First tomato plant out the door

Today I put the first tomato plant outside. It is a Nepal tomato plant in a sub-irrigated planter (SIP). Since our nights are still in the low 40’s (Fahrenheit), I decided it was time to try the Wall o’ Water.
That green piece of plastic with the water pockets sitting on top of the bucket SIP is the Wall o’ Water. It functions as a greenhouse of sorts. The water in the cells transfers heat gently to the plant. I visited a website a while back for a tomato farm where the farmer swore by these things. Now I am going to try it and let you know if it works. The Nepal tomato plant is only 3 inches tall so I did not fully fill the cells with water, maybe I should have….hmmmmmmm.

I washed four of the 18-gallon tote SIPs in preparation for planting some pepper plants. Last year the pepper plants did very well on these so I am using them exclusively for peppers. These four will hold Bell peppers; California Wonders of course, but also Sweet Chocolate, Red Bells, and Sunbright. I will plant 4 plants per tote.

The Oregon Spring tomatoes HAVE NOT germinated in the Winter Sowing milk jug yet. The temperatures are expected to rise around the high 70’s (Fahrenheit) this coming week so maybe they will germinate then.

Over and out.


Newspaper pots

This is the first time I make newspaper pots for sowing seeds indoors.
I took a pill bottle and wrapped newspaper around it and folded the bottom over. I had a bit of trouble keeping the pots from coming undone but at the end I had something resembling a working pot to sow my seeds in. I will fill them with coir.

Like I said, keeping the bottom from coming undone was the tricky part. I did not want to use anything else besides newspaper so I am relying on friction to hold the thing together.

I will try a few and see how I do. If they work well, I will try to figure out a better way to make them.

I also took the cardboard tube from a spent paper towel roll and cut it into sections. I am trying a couple right now to see how they hold up.

I checked my Winter Sowing experiment and the seeds have not sprouted yet.

Yep, my dog Lexie jumped the fence and dug up all my peas. Time to change the fence and re-sow the peas.

Winter Sowing part dos

Before Winter is over, I need to retry this Winter-sow thing.

Here it goes:
Procure a plastic container with enough room for a seedling. In this case an empty milk jug but an empty 2 litter bottle will work as well.
Take the cap off.
Cut or perforate draining holes at the bottom of the jug.

Cut open a flap on one side of the jug and make sure you leave it attached to the jug. This opening will allow you to put the soil or seed starting media of your choice into the jug –about 3 inches of it or so.

Please BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL when cutting the flap!!!!
I use scissors but I am NOT advocating any one method. If you use your extra-sharp, family heirloom scissors that your great-grandmother used to cut your grandma’s wedding dress and you ruin them by using them to cut into a plastic jug, don’t blame me.
By the way, if you have a coffee cup with an unglazed bottom, it is alleged that you can sharpen knives and scissors on said unglazed bottom. But I digress…

Add soil in the jug and pour water to moisten it. Sow your seeds as you normally would in the garden and tape the flap shut. You can also make small holes on the jug and the flap to tie the flap shut with a wire tie or rope.

Place the jug where it can get sun and moisture via rain or snow. That’s it!
The seed should germinate when the conditions inside the jug are optimal.
Here is my jug with Oregon Spring Heirloom tomato seeds therein:

Why do this? For me, if this works, the benefits are:
  • I don’t have to take room inside the house for seedlings.
  • I don’t have to bother with heating mats or grow lights.
  • I don’t have to babysit the seedlings.
  • I don’t have to worry about hardening the seedlings.

Our last frost date is still over a month away so this test is still valid. I will post weekly progress reports. I have seen pictures of plastic jugs and bottles covered in snow and reportedly, the seeds germinated just fine when the time came.

The plant tags they sell at the store are too big to id seedlings once I put them under lights. I like to put the grow light within 2 inches of the seedling and I was running into trouble with the plant tags being a tad too high. The solution of course, was to make my own tags out of empty milk jugs.
First I drew patterns on a piece of plastic cut from the jug:

Then, I used my cheap scissors and cut the patterns out. Voila! instant plastic plant tags just the right size!

So far, out of the first batch of seeds, I only had two plants not germinate yet: SuperSweet 100 cherry tomato and Iberian Cayenne. I will give them until Sunday and if they have not germinated by then I will consider them a fail and re-sow.
I started a new batch of tomato and pepper seeds two days ago and I will be starting more tomorrow, time permitting.
The coir seems to be working great as a starter medium. I still have some peat pellets from last year so I’ll use them but I think this will be the last year I’ll use them.

And we’re off!

I have officially began my 2010 growing season! I sowed multiple varieties of tomatoes and peppers inside. This year I am not using peat at all so I have switched to coir (coconut fiber). My local Lowe’s even had starting pots made from bamboo. So I am off to a good start. This is my 2010 plan:

A) Grow stuff.
B) Eat it

Seriously though, I read on the web about Winter Sowing and I thought it was an interesting idea. Winter Sowing is exactly that, sowing your seeds during winter. In a nutshell, you put your seeds in a plastic container like a milk jug or a plastic 2 litter bottle with some growing soil (a mini green house) and set the container outside. The seed will sprout when it is ready and the seedling will be hardened.
So I procured three plastic milk jugs, put soil in them, followed the instructions, put some tomato seeds in the jugs and with a heart full of hope I set them outside for the process to take its place. Ah! but it’s never that simple! Sometime between the process taking place and lunch, a certain destructive puppy jumped the chicken wire fence (she is way bigger this year and I am sure it took her no effort) and ate all three jugs thus ending this Winter Sowing trial. Alas, what is a gardener if not a hardened soul prepared to deal with weather and dogs and whatever else comes? I already have prepared the second set of jugs and will be putting them out at a more secure location but before I do that I need to take pictures of the whole affair.

The other major thing I am planning is to attempt a Spring garden. I tried growing broccoli and cauliflower and carrots and peas before but I started them too late. So this year, I am sowing all that good stuff much earlier –peas no later than St. Patrick’s they tell me. So we’ll see.

I also promise more pictures this year.