Thursday, March 12, 2015

2015 garden update

It's been a month and a half since the last garden update and what a month and a half!!

It has been grey and cold and rainy nearly every day since. I think we hit our average daily high maybe 3 or 4 times during that period, the rest of the time we were cold! Several days it never got out of the 30's.

When I started the 2015 garden I said I would probably plant another flat or two in a couple weeks to compensate for the probably optimistically early start. Well that didn't happen! I only have just so much heat-mat and grow-light room and the cold weather meant I couldn't free much of it up, not to mention scraping ice off the windshield puts a bit of a dampener on the gardening bug.

One thing I did get on was building a little water tower and installing a drip-irrigation system that uses a zero-pressure timer. As is my nature, I grabbed left overs, treated lumber and some of those old cedar fence boards, to make the tower. The proportions are wrong but it's supposed to remind you of an old railroad water tower. It took a little math and fiddling with tool setups to get the angles right on the 'tank' and building the removable roof was even more interesting.

The tank is sized for a 5 gallon bucket into the bottom of which I installed a bulk-head fitting and a boiler valve. The timer hangs off of this and gravity feeds the tubing.

A future modification will be to install a low-power solar pump to pump water, from the tank that catches rainwater off the greenhouse roof, up into the bucket. The pump will run whenever there is enough sunlight and an overflow installed in the bucket will return excess water right back to the main tank. I can potentially collect about 50 gallons for every inch of rain, so with enough rainfall that will create a perpetual watering system.

Radish, kale and lettuce, in the farthest box. The big leafy thing in the middle box is broccoli. It survived the winter but only produced a few small, but very flavorful florets that I harvested a couple at a time by bending over and biting them directly off the plant. mmmm good! But it was finished so I pulled it just after this photo.
I did move a few things out to the greenhouse the second week of February because they were getting pretty crowded under the grow light. So the radishes, letuce and kale all made it into one of the Grow-Boxes. The only protection they had during the frequent freezes was a layer of floating row cover draped over the PVC frames and held in place with spring clamps.

The average last frost around here is the first week of March and the long-range forecast shows that icy crap from the arctic finally staying up there at the top of the planet where it belongs, so, in another show of optimism I have folded up the row cover and stored it away.

Now that first batch of radishes is about a week past their expected harvest date. They look a little woody and miss-shapen in this photo but the one I sampled (pulled it up, burshed the dirt off, bit off the dangling root, spit it out and ate the radish standing right there) was pretty dang good.

The lettuce, on the right, and kale, on the left, are still 2 and 4 weeks respectively away from expected first harvest but they are going to have to do a lot of growing in a hurry to meet that deadline!!

The beans were also protected by row cover but, though they started off gangbusters, didn't do well at all, so today I planted a couple more right into one of the pots.

I also moved 4 tomato plants and three broccoli from under the grow light in the barn into pots in the greenhouse today,

along with a few sprigs of basil.

 Some additional direct-sowing of some radishes, lettuce and bunch-onion into a couple of the other Grow-boxes finished up the gardening for the day.