Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 15: Welcome to the Jungle

A search turned up a box full of styrofoam packing peanuts. There were only enough to fill the bottom of half of the pails. So I drilled two holes each in 5 of the pails and loaded them with styrofoam. Tomorrow I continue the search for more peanuts. I think there might be some in the attic. Might also be able to snag a bunch from work. I refuse to buy them. That's like buying dirt. Well, ok, bad example, heh.

Took another set of measurements and the sprouts have put on some nice growth in 6 days, a couple even doubling in size. here are the stats:
  1. 12.1 cm
  2. 7.3 cm
  3. 7.3 cm
  4. 5.7 cm
  5. 6.0 cm
  6. 5.4 cm
  7. 5.1 cm
  8. 8.9 cm
  9. 6.4 cm
  10. 11.4 cm

And finally a pic of the current crop - first yesterday, then today.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 14: Transplant Time

The time has come. These little guys need to be transplanted. Their next step is into the orange buckets. But today turned into a mixture of naps and yard work (I catch up on both on the weekends). So it'll have to be tomorrow. Hopefully not too much harm to the poor little buggers waiting a day.

I do feel these plants have done fantastically better than the seedlings that I started for the outdoor garden. I can only attribute it to far, far, far more light. I'll pick the most vigorous ones for the basement experiment and maybe plant the rest outside, just to see how they compare.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 10: Sproutfest '09

All of the varieties have at least one sprout. San Marzano was the last one up. Of a total of 40 seeds, 26 have sprouted so far. Here's a shot of the current setup. I've got the fan on a card table and the seed tray sitting on a piece of plywood on top of the bucket setup. I finally hung a curtain on the window behind the subterranean plantation. And by "hung" I mean taped up. And by "curtain" I mean garbage bag. Don't look at me that way! It was a nice cheap solution and doesn't look too bad from the outside.

Below is a shot of the whole tray. Lots of activity. Soon, time to thin them, then before too much longer I'll be bucketing them. I still need to find something to put in the bottom for drainage. Rocks would be good, but it's surprisingly hard to get free rocks. Who would have thought. Maybe I can cough up a couple bucks for some rocks though. On the other hand, the idea of hauling ten buckets partially filled with rocks if we end up having to move is, well, unpleasant. Maybe some broken up styrofoam packaging (which we have in abundance). Maybe a few empty soda bottles.

What else is left to do? Definitely need something to train them on. But that's a ways off. Still thinking rope for that, would be easiest.

Boring measurements - tallest sprout of each type:
  1. 6.7 cm
  2. 4.4 cm
  3. 3.8 cm
  4. 3.5 cm
  5. 3.5 cm
  6. 2.9 cm
  7. 1.0 cm
  8. 5.7 cm
  9. 3.2 cm
  10. 6.4 cm

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 8: A Scattering of Sproutage

Some sprouted, some not so much. The tallest of them is 4.8cm. I'm pretty happy with them so far. Close up of the Super Beefsteak seedlings above. Note the first true leaves forming nicely.
I'm not certain if it's the intense light or the fan that's making the seedlings stockier rather than real leggy. I'm sticking with both.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 5: New Sprouts

Two more popped up. 1 Mortgage Lifter, 1 Super Beefsteak. Just barely poking above ground.

Also tasted the first Roma from the outside garden. It was good. But smaller than I expected.

This weekend's plan: mow the back yard, turn 2 gallons of apples into applesauce (from the local orchard), maybe, if I'm feeling up to it, make a pie. Oh, and attending a Harvest Festival.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 4: A Sprout!

A sprout! Yes, the first of mighty tomato army has risen. Curiously, none of the other ones are up yet, but this one exploded with a vengeance (about 3.7 cm).

So I turned on the lights. And I started the fan. Think I'll try to run the fan an hour a day to begin with, we'll see how much that dries up the peat.

I don't have the timers, so I'll have to turn them on and off manually for now.

Oh, and this little sprout was a Supper Sweet 100 Hybrid.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 3: No Change!

Still no sprouts. No cause for alarm.

The landlord may be booting us shortly, that could put a fly in the ointment. Although we may wangle us a way to stay, so I guess we'll see.

Blossom end rot. Need to add some lime in the buckets.

Apparently there's an epidemic affecting tomatoes this year. Especially ones from big box stores. Having grown mine from seed I think I'm in decent shape, but no guarantee. Our outdoor ones haven't succombed to disease so far.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 1: No change

Just checked the seeds, none poked up yet from the peat. No real surprise there!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back! Ready to sow.

Finally back from the summer's travels and ready to get going. This first attempt will be focused on finding out which ones grow well in the basement and which varieties we enjoy eating. I'm not sure how long the plants will last, but once they've gone by, I'll select two or three varieties and then try growing them and varying some of the inputs - water, fertilizer, etc to see what works best. The ten I'll be growing this time are:
  1. Mortgage Lifter - 2.5 - 4 lb fruit, pink red and meaty. 80 days until first fruit
  2. Steak Sandwich Hybrid - 10 oz. 70 days until first fruit.
  3. Burpee's Summer Choice - Purportedly "super-sweet". 73 days until first fruit.
  4. Big Boy Hybrid - Up to 2 lbs. 78 days until first fruit.
  5. Fourth of July Hybrid - 4 oz fruits. 49 days until first fruit!
  6. Early Girl Hybrid - 4 to 6 ozs. 52 days until first fruit.
  7. San Marzano - Looks like Roma, a bit more elongated. 82 days until first fruit.
  8. Super Sweet 100 Hybrid - Extra prolific. 70 days until first fruit.
  9. Red Cherry, Large Fruited - We have these in the outdoor garden, very prolific. 70-75 days until first fruit.
  10. Super Beefsteak - 1 lb. 80 days until first fruit.

If this list is correct, we'll have our first underground tomatoes Oct 4. Curiously, the San Marzano seed packet lists 82 days to maturity if planted indoors and 95-120 if planted outdoors. I assume they mean in a greenhouse. It will be interesting to see if the basement garden follows the spec for "indoor" plants.

Most of the seed packets suggest the seeds will sprout in 7-10 days. I'm going to start them in peat pots with the following layout. Each pot will get two seeds of the chosen type. Once they sprout, I'll pick the hardiest one and snip off the straggler. Once they have a little growth on I'll transfer the more robust seedling to the pail where it'll live out it's life.

Now that the seeds have been planted, I placed the peat pot tray in a glass baking dish and covered it with plastic wrap (with a few vents cut in it). I'll put it someplace dark and let it sprout. Might as well put it down in the basement so it can get used to its new home.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back at Home Briefly

Gone for over a week and big changes in the aboveground garden. The tomatoes on the side and in the front are blossoming pretty well. Loads of green Roma and cherry tomatoes. But all green. Nothing is even turning yellow very much. I suppose it's the weather. Seriously, there was a huge better boy tomato that looked like it was on the verge of turning red over a week ago and still green. I guess I can control that better in the basement tomato lab. Once I figure out how to make it happen, heh. Learn by doing I guess.

The zucchini absolutely thrived in our absence. Like out of control. I picked everything before we left and we've got three jumbos and a few we left on the plants to get a little bigger. And the plants themselves are exploding with leaves. Dinner plate-sized leaves. Zucchinis are far and away the greatest success story of our gardening these past two years. Which is great, because I really love zucchini.

On the other hand, I suppose there's a yin and a yang to everything, and our current yang (yang is the bad one?) is cucumbers. The zucchini have completely overgrown my poor cucumbers and they've totally withered. I imagine if I'd been here I could have cut back the zucchini, and maybe the prize cucumber vine is still salvageable. You can see the thriving zucchini and the browned crackling cucumber in the background. Some of the leaves near the ground are still greenish though. It's a lesson for next year - give the zucchini plenty of room. I think I'll plant it in it's own little raised beds next year.

The yellow squash are coming along but very slowly. This one is about the size of a AA battery. I had hoped they would thrive as well as the zucchini, but they seem to grow much more slowly. This cluster of yellow squash flowers has me hopeful that there'll be a substantial future harvest though.

Another bit of excitement - the eggplant is finally blossoming. It's out in the far raised bed, so I'm a little surprised the deer haven't power-chowed on it, but they haven't even nibbled. Here's a flower that will soon be a plump foot-long shiny black eggplant if Freyr is kind.
Sorry no update as to the basement garden, but we're still in waiting mode until the last of the summer trips are complete. I'm sure once it gets going there'll be more updates than even the most rabid tomato grower would ever hope for.