Sunday, February 24, 2013

So how are those seedlings coming along?

I'm so glad you asked!

Two trays full!

I'd say it's going pretty well!

So at this point, I have added a hanging adjustable fluorescent light fixture like this one:
Image Credit: Amazon
This is the 2-foot model.  I think I may need to upgrade to the 4'!

And I also bought an inexpensive oscillating fan like thus:

Again, image credit to Amazon

Annnnnd...  I've got both rigged-up to an Aquarium Timer:

Yep, Amazon again!

Hell, I oughtta figure out how to become an Amazon Affiliate - given how many links I post back to them!  But no, I get no spliff for sharing.  I just really-really like Amazon (And I love-love-love Amazon Prime.  Free FAST shipping! :-)

So anyway...  I've got the light fixture rigged up so it's hanging just a few inches above the seedlings.  And both the lights and the fan are set to run from 6:00am to 6:00pm.  The lights will help the seedlings grow strong and not have to "stretch" for light. Yes, they are in the greenhouse - but the greenhouse is covered with 60% shade-cloth.  It is fairly bright on it's own - just not bright enough - and if I removed the shade cloth, it would positively roast in there on sunny days.  

The fan is aimed mostly at the seedlings, but it does oscillate.  Finny told me that the fan will also help the babies grow stronger stems, plus the constant air-flow *should* help with deterring critters (white flies, aphids) and keep the soil surface from getting fuzzy/moldy.  The flip-side to that is, I *have* to go check the babies every day because they do tend to dry out a lot faster.

Okay...  Notes/Observations on germination:  I'm not experiencing 100% germination - but I have to admit that some of my seeds were pretty old.  So, it looks like (once again!), no Luffas or Birdhouse Gourds.  Most of the tomato seeds were pretty fresh, though - and I am surprised (and disappointed) to see that none of my Burpee "Super-Sauce" tomatoes have sprouted yet (that's one of the FEW seed varieties that actually I purchased this year).  Luckily, my friend DV says she ordered an extra Super-Sauce Tomato Plant from Burpee, so I suspect we'll be doing some trading in the weeks to come!

So yeah.  Babies are coming along - and I think (hope) it's not too late for more seeds to decide to come to life!

And in other gardening news:  Yep, I'm still harvesting cool-season stuff!


Beds have been uncovered now (Yay!), but I still keep getting these @#$% "Extreme Cold Alert" emails from Weather Channel (which means I keep having to run out and re-cover the Plumerias!)

Annnnnd...  I've already started amending my beds with bagged steer manure and Bumper Crop soil amendments.

Wake-up! Wake-up! Wake-up!!!
Yep - definitely a hint of Spring in the air!!!

Finny-Farm Bed.  
At this time of year, it doesn't get full-sun (it's tucked between my studio and greenhouse).
My Brassicas are very happy!

Don't they look happy?!!

I haven't started my Test-And-Amend Ritual yet (Soon!  Very soon!), but I think we're on-track for an awesome Gardening Season!

Oh, and in other Gardening News: I have a Cordyline Addiction!

It started out with Cordyline fruticosa - which is a tropical variety (currently residing in my greenhouse)

"Wahhh!  I wanna live IN the house!"

This is what it's supposed to look like:
And it will - once I find a suitable location for it!

And here are my latest additions to my Cordyline Addiction:
Clockwise from rear:
Large bronze Cordyline australis
Small black Cordyline "Renegade"
Small Cordyline "Electric Pink"

These three plants ARE suitable for our climate (unlike C. fruticosa who is truly tropical).  So they'll live on the patio year-round...

I've already potted-up the large bronze one, into a large (tree-sized) pot.  I plan to pot-up the rest of them in smaller ceramic pots and finding a nice place to group them together on the patio...

I ALSO decided that the outer perimeter of our yard needs some sprucing up.  We've got huge Italian Cypresses running along the fence-line and, over the years, I've tried to add different ground-cover type plants.  My favorite, so far, are the African Daisies (Osteospermum something-or-other).  The foliage fills-in nicely, but the flowers only bloom in early spring (Which is fine.  Daisies aren't exactly Tropical!).  

Over time, I've tried adding more plants to the perimeter (with varying degrees of success).  Unfortunately, the perimeter is a *very* long run, and our drip-system is pretty-well maxed-out.  But I've stuck different types of palm trees out there (slow-growers like Pygmy Date Palms), and back along the far-far-back fence, I planted Agapanthus - hoping they would multiply and fill-in all the bare-dirt along the berm.  No such luck!

Sooooo...  While we were visiting some of Hubs' relatives, last year, in the Inland Empire (think super-hot and droughty So-Cal conditions), I noticed that they were using smallish ferns as ground-cover around their pool.  It looked positively awesome, so I asked about them (since I always considered ferns to be Shade-Lovers).  They told me that they were Sword Ferns and they seemed to do quite well with minimal water and full-sun.

I figure - in spite of the fact that I WANT to believe that Spring has Sprung - there's gonna be quite a bit more rain in the weeks/months to come, and THIS is when I should be planting stuff - if I want it to stand any chance of survival! I am NOT dragging a hose OVER the pool and ALL AROUND the perimeter of our yard (to be honest, I don't know if our hose is even long enough to make it to the far back fence!).

So I went online and researched "Sun and drought tolerant ferns."  Found this site - which was awesome!  Yup.  Seems like Sword Fern is the way to go!  I checked Home Depot (they had ONE in stock!), as well as our local nursery (which would have been grossly overpriced - if they had 'em!).  I ended up surfing online and discovered that I could either purchase 15 bare-root ferns for appx $90.00...  Or if I went to their "wholesale" site (same site!), I could buy 100 bare-root ferns for less than $80.00!

Yes, it IS madness, but I bought 100 ferns!  And honestly, I could probably put them all to use (our yard is that big!).  But I am really hoping that they are SMALL plants, so I only have to dig 100 SMALL holes, right?!

Besides, whatever I don't plant, I am SURE I can pawn-off on friends and neighbors!

Okay then...  I think that post was PLENTY Rambly!

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