Friday, January 17, 2014

Getting the downstairs garden running again

California weather has been crazy dry and warm for this time of the year. Since temperatures are coming above 32°F at night and approaching 70°F during the day, it was time to get my deep water culture running again after a one month break. For this season, after seeing how well it did last year, I started a full crop of bok choy for the system. I would plant lettuce, but I have plenty of that in soil containers all throughout the rest of the garden.
Cabbage Closeup
Container Cabbage Closeup
Getting the system reestablished required me to measure out new fertilizer, fill containers with water, and transplant in new seedlings. I am using off the shelf fertilizer and Epsom salt to provide nutrients to my bok choy.
Hydroponic nutrients
The flash hides the true mass of my nutrients
Since I do not have a hose, filling the remaining two bins (the 1st one used excess cooling water from brewing) involved running buckets of water through the apartment. I don't think the landlord would have appreciated that.
Testing DWC aeration
Testing aeration
DWC airstone positioning
Testing out positioning and planting
I only had to replace two of the airstones. They were still producing air, but not as well as the other four. To help with positioning the airstones, I used some string to tie the tubing so it floats toward the middle of each bin. I think it'll keep the aeration between all the plants more even.
Night photo of DWC fully planted
Fully planted system (night shot)
Day photo of DWC
Morning shot, checking to see if all is well
In total, there are 18 regular sized bok choy planted and 2 baby bok choy. I may need to replant two of the plants though as some of the seedlings were falling over. I think I need to get better light for my seedlings next time. The rockwool made planting slightly easier than last time, since the roots were encased within it. For plant slots with multiple seedlings, I'll just have to thin them out when they get larger.

Upstairs Garden

As part two of my gardening for the day, I took some more photos of the upstairs plants. The cabbages on the right side of my balcony are doing great. They are well established and should be starting to head soon. (Cabbage closeup is at top of the page).
Balcony garden right overview
Right side of the balcony.
Balcony garden Lettuce
Close up shot of the largest lettuce
The cabbage I harvested a week ago is starting to show new growth at the base of where I cut it. There are five little buds coming off the base. I have no idea how they will grow, so I'll wait on that.
Alien cabbage new growth
New cabbage growth. Looks kinda spooky.

I threw some onion seeds into a container before I left and now they are starting to show signs of vigor. When I tried growing this onion earlier, all I would see is one little green stem per plant. I've noticed that this new crop has grown large enough to where they have 2 stems.
Green onions
Green Onions.
I have two different plants going to seed: A Nevada lettuce from last summer and Bloomsdale spinach from not too long ago. The lettuce plant is really tall and appears to be close to blooming. I made the spinach plant grow like a basil plant when I snipped the top of the stalk when it appeared. I don't think I'll get seeds from that plant because I have no other ones to pollinate it with.
Lettuce bolting
I liked this variety
Spinach Bolting
Fake Basil
Finally, we have some of my year around leafy greens: Swiss Chard and Kale. The Kale I only planted in November, but it is starting to get big. Soon enough I should be able to harvest some of these leaves for some Kale chips. All of my chard plants are growing many small new leaves at the base, probably due to the fertilizer I gave them.
Balcony garden left Chard
Chard over here
Swiss Chard overview
Chard over there
5 gallon Kale
And then Kale
Tune in next week to see if the spinach seeds that I planted in the large white bin will end up germinating. If they end up not germinating, what should I plant in it?

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