Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garden Updates

My garden has been very busy growing! That whole week of torrential rain followed by sunny, 90 degree weather sure has helped my veggies grow fast (not to mention the god, the weeds)! On May 21st I planted my cucumber, lettuce, and spinach seeds and by May 30th I transplanted 4 tomato plants and 6 broccoli plants to the garden and snapped the following pictures:

lettuce 9 days old

Flea beetles have been the most common garden pest for us lately; devouring everyone's cabbage, kale, and broccoli plants. I had to remove the sad remains of two broccoli plants yesterday and replaced them with two healthy broccoli plants (I've continued growing some broccoli, tomato, and pepper seedlings in my basement). My plot neighbor told me that the worst is over now and we don't expect the flea beetles to continue to be a problem. One organic flea beetle remedy I learned: sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the plants - this will kill the beetles but poses no danger to warm blooded critters.

Yesterday I planted eight sweet pepper and two extra tomato seedlings. I also had to replace a tomato seedling that went MIA (have the evil bunnies penetrated the community garden fort walls?).

In other news, sometimes I don't wear gloves.

Next up: here's a recent shot of the garden from today. On the top left are tomatoes, then peppers, and a lovely patch of redroot pigweeds on the far right. On the bottom left, barely visible, is the new cucumber trellis Bryan built for me today, broccoli in the middle, and lettuce on the far right. These redroot weeds completely took over the entire garden plot, and yesterday I spent a couple hours removing them, except for a small patch in the spot where I had planted my spinach seeds. Unfortunately, only three spinach plants came up and after my community garden director told me that these redroot weeds are edible and Native Americans used to eat them, I decided to keep a few. Today I added some to my salad mix and they were tasty! But, seriously, they can live up to 40 years in the soil? One plant produces over 100,000 seeds? I have a feeling I'll be spending many more hours weeding this summer... I should probably put some mulch down between plants. I may end up removing that last patch to plant some pole beans in their place.

prolific cucumbers

lettuce close-up 22 days old

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Too good to be true (leaves)!

Here's another shot of both trays so you can see how much my seedlings have grown! The tallest seedlings on the left are the broccoli. The broccoli are so big they're probably ready to be planted in the garden. I had planned to plant this weekend in honor of the 350 Home & Garden Challenge but it's been raining almost non-stop so I'll wait for a clear day this week instead.

broccoli close-up

Tomato Update: 3 weeks ago I planted 42 heirloom tomato seeds and now I have 40 total seedlings. However, 5 of these seedlings are significantly smaller than the rest and 1 never grew its cotyledon leaves, so it still has no leaves and looks like a monocot instead of a dicot. I won't include these 6 damaged/weak seedlings in my calculation to determine germination rate. So for now I can confidently say I have 34 seemingly healthy tomato seedlings out of 42 planted seeds, which gives me an 81% germination rate. I'm also very excited to report that nearly all of the 34 seedlings now have their true leaves!

"True Leaves" growing above the cotyledon leaves

My sweet peppers and hot pepper seedlings have also sprouted since my last blog post! Here's a picture of 2 hot pepper seedlings.

hot pepper seedlings

My next post will hopefully include pictures of my planted garden plot complete with tomato cages, cucumber trellis, and bean teepees! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

...and then there were seedlings!

Okay, let's get right to the exciting stuff. Look!! Baby broccoli! I noticed these little seedlings on Thursday and snapped this picture on Sunday. They are already so much bigger! Gosh, they grow up so fast..*tear*

As of Monday night, I also have a few tomato seedlings up (current total: 26)! The tomato seedlings have two baby leaves, which I've learned are called cotyledon leaves or "seed leaves" because the cotyledon is actually part of the embryo within the seed. Right now, my tiny baby tomato plants are getting their nutrients from the cotyledon leaves. Soon, the first "true leaves" will grow above the baby leaves and these will begin photosynthesizing. After the true leaves appear, the baby leaves will fall off (I've also read if they don't fall off, one should pinch them off to avoid disease/rot from entering. I am PREPARED TO PINCH!). 

baby tomato plant, showing off its cotyledon leaves

Community Garden entrance

My garden plot - freshly hoed with compost added!

That's all for now - more when my true leaves are up!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting Started

Formal Introductions
Hello there! I'm a first-time gardener from Ypsilanti, MI with an 8'x8' plot in Normal Park's organic community garden. Many of the seeds I'll be planting this season are from the Slow Food Huron Valley Heirloom Seed Trial. Slow Food Huron Valley is giving away 30 different varieties of heirloom seeds from the Great Lakes Region in exchange for feedback about how they grow and how they taste. Their goal is to promote seed saving and genetic diversity in foods adapted to our region, and they ask participants to share photos and information to continue to improve food varieties that are adapted to our region. That's where you come in - I'll be sharing all my information about my garden growing with you! Aren't you so lucky?

The Seeds
From SFHV I've received the following seeds: Black Seeded Kentucky Wonder Pole Snap Beans, Green Prolific Boston Cucumbers, Grand Rapids Leaf Lettuce, and Livingston's Golden Queen Tomatoes. From organic burpee seeds I'll be planting sweet peppers, hot peppers, broccoli, and spinach.

Getting Started
Yesterday I planted 42 of the queen tomato seeds into containers. I used a bag of organic soil that's especially for growing tomatoes and other vegetables. Here's a picture before I covered them, all snuggled 1/4" deep in their tiny soil beds, where they'll stay for the next 6-8 weeks in this snazzy set-up in my basement under artificial light. I plan to set up a timer so the seeds will receive light early in the morning and throughout the day, so they're on a cycle and prepared for what light they'll receive once they're transplanted into the garden.
The tomatoes are sharing a container with 27 planted broccoli seeds, and 54 sweet pepper seeds and 18 hot pepper seeds are in a second container.

Next Time
Stay tuned for exciting reports on the germination rate of these growing seedlings, and pictures of my garden plot planned out on graph paper (probably not to scale, even though I tried)!

organically yours,