Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I finally got something in the ground.

I will be growing 9 tomato plants this year - three cherry, three Roma and three sandwich types (one Celebrity and two 444s).

As you saw in earlier posts, I sowed them indoors several weeks ago.  Four will be planted in the square foot garden and five will be planted upside down in hanging pots on the porch.  I constructed some hanging pots last year and it worked really well.  Few pests and better production.

I'm putting the inderterminate tomato plants (those that vine rather than bush, in my case the cherry tomatoes) in the square foot gardens along with the determinate Celebrity.   I found that the indeterminate plants grew too large and long for the hanging pots.  The rest of the bushing plants will be planted from the hanging pots.

My cherry tomatoes had grown too large to get enough light from my indoor florescent growing system and I really needed to get them in the ground. I did so tonight.  Hopefully, they'll survive.  I plan to get the hanging pots up this weekend along with the rest of the other planting.

I'm getting my cool season crops in several weeks later than I intended, but sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ugh! Life keeps getting in the way of my gardening

I was going to plant this weekend.  Really.

My daughter had a birthday party.  We spent the morning getting ready for an invasion of 10 tweeners.  We finished cleaning up around 2:00.  I went out to the car to go to the hardware store to pick up a few last items I needed and the my wife's car wouldn't start.  Blah.

We called the mechanic and set up an appointment.  The car is 11 years old and owes us nothing.  We've been thinking about getting a replacement for a while, but have been putting it off because we generally drive our cars until their last dying breath.  After this breakdown, the latest in a series, we decided we should probably get serious about our car research and narrow down the field of what we're interested in.  So after I returned from the hardware store, we went to a couple of dealerships to check out a few models.

By the time we got back to the house, we needed to get the kids to bed and it was too late to garden.  I don't work in the yard on Sundays, so nothing got planted outside this weekend.

My indoor-sown tomatoes are getting too big for the lamps I have and I really need to get them in the ground soon.  I may try to plant them one of the evenings this week, after I get home from work.

I'll keep you informed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

No planting this weekend...

I had planned to do my spring outdoor planting and to transplant some of my indoor-grown plants to the outdoors this weekend.  But we had a freak weather pattern come into plans that ruined my plans.  We had freezing temperatures and rain on Saturday and then on Sunday we had about 5 inches of snow.  Yes, snow.  In Texas.   In March.  Blah.

Hopefully next weekend it will be nicer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Update on indoor plantings.

Here's an update on our indoor plantings.

The tomatoes are doing great:

The cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli are still leggy, although they haven't gotten any leggier.  I'll end up needing to stake them when they're transplanted.  The peppers are getting their true leaves.  The artichokes are doing pretty well.  The cantaloupe had a little problem where the initial true leaves withered, but they have all since grown new true leaves that look pretty healthy.

We've started taking the plants outside for an hour or two at a time to get them hardened up and used to the outdoors before transplanting them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Adding Grids and a Drip System.

It's almost time to start planting in the square foot gardens!  Our average last frost is March 16th.  I plan to plant outside on Saturday the 20th and I have materials to construct green houses over the gardens.

In order to get ready for this big event, we need to do two things - 1.  add square foot grids and 2. add a drip irrigation system.

I looked at different materials to form the grids.  I was planning to use wood lattice, but after pricing it out I decided to use laundry line instead.  It was much less expensive and it doesn't take up as much surface area as the lattice.

I simply used a staple gun to attach the lattice to each side of the wood frame.  The laundry line is nice and bright and is not supposed to sag with sun or water.  If it doesn't work, I can always replace it with something else next year.

Here's what one of the boxes looked like after being gridded out.  The squares aren't perfect, but they're close enough.

Here are two of the gardens.  Notice the trellis behind the closest garden.  I'm going to string my tomatoes into that.   It is simply two long fence posts, hammered into the ground with fencing attached.  I'm also going to install another trellis behind two of the other gardens to grow other vining plants vertically.

After installing the grids, it was time to install the drip irrigation system.  In Mel's book, he suggests that you water by hand.  It gets you out into the garden, as a result, you end up being more aware of pests and other issues early.  I agree with Mel.  Unfortunately, however, I live in Texas.  It's hot in Texas.  The soil dries out really, really fast in the summer time.  One of the problems we've had with gardening in the past, is that due to work, a weekend away or just a busy schedule, we might miss one or two days of watering.  If you do that in Texas, all your hard work will be for naught because your plants with wither and die.  We have a drip irrigation installed in our corner flower garden and so I decided to extend it to the square foot gardens.

Initially, the lead line to the garden was 1/4" (like what is leading to each of the individual drip heads) but that wasn't enough to carry sufficient water so I replaced the lead line with the 1/2" tubing and then 1/4" tubing leads out to only 4 heads.  Each of the individual heads have an adjustable spray diameter and can be turned off individually.

My source for drip irrigation supplies is www.dripirrigation.com.  Their stuff is SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive (in some cases more than 75% less) than what you'd pay in a big box store.  I've found their order processing to be extremely fast (one recent order was placed on Wednesday afternoon and I received it on Saturday via normal US Mail shipped from North Carolina to Texas).

Here's what one of the drip irrigation systems looks like installed and functioning.