Monday, April 9, 2007

Starting Small: Some of the "Before" Pics

You'll know from reading here that we're definately in the experimental stage (well, I know that stage doesn't exactly ever end, but we're in the embryonic experimental stage, for sure).

I don't have the fancy camera I wish I had to capture some of the steps we're trying right now. I tried taking pictures of some of my baked goods and foods I'd posted recipes for here, but they are all a pitiful blur, though the background stood out well...arrggghhh :) That's the limit of the instamatic.

I do have a mere handful of passable ones, though...ones taken a couple of weeks ago. Since these pictures were taken, the plants are now in a burst of growth and are further along.

The pots pictured here are ones I already had, and I potted them with a mixture of soil amendments, mostly store-bought potting soil variety, since we're bereft of any useable compost or organic matter at the moment. The wooden stakes were the silt fence stakes I got at a much cheaper price last fall than garden stakes. When you go to the construction side of a place like Home Depot rather than the garden center to buy stakes, ask for silt fence stakes, the sort that at construction sites are used to peg webbed plastic "fencing" around properties to keep erosion at a minimum. They come in bundles and different lengths, all of which are so much cheaper than buying garden stakes. I had dark green paint, and so back in the fall I painted them green, with white for the plant names. Not getting quite as fancy this spring, I re-used them for the tomatoes but haven't painted over the names. So the tomato plant isnt really a jalapeno, as shown, but then I am at least savvy enough now to know the difference ;-)

We're using what we have right now. I recycled some plastic flats and am experimenting with growing lettuces in them and other containers. You can see we had some cardboard boxes on hand, so those have been utilized, too. The milk crate has been planted in lettuce, too, and I'm comparing how well each type of container is doing side-by-side when planted the same time.

I lined the milk crate with brown paper grocery bags. The way I did it left the bottom with several really thick layers of grocery bags, which I think is not allowing for enough drainage. Those bags are really holding in the moisture. The seedlings did not sprout as quickly as in the flats. I'm wondering if this is a disadvantage, or might rather be a later advantage in the very hot summers we expect here.

The tomato plants shown are potted two (of the same variety) to a pot in the larger pots, and one per pot in the two smaller ones. I'm not sure this was a good idea. I may have crowded them too much by having two share a pot. When they are outgrowing their stakes (which is soon!) I'm hoping to put 6' bamboo "teepees" to surroud each pot, to allow for more outward and upward growth. They are currently underplanted with leaf lettuces and marigolds, and were heavily fertilized when first planted. (In the pics, the purple flowers in the foreground pots are verbena awaiting repotting or transplanting into the ground.) I'll be putting down a solution of dissolved epsom salts soon around their bases, as they are now about twice the size shown and are all setting blooms (yay!), since I've read that this helps the bloom stage a lot. It's all one big experiment, so we'll see!

I'll be adding to this little "corner of veg" as soon as time and containers and money permit. Right now we're in the beginning and transition stages of job and schedule and it's gotten a little crazy. I just want to keep on plugging with the seed planting, though. Planting potatoes are next on the agenda, as is planting all those wonderful seeds I bought a week or so ago. FUN !!

I'll try to post some "after" pics someday if I can convince the instamatic to cooperate :)


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El said...

Wow, great for you! You've got quite a start, Robbyn.

My experience with potted tomatoes is they're kind of pigs, nutrients-wise. You may need to move them to one per pot. My other little suggestion is to put some of that compost (ready or not) on top of the dirt as mulch. It will slowly leach its yumminess down to the roots below, and keep the plants from drying out if you can't water them for a day or two. Just don't put the mulch directly on top of the stem itself in case the compost is too "hot".

I'm a big-time recycler of takeout containers, bottles, etc. for the betterment of my seedlings and plants. It makes for some unsightliness, but it's for the greater good.

Willa said...

Robbyn- I am so impressed and envious- I still haven't gotten anything in the ground but those onions of a couple weeks ago- weather has been unseasonably cold. I agree with el about 1 tom to a pot- last year we repotted a lot of the volunteer tomatoes into pots like you did, and had to be really vigilant about watering and caring for them. I didn't mulch with compost like I should have.

Robbyn said...

Alright, El and Willa, you've convinced me...the tomatoes must be given their own pots. I hope it doesnt interfere with the blooming, because they're now setting blooms. I'll try to fertilize the Dickens outta them, too...we'll see if they survive ME :)