foot table with light setup. The PVC tubes are situated so that we have lower or heighten the lights as the plants grow and are potted on. It may not look like much but it is very useful. My best friend's husband built it to be placed on top of a pool table. Well, my table is not that strong, so we put it on the floor so that it straddles the table. I had thought that I might commandeer the ping pong table for plants, but that was met with MUCH opposition from the family. :-)You can see that the tomatoes are really taking off. The peppers are quickly catching up, too! I was gone all day Friday. When I was checking that night to see if they needed water, I swear the peppers had all grown at least 2 LARGE leaves since that AM. Wow! Almost all of the tomatoes have been potted on now. I put as many as I could in 3 in pots, then went to 4 in after I ran out of the smaller ones. They really take up a lot of room, and every bit of space under the lights is being used right now. The temps have been in the 50's/60's the last few days, with nighttime temps in the upper 30's to 40's, so I moved the onions and leeks out to the coldframe. I'm hoping the weather will hold and continue to get warmer so I can consider moving the peppers out there when they are ready for larger living quarters.

Speaking of peppers... here's how the potting-on went for them. They were started in the microblocks and since that was mainly for utilizing my heat mats efficiently, they grow out of the tiny blocks quickly. Time to step up to the 2 inch blocks. I put the microblock inserts in the blocker--simply popped out the seeds indents and screwed these in with the screw and washer they come with. Pretty easy.

Then on to making the blocks. Got the soil moist and away we go! I can fit 50 2 inch blocks in a flat. Ready for plants!I started getting the peppers potted-on on March 10. They have since all grown at least 2 true leaves, some as many as 4 large leaves. In a few more weeks, they will be ready for lots more space--probably 4 inch round pots.

I mentioned that the onions and leeks have moved outside. So, here are a few pictures of the coldframe setup:

This coldframe, and it's sister, were made from old wood hubbie Mike salvaged from an old deck and old storm windows from my parents' house. We prop open the windows for ventilation with just odd pieces of scrap wood. Very low-tech. :-) What matters is that it warms up nicely inside and protects the plants. I put a thermometer inside and it has been getting up to 70 in the sun, at which point I prop it open so I don't bake my plants. (I know from experience that it can heat up quickly to over 100 degrees in the coldframe even on a 50 degree sunny day!) The coldframe takes a lot of monitoring, and I hope to get a wireless thermometer for it (and to be used in the greenhouse once it is up). Then I can easily monitor the temps while I'm... baking bread or teaching Emily or even updating my blog!

I figure the leeks and onions will be good down to 30 degrees. If it threatens to get much colder than that at night, I will put a small ceramic heater in there and have it kick in at 40. Once the peppers are in the coldframe, I will keep it closer to 70 at all times. During sunny days that won't be a problem. It's the nights and cold rainy spring days that present problems. In the past I have succesfully placed a sheet of foam insulation over the frame at night to hold in the heat. It works amazingly well!

Next up will be pictures of the work cut out for me this spring OUTSIDE. Right now I'm really regretting not getting out to the garden to clean things up before the snow hit. Ah well! Live and learn!

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Wow, you went from 0-60! lol!

You've got quite an operation going! I'm still deciding if I should switch my whole system and start using those 2" blocks. IDK I'll see.