Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hillbilly rig porch into greenhouse/winter dog house

Ideas for Growing mushrooms in containers indoors (pictures)

Depending on the type of mushrooms, certain mushrooms grow under different types of trees. In much the same way there are different types of mediums like straw, brown rice, or coffee grounds that grow mushrooms in containers. Below are some examples of the ways growers use different types of containers and mediums of growing different types of mushrooms.
step by step guide using potting soil/compost/perlite heated in oven
how to at Earth's Tongue

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Indoor grow light tomato garden + tropical houseplant update

On the 7th of February I started tomatoes indoors. This is very early to start tomatoes for my Zone 6-7 in Kentucky. But I wanted to start them early because I wanted to do additional experimenting with the grow lights and creating the right conditions for plants. I really have tried this year so far by using Superthrive as a fertilizer for the plants as well. I have used Superthrive on the fruit trees, tomatoes, and houseplants. So I wanted to show you can update on the progress of the tomatoes and the houseplants as we are growing in the cold winter days of February through March.

tomatoes, swiss chard, broccoli, radish, lettuce

The tomatoes sprouted on the 13th of February, 6 days after sowing, and then I transplanted the tomatoes two weeks ago at the end of February/beginning of March. In the pictures you'll see that some of the tomatoes have curled leaves, and I believe it was the transplant and fertilize that stressed the plant, in addition to the area being different temperatures. There are many factors to this, but they have grown quite a bit since then, so two weeks later (yesterday the 14th of March) I fertilized the tomatoes again with the superthrive. Most gardeners say to fertilize once a week, but I was really surprised by this considering I never fertilize plants (with the exception of laying mulch or compost on trees or in the garden.) Because I usually cannot grow vegetable starts indoors like the experts, I decided to listen to other gardeners that fertilize often with something like the superthrive.
In the early stages of the tomatoes plants growing, I had them on platforms of small cardboard boxes and small plastic containers that raised them closer to the grow lights. As the tomatoes grew taller, I have shortened the platforms they were growing on, and today I just took the plants off their platforms because they are quite tall now. So I have started using trash ties, lettuce ties, and bread ties to  hold them straight.

Below are some photos of the tomatoes growing under the LED grow lights, in addition to photos of the tropical houseplants growing. I have 5 pineapple plants growing (two of the big pineapples are in the largest pots.) I have aloe, cactus, snake plants, dracaena, and a pot of sunflowers.

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes transplanted into containers (not looking good)
cactus mix in pot

Radishes held up with trash ties

sunflowers growing in pot

pineapples in large pots, christmas cactus, & mulberry plants (not looking good)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Early spring: how I'm covering the flower garden & Fruit trees

Many of the flowers this Spring are blooming three weeks ahead compared to previous years. The fruit trees such as Pears, Nectarines, and Peaches are blooming in the garden as well. With the fruit trees I covered almost all of them with Agfabric with a drawstring that you see in the picture below. 

For the trees that were blooming, I double wrapped them with an additional garden cloth or blanket. With the biggest pear tree that had blooms and the nectarine with blooms, I covered them with two cloth fabric sheets and a plastic sheet. With the fig trees, I covered them with plastic and the fabric cloth on the outside. For the flowers like Hyacinths and Tulips that are blooming early, I have covered them with plastic sheeting and plastic cloches to retain moisture and heat throughout the night. This week it will be below 20 degrees amid some risk of snow/early frost warnings, so I am keeping the fruit trees and flower and garden covered as well as the polytunnel garden as you can see in the last photo. 

Plastic sheet covering Tulip/hyacinth/crocus/flower seed mix bed

Tulips protected with recycled dog cone
Hyacinths covered in small plastic tub with foam sheet over top & refrigerator glass shelves

Plastic over cabbage plants
There are 2 holes in the 'reservoir' center to slowly drip rain water

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Fascinating & uncommon vegetables to grow this upcoming summer

Often we grow the typical fruits and vegetables from seeds and plants found at big box stores. I find that the most common vegetables and fruits that are grown have the same flavor everyone is used to, they have the same boring appeal in the garden, and I want to mix things in my garden every year. A new variety of beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, or corn can really accentuate a garden, and when these fruits and vegetables are harvested, the vibrant colors and unique shapes will make you smile. This year, spice up this year's garden with these vegetables and fruits listed below:

cape gooseberry from last year's garden
1. Cape Gooseberry: Last summer I was delighted to grow beautiful cape gooseberries for the first time. I highly recommend growing those as well because they have a great pineapple like taste in a tiny cherry tomato like size. I grew these plants in pots, and maybe you will have better luck with them than I did because mine were small, so be sure to feed these plants. Purple tomatillo is another beauty as well that reminds me of the husks of the cape gooseberries.

2. Romanesco Italia Broccoli

3. Luffa gourds, and many other varieties of gourds like Birdhouse gourds, Apple gourds, Daisy gourds are artistic looking fruits that I quite admire as well.

4. Tiger Melon, Kiwano African Horned melon, moon and stars watermelon.

toga striped eggplant
5. Lemon Cuke Cucumber, Armenian cucumber, "West Indian Gherkin"cucumber, brown Russian cucumber, Gagon Cucumber, and Sikkim Cucumber.

6. Fengyuan Purple Eggplant, Toga striped eggplant, Thai Kermit eggplant, Gbogname Eggplant originating from West Africa; and there are many more varieties of eggplant which you can find in the provided links.

7. Kalibos Cabbage, Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage that has a crinkled texture, Purple of Sicily Cauliflower.

8. White patty pan squash disco, Victor or Red Warty Thing Squash, Turks Cap or Turban Squash, and an interesting 60 day variety of squash called Gelber Englischer Custard. All of these make for beautiful decorations and artwork throughout your house, yard, garden, or any building. You can use these for a fall decor setting and scene like I have done in the past: Luffa (Loofah) Gourds ready to harvest (& Fall Halloween scene/setting) and Starting the Fall & Halloween scene setting decorations.
strawberry spinach

9. Speckled Lettuce, Strawberry Spinach dating back to the 1600s in Europe, and the many multi-colored greens can be found within the links provided.

10. Raddichio

11. Israeli Golden Watermelon

12. Snow Cap Bean, Purple Teepee Bean which is a 60 day bush bean, and Jacob's Cattle Bush Bean looks like those Pontiac horses.
13. Tomato 'Marmande' is a cute variety of tomatoes that are wrinkly and lined with crevices similar to pumpkins. I admire their unique shape, and is one of the many beautiful varieties of tomatoes that you can grow. Don't just grow the common red and round-shaped tomatoes. I had quite the success with the Blue Gold Berries Tomatoes last summer, and bought the seeds at through the link provided. The variety Brad's Atomic Grape Tomato is a wild beauty too.

blue gold tomatoes from 2016 garden
14. Because I mentioned pumpkins, I wanted to provide a list of interesting pumpkins to grow instead of the standard commercial varieties. One beautiful variety of pumpkin is Musquee De Provence Pumpkin that looks like it's straight out of a Halloween painting or some kind of fantastical scene, additionally the Fairytale Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata), Jarrahdale Pumpkin.

15. Corn varieties like Strawberry Popcorn, Papa's Red Corn, and mini blue and pink popcorn look like ancient relics of time, and I say we ditch the standard yellow corn varieties for now.

16. The Parisienne Carrot varieties are adorable along with Pusa Asita Carrot.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spring flowers blooming three weeks early (floral photography)

The Tulip leaves have pushed through the mulch around my yard, and of course the Daffodils are blooming. Daffodils grow through the snow of January and February so they are growing on schedule, but some flowers have bloomed early like the Magnolia. Here in Kentucky, Magnolias typically bloom in April, so clearly since the Magnolia trees have been tricked into growing earlier than normal. The crocuses are about to croak because it got warm fast and now there is a freeze. Hyacinths also are blooming, but in my garden the Hyacinths have only spread their leaves. For now, those are the flowers I see blooming and growing, as well as some of the fruit trees like Pears that are blooming. I hope this freeze tonight does not kill the flowers and prevents them from blooming. So for now, we wait to see what Spring brings and what will await. Below I have posted some of the pictures I have taken of the flowers growing around me.

pink Hyacinths blooming, March 10th 2017
purple Hyacinths, March 10th
Nectarine blooming, March 8th 2017

Nectarine fruit tree blooms