Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wild Tomatoes

My plants have really grown, especially my tomato plants. I'm a little disappointed in the yield but I think I've let them get a wee bit too big and wild.

Here are my little tomato plants on April 29th...such sweet and well-behaved little things.




Here they are now...on the left....



....wild and sucking up more than a gallon of water a day! They're about 9 feet tall and touching the cathedral ceiling! I've picked two tomatoes thus far and have about 9 in varying stages of growth with lots of blooms on the bushes. I use a bamboo stick to shake the branches to pollinate the upper blooms. It looks like I'm conducting an orchestra.

I've started my second batch, pictured on the right. I have eight plants about 3 or 4 feet tall and I'm chopping off the tops of these hoping they will grow out instead of up. My goal is to work out all the problems with these "experiments" and by winter I'll have it down and producing tomatoes for the winter months.

My first tomato went from this.....


To this.....


To this....


God is truly amazing!

Thanks for stopping by. 

Happy Living! Happy Gardening!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yummy Tomatoes...Hopefully


Ah...how nice it was to see this tomato flower on my tomato plant! I've been shaking the plants in hopes of pollinating the flowers...since I'm "being the bee". I feel like I need to make some bee wings to wear when I inspect my plants...I'm going from one plant to another...just like a bee!


My herbs are growing wildly, apparently they are loving their spot in my garden room and the nutrient solution I'm using.  For you hydroponic hobbyist I'm using Bontanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow, a 3-2-4  liquid organic based vegetative formula plant food. Then switching to Pure Blend Pro Bloom, a 2-3-5  liquid organic based fruit and flower formula plant food. Since switching over to the bloom formula last weekend I've noticed an increase in the flower buds on the tomato plants. It's so exciting, especially since this is my first attempt at hydroponics.

I've had my first harvest of herbs...basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley. What to do with them?....


....I put in blender with olive oil and made pesto.


Then placed in freezer for future use. I'm tasting it already on chicken and salmon!
Not sure if pesto is made with other herbs besides basil, but mine is. I guess I should investigate that further for the next batch I'll be harvesting in the coming weeks. 

My beans are doing well. Last weekend I moved the 3 bean plants to their own hydroponic system in a five gallon bucket.  Changed their nutrient solution to the bloom solution and as you can see, they have responded very well.  

Being a non-gardner and basically a city gal, I didn't realize how many bean plants I needed to get an abundance of beans. I've since learned you need a lot. And being a first time hydroponics gal, I wasn't sure if I planted a bean directly into the expanded clay pebbles, if they would germinate and grow. I've since learned they will; hence, my bean plant population is growing. My newly sprouting beans will never be soil!

And lastly today, my tomato plants. This pic is a week old and the plants are actually a foot higher then in this photo. I think I'm needing to attach stakes to my stakes. 
Being a city gal, how tall can tomato plants grow anyway!?

Thanks for stopping by.  Leave a comment, I love reading them!

And until next time...may your plants be green and not wither and it's fruits will someday be part of dinner. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oh My...Oh My...My Plants Have Grown

I must be doing something right...It's now April 12th (trying really hard to get things up to speed here) and my plants have really taken off.  It's been 16 days since I initiated the DWC systems and the tomatoes are loving it...actually...all the plants are loving it.

Around April 2nd or so, I set up more DWC containers to transplant some seedlings that were more then ready....these young sprouts so eagerly growing were the bush beans, okra, yellow squash and bush cucumbers. My hubby also bought two bell pepper plants and a poblano pepper plant...I think he's really not wanting to wait for my seedlings to get big enough! (And my seeds are Non-GMO and the plants are probably not).

Okay...these were my tomato plants on March 27, just planted into the DWC:

Here they are 16 days later on April 12th:
I've just finished pruning them some here, removing the suckers and noticed flower buds starting to grow. My hubby was industrious again in constructing stakes made from PVC pipes. And of course, since I'm a quilter and love to sew I tied the plants up with some pretty blue gingham fabric. The way these tomato plants are growing I think I'm going to need more fabric strips soon!

Here are my other transplants 10 days later.  I wish I had before photos, but they were only a few inches high with what I call their germination leaves only:

Cucumber, bush variety.
The bigger leaves seemed to have appeared overnight!


Green Beans, bush variety.
I'm not sure what these are suppose to look like but have since learned that these plants can be spaced as little as 1 inch apart so I should have put 3 or 4 plants into these 5 inch net pots. I'm sure they would have helped hold each other up. I'll have to wait and see what step they take next, but no fear bc I was fearful they were not going to make it and planted more seeds in a jiffy pot!

Bell Pepper
Here are the bell pepper plants that hubby bought and in the last 10 days I noticed aphids...yes...aphids on the plants.  I was appalled! And yes...I sure gave him a hard time about being inpatient and now having infested plants that could infest ALL by babies! I immediately texted my two sisters, who had outside gardens last year, and they gave me a soap solution recipe...1 tablespoon non-concentrated dishwashing soap (not detergent) to one quart water and spray on leaves. Well...I had Blue Dawn Ultra which is concentrated so I used a half tablespoon instead and throughly soaked the bell pepper plant and the clay pebbles. I probably used too much but I was really appalled about the aphid infestation!
After throughly soaking everything with the soap solution I suddenly thought about the bubbling water in the container...bubbling water + soap = suds! OH NO...I could just picture suds seeping up around the net pots. I quickly lifted one of the pots and sure enough there was a light thin layer of suds in the container and around the roots. The suds soon dissipated, thank goodness! I'll have to not be so generous with my soap spray next time, but I'm hoping there won't be a next time!

 Yellow Squash
I noticed it had buds forming also. The cucumber, squash, tomato and peppers will require me to be the Bee to pollinate when it's time.

Okra.
It's in the back there being overshadowed by the Lavender. The Okra seems to be slow growing, but I've read that once it takes off, it grows really well.

Okay...I'm almost up to date with these postings! Thanks for hanging in there!

Thus far the pH has been normal, only needing to add more nutrients to the tomato container.  I've read where some gardeners of hydroponic gardening change the nutrient solution once a week, some once a month and others whenever they notice the plants are stressed. Gardeners on several forums believe the hydroponic stores and nutrient manufactures suggest once a week to keep you coming back and buying more...and that may be true, but my plants have done well and the nutrient solution pH has been spot-on these last three weeks. Plus the organic (my choice) nutrients are not cheap. All that said, it will be three weeks and my container water is looking somewhat cloudy so I've decided to change the water in all my containers tomorrow...this will be the first changing.  Since some of my plants are starting to bud I'll use the "bloom" liquid nutrients instead of the "grow" nutrients to encourage blooming in those containers.

I hope you visit me again soon to see how my plants are growing.

Leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quickly Growing Plants



It's now March 27, about two weeks after I planted my seedlings and they are growing well.  Now to  gather all I need for my DWC (deep water culture or container?) hydroponics system. Before I started this journey I viewed lots of YouTube videos...I think I watched YouTube the whole of one day. Then I had my husband view a couple of the videos and off to Home Depot we went.


Here are the containers we bought. I also purchased 4 aquarium air pumps, 6 bubble stones, and 4 packs of tubing. The cashier didn't even bat an eye. I think I would have looked at me strange with all those aquarium pumps.

My hubby didn't want to wait for my tomato seedlings so we bought tomato plants to speed things along some. Hubby drilled the appropriate holes in the container lid for the 5 inch net pots and we filled the containers with water in which I added a liquid organic nutrient to feed the plants...now it's  called the nutrient solution.

In hydroponics the dirt from the roots are washed away before planting in the net pot and only roots are planted into a growing medium. For my growing medium I'm using expanded clay pebbles which are really light and don't crush the roots. The pebbles also allow the oxygen (produced by the bubbling water from the bubble stones) to oxygenate the plant roots. From the information I've seen and read this is what causes the plants to grow at a faster rate then plants in soil. Water, oxygen and nutrients are coming to the plant, therefore; the plant is not expending energy looking for these elements. The clay pebbles work to hold nutrient water so the young roots are always moist and are constantly fed. 

 Roots from these tomato plants will eventually grow into the container through the net pots and feed on the nutrient solution water in the container.


Herbs do really well and I'll test that statement with the herbs I planted.

This is my indoor hydroponic garden thus far. As my seedlings grow bigger I'll transplant them into 
a DWC system.

I'm checking the pH every 3 to 4 days to make sure the nutrient solution is well balanced for sufficient nutrient uptake by the roots and that there is sufficient nutrients in the water. As the plants grow and use more nutrients, I'll need to replenish both water and nutrients. If I falter, I feel this will be the area.

Check the next posting to see how my plants have grown..you'll be amazed!

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Seedlings Planted...in Soil




I know, I know....Hydroponics is all about water and soil-less gardening. But I've not seen much information on starting seeds hydroponically. So....I just planted them in soil in jiffy pots.

For my first year I decided to grow: NON-GMO green beans(bush), cucumbers(bush), tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, okra, bell pepper, Serrano pepper and yellow squash....I told you I was jumping right in! I figure if one crop fails, I'll have others to fall back on.

And here they are: waiting to germinate. They were planted March 14th. These seedlings will never be outside! I know...that sounds kind of sad, but I'm prepared to be Mother Nature and the Bee.


I had these babies that I intended to plant outside but I've since changed my mind. They will be grown hydroponically also. I have here curly and flat leaf parsley, basil, oregano and lavender. The rosemary is in a nice size pot so I've decided to leave it in soil and keep indoors. I love to smell rosemary!

Until next time...wait until you see how ALL my babies have grown. 

I'm amazed everyday at the changes I see!

God is Awesome!


Starting a Garden!

I've thought about planting a garden this spring, encouraged by two of my sister's keyhole gardens from last summer. You can see Gina's garden here and here. They both harvested such awesome veggies all summer long.



In doing an outside garden I realized many more cons than pros....the soil needed to be enriched...a lot ($$), two dogs live in the backyard and this was their domain,  and covenant restrictions prevented gardens in the front or side yards. I also needed to consider the cost of watering ($$), the expected bugs, birds, rabbits and other varmints utilizing my garden as a salad bar as well as learning to deal with expected diseases that most likely would infect my plants...oh my...is it cheaper just to buy organic veggies from the grocery store?

But, there is something inherent and gratifying about growing, picking, and eating a fresh tomato, bell pepper or cucumber.  Not to mention the succulent taste of a veggie picked straight off the vine!

Around the first of March I contemplated doing something different with my sunroom, a 12 x 12 ceramic tiled floor room with windows on three sides. The word "hydroponics" popped into my mind. What was that? Can I cultivate a garden indoors? The only knowledge I had of hydroponics was that it had to do with water and growing something...I knew nothing else...and so I jumped or better said, I'm jumping right in! This blog tab will chronicle my attempts at starting and maintaining an indoor hydroponic garden. It will recount my joys, sorrows, frustrations and hopefully will detail bountiful harvests. That's my plan anyway!