Monday, October 14, 2013

Not A Good Year

I suppose I ought to put up some more pictures.  This has not been a good year.  No hydroponics for example except in a stretch the plants left in trays and fed hydroponic nutrient.  The plants planted in containers managed to get some sort of blight and I found myself fighting all summer with them and not really making much progress.  Now it is October and I've just about given up the fight.  I really should go out and plant some of the herbs along the side of the house.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June And Progress ... And Some Complaints

It's June 18th and I'm rather annoyed by the progress I've made.  I decided to go with pots this year and found some really cool pots.  I started a whole bunch of herbs and tomato plants in little peat pots whatever they're called.  They work well for seeds.  After they got started I watered them, at first just with water, but then with dilute hydroponic nutrient, and more recently with standard strength nutrient.  As usual the plants flourished in the peat pots.  When I'm planning on doing straight hydroponics I usually use rockwool cubes, but since I was planning to pot these plants anyway I just did the peat pots.
That's a picture of the green plastic tray with herb plants in it that I took a couple of days ago.  They're flourishing on the whole, especially the basil which is the largest plant in the picture.  Now the next picture is of a basil plant (same cultivar) that was transferred to a pot with potting soil.  The potting soil was a Miracle Grow related product purchased at a local store.  It advertised how healthy it was for plants.
This is what it looks like.  Same cultivar, started at the same time.  Trust me, I'm not happy about this.  I'm not sure what the reason is.  I'm imagining that there is too much fertilizer in the potting soil and that it "burns" the plants stunting their growth at first.  But I don't know if that's actually the case.  I have had the same problem with my tomato plants.
There are two tomato plants in the pot.  The one with the larger leaves was in the green tray much longer than the one with the smaller leaves and was only transferred about a week ago while the other was transferred somewhat longer ago (don't remember exactly when but the same time the stunted basil plant was transferred).  I was thinking about starting a pot with passive media and only using hydroponics nutrient and now I'm sorry I didn't.  It would probably be a revelation to see how much better the hydroponically fed plant did.  I'm hoping that over time the plants will acclimate to the higher fertilizer content or whatever it is that is stunting them and start to do better, but we'll see.  Just this moment I'm not a happy camper.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Seeding Peat Pellets and Thinking About Containers

One of the interesting things about hydroponics is that it can be done in so many ways. Most of the hydroponics systems I've done have been NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) systems which take medium-less seriously. Except for the initial rockwool cube there is no medium.

There are other hydroponics systems that have a passive medium, i.e. one that doesn't directly contribute nutrients to the plants but instead serves as a moisture maintainer and some root support. You can use lots of different non-nutritive mediums ranging from rocks to mixtures of sand, vermiculite, and perlite in various ratios and deliver the nutrient the same way that it's delivered in the NFT systems, in a liquid solution of non-organic fertilizers that includes both macro and micro nutrients.

Container gardening can be done this way and I'm thinking of doing just that with at least some of my plants.  The rest I'll just put some potting soil in.  I was looking around at Walmart for good containers and came upon Plant Spa which looks about perfect.  They have a reservoir where you put in water or nutrient and the plants siphon it up as they need it.  Generally the evaluations are quite good and I thought they looked good so I bought a few when I was at Walmart and stumbled on them.

The big advantage of a reservoir is that it means you don't always have to be watering the plants.  You can leave them for a few days and that's great.  So I'm going to have an adventure.  Yesterday and today I was seeding little peat pellets.  I've seeded so far about 37 pellets.  Four are in melons, 12 are in three varieties of tomatoes, and then I put seven different herbs into 21 starter peat pellets, three instances of each.  I'll be waiting for the first sign of germination.  The various seed packets advertise anywhere from about five days to eighteen days for germination.  I'll be keeping watch.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Seeding and Thinking: How About Containers?

I've been thinking about what to do this Summer, our first Summer in our new house in Woodstock. I'd like to do a hydroponics system but I took a horrific fall in January which completely tore my right medial quad tendon (whatever that is, but it's important if you want to walk around). After the news from the MRI (neat pictures) I ended up going under the knife and now have this neato incision scar that runs from above my knee to below my knee over the top. That put me in a full leg brace for six weeks and I'm still working on physical therapy and can't walk up stairs except one step at a time.

So obviously hydroponics has not be my number one focus. Also we're planning to pour a cement backyard patio which is about where I'd tend to put a hydroponics system. So what I've decided to do is experiment with container gardening. I have a book named "Crops in Pots" and The Great Courses company has a video course on container gardening which I downloaded to my Kindle Fire HD (got it running which was awesome) and so now I'm an expert (well not really, but I did do some container gardening on the deck a couple of years ago).

 Meanwhile a friend from Pennsylvania, Stephen Haust was kind enough to send me some French Dona seeds. Those who have followed my adventures know how much I love the little French Dona hybrid tomatoes and my Totally Tomatoes folks where I would tend to buy my seeds stopped handling the Dona a couple of years ago. I got by with some old seeds but Stephen sent me some more recent ones. I just seeded them into some peat pots (usually I'd do it into rockwool cubes and feed them on a weak nutrient solution, but since I'm going to try to do containers this year I opted for some peat pots that I had lying around. I also bought some interesting plastic pots at Walmart which can be watered from the side.

I'll generate some pictures for you all soon. Meanwhile I have to watch all those Great Courses videos and read through that container gardening book. I always end up using some hydroponics nutrient to enrich the plants growing environment too and I'll tell you about that.