Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cherry Tomato Seedling in the Ground

One of my Sungold Cherry Tomato Seedling has grown tall enough that I decided to transplant it into the ground today.

Unfortunately, my other Cherry Tomato Seedlings are much further behind. I had a problem germinating seeds this year (see this blog entry) because I made a mistake of not warming my seed starting container to a high enough temperature to induce the seeds to germinate.

This is a week later than I had transplanted seedlings last year (see this blog entry). I think this is because it has been a lot colder and wetter than it was in February last year.

I transplanted the Sungold Cherry Tomato seedling into the 2 feet x 4 feet Raised Bed that I built last year (see this blog entry)

This Raised Bed is big enough to grow 2 Cherry Tomato plants.

Last October, at the end of the Cherry Tomato growing season, I pulled out all of the roots.

Then, I put in a combination of Soybean meal and steer manure (see this blog entry). This mixture has had over 4 months to compost.

I dug up some soil this morning and was pleased to see a lot of earthworms (see picture to the right). This is a very good sign that the natural fertilizer that I put in the ground is being turned into nutrients that the Cherry Tomato plants can use.

Last year, I also purchased 6 Texas Tomato Cages ( see this blog entry)

The Texas Tomato Cages worked very well. With the 2 feet extensions that I bought, the cages ended up being 8 feet tall. This was much taller than my previous Tomato cages (about 4 feet tall) and was strong enough to support the Cherry Tomato plants.

The Cherry Tomato plants were able to keep growing and growing and growing. I had my biggest yield of Cherry Tomatoes ever last year (see this blog entry)

The nice thing about the Texas Tomato Cages is that they fold nicely for storage. I put the Texas Tomato Cages away last October.

Today, just prior to transplanting the seedling, I put the Texas Tomato Cages back in the Raised Bed (see picture to the right).

One of the things I always do prior to transplanting a seedling is to cover the planting hole with Fish Bone Meal.

Fish Bone Meal is very high in phosphorous, which is an essential element that enables plants to produce flowers. Phosphorous moves in the ground very slowly, at a rate of 1/8th of an inch per year. So by placing Fish Bone Meal in the planting hole, I ensure that the Cherry Tomato plants have enough phosphorous to produce a lot of fruit.

Providing Fish Bone Meal when transplanting and composting Soybean Meal and manure in the winter are the only fertilizers that I use.

The picture to the right shows the bottom of the seedling after I had popped it out of the container.

See how the roots are starting to curl around the edges of the container. This is the right time to transplant the seedling. If I wait too long, the roots will curl around and cover the inside of the container and make it hard for the plant to get enough nutrients.

This picture shows the Sungold Cherry Tomato seedling after I had transplanted it the ground.

If the plant grows at the same rate as the ones from last year, I should have Cherry Tomatoes ready to eat by the end of May (see this blog entry)

Dove Melon Hybrid Seedling

The Dove Melon seeds that I planted 3 weeks ago (see this blog entry) have germinated!

I bought the seeds from Park Seed in December and because Park Seed had problems with seed production, I did not get the seed packets until early February. By then I had dismantled my Grow Light system after I had germinated all of my Tomato Seeds (see this blog entry).

So, I decided to do something I had never done before. I planted 4 seeds in a small container and put the containers inside next to a south facing window. I thought that the weather would be too cold in February and I would not see any seedlings until late March or April.

Well yesterday, I found to my surprise that I had 3 Dove Melon seedlings.

It took 21 days to germinate seeds the "natural way". With my Grow Lights, it takes about 7 to 10 days for seedlings to emerge.

Still, I am pretty amazed that 3 seedlings emerged on the same day. The weather has been chilly (45-50 degrees F at night, 60-75 degrees F during the day) and it rained most of last week. I guess having the container inside helped keep the seeds warm enough to sprout.

Now, I am planning to bring the containers out during the day and bring them inside at night. I'll do this for a little while until the seedlings produce more leaves.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Putting Seedlings Outside

Last week, I turned off my Grow Lights and I moved my seedlings to south facing windowsills (see this blog entry) for a couple of days.

I then moved the seedlings outside during the day and moved them back inside at night. I did this routine for two more days.

It rained in Southern California on Friday and Saturday. I kept the seedlings indoors all day Friday, but I brought the seedlings outside on Saturday. The seedlings got a little wet from the rain. The rain stopped in the afternoon and the seedlings got a little sun. I took the plunge and I let them stay outside the entire night.

Starting today, I plan to keep the seedlings outside all the time until they are ready for transplanting. I have already transplanted one Charentais seedling (see this blog entry). I expect the rest of the seedlings will take several more weeks before they are ready to go into the ground.

I arranged the seedlings next to the 20" containers that I use to grow Oriental Lilies (see this blog entry). Each Lily container has a drip irrigation sprinkler (you can see the 1/4" drip lines going to the each container in the picture below). I put the seedlings right next to the containers so that they can catch the excess water coming from the drip irrigation sprinklers.

Starting Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in February

I have had a very difficult time this Winter trying to get Okinawan Sweet Potatoes to grow (see this blog entry).

With the weather getting warmer, I thought I would try again.

I took some cuttings from the one area of my garden that still had living Okinawan Sweet Potato vines (see picture below).

I took 6 cuttings from the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines. I was careful to choose parts of the plants that looked the healthiest to use as cuttings.

I planted the cuttings into a half whiskey barrel container (see picture to the right).

Hopefully, the cuttings will take root.

I am waiting until I can get Okinawan Sweet Potato plants to grow in other areas of my garden, before I harvest the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in the Raised Bed shown in the picture at the top.

Dove Melon Hybrid

I was browsing through the Park Seed web site in December and I noticed they were carrying a sweet melon called Dove Melon Hybrid.

The description sounded interesting, so I bought a packet of 15 seeds. However, the seeds took a long long time to arrive. I sent an email to Park Seed in early January and they told me that they had problems germinating the seeds and wanted to make sure that sent me seeds that were good.

Well, the seeds finally arrived this week. Unfortunately, I had turned off my Grow Lights last week once I had gotten enough seedlings (see this blog entry).

It did not make sense to me to turn back on the Grow Lights just for this. So, I decided to try growing seedlings the natural way, outside in the sun. The weather is getting warmer and I am hopeful that I can get the seeds to germinate.

I planted seeds into four 4" containers (see picture below).

I figure that if the seeds do not germinate right away, I'll keep the containers watered and in the sun through March. By then, the weather should be definitely warm enough.

Charentais Melon Seedling in Ground

My first Charentais Melon seedling that I started 6 weeks ago (see this blog entry) is large enough that I needed to plant it into the ground (see the picture to the right).

It is a bit earlier than normal for me to start transplanting seedlings into the ground, but the weather has gotten noticeably warmer and I was afraid that I would stunt the plant's growth if I let it get root bound in the 6" container.

I have three other Charentais seedlings that are much smaller that I am holding back, so if this seedling fails to grow, I have backups.

The picture below shows the Charentais seedling in the ground.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Strawberry Tower Year 2

It's been almost a year since I starting growing Albion Strawberries in my Strawberry Tower.

I must say that Strawberries are among the most successful things that I have grown in my garden.

I was able to keep my family supplied with Strawberries for most of the year. I did not have to buy any Strawberries from my local Supermarket. When, we went out for dinner and had Strawberries for dessert, we could taste the difference between those Strawberries and the ones that I grew. My youngest son only wanted to eat the Strawberries that grew in our garden.

Three months ago (see this blog entry), I pruned the dead and dying leaves from my Strawberry plants.

The picture to the right shows how the Strawberry Tower looks today. The Strawberry plants have slowly started to grow back leaves and there are lots of Strawberry flowers forming.

The picture to the right is a closeup of the Strawberry Tower. You can see in the picture a few of the Strawberries beginning to turn red.