March 4, 2019

Seed Starting Using an Aerogarden

Aerogarden planted Friday, March 1st, with peppers and eggplants.

Sounds like madness? Maybe a little.

Peppers take forever to germinate for me. Our house doesn't have any of the things peppers need, like consistent warmth and bright light. So I wondered about using the Aerogarden to start seedlings. And what do you know? They make a seed starting system.

I actually got an Aerogarden Harvest model last year from my mother in-law. It's a little hydroponic system that grows plants in soilless pods. The LCD light on this thing is powerful. Like staring into the noonday sun. I had to purchase the little seed starting tray which fits on top of the little water bowl, and can start 31 plants at a time. Soilless pods and a tiny bottle of nutrient broth came with the seed starting system.

To start out I put it on a 24 hour vegetative light cycle to keep the seeds warm enough to, hopefully, germinate. With the strong constant light cycle the seedlings should grow fast. It's probably a good idea, to pot them up after just a week or two of growth because you don't want the roots to get too tangled together.

This thing is actually tiny. Less than a foot long, so it hardly takes up any counter space. The system circulates water and tells you when to add water or nutrients.

The first thing I did was wet the soilless pods with water and then microwaved them for four minutes, to kill any mold spores that might be lingering in the sphagnum peat. Then one or two seeds are placed in the premade divots in each pod. Then I covered the top of the tray with plastic wrap to help trap heat and moisture. I then set the instrument, so it knew the system was newly planted and it informed me that it'll be two weeks before the seedlings will need to be fed.

It's probably a little late to be starting peppers and eggplants. I usually start them in February to give them a few extra weeks to germinate and get a little bigger before I start tomatoes. Once the peppers are potted up, lettuces will have a go in the system. I'm hoping it'll be a good way to start lettuces regularly since we are way into salads lately.

February 11, 2019

Crazy Times and 2019 Planting Lists

We've gotten 9 inches of rain in February, which is close to our record of 12 inches. Maybe this means we'll get all the rain out of the way, and things will dry out enough to plant early. Now, that would be amazing.

The plan is to have a smaller garden with less plants to give individual varieties more room to grow. Diseases were terrible last year with the wet weather, hopefully giving plants ample room will help with that.

Cherry Tomato List
Black Cherry
Fat Cherry
Indigo Blueberry
Red Grape (F1)
Sungold (Hybrid)
Sweet Apperitiff

Tomato List
Black Brandywine
Black Zebra
Brandywine
Celebrity (Hybrid)
Cherokee Green
Chocolate Stripes
Chocolate Prince
Croustralee
Dark Brandywine
Delicious
Flame or Hillbilly
Goldie
Granny Cantrell's German Red
Green Zebra
Jaune De Flamme
Marianna's Peace
Peach Blow Sutton
Peron
Pink Berkley Tie-Dye
Super Marmande
Yellow Brandywine


Sweet Pepper List
Ajvarski
Boldog Hungarian
Corno Rosso
Corno di Toro
Corno di Toro Giallo
Figitelli Sicilia
Melrose
Red Marconi
Sweet Happy Yummy (F7)

Hot Pepper List
Aji Angelo
Aji Golden
Guajillo
Kimchi

November 12, 2018

Harvest Monday, 11/12/18

Clockwise from the left are mixed choys, Toraziroh, and Mizspoona gene pool.
Canton White pak choy. I harvested whole plants because they're overcrowded and their bed is too shaded. Even the fast growing broccoli raab in that bed is slow growing, it's just now starting to gain some size.

There's been quite a few light frosts, but I'm hoping a hard frost won't come until December. Even then I'm planning to use garden fleece and straw, if I can actually fine straw.

Please join us at Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Acres.

November 7, 2018

Greens In The Fall Vegetable Garden

This is a long post about the greens I'm growing in the fall garden this year. I like to try out a little of everything, so there are lots of varieties. Friday I'll post the different bulbs and root vegetables that are growing in the other half of the garden, if it doesn't end up raining again. 

These photographs are from October 25th so a week and a half ago.
This little back corner of the garden is boxed in by the greenhouse, back fence, and the little wire fence around my garden on the side of which is our shed that offers lots of shade during the winter. Bad shed! Three beds of greens are located in this area with most of them belonging to the mustard family. Asian mustards are fairly mild without the strong spicy bite some mustards are known for. These were all planted September 13th, so about 6 weeks before these pictures.
In the bed on the left you can see in front the spoon shaped leaves of tatsoi, after that is the Pot Herb mizuna with it's highly serrated leaves, and then long stately leaves of Mibuna.
The tender yellowy green leaves belong to Fun Jen cabbage. The leaves have a delicate flavor and texture much like lettuce.
An unnamed pak choi is to the left of the dark red leaves of Lady Murasaki mustard spinach, and on the right is Senposai.
From front to back this bed has Mizspoona gene pool, Senposai, Baby choi, Pechay pak choy, Yokatta Na, and Toraziroh.
The pak choys are packed close together so they're not getting exceptionally big. I go ahead and cut whole plants when harvesting to give the other plants some room.
This bed looks like it has quite a few empty spots but in reality it just has some achingly slow growing greens.
Red Veined sorrel at 6 weeks. It's still teeny tiny. I truly doubt it'll get much bigger before the first hard frost which should occur at the end of November or beginning of December.
Color Crunch pak choi mix.
Purple Stem choy sum. Choy sums are usually eaten for their flowering stalks. I've grown this a couple times and never seen it bloom, so we go ahead and harvest the leaves. 
Dragon's Tongue rocket is still tiny tiny tiny. It took a long time to germinate on top of being slow growing.
Green Brigade rocket just seemingly appeared overnight, but still pretty slow.
Garnet Giant mustard. I'm curious to try this variety. 
A bed of mild Asian mustards containing mizun, mibuna, and tatsoi. I'll give them another week before we start harvesting this bed.
Tatsoi is a pretty fast growing. The leaves are nice and tender but sturdier than the other two varieties so hold up to longer cooking. They're probably have a slightly stronger flavor as well.
Pot Herb mizuna is a new to me variety of mizuna. The leaves are shorter and you don't get that long pretty stem that keeps it well off the ground, but it still has the lovely serrated leaves. Mizuna usually has a mild flavor that is not at all pungent.
Mibuna. I find the stems on mibuna and mizuna tender and juicy when cooked. The leaves on mibuna can get pretty long.

I usually prepare greens as a simple side by sautéing with onions and garlic, and then add a splash of nuoc mam and some ground pepper. For a little variation I might add soy sauce and ginger, instead of the nuoc mam.
A bed of endives, chicories, and Simpson lettuce.
Pan di Zucchero chicory
Tres Fine Marairchere Olesh endive
Broad-Leaved Batavian endive
I think this is probably Black Seeded Simpson lettuce. I find lettuce seeds difficult to germinate and keep alive during hot weather, only this lettuce and the Freedom lettuce mix survived to transplant age.
Puntarelle chicory
I had just harvested the sweet potatoes from this bed, and then started planting the Freedom lettuce mix the same day but then it began to rain. I've since filled the bed with the rest of the chicories, endives, and lettuce.
The Galega de Folhas Lisas kale and Nero di Toscana kales were planted in the spring and they're still doing great. Although a lot of them have fallen over, especially when I was pulling the sweet potato vines out from under them. The one standing at the post is 4 1/2 feet tall and the leaves are incredibly massive.

Caterpillars love the big leaves of the Galega kale. I had to spray Bt a few times this summer, and then at the very end of the season the grasshoppers were at them. There were a couple harlequin bugs but nothing like previous years where they ended up being terrible infestations.

Looking through these pictures, I realized a couple of beds didn't get covered. One bed held Pink Lettucy mustard gene pool, endive, parsley, and leaf celery. The other bed has a mixture of gai laan, bok choys, and broccoli raab.

The root vegetables will get covered next time. The beets are the best I've ever grown, which isn't saying much, and the carrot tops are the biggest I've gotten while gardening in Kentucky.

November 5, 2018

Harvest Monday, 11/5/18

Toraziroh and Garnet Giant mustard. I harvested tons of greens on Saturday, November 3rd, but haven't tried either of these greens yet. I have high expectations that they'll be delicious.
Clockwise starting on the left we have Canton White pak choy, Senposai in the back, and then the flowering Gunsho choy sum on the right. We actually ate this huge colander full of greens over the weekend as a side dish to a Salisbury steak with white sauce my husband made in the crockpot. They were fantastic together served atop rice. The greens were simply prepared sautéed with onion, garlic, a splash of nuoc mam, and ground black pepper.

It finally cooled down at the end of October and we've been getting rain regularly, which means the greens are really growing now. I'll probably start harvesting radishes and salad turnips this week as well. A friend uses radishes as a substitute for potatoes in dishes, and she said her kids never knew the difference. Then again, her kids are little so maybe they just didn't know the difference?

Please join us at Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Happy Acres. A strange and wonderous place where questionably sane gardeners brave the wintry elements to tend their gardens and harvest vegetables.