Monday, April 11, 2011

Plants Under The Grow Lights

We may still be getting snow showers outside but inside, I'm getting ready for summer.
I started a few Siberian tomatoes in March so that I'd have good sized plants with tomatoes on them by the time I put them in the garden in June. We are hoping to be harvesting tomatoes off of them by July. We had smallish medium tomatoes last year at that time. It's all a part of my plan to extend the harvest time. Hence, I've carrots that turn orange when they are still small so you can harvest them when they are little. Then regular carrots to harvest late August and September. I've beans that can go in the garden two weeks before the last frost date and corn that is also very cold hardy. Our harvest time in Wyoming is very short, at 5000 feet in eastern Wyoming -very short, which has me trying to push the boundaries. I'm loving my calendar I made. The one where I copied a calendar onto to paper and wrote in when I should start certain plants indoors and plant seeds of others outdoors. All the brain work went into the beginning and I now just follow along. Next winter, I'll refine the calendar with the results of this year, just as I formed one from the success and failures of last year.

This little Siberian tomato plant was in a 1 1/2 inch pot. I transplanted it into a four inch pot and it took off like crazy. This is the difference in one week. It is due to the establishment of the roots. I transplant into the very bottom of the pot and then continually added dirt as the plant grew. In this manner, an increasing amount of roots are established. Roots are what feeds the plant and keeps it healthy. Hence, the more roots, the better.
Though I'm holding the tomatoes over a pepper pot, this photo is to show you that I use a spoon to press down into the soil and remove the small plants. If you tug, they just break apart. When I have them out like this, I then gently separate the two plants by hanging on to the soil with my left hand and my right in opposing positions, slowly pulling them apart. Into the very bottom of a new pot they go where I add soil up to a 1/4 inch of the leaves. It is wise to have a few extra plants as invariably you break the stem on a plant or two as they are extremely tender and small at this stage. It seems like the plants take forever to grow at this stage for most of what's happening is below the surface.
According to the Internet, you aren't suppose to transplant cilantro. You know how well I follow directions. Yup, I just ignored the all wise and did it anyway. Since I barely disturb the roots, I didn't have a problem. This will be a lovely addition to salsa. I also have cilantro started to go into my flower and herb garden. The one we are doubling in size this spring. They say cilantro quickly goes to seed when the weather gets hot. Our weather isn't really hot but we shall see what it does. I'm hoping for seeds so I'll have seed for a new indoor crop this fall and coriander, (the name of the seeds) to cook with.

I started some broccoli also. In our area we can direct seed broccoli into the garden but then the broccoli plant is small when the flea beetles arrive - hungry. They damage the larger plants but don't demolish them as the small ones they eat to the ground. There are also some red early cabbage under the grow lights. I have started them in order to gain an earlier crop. (Remember, I'm going to extending the season.) Then I can direct seed some for a later harvest also.

Since I'm seeing green in my flower bed, it must be time to plant kale, spinach, and other hardy crops in the garden. When I'm going to get that done, I'm not sure.

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