Sunday, 20 March 2016

Expansion

Well, running out of space in spring to start my seeds indoors has become a "thing". This winter I spent some time looking at LED lights to see if I could replace my florescence I currently use to start seeds.

To add space I found a $50 pantry on sale at Canadian Tire, its 60" high, has 4 shelves each of 2 foot - the exact size of a regular grow tray. I had bought a couple 2 foot florescent grow lights, but the power plug on the side made them not fit. I could have used a couple 23 watt compact florescence, I may try it as a compare still.

But like gardening, I could try learn something new. So I bought a few "full spectrum" LED's on ebay. With a few heat sinks and and drivers, I made my first LED lights. Overheated 2 days later and went funky. Now I am not very good soldering and creating electronics, but I had to try again. So I dropped the number of LEDs per heat sync and tried again. The LED's I am using are 3 watt, 3 per Heatsink making 27 watts per light (in theory). Wish I had a meter. Now I have always read that these things run cool, but the dont! They still way to hot, so I added a fan, but its still hot. fan should be good for the plants anyhow. The LED's themselves are pretty cheap, so lets see if this lasts.

Here are my 1 week old tomato seedlings in my new closet, and very pink lights. Not sure I should risk them, in this experiment, but there is only one way to test if they work. with 2 of these 27 watt LED's, on the 2 foot x 1 foot shelf, that is 27 watts theory per foot. plenty. But without knowing the actual watts its a bit harder be so certain.

Next ouple weeks I will make the other 3 shelves - maybe dropping it down to 2 LED's per heatsink... we will see if these last. In the mean time I have a small place, that takes as many trays (4) as my grow table and can be used to store the containers for the rest of the year. This may be the way to go!

Monday, 14 March 2016

On Spring 2016

Every year I say I am going to build a or buy a weather recorder. Something to track my own back yards micro climate.  Those Raspberry Pi sound good. What gardener would not want a raspberry or Pie.

This Saturday though we had a record breaking 18 degrees. A total melt and workable soil before Saint Patty's day. The next week does not look too bad in the forecast, so I worked the beds, and planted Peas and a few really early kale seedlings. The tulips and daffodils are up, but not yet blooming. The ducks - in a frenzy. Nothing like last year.

Good thing I started this Blog as a reminder and log of what I learn

New Seed Starting Trials

Well every winter I go a little squirely and order more seeds than I can grow in 5 years in my limited garden space. The desire to try new things and learn the much forgot art of the garden. Art it is - as it is not as simple as putting seeds in dirt and spraying some water on them. There is so many subtleties. Much like any art.

This year I did a little trawling on LED lights to see if I could have a better jump on spring indoors. Maybe keep a few plants alive during winter. Although the lights idea has not really taken off as hoped (some cooling issues on my initial design). I came across "non-woven seedling bags)" on aliexpress for 100 bags for $3. The idea of planting seeds then not disturbing the plant roots when planting out appealed to me. The idea of not dealing with reused pots won me over. So I ordered a couple lots and tested them all but seeds needing heat as the bags are a bit deep.

New Grow bags
I bought cheap shoe boxes in a bundle from home depot. 5 for $2 as the grow containers to keep them from falling over. They extra helpful as these things are thirsty. You need a lot of water frequently.

The results though are impressive. The roots auto prune when they grow pass the bag, they deep enough to support a good few weeks growth (I thought). This is 2 weeks in for kale. I doubt I got 2 weeks left till these need to find larger bags or soil

Now if I could use top heat, these would be great for eggplant and peppers! Or perhaps just as second pots. The one down side is the time it takes to stuff them. Its a bit more work than pots. That said, its very therapeutic playing with the soil in winter.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Potatoes

Well Last year I bought 4 "gourmet" fingerling potatoes to try. This year, I regrew from my own seed stock 2 of them.  Ratte and Pink fir apple. If you ask which one I prefer, its probably Ratte. I grow them in 2x2 foot double stacked wood boxes. This allows me to just lay the potatoes down, then add soil as they grow. This year, Ratte gave me some potato seeds, which I have to try next year. Perhaps this give me some gene diversity.

What is amazing about potatoes is just how prolific they are. No wonder they rapidly became the staple crop of most of Europe.  From a single 2 x 2 foot potato box, I got nearly a full bucket full of Ratte this year, and a 3/4 for Pink Fir. With 4 boxes planted, that's more than enough potatoes for me most likely all year. Given the squash I being growing.

Speaking of squash, I already thinking of my next years crop. Suggestions anyone. My South African Gem squash was extremely did very well this year, but my others did not do that well. For the most part though, my garden suffered from Duck feeding. The little monsters ate every thing from squash leaves to Pepper leaves. Never mind lettuce etc.




Thursday, 9 July 2015

Happy Canada Day!

Romance Series Cherries
Ok the pictures were taken around then, even if it took me a week to get this posted. Its being a cooler and wetter than usual spring and the ducks have done more damage than I ever imagined. Still some things are coming along.

No longer am I cherry starved, as my Romance series cherry bushes have after 3 years started to produce. Not a huge crop, but tasty treat that is most definitely worth having a few. The bushes got their first prune and are most are now chest height. They are suckering a bit, but my intent was to create a hedge dividing my vegetable garden from my lawn and smaller garden. They flower, fruit and offer colour. why would one not want a few?

Forgotten Seedless grape
Another first is my seedless grapes. The muscat varieties on my trellis seemed to not have set, but the seedless grapes look like I will get a bunch or two this year. These I planted 3 years ago as well now. I bought them from a retired gentleman in orangeville than traded scions. These seedless being a recommendation on and afterthought.

Purple Peacock Broccoli
Although I am fairly strict on only buying heirloom vegetables, preferring their taste for one. That said, I will buy open pollinated like this purple peacock broccoli I tried this year. As you can see, some gardener has being eaten it raw, giving it little chance to flourish. Having had little luck with regular Broccoli (lots of leaf and little head), this may be a keeper.

Squash Trellis
Another thing that is new this year is my squash Trellis concept. I actually built a few of these. Just 2 feet by 2 feet and 5 feet high, my hope is than I can grow a vineing squash in as little as 4 square feet. since I have a few I am trying this year, and its part of my "extend into winter plan" plan, I have high hopes for it. I side benefit seems to be the ducks stay out!
Potatoes


Last years success on gourmet finger potatoes, is something I am keen to continue. The pink fir and ratte being my favourite, were stored in the bottom of the fridge to see if year 2 would produce. One the ducks have taken to eating, but the other is looking good.

Cabbage

This years cabbage for my sauerkraut and Kim-chi has being mixed bag. The Chinese cabbage did  very well, but got eaten by the slugs and earwigs in the damp. The red cabbage has also not done well. These thick leaved varieties though are looking good. (except for the one the ducks somehow managed to get to). Lettuce and pak choy I have none, after the brake in. I also had a lot of Zucchini and bush bean damage.

I have planted a few flats including a new batch of cabbage to plant out in the next couple weeks. My second season crop.

So far, I am not starving, but the ducks are making life a little more difficult. Especially since I got them to eat the bugs and not the veggies. That said, they come running when I arrive home, hoping for a worm or some other treat, "ducking" their heads and making offering quiet the applause. I also had a egg from DD almost every day since March.
 








Monday, 29 June 2015

June Update



Its amaizing how fast things get going once they going. That said, I sick of rapini and turnip tops and looking forward to some tomatoes and peppers

Sunday, 31 May 2015

New additions

Well, the Ghetto incubator worked like a rockstar. 4 our 4 eggs and I now have some grandchildren. Even not walking properly, they can make a mess of water in seconds. I think from the back Scramble, Sunny, Benedict and Easy. But then I could be wrong.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Season Started

Romance Series Bush Cherries
Well we had a amazing warm week this week with temps in 20's every day and upper 20's this weekend. Consequently the garden has undergone the miraculous spring change.I am pretty sure I will be living off it  by the 15th of May. A full 2 weeks earlier than last year.

One of the things I have missed these last two summers is fresh cherries. My own Saskatoon bush cherries taking some time to grow to maturity. This year they are in full bloom and I am hoping I will have my first crop.

My idea for these was to grow them into a hedge - a really attractive and fruitful one.
Happy Haskap





Of the 8 haskaps I planted, only two bushes look really happy and 2 seemed to have died down to the ground, but are now showing some fresh signs of growth. I am not sure these two bushes got pollinated even. I hope the remaining 6 put in the growth they need and are happier this summer.









Unknown hard neck garlic
The straw from the duck house and then compost on top seems to have made my garlic very happy this year. My French grey shallots less so. I really do go through a good 50 bulbs of garlic in a year, and have not bought any now in 3 years. One crop that I really use all year around and had some success since buying these bulbs at a local farmers market. The farmer had no idea what it was called, but said his parents had grown it before him. The expensive shipped garlic named varieties really did not have the same success.








Some of my squash seeds have not sprouted and I am starting to get concerned. Perhaps they need a bit more heat?!

Everywhere you go though it is spring. My Asian pear tree has some of my favourite  flowers off all fruit trees and is showing its stuff