Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lots of Life

I wish I could remember what blog I learned to make tags out of containers from to give them credit.  I seriously can't believe I couldn't think of this on my own.  I actually got the petunia colors all mixed up last year when I ran out of tags.  I guess sometimes the easiest solutions can escape a person.
Do you remember how big the geraniums were just about 20 days ago? It's amazing how quickly plants grow.
 Schizanthus standing up tall.
 The Dianthus are coming up.
 Apparently I spilled some Livingstone Daisy seeds because they seem to be sprouting in every flat!!
 Look at those Dahlia's!! Can you see the dime in the middle?
 Roma tomatoes...really wishing I had planted more of these.  Debating starting another flat.
 Out of all the tomatoes the Pineapple variety is growing the fastest and have the strongest stems.
 Lots of California Wonder Peppers for salsa!
 Sweet 100's....I never feel like I have enough tomato plants.
 Look what cucumbers can do in four days.  In thirty days they go to the greenhouse.  They're going to be huge!
 The Kohlrabi reaching for the light.  I slide the trays back and forth all day long so they straighten out.
 There are also multiple trays of Aster's coming up.
 I am now up to 89 trays on the shelves so the grow room is now a hair over half full.

What is planted (approximately...I'll do a solid count as they are put into the ground as many seeds won't germinate and I usually end up killing something before it gets outside)?

Lobelia: 3 flats
Mimulus: 1 flat
Painted Daisy: 144
Sugar Baby Watermelon: 11
Brussels Sprouts: 23
Broccoli: 124
Jalapeno Pepper: 12 6-packs
Habanero Pepper: 8 6-packs
Cherokee Purple Tomato: 48
Gold Nuggets Tomato: 84
Snapdragons: 36 6-packs
Oregano: 21

In the process of sprouting:
Cucumbers: 352
     Garden Sweet
     Marketmore 76
Dwarf Aster: 360
Kohlrabi: 144
Early Girl Tomatoes: 54
Wave Petunias: 318
Celosia: 36 6-packs
Nicotiana: 10 6-packs
Joker Pansy: 18 6-packs

Transplanted to individual pots:
Giant Pansy: 6
Tidal Wave Pansy: 7
Livingstone Daisy: 104
Dahlias: 86
California Wonder: 56
Schizanthus: 44
Geraniums: 44
Sweet 100's: 56
Roma: 17

A good deal of my germination failure is because I don't use seedling mix.  It is entirely too expensive.  Except for the Wave Petunia seeds, it makes more sense to buy two packets of seeds (on sale) for about $1.08 each and only have half grow than it would be to buy hundreds of dollars worth of the proper planting medium.  Last year I did purchase bags of sterilized soil and that still ended up running me over $300.  This year I am using garden dirt my husband hauled last summer in the back of his truck.  I started out sterilizing it with boiling water and then got lazy.  It doesn't seem to make a difference except with the Petunias.  I learned a hard lesson: buy the right starting mix. 

I am officially out of soil.  I cannot transplant anymore nor start new seeds.  Very anxiety inducing.  Checked the local store and it is $12.99-$14.99 for a big bag.  I bet I could use up ten of them. For around $50 I can get another truckload.  My husband said he saw them digging in the pit, but he isn't sure if they are selling.  He's going to go there tomorrow and hopefully he can bring me home a truck load otherwise this is going to get awfully expensive.

Tomorrow it will be one month until we fire up the greenhouse (if he gets the roof on).  This is more exciting than Christmas!

Would love to hear your gardening stories.....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things Are Getting Busy!

This is how most every morning know, after I get five kids fed and four off to school.  I head into the grow room to water my thirsty plants with my coffee in hand. It's about an hour long process now.  I need a bigger watering can.  I have one, but the spout is too big.  The one I use only holds a quart, but have a small spout that is perfect. You can imagine how many trips back to the kitchen for warm water that is!  And no, I'm not losing weight because of it.
We have cucumbers!! Yea! I did some in peat pots and won't do that again.  They seem to dry out instantly and I'm not really sure anything will germinate.  I believe I have five varieties that we are trying.

Out of all the vegetables that I want to make it these are number one.  Little cherry tomatoes are like Nature's Candy. I grew a few two years ago, but the greenhouse was started to late and I was left in late fall with tons of green ones.  Last year the greenhouse wasn't used so I am very excited this year.  I can almost taste them.
These are the California Wonder Peppers.  I also started some Jalapenos and have some Habaneros to plant (not that I'm going to eat them, but I'll give them to the guys that work with my husband).
This is Swiss Chard.  I've never even seen or eaten this before, but the package looked so interesting.  I have conflicting information for growing this in Alaska.  One thing tells me to start it ahead of time and another says it won't transplant very well and to start it outside.  I planted half the packet and will sow the other half directly.
The Schizanthus seem to be doing better this year. Not as spindly, but it's still early.
Look at those Geraniums.  They really took off!  I wish I would have planted more, but I only had a couple survive last year so this is an improvement.  There's always next year. :)
A blurry shot of the tomatoes sent from Oregon.  (I'm really too exhausted to go take a new photo).
I am so happy with the Livingstone Daisies.  Last year they just grew into one big blob in a flat and were planted that way.  This year I actually got a lot transplanted and now I'll be able to be a bit more creative.

The Roma's are doing great.  I still have that panic feeling thinking I should have grown twice as many, but this will be the learning year.

Some of the Wave Petunias are coming up.  I stress the most about these checking them several times a day.  The seeds come to about 16 cents each and if they don't grow I can't replace them as they go for about $3.79 a plant (last year).  Fingers crossed!  They already don't seem to be doing as great with the fine vermiculite.  I've never used it before even though it says to.  Not sure it's working out.
I am up to 73 flats in various stages of growth.  Still behind, but that's my own fault.  I can't pass the seed rack without picking up one or two new packets.  I want to try everything!
Still so much crap on the other shelves.  Bad idea to use them for storage...not like I didn't have all winter to clean them off.

Well, that's it for tonight.  It's been a long day.  I hope to make some real progress tomorrow.  I need to do a count at some point as well. Happy Gardening!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Petunia Seeds Arrived!!

One of my most exciting days is when my seed order from Harris Seeds arrives.  I order my Wave Petunia seeds from this company plus a few miscellaneous seeds.

Wednesday the 16th I put 494 pelleted petunia seeds into six-packs using tweezers.  It should be about 20 more, but I can't locate the rest of the Tidal Wave Silver.  Not sure if I'm over-looking them or if they were spilled when I was distracted with one of the kids.  I sure hope to have a good germination rate and growing success as these are expensive seeds.  This number comes to about 16 cents per seed.
The seeds were covered with fine vermiculite as they need light to germinate.
A few went under plastic covers.  I went to a local greenhouse to pick some up and they were $3 each!  I only got four.  I figure I'll just add a few each year until I have what I need.
The rest were covered with plastic wrap which is what I used last year.
Here's my little fan busy at work.  It is attached to a long extension cord and I move it around the grow room throughout the day.  I know it would make sense to have a bigger fan system, but this way I am forever checking the plants and know if a flat has dried out before it's too late. It can happen so quickly.  Yesterday I had to take my son to the doctor and didn't water before we left.  By the time I got home I had lost some seedlings. (This is where the plastic covers would come in handy, but I need 200 of them and that is just too much money).  Why the fan?  It provides a gentle breeze to make the little stems sturdy and strong for when they go outside.

An update on my progress (and boy, am I behind!).  Nine Pineapple Tomato plants from the seeds from Oregon.
35 six-packs or 210 Livingstone Daisies (I'll lose a few before they are mature and go a few weeks I'll be over-whelmed and not have the time to tend to things as they should be).
30 Starfire Signet Marigolds (I really cannot grow this plant.  By the time it is done I'll be lucky to have two or three.  I have no problem with other marigolds so I don't know what the deal is).
20 six-packs or 120 California Wonder Pepper.
10 six-packs or 60 Sweet 100's tomatoes.
Some you can see they are few and far between. 
There are 41 Geraniums that are doing good and all should make it.
(Middle) 53 six-packs or 318 Dahlia plants.  Sure wish I wouldn't have killed all my tubers.  Not fond of starting over from seed.
The Internet and I are not jiving today.  The entire neighborhood is full of kids on Spring Break and my speed is at a crawl so I'm not even going to attempt to add my other photos at this point.

There are a few Pansies sprouting.  That's another plant that I seem to kill more than I grow. I also have 27 Roma Tomato plants.  There is a flat that is supposed to be celery, but honestly, I think I'm watering dirt and the seeds didn't make it in there.  Oh, well. There are also 16 6-packs of Impatiens that are just beginning to show.

I am way behind in getting things started.  There is so much to do and it seems each day something takes me away from gardening (dread locks, broken hands, etc.  which you can read about here).  I'm thankful it is only the middle of March.   We still have 10-11 weeks before anything can go outside.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Busy Day in the Grow Room

Aren't these the cutest little Geranium starts?  They've even grown a little since this photo.  I transplanted 44 of them into 3" pots today.

These are Starfire Marigolds.

The Livingstone Daisies have come up.
Dahlia Delights.  There is two flats growing and I planted another two flats of seeds today.

Things are getting going in the grow room.  I've spent a good part of the day planting and transplanting.  I think I forgot how much work this really is. I'm still way behind in getting some things started, but when it becomes "work" instead of "fun" it's time to take a break.  I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Failure Leads to Future Successes

Seeds do not pause their progress when my life gets over-whelming.  I am over my eyeballs in work to do and really just have a headache, but the gardening must go on....

I am not as pleased with the baggie method as I thought I was.  The germination rate is poor, some barely develop and some take off so fast you can't get their roots out of the paper towel and they end up damaged.  These are Dwarf Unwin Dahlia's and I'm sure I did better last year when they were put straight to dirt. I did four bags last night:

transplanted 20 for a 62% germination rate in 5 days at 74*
transplanted   7 for a 21% germination rate in 5 days at 74*
transplanted   9 for a 25% germination rate in 5 days at 74*
transplanted 10 for a 31% germination rate in 5 days at 74*

The others may have germinated with more time, but I chose to toss them.
The Roma Tomatoes germinated fine, but the roots are too far into the paper towel.  Maybe if I would have been able to get them planted as soon as a root sprouted, but LIFE wouldn't allow it.  There are a lot of steps involved in this method and I think (with my many children and pets) I would be better off starting in soil.  I can later consolidate the successes into one tray as I have time.  This method requires constant monitoring. I transplanted 30 and tossed the rest (53). 
I have many more baggies like this.  Today, I'll decide what is worth taking the time to transplant and what is a waste of precious time.  Sometimes picking up ten more dollars of seed is the best option in the long run.