End of March Seed Update

From just sprouting at the beginning of the month to cups by the end of the month. Things are trucking along!

Marigolds, calendula, and a few types of tomatoes are in their cups and growing in the greenhouse. I am still waiting on the pink cosmos, echinacea, peppers, and a few types of tomato to grow large enough to transplant. I threw out the yellow cosmos and the broccoli sprouts- they got too leggy and I didn’t want to fuss around with them. There are lots of things that do well for me, I don’t have time or space to spend on needy plants!





Greenhouse Update






Things are growing nicely- the tomatoes grew fast in Mom’s greenhouse- I brought home about 175 tomatoes, kale, and tomatillos to sell this weekend. It’s time, they’re getting too big for our pots! They’re all snuggled into my cooler greenhouse now, alongside my fresher seedlings for the warm months.

After this heat spell we’re in, I’m going to take my sunflowers, squash, borage, calendula, and marigolds up to the bigger greenhouse to grow for a few weeks. I needed to make some room for them first! There are still about 200 plants up at the other greenhouse- 150 spoken for that will go out in two weeks, and about 50 others that need to come down.

Half of those sold today, I know we won’t have trouble finding a home for the rest!

Measuring Light for Growing- How Much Light Does my Garden Need?

Plants need light to live, but sometimes you need to measure the light to be sure there’s enough. (For example, we don’t have a window sunny enough in our house to raise seedlings.)

A footcandle is a measurement of light based on the light in a 1-foot-square area illuminated by a single candle known as an international candle. This method isn’t totally accurate, but will give you a good idea of your footcandle measurement. (For example, the windows I tried to raise seeds in my first year here are measuring at about 32 fc. No wonder those buggers didn’t grow!)

To give you an approximate idea of the fc power of various light sources-
Starlight: .00011 fc
Moonlight: .02 fc
Overcast daylight: 1,000 fc
Direct sun: 10,000 fc

Here’s a neat trick to measure the light where you’re growing- you will need a manual camera, set on Shutter Value (that’s TV on a Canon) so that when you set the shutter speed and ISO, the camera will set the aperture. Don’t worry, this is EASY.

1) Set the ISO at 200
2) Set the shutter speed at 1/125.
3) Point the camera at your light source– for example, a window or greenhouse roof– and take a picture.

When you’re looking through the lens you’ll see numbers along the bottom- check your aperture or F-Stop

Veggies need light about 1,000 fc, give or take for each variety, to grow well.  (And they need it about 8 hours a day.)

If your aperture is:
2.8, that’s 32 fc
4, that’s 64 fc
5.6, that’s 125 fc
8, that’s 250 fc
15, that’s 1,000 fc
22, that’s 2,000 fc

I’m considering adding flourescent lighting to my backyard greenhouse, this is a handy way to see how much extra I need!

All information from Greenouse Gardeners Companion, written by Shane Smith.  Copyright 1992.

Here is the revised version on Amazon.

Tomato Seedlings

Tomatoes, tomatillos, and basil are on their way! I planted these seed flats back in February, and they’re getting to the transplant stage now- I wait for them to either be about an inch high, or have at least buds of their first true leaves. When a seed sprouts, the leaves that emerge look nothing like the leaves of a mature plant! In past years, I’ve waited too long to transplant them to cups, waiting for fully formed true leaves. I wasted so much growing time…live and learn though!

My takeaway lesson this year will be to sprout the seeds indoors, where it’s warm, and then move them outside to grow. I think it will get me to this transplant stage a few weeks earlier. Tomatoes won’t go in the ground until probably late June- night time temperatures need to be above 55. Sometime in September or October rain and cooler days will come- it’s a balancing act trying to leave fruit to ripen, but to pull it before the plant starts to rot and shut down. So, these plants will have about 12 weeks in the sun.


Things To Do This Week

To Do:

  • Transplant tomatoes to gallon pots
  • Transplant gallon tomatoes to larger greenhouse pots- my early girls will live in the green house this year
  • Transplant basil to planter pots
  • Weed west garden strip
  • Spread finished compost by cucumber seedlings
  • Feed and paper the large worm bin
  • Vacuum upstairs
  • Make yogurt
  • Pit and freeze bing cherries
  • Teach 1st grade lessons 10-14, plus review of first section
  • Library
  • Wash darks, whites, kids, and towels
  • Sew baby gifts
  • Order pictures and fill frames for family photo wall
I’m hoping to get all the garden transplanting done tomorrow!  The cherries and library and half the laundry are done already, plus two of the five lessons and the vacuuming.  Not such a bad list, right?
Have I mentioned my girls are fruit fiends?  I started them on the cherries- we pulled all the stems off our 3 pounds of bings, and started pitting them.  Wonder Boy needed his dinner, so I left them on the  kitchen floor with an assortment of bowls.  Pitting cherries is one of Ernie’s favorite kitchen tasks, so this wouldn’t be a problem at all!  Umm…so why were then 40 more pits and pitted cherries when I came back?  I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to fix Mimi’s explosive digestion issues, that’s for sure.

What’s Going on the Greenhouse? (Lesson Learned)

I am over the moon excited about this greenhouse in my backyard.  Unfortunately, when the greenhouse was built, I didn’t become instantly endowed with fantastic “greenhouse gardening” knowledge, and I’m learning my lessons this Spring.

For example, if you put seeds in trays of “seed starting mix” and wait for them to sprout, and then wait for their first true leaves, and then wait for those leaves to get a little bigger (or even unfurl) you will wait a long, long time.

These tomatoes have looked like this for roughly two months.  Guess how much of that time I spent waiting for them before I transplanted what I needed into actual dirt?  Yeah, about a month and a half.

tomato sprouts in the greenhouse

Luckily, LOOK at this tomato start!   Already in it’s second pot, just a few weeks after transplanting the sproutlet.

tomato starts in the greenhouse

Let’s get another before and after.

Basil sprouts:

sprouted basil in the green house

Basil transplanted (do you think 43 basil plants is enough?)  You can see which ones got a few weeks head start.  I normally don’t get out for gardening until the baby goes to sleep at night.  If he’s in his crib before the sun goes down, I get to play in the dirt!

basil starts in the greenhouse

The ground cherries are chugging along- I have a twisted history with ground cherries that once found me with 23 tomatillo plants in my yard. A bad case of mistaken identity. This might be the year I find out what they taste like!

ground cherry starts in the greenhouse

Speaking of tomatillos, they’re going crazy- if it stays warm next week, I’m transplanting them before they do themselves harm.

tomatillo starts in the greenhouse