Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things are getting exciting

Here is the veggie updates with entirely to many photo's, sorry if they load slow. I will start outside as that is what I am most excited about. Saturday afternoon I completed the oak barrel greenhouse and planted a 1/4 of the soil with Mesclun Mix lettuce. I will plant a quarter at a time every two weeks to spread out the harvest. I checked the barrel Sunday afternoon and the plastic was all steamy with an inside temperature of 20c(68f). They should germinate in no time with these conditions. It's great when things work the way they should.

The cold frame is also doing very well. . The early tomato & second seeded onions have been out in the frame a few times and soon will spend most days outside under glass. I have also seeded a few things, germinated them in my propagator and then will place them in the frame once they germinate. This includes kohlrabi, assorted lettuces, tatsoi, bright lights chard, rutabaga, peas & broad beans. My indoor broccoli has grown pretty leggy as you will see below so I start some more in the frame to see if they grow better outdoors. They are growing much slower in the frame so I think for now on I will start the broccoli transplants outside in the frame. Here are some photos of the crops in the frame:

'Bonsai" Bok Choy, also called Pak Choy.
You plant this like you would broccoli.

Kohlrabi, nice and purple.

Tuscano Kale

Romaine Lettuce

Veseys Baby Leaf Blend

On Saturday I planted a few rows of radishes & spinach outside in the soil. I sowed them right against the foundation in a sheltered spot by the redundant chimney. It is a little early to plant out in the open but this sheltered spot should hold enough heat for them to grow.

Spinach seeds planted.

Here is the photo of my garlic. They have pretty much completely sprouted like Chiot's Run reassured me last February when I thought half of them were dead. Cool heads prevail.

Garlic. The radishes and spinach are planted
between the garlic and chimney.

The last thing to update outdoors is I have started to blanch my rhubarb after watching it done on Down on the Allotment blog. I planted this clump 5 years ago, it is not a very nice tasting variety so I am hoping the blanching makes it much nicer. All you do is cover it to exclude light, leave it for a few weeks and then harvest. After harvesting then allow the plant to grow uncovered to re-feed the crowns.

Now for the inside seedlings. Almost everything that has to be sown indoors early has been and is growing under the grow light. I am still waiting on some herbs & ornamental annuals to arrive that I ordered late. Here are some photos of whats growing:

Peppers from small to large: Ancho, Jimmy Nardello's & Big Chilli II
The two short ones were started March 12 & the big one was start
Feb 16th. I will start all my peppers in Feb next season.

Purple Beauty Pepper, seeded March 18th
& is starting to germinate well now.

Second Seed onions, Yellow Storage & Shallots

Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli, They are doing so so. They are stocky yet floppy at the
same time. I don't think they like the heat from the grow light.

Eggplant, I am also going to start the eggplants in February next year.

The 14 tomatoes I started March 20th. Most are getting their first true leaves currently.

And I will end with Mister Early Tomato that is looking rather lovely.


  1. I agree - that tomato plant is looking great! Man, it's kinda hard to keep the broccoli from looking leggy. Probably too much heat, like you stated. Anyway, everything looks good!


  2. Eggplant in February? I guess I like little ones when I plant out. I won't plant mine until mid April. I wish I had an early tomato though. I have some nice varieties from Siberia, but I won't be home at a critical time in May. The weather is iffy then and they could need protection and might need it opened and closed. Our May weather is really iffy at times. It could be wet cold and rainy or it could be hot and sunny. I don't think my husband is up to the challenge. I'm probably better off without the early ones this year. It is so hard to travel when you have seedlings that need pampering.

  3. The crops in your frame look so hearty and fabulous! As do your peppers. Any secrets? My parsley and yellow pepper seeds did not germinate. They may have been shaded as they were at one end of my window sill greenhouse and the tomato and chamomile at the other end sprouted nicely. Hmm! I'll have to try again.

  4. EG - The bulb runs really hot, hot enough to give you a sun burn. I am guessing that is what is doing it as everything else is nice and short. Maybe I will pick up a shop light next year for the brassicas.

    Daphne - We had a wet and cool season last year and my eggplants didn't do anything. My thought is the earlier they are started the better they will be at adapting. I have thought how to go away with all these plants as well, it may be a home bound summer.

    Urban Environmentalist - I think Parsley germinates poorly so plant lots of seed at once. Peppers can take ages to germinate, up to 4 weeks if it is cold. I start them on a heat mat and they germinate in 4-16 days. You can also place them on top of the fridge or on top of your furnace, anywhere that is hot and then move them to the light when they sprout. Hope this helps.

  5. Thanks for having to load all of those photos! It helps to see all of those examples and they look like they are coming along nicely. As for the broccoli, it's interesting that you believe the heat is causing the seedlings to be leggy. I should use that as a cautionary tale.

  6. Everything looks great and really lush. We still have a month of potential frosts, so I am so jealous!

  7. Looking really good, Dan. Yes, I think the heat is what hurts the brassicas. Mine are doing much better now that I have moved them out of the greenhouse and into natural light. I've started a second batch, and they will get no time under the lights.

  8. Dan, What really interests me is the difference in our planting zones and how different our spring plantings are. I mean I can't even grow 1/2 of what you're growing until......September, maybe?! Onions, Brussels, Shallots, Broccoli, Spinach, and even Lettuce.....all have to be done or finishing up until the end of Summer. Bummer for me. I even started some lettuce a couple weeks ago and I now realize.....I was dreaming. lol


  9. Sally - I think broccoli gets leggy indoors no matter how they are grown. With your fluorescent light it would be best to keep it almost touching the plants and keep the room they are in as cool as possible.

    Red - We have at least a month of cold weather as well. I make sure to bring everything inside if it gets really cold at night. All the greens, brassica's & onions can stay out in the frame now as it does not go below freeze inside anymore during the evening.

    Granny - I started a second batch as well, they are at the same stage as the Kohlrabi I have photoed.

    Dennis - We can pretty much grow all vegetable crops during our whole growing season. It does however get really hot in July & August so all the greens bolt. Maybe you should try growing some bolt resistant greens in the warmer months. I will email you a list of greens that are said to do well in the heat.

  10. Good work Dan! The plants look healthy and well cared for. My broccoli starts always are a little on the floppy side - healthy but want to lay down a bit. Not to worry though, I just get them into the garden proper as quickly as practical and bury them deeply. They always turn out super.

    I saw the rhubarb blanching at the same site and thought that looked interesting. You will have to let me know how it ends up taste wise.

  11. I'm growing the Nardello pepper for the fist time this year. I shall watch how yours get on!

  12. Looks like you have a CSA going there... kidding, I think I have as many seedlings (or close anyhow). Funny, how I told myself that I wouldn't start any tomatoes this year (two flats later). That Mister early Tomato looks beautiful. I start my peppers and egglants around March but to get them to produce I use the clear plastic soil warming technique that I picked up when learning to grow Sweet Potatoes 'Ken Allan' style. I'm sure you heard that there were wide spread crop problems throughout the Northeast last year.

    Hey Dan, did I invite you to Homegrown Goodness yet (mabye you've already visited.)

  13. kitsapFG - Will do, the rhubarb should be ready in a couples weeks. I think I am going to pot up the broccoli deep and put them in the frame, I can't plant them out until April 20.

    Vegetable Heaven - The Nardello peppers certainly caught my eye and the eye of many others as I have seen them on a lot of blogs. They are supposed to be very productive, I am going to pickle some if I have lots of excess.

    Ottawa Gardener - I got wind of starting the hot peppers early on 'I wet my plants' blog so I followed along. They have grown really nicely. If I didn't have the metal halide grow light I wouldn't start so early as they would be a leggy mess by now. I have not heard of Homegrown Goodness but I am intrigued.

  14. Those seedlings look great, Dan.

    Parsley has a chemical in the seed coat that inhibits germination. I soak the seeds for 24 - 48 hours, changing the water once or twice. After they've soaked, they look like little puffy rice bits. I got great germination when I sowed them (wish I had known that trick last year).

    Try running your hand across the tops of your tomato seedlings so that they grow stockier instead of leggy. On the weekend, I started putting a fan on my seedlings (light breeze only, a few feet away from the trays and only for half an hour) so that they'd toughen up their stems.

  15. Kathy - Thanks for the info on the parsley. I have parsley coming in my seed order and would have otherwise just stuck them in the soil. I have been thinking of starting the fan in the area, I will have to get it set up.

  16. Dan - Thanks for the info re: the parsley and the peppers. Funny enough they both decided to show themselves the next day after I posted that! Kathy's tip for the parsley is really helpful too. Thanks Kathy!!!

  17. Urban Environmentalist - Glade to hear they have germinated. Peppers can really test ones patients some times, its good they didn't test yours too long.

  18. Looking really good. Boy aren't you glad you have that nifty coldframe! It sure is coming in handy. And all those seedlings look so happy under there. Very nice!

  19. Hi, Your seedlings look great, much better than mine, which have been very slow to grow. I think the potting mix just didn't have enough nutrition for the seedlings.

    Did you use a commercial mix, and if so, which one? Thanks.

  20. Anonymous - I use pro-mix potting soil, It is pretty much the best you can find. You can also mix your own, you can find many recipes for soil mixes well doing a google search.