Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rhubarb is up!

Quick report that the rhubarb is just starting to come up (i.e. a few mm so far), in spite of snow and - 8 C lows and +2 C highs the past few days! This is about 10 days later than it came up last year.

Another "first" report, a bee nearly nailed me in the head a few days ago during the chinook (+15 C), but since then I have not seen any more. Must have been an early scout, who told the others to hold off, not worth getting out of bed yet.

Soil Mix for Indoor Garden

For future reference, and partially in response to a comment on the previous posting, the soil mix I've been using contains:
  • Sphagnum Peat Moss: good for absorbing and retaining moisture, also slightly acidic (which most veggies like);
  • Perlite: expanded volcanic rock, reduces compatibility, improves drainage and keeps soil mix light;
  • Vermiculite: mica, expanded by heat, absorbs moisture, provides air spaces, contains nutrients potassium and magnesium;
  • Zeolite: aids water retention, holds and releases nutrients, contains calcium, magnesium, sulphur, iron, and other minor trace elements, "helps split roots to create heavier healthy fine roots", and helps balance pH.

I paraphrased this from the bag, I don't actually know this from memory or what exactly it all means. I can definitely see a theme of "lite" ness, so perhaps a "heavy" soil is not so good for getting plants started.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Transplanting Tomatoes

The Prairie Pride Tomatoes have overgrown their 2L margarine containers and needed upgrading to 4L ice cream pails. They were starting to droop even when watered and fertilized and turned out to be somewhat root bound.

Creating a mess in the kitchen.

This photo is just so I can remember which soil mix I was using
(and free advertising for Golden Acre Garden Sentre, where I went mostly "window shopping" last weekend).

I added calcium by grinding up some vitamins (Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc), as I've read that Blossom-End Rot is caused by calcium deficiency (employee at garden sentre recommended using Tums as a cheap calcium source since I didn't really need the massive container of bone meal they were selling).

However, after thinking myself so clever, I read more on the topic and discovered that adding calcium is not necessarily the best thing (if your soil is likely to already have enough). See link above for details.

After transplanting I added some Miracle Grow tomato fertilizer I bought at Golden Acre last weekend (where I ran into B & K, which was not too surprising :-). It is 18-18-21 (N-P-K) with magnesium, copper, iron, manganese and zinc. After I was thinking a root fertilizer might have been better (high P), but not likely a big concern [ASIDE: good reminder from garden senter worker regarding N-P-K and general functions: "Up-Down-All Around"]. I also buried some of the lower leaves and branches in the soil so they could be "recycled" and reduce somewhat the need for fertlizer. And apparently it can be good to minimize the fertilizer to help prevent blossom-end rot (slower growth better).

Hopefully the ice cream pails will be enough because I've run out of larger containers and room under the plant light!

The first flower has appeared. I planted two to a pot which my aunt recommended for pollination purposes. Here's their chance!

We had +15 C earlier this week and then -17 C wind chill (-8 lows) with 10 cm of snow. I'm just hoping I can transplant them outside by June, or else I'll have to transplant them to the bathtub!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April Update

Spring is late, as we all know. My garden journal from last year records the rhubarb coming up by April 15. No sign of it yet this year. I'm guessing it may not come up until the end of April or early May. Last weekend was nice and warm, so I planted (outside in the garden) some Green Arrow Peas, Dwarf Green Curled Kale, and Cherry Belle Radish. Hopefully they'll come up sometime before July! With the cool spring there is risk they may rot before coming up, but I couldn't resist the urge to give them a chance to try. My seed stock has grown too big anyway, so may as well use them up.
Below is an update on the indoor plants:
Prairie Pride Tomatoes & Southport White Globe Onions, early April.

"Salad Bowl" Lettuce, slowing down but still growing.

Plumeria showing some growth at top. It really perked up when I put it outside in the sun last weekend.

Tomatoes & Onions, mid-April. I'm thinking I may have to transplant the tomatoes to 4L pails before transplanting outside!

Oregano (planted around February, I think). Growing slow and steady.

Southport White Globe Onions. Flimsy but alive. Not sure if I should eventually harvest them or transplant outside. We'll see if they can wait that long.

Cilantro at flowering stage (planted end of December '08). I'll harvest the seeds (Coriander), dry them and grind them for the spice rack along with the plant leaves that remain. They seem to dry well in a paper bag in the cupboard (out of the light).

Homemade Yoghurt - Part 2

Note to self: take yoghurt curing in oven out before turning on oven to bake something.