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Hydroponic Happenings: July 11, 2013

Hydroponic GardenWith so much going on in my corner of the world this year I’ve really struggled to find time to put together and update for my hydroponic cart, or anything else for that matter.  I am working on so many different projects (some of which I plan to share here eventually) and I am even taking a couple online classes (photography and Photoshop) to further feed my penchant for creativity.  🙂

Since my last hydroponic post I have transplanted, planted, rearranged, and generally tinkered with my cart quite a number of times.  There have been successes and failures, but all in all it’s proved to be a wonderful learning and culinary experience!  We’re enjoying the fruits of our labor almost daily, pinching off bits of herbs, lettuces as well as countless juicy tomatoes.  But I’ve also successfully transplanted many plants to the outdoor garden including lots of peppers, lettuces, herbs and even some flowers.

There were many vacant station in the cart since my last mass transplanting session, so last night I decided to fill them and take some photos for an update.  If you’ve been following along on my hydroponic journey you might be shocked to see the incredible growth, especially with my tomato plants.  We actually had to rearrange the entire cart because the massive root system of the tomatoes clogged the pumps!  Until we have some type of filter in place I have positioned plants with a less aggressive root system over the pump station.

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My little one harvested lots of tomatoes before I had a chance to take my photos, but here are some of the ones he missed.  You can see one of the zip ties I used to anchor the massive branches to the side of the cart.  I also used some old pantyhose (it’s great to finally have a use for them because I certainly won’t be caught dead in them!) on some other branches.  I prefer the pantyhose method, but I ran out and I keep forgetting to get some more.

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My basil is looking wonderful!  I just planted a lot more in anticipation of the coming fall and winter months.  I have pinched and pinched these guys to death as I waited on my outdoor garden supply.  I have a secret love affair with Margherita pizza!  I make grilled mini pizza crusts and keep them in the freezer for “quickies” whenever I have the urge, which is at least twice a week!

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Here’s a pepper plant, some dill, arugula, lettuce and, hiding in the back, is a purple basil plant.

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One of the blossoms on the pepper plant,

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the purple basil,

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and a closer look at the lettuces.

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The empty spots in the center are the stations I just seeded.  I added a number of herbs and lettuces.

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It’s a bit of a balancing act to keep up with all the outdoor and indoor gardening with everything else going on, but I am not complaining.  It’s so awesome having fresh tomatoes on hand since my garden tomatoes aren’t yet ripe and, as it’s getting too hot for my outdoor lettuce I love having it on hand right in the cart.  I can only imagine how wonderful this will all be in the dead of winter!  Mmmm… I am dreaming of Margherita pizzas with loads of fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and garlic on a cold winter day…  Shoot!  Who needs a cold winter day?  I am up for a quickie right now!

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Hydroponic Adventure – Day: I Have No Idea!

SONY DSCMy hydroponic garden is humming along beautifully!  I’ve been completely swamped with lots of home and garden projects and shop orders so I’ve hardly had a minute to breathe let alone update the cart happenings here.  And with my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party here in just over a month I doubt I’ll be able to update the happenings very frequently, if at all. I’ve tried to put a post together a few times over the last few weeks, but I have been too busy to finish one.  I will include photos I have taken over the last week as well as today’s.

Sadly, we’ve had our first casualty in the cart.  We lost one of the African violet cuttings to rot and the other one just didn’t produce any roots so I gave up.  I am assuming they didn’t take because I don’t think they like their feet wet and in the cart they are wet all the time.  Also, one of the rosemary cuttings started looking like it was having some problems so I ended up transplanting both of them into some soil.  They are doing fine now, and now that my rose bushes are out of dormancy, I plan to try propagating them soon too.

I’ve transplanted lots of the original seedlings out of the cart and started lots more for the outdoor garden.  My original plan was to start most of my garden plants in the cart, but in actuality that really wasn’t reasonable considering the size of my garden.  In the end I decided to start most all of my seedlings the “old fashioned way”: Jiffy pellets!  I purchased a wonderful little greenhouse on wheels and I absolutely love it!  I position it over a vent in my sunroom when the heat is on and with the sun beaming in it is the most wonderful little nursery!  In addition to all of the seeds I started in the Jiffy pellets, I also have some transplants from the cart in the greenhouse (second shelf from the top on the left).

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The tomato plants are growing beautifully and are a gorgeous deep shade of green like nothing I’ve seen before from even the healthiest of tomato plants.  A few days ago I even noticed some buds!  Looks like we should have some fruit growing before too long.  🙂

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We had some delicious baked tilapia the other night with a fresh dill sauce.  This was one of the original seeds I started and it’s doing quite nicely.  Here’s what’s left of the dill plant after our first harvest.

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It’s taken some time, but the parsley is coming along now.

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How awesome does this lettuce and pak choy look?

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Her are a couple “root shots” from back on the 18th.  Notice how the lettuce has grown in the last week!

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And the roots of one of the tomato plants, also from the 18th.

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These are the first transplants from the cart.  I love the tree bark plugs that we used to plant the seeds in in the cart.  I just plopped them into the pots and added more soil.  You can just see one of the rosemary cuttings in far back left.  The other one is hiding next to it behind a bush basil plant.  (Notice my raised bed garden in the background.  It’s currently undergoing a major renovation.  Hopefully in the next week the pathways will be mulch instead of grass…. hopefully!)

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Here’s a shot from back on the 18th.  You can see how much my lettuce and pak choy have grown since then!  I’ve never grown pak choy before so I don’t really know when it’s ready for harvest or really even what to do with it.  Do leave me a comment if you have some advice.

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I am pretty new to starting my own seedlings.  Last year was my first really successful attempt.  I was pretty surprised when most of them actually sprouted, and in most cases, lived a long, full life producing a nice harvest!  So, feeling like a pro I decided to start even more seedling this year.  They are doing pretty well, but I think I may have overwatered some of them, but I am hoping for the best.  I’ve started way more than I possibly have room for, but I went a little nuts when I ordered from the seed catalog. 🙂  Everything just looked so good!

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So there you have it.  I have no idea when I will find time to post again.  I am completely buried with projects and there will be a whirlwind of activity until after my parent’s party the first part of June .  In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the fruits of my labor and look forward with great anticipation to planting my outdoor garden in a couple of weeks!  Hopefully I will find enough time to put up a few pictures as I’ve had a few fun additions to the garden this year (you know you’re getting old when adding garden ornaments gives you the feeling of giddiness much like Christmas morning!)

Hyroponic Adventure: Day 17

SONY DSCUnfortunately I have been rather delinquent in my updates as life has been extraordinarily busy lately.  But the activity in the cart is so exciting I had to take some time to show you what’s been “growing on”. 😉

On the 31st I decided to try new seeds in the stations that were not showing signs of life since planting on the first couple of days.  Some of my seeds were old so it’s had to know what caused the failure to germinate.  Nevertheless I was anxious to start some transplants for my spring garden.  As you can see from this photo the Purple Broccoli (front left), Rapini Broccoli (next two plants in the row) have already germinated and are growing quite well in just four days!

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Here we have two Slender Eggplants that were also started four days ago.  They are the two littlest sprouts that are sort of diagonal to each other.

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In the front right corner of this photo we have some more Purple Broccoli.  Just behind that and in the same row is a Red Robin Tomato plant.  On the left is a Dwarf Bush Basil.

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Here’s a photo sort of looking back on the previous plants, but you can also see how my purple basil is doing and my tarragon just to its left.  Parsley is pictured in the left hand corner of the photo and a buttercrunch lettuce leaf is sneaking into the shot on the right.

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Here are the same plants but at a different angle.  The third row from the right is one of my favorites as it will likely be among the first I harvest.  The first two plants are buttercrunch lettuce and the back three are arugula.  The arugula seems to love living here!  However, the buttercrunch lettuce seems to be a bit weak stemmed.  I hope they will strengthen over time.

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Here are my two sweet basil plants.  Their growth is slow but steady.  I do so hope they experience a growth spurt soon, however.  How I long to have an endless supply of this delectable delight!

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The Micro Tom Tomato (front left) is doing fantastic!  In fact, all of the tomato plants appear to be very strong and healthy.  The leeks (tall slender plants… there are 3 here, but 2 might be difficult to see) are also growing well and I hope to be able to move them out of the cart to prepare them for outdoor transplanting before too long.

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Here’s how my Baby Romaine is fairing.  Like the buttercrunch, the stems are a little weak looking to me.  I think I may try harvesting a few of the leaves to see if that will help the plants put more energy into the stems and strengthen a bit.  In the back left you can see one of the poppies I planted back on day one.  I don’t know how much longer I will let those two plants take up residence in the cart.  I will need to begin the summer garden transplants very soon and the poppies were just a fun experiment when I had a limited variety of seeds to play with.

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These beauties (left) are a few of my peppers.  The back two are jalapenos and the one in the front is a Baby Belle.  They took a little longer to germinate, but now they are growing very well.  The arugula is on the right and in the far back corner is my dill.  It’s a little leggy and weak at this point.  I hope he toughens up a bit too.

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Here’s the Extra Dwarf Pak Choy and Outredious Lettuce I planted about 8 days ago.  They look wonderful!  In the back left you can see the Baby Romaine.

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The most surprising find this week was with my rosemary cuttings.  This first photo is of the older stem that was woodier and took longer to develop roots.  I was surprised to find such thick, healthy roots rapidly developing when I looked a couple of days ago.

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By contrast, this is the younger stem that rooted more rapidly than the other cutting.  It’s still doing well, but the roots aren’t nearly as developed and strong as the older cutting.  I think the next time I will use an older stem, but I will try scraping away a bit of the brown exterior before dipping it into the rooting gel to see if it start developing roots faster.  Interestingly, this younger cutting has developed 3 new leaves while it’s been in the cart.  I haven’t noted any new ones on the older cutting.

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I took this shot last night, and as the sun was setting just outside the window I had to lower the shade to take the photo.  Hopefully this full cart shot gives you a better perspective of the size of the plants.  I can just imagine the day when it is full to overflowing with mature plants of all kinds!

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Over the past weekend my brother-in-law came and we tested the nutrient level and pH.  No adjustments to the nutrient level was necessary, but we did add some water and adjust the pH.  That was a bit tricky for me as I am so new to all of this, but I am sure I will get better as time goes on and I have more experience.  I plan to do an entire post about that some time in the future.

So, that’s all for today.  I am buried with projects right now so I doubt I’ll have another update until next week.  Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below!  I would love to hear from you!

Hydroponic Adventure: Day 10

SONY DSCHere we are at day 10 of our hydroponic adventure and we have a lot of new things happening, as well as some nice growth with our existing seedlings.  There was one day this week that very little seemed to be going on, but I know there was plenty of growth happening below the surface.  Our seedlings are busy developing roots and getting stronger day by day.

Within about 24 hours of filling our last four vacancies, two of the four seedlings had emerged.  The Extra Dwarf Pak Choy and Outredous Lettuce surprised me with their rapid germination and growth.   They are pictured here in the right front (pak choy) and right back (lettuce), along with the two baby romaine plants just to the left.

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I was also thrilled to see our jalapeno peppers finally sprouted.  These were planted on day one.

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The leeks are getting taller by the day, although there are still a few leek stations that have not germinated.  In a few days if I still don’t see signs of life in the stations I planted on day one and two, I will start some new seeds.  Our Micro Tom Tomato in the bottom left of the photo is doing well and developing its first true leaves.

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The first rosemary cutting that was added to the cart has finally started to put out roots.  I think the trick with rosemary is to use a younger, less woody cutting.  I also think I will scrape a bit of the woody part away before dipping it in the cloning gel and adding it to the cart.

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The younger cutting is developing some impressive roots!

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It looks like the African violets are starting to develop tiny roots, but I couldn’t quite get them to show up in the photo.  The leaves are still very healthy looking so I do expect the propagation will work, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Our buttercrunch lettuce and arugula are doing nicely (left hand row) and the purple basil is ready to be thinned.

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And last, but not least our sweet basil are still humming along. 🙂

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So that’s all for today.  I hope to be back soon with another exciting (to me anyway) update!  Hope you all have a blessed and Happy Easter!

Hydroponic Adventure: Day 7

SONY DSCWhat a wonderful snowy Monday!  We’re at the tail end of a winter storm warning, and I am snuggled up in front of the fire working on some digital scrapbooking.  My little guy was able to go out and play in the snow and was especially pleased that it was good “packing snow”.  After lunch he ran out to check the mailbox and returned with a gigantic envelope full of seeds I ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds!  Holy moly I ordered a lot of seeds!

Our biggest surprises in the cart today included the discovery of roots growing on one of our rosemary cuttings…

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And the emergence of our first pepper plant!  Welcome to the party, Pepper!

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The rest of the seedlings as well as the cuttings still seem to be doing wonderfully.

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The first spindly looking plant is a leek.  Several of the leeks I planted have sprouted, including one I accidentally put in with the thyme.  Oops!  I may try to transplant him when he get a wee bit bigger.

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We filled the last four stations with some of the seeds that arrived today: Outredious Lettuce, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, Mustard Habanero, and Albino Bullnose Pepper.  Here my little guy is planting the bullnose pepper seeds.  Such a good little helper!

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Couldn’t resist adding this photo.

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Or this one!

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Our first true leaves are forming on the lettuces.  This is the buttercrunch.

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And our baby romaine.

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Here’s our updated seed map.  (I feel like hanging a “No Vacancy” sign on the front of the cart!)

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There’s still no sign of the chives, spinach, nasturtium, parsley, or cilantro or some of the other seed stations whose “siblings” (sorry, not sure what else to call them) have already sprouted.  But I have no doubt that more are on their way up.  Now that I have my summer garden seeds, I plan to begin transplanting some of the current seedlings when they get just a bit bigger and stronger.  I hope to start the majority of my transplants in the cart.  It should be interesting to see how this makes a difference in my summer garden.

Hydroponic Adventure: Day 5

SONY DSCThings are going very well in the cart!  Unfortunately I was too busy for an update yesterday, but here are some shots of how our seedlings are progressing today.

This is our first Micro Tom Tomato and is actually our first official tomato.  In my last post I mistakenly said my tarragon seedling was a Red Robin Tomato seedling (I never was very good at reading maps).  It’s funny how this little guy actually looks like tarragon to me.   It was pretty late at night when I planted the first seeds so it will be interesting to see if I actually mapped out the seeds correctly, though I do think I did.

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The seedling in the foreground and the one on the back right are both poppies.

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The arugula and buttercrunch are showing terrific growth almost by the hour it seems!

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Happily, all of my basil seeds have sprouted!  These two are just your run-of-the-mill, ordinary, every day, deeelicious basil varieties!

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And this is the dwarf bush basil, though he’s not looking too dwarf to me.

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And the beautiful purple basil is starting to take off!  Yay!

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This is one of the leeks I planted.  I am happy to see the water temp isn’t too warm for them to germinate.

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Here’s the tarragon seedling… I think.  😉

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And our first Red Robin tomato seedling.  (These plants will be a whole lot easier to differentiate when they grow up!)

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And like our arugula and buttercrunch lettuce, our baby romaine is doing really well!

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Our sage seedling also made its debut yesterday and seems to be growing rather quickly.

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The cuttings are looking healthy still, but it will be a little while longer before their roots develop.

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That rounds out our progress for the last couple of days.  Tomorrow is Sunday so I probably won’t have another update for a day or two at least.  There are still a lot of seeds that haven’t yet sprouted, but I suspect it won’t be long.

 

Hydroponic Adventure: Day 3

SONY DSCThis morning as the snow fell and I sipped a nice hot cup of coffee in the comfort of my toasty warm house, I had the pleasure of meeting my indoor garden newcomers.  It was almost like Christmas morning… really!  But my plants could care less how cold it is outside.  They are busy going about their business of growing.  It seriously never ceases to amaze me when those microscopic seeds first begin to spring to life, but I must say this hydroponic adventure just adds to my amazement and awe!

The biggest surprise waiting for me today was the emergence of one of my Red Robin Tomatoes.  He’s small, but take my word for it he’s there.  I planted 3 of these so hopefully the others won’t be far behind.

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The lettuces are doing splendidly!  I will need to do some thinning pretty soon as all the seeds seemed to have germinated. Here’s one of the two buttercrunch’s I planted.

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And check out these baby romaine plants!  They are really going to town!

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I was thrilled to see some basil making an appearance.  The very first seeds I planted were basil because it’s SO my favorite herb!

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Here’s a look at how my first little thyme seedling is progressing.

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This is one of my favorite shots.  It’s buttercrunch lettuce and arugula all down the row.  Gotta love it!

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Last but not least, we have the baby romaine seedlings (in the front two pots) with the African violets and rosemary cuttings in the back.

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So that’s all for today, but hopefully I will be back tomorrow with another update.  I see lots of activity down in the growing medium so there should be more excitement in the days to come.