Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not all bad! Tomato coeur de boeuf and ginger

I have had had some deaths in the garden, but there definitely a lot more seedlings that are doing well. The tomato seeds that accidentally snuck into my suitcase is actually germinating! I first saw signs of success a few days after the seeds were sowed.
The little baby tomato seedlings
Then now, not even a week after, I have a ton of seedlings!
Extremely high germination rate
The question now is, whether the tomato I bought was a hybrid or heirloom. I don't know if these seedlings will make the coeur de boeuf tomatoes or if it was some sort of hybrid so that I will get something different. I think I will grow one of these on my balcony and also find once space in the community garden for a second.  I'm really excited about these - pretty darn cool.

Another great thing in the garden - there are 2 shoots coming out of my ginger root! I plan to get these in a 3 gallon container once the weather gets warm. Just can't wait for the weather to warm up!!!
Ginger shoots

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Seedling care: too much or too little - water and fertilizer?

I hate to dwell on the negative, but there are some signs of trouble with some of the seedlings. A leaf on two of the cherokee purple seedlings have shriveled up and fallen off.  I can't tell what it is...if I'm over-watering or under-watering. It doesn't help that the signs of both are the same - wilting. I've been pretty careful about watering so I'm hoping watering is not the problem. I'm wondering if it might be the soil. I'm using miracle gro organic potting soil and I've been watering with "compost tea". I put compost tea in quotes because I'm not sure it is real compost tea - I just threw in a handful of compost, and a tablespoon of epsom salt and azomite in 5 gallon bucket of water and let it sit for a couple of days. The soil look like it gets good drainage - so I don't think it is root rot.  
Wilty leaf on cherokee purple
This is a mild version - another leaf continued to shrivel up and then fell off
One of the broccoli seedlings have completely shriveled up and died. A second one seems to be following suit. I hope the third one survives but if it doesn't, I am glad I planned ahead and started many back ups. 
As of today, the seedling on the left has died and the one of the top right is on its way
This one here is the minigold cherry seedlings - I think this one is under-watering. Looks like the leaves are getting dry from the stem and spreading outward. 
This looks like under-watering? The soil was completely dry - the picture is after I watered it.
The final issue is that some of the seedlings look like they are turning yellow. The potting soil says that it has enough nutrients for 4 months, so I think I am over-thinking the yellowing of the leaves. I'm going to try not to be so obsessive. 
Slight discoloration but I'm not too worried yet

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Charm city travels: Dijon, France

The past few weeks, I have been completely preoccupied with preparing for a trip to Dijon. I was very excited about the visit, but was too busy being nervous about a presentation I had to do. I just detest public speaking and all the physical symptoms that comes along with it. After the talk was over (and sleeping for about 3 hours), I was ready to explore the quaint city of Dijon. It was so much fun walking around town - very beautiful with exquisite architecture and whimsical buildings.
Saint Benigne Facade
Very cute shop with red ribbing
I also found some balconies with containers - but not much green yet because it was still quite cold.
I could not help but notice some wonderful tomatoes as I walked past a produce shop. These were labelled "tomate coeur de boeuf" with beautiful ripples and perfect red color. I had to buy one to taste, so I decided that instead of going to a restaurant I would have a very simple dinner with red wine, baguette, prosciutto (I know, Italian...but anyway), tomato and red gooseberries (that I also could not resist buying).
Aren't they beautiful? Tomato coeur de boeuf
My simple dinner - should be fantastic, right?!
I was SO excited to try the tomato and gooseberries (I had never tasted before). I thought I could not go wrong...but I did. Here is a cross section of the tomato...
Not so beautiful on the inside
Even from the picture you can see that the tomato was mealy, tasteless and a huge huge HUGE disappointment. The gooseberry was also too tarte for me and didn't enjoy it. Fortunately the wine, baguette and prosciutto was delicious (with some Dijon mustard of course!)
      I really like how the tomato looked though. It was absolutely gorgeous...I MAY have spilled some of the seeds on a napkin and brought it back with me....LOL. Let's see if it germinates. I checked out rare seeds and found several similar looking tomoatoes from Italy: Goldman's Italian American, Gezahnte, and Costoluto Genovese. Maybe I'll look into getting one of these next year.
     It was a great trip, but I am glad to be back home. I started habanero seeds before I left but they didn't make it (got dried up). Hopefully it is not too late to start them now.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Indoor garlic update

The indoor garlic seems to have acclimated well to its new home. I also threw in some arugula seeds in the container. I had it sitting on a windowsill with the curtain closed so it was completely out of my mind. Today, I took a peak at it and the arugula seedlings had popped up. The garlic also looks like it grew a little bit.
Garlic and arugula seedlings (6 days old)
The arugula seedlings are tiny but look very strong.  I'm not sure if it is a good idea to put so much in one pot, but I think it will look nice. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Timing for potting up seedlings

When you start seeds in soil-free medium (or nutrient free), they say to transfer them to some soil with nutrients after the first set of true leaves set. For my brassica (broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale) and fennel seedlings, I neglected them for some time. They had used up all the nutrients from the cotyledons and were essentially starving. I started two extra broccoli plants for the community garden a week or two after the first set and noticed the huge size and growth difference after potting them up. I'm not sure if the first seedlings are stunted forever...hopefully they will catch up.
Broccoli in the two pots on the right. The three broccoli seedlings (top right) were started before the  larger two seedlings (bottom right). 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Growing stronger roots for seedlings?!

I just came across a video showing a very interesting method to pot up seedlings. Instead of teasing out the roots to pull apart the plants, this gardener cuts the seedlings at the base of the plant just above the soil. He then throws the seedlings into some water and then puts the seedlings into individual pots. I understand with tomatoes the stem will form roots, but he proceeded to do this with pepper and eggplant seedlings. Apparently, this methods forces the plant to produce strong root system. So interesting. It is in subtitled in Japanese but the visual is clear enough. Link --> Skip to minute 2.

A quick update on my almost 2 week old chia seedlings. They are looking a little spindly but still a bright healthy green. Not sure if the growing season here is long enough for these plants to produce seeds. We shall see!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Growing garlic indoors

I found a garlic hiding under a bag of barley. It had sprouted a very healthy looking bright green stem so I couldn't throw it away. I decided to try growing it indoors in a small container. Let's see if it develops into a small bulb.
Sprouted skinny little garlic
Garlic buried
In addition to this, I'm going to be growing some herbs and vegetables that don't need a lot of light. So far I've sowed mizuna and chives. I also plan is to grow some salad greens, mint and maybe cilantro and/or parsley.
The jerusalem artichoke is growing quickly. I hope it gets warm soon so that I can transplant it. The roots are screaming for more space!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

First death in the garden...and chick cuteness

Next year, I will have to tame my gardening excitement and start the peas and fava beans a little bit later. The snow peas started off well, but one day I left it out on a sunny day with the intention of brining in after a couple of hours and completely forgot about it. By the time I realized I forgotten to bring them back in, it was close to midnight and the soil was completely frozen. I left them inside for some time, but I think it was too much for the young seedlings to handle.
You can see some of the dead seedlings and more damaged foliage can be observed close up
In addition to frost exposure, I started to noticed the every annoying fungus gnats buzzing around the soil. I sprayed it with some neem oil and spinosad spray that seemed to help a little bit. I don't know if the fungus gnat larvae contributed to the demise of my pea plants, but I do have other seedlings (like the tomatoes and peppers) that I really want to protect. So I've decided to leave the three pots with the snow pea outside, see if any of the seedlings survive, and start some new seeds in a week or two.

To end this post on a positive note, I want to share some pictures of chicks I found at a farm and garden store. I'm hoping one day in the future when I move to place with a yard that I will be able to get some pet hens. So for now, I had walk away from these super cute chicks after snapping a couple of pictures.  Oh, but I so wanted to take one home. Super cute fuzzy creatures.
little chicks feeding
chicks all huddled up
little yellow puff balls