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Vegetable Gardening: Winter Indoor Salad Garden

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mraider3
Helena, MT

March 17, 2011
12:17 AM

Post #8431779

Since our winters are forever I decided to grow my salads indoors this winter, experimenting with tomatoes, lettuce and spinach. The lettuce (red salad bowl) and spinach plants were quite easy to grow in a 2.5 gallon pot under the florescent lights on my PVC seed starting stand. I planted three tomato plants (prairie fire-determinant) in a single pot with a mulch of black seeded simpson, leaf lettuce as well. I am harvesting several salads a week from just these three plantings. I would like to extend this operation next winter as well. I was wondering about growing fresh radishes but haven't decided if there was sufficient space to get a successive decent crop. Has anyone tried growing radishes indoors, and what other ideas pop into mind when making an indoor winter salad garden? I enjoy all sorts of fresh vegetables in my salads, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

bariolio

bariolio
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 17, 2011
9:57 PM

Post #8433674

You could try arugula, which is kind of peppery, used in salad. But I don't know anything about indoor gardening, as I live in W Houston. Just thinking of what I grow outside in winter. I grow swiss chard, turnips (grow like weeds here), beets, kale, snow peas, leaf lettuces, radicchio. Good luck!
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

March 18, 2011
6:43 AM

Post #8434035

I grow cucumbers on a trellis inside using a bucket. They need lots of light, but if you are getting tomatoes, that should be plenty of light.
mraider3
Helena, MT

March 19, 2011
4:20 AM

Post #8435891

I have some arugula seed bariolio and I think I will try seeding some in a 2.5 gallon pot today. I have been enjoying salads using just leaf lettuce, spinach and onion seedling tops lately. My tomato plant has five tomatoes ripening and I get to pick the first ripe one today.

cathy4, I have some mini-cucumber seed which I had planned on planting in a raised bed, however I like your idea much better. Indoor light space is limited at the moment but I could start indoors and move to the heated hoop house in a couple of weeks. I have lots of five gallon pails which might do the trick. Would like to hear or see how you construct your trellis and what you used for a growing media cathy. I have a free source of wood chips and plan to line the bottom of my pots with a layer of these for drainage as well as using a PVC pipe for bottom water in the larger containers.

The more I read about container gardening the more fascinated I become with indoor vegetable gardening. Although container gardening is mostly about flowering plants I have been getting some great ideas on indoor vegetable gardening.
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

March 23, 2011
8:21 PM

Post #8446441

I happened to have several metal trellises that are sort of V-shaped from my rose garden at our old house. I just stick it down in the bucket as I fill it with potting soil. My SIL couldn't believe how many cukes I got from the one bucket/plant. It gets a little top heavy.
mraider3
Helena, MT

March 24, 2011
2:59 AM

Post #8446621

cathy4, how large a bucket did you use?
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

March 24, 2011
6:45 AM

Post #8446968

5 gallon, the only size I had.
mraider3
Helena, MT

March 25, 2011
3:43 AM

Post #8448762

Perfect cathy4, I have dozens of these buckets and will try planting some mini-cukes tomorrow. This will free up a raised bed which I had planned to use for this purpose. I am leaning towards leaving these inside buckets in my hoop house; however five gallon buckets are simple to move with a dolly if you are careful of the trellis. I don't particularly like drilling drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets, so I plan to obtain some Red Cedar Woodchips today from a local mill which could be used to line the bottom of the bucket. I thought about using a PVC pipe for bottom watering as well.

Since I'm using your idea on bucket planting Cathy, what are your thoughts on direct seeding with four or five seeds, and thinning down to a couple of plants per bucket?
cathy4
St. Louis County, MO
(Zone 5a)

March 25, 2011
8:24 AM

Post #8449215

If you buckets are inside, not drilling holes is probably okay because you can control the watering. If you take them outside, a drain hole would be needed I think, a heavy rain could drown your plant.

Two plants per bucket should be okay.

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 25, 2011
12:01 PM

Post #8449619

I am growing SWISS CHARD indoor

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mraider3
Helena, MT

March 25, 2011
10:46 PM

Post #8450731

Cathy, by the time I would be moving the potted cucumbers outside of the hoop house there is little chance of rain, but point taken. It would be easy enough to drill some holes in the bottom sides of the bucket. The wood chips I picked up to day are just the right size for drainage purposes both in the containers and raised beds. I plan to start work on both projects in a few hours.

drthor interesting pic. That looks like one of those bakery stands. I had wanted to purchase several for the hoop house but couldn't find any. Instead I went to Growers Supply and purchased several 2' x 8í metal bench sections. Shipping turned out to be more than the items purchased. I did however purchase two types of Swiss Chard seed while in Bozeman today. Wife thought we should try planting some in both containers and the raised beds. Neither of us knew anything about the plant but she and I both like salads and the occasional stir fry. I will do some research tonight before potting some up.

As you can see from the attached pic I use both 2.5 gallon plastic pots and a lettuce crisper for the loose leaf lettuce and baby spinach plants. So far this experiment is working well. We are getting enough for two salads a week from just these two plantings. With new seed startings there isnít much room left for indoor salad gardening on my plant stands, but next fall I can devote the entire stand to this program. That should be more than adequate for the two of us.

Thumbnail by mraider3
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drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 26, 2011
5:41 AM

Post #8450962

I bought my shelf at Home Depost. It was also on sale for $59.
It is 4' long and it has 5 adjustable shelfs.
violist
Calgary
Canada

November 20, 2011
8:42 AM

Post #8898515

Just found this thread. I am interested in how the vegetables taste grown under lights, are they as good as those harvested out of doors? Do you think they have the same nutrients? I am growing greens now in a cold frame inside my unheated greenhouse. I am harvesting spinach, etc, and we are getting nighttime lows of minus 20 here in Calgary. But the growth has pretty much stopped because of the low light levels. I would like to try growing greens under lights.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 20, 2011
9:12 AM

Post #8898559

I have grown greens in a disposible aluminum pan. They dont need a whole lot of root space. Mine were in a sunny window, so I cant answer your question violist.
rwaterspf1
Durham, NC
(Zone 7b)

November 20, 2011
9:45 AM

Post #8898584

I grow lettuces and mixed greens indoors under lights. This is my first year doing it so I only have summer experience but it seems the lettuce isn't as crisp as outdoor grown.


-Vaughn

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mraider3
Helena, MT

November 20, 2011
4:15 PM

Post #8899048

Vaughn, I see you have onc of the Lowe's stands which dthor mentioned. I really line mine. I grew red salad bowl last year which looks like one of the potted lettuce plants in your pic. I like my leaf lettuce cut very fine and in order to get it crisp enough to cut into very small strips, I would place the cut leaves in a pan of ice water, then place it in the frig until I got read to serve them up.
rwaterspf1
Durham, NC
(Zone 7b)

November 20, 2011
5:27 PM

Post #8899144

mraider3, I do like the stand i got it from Amazon with free shipping! The red leaf lettuce in that pot is Blackhawk, and the empty pot is New Red Fire waiting to germinate. I will try the ice water to crisp my lettuce up. Thanks!

-Vaughn
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 21, 2011
10:32 PM

Post #8901015

Vaughn, I was browsing the on line seed catalogs and saw a leafy cabbage which I thought I would try. My sister duplicated a garlic cole slaw recipe a number of years ago from one of our favorite restaurants in Wichita. The owner was famous for this particular cole slaw and everyone referred to it as Doc's cole slaw. He finely chopped the lettuce for his recipe, and that is when I started doing the same for my salads. The cabbage pieces were also soaked in ice water before blending. After draining the water from the cabbage the finely chopped lettuce and cabbage fines were mixed together. We also add fresh carrots which have been run through the food processor and finely grated. Mix in some mayo, sour cream, garlic (fresh or powder), and some paprika and you have a fantastic cole slaw. I add some ranch salad dressing and Season All salt to mine for a little extra kick.

I just finished welding and painting the PVC grow stand in an earlier pic in this thread, and I plan to start some lettuce, spinach and bok choi indoors in a couple of days. It has been extremely cold here but I thought I would try another idea I picked up on the other night here in DG. Setting up a cold frame in the hoop house for some of the above plants. I purchased some bails of hay yesterday and arranged them into a rectangle with a growing area of 4'l x 3'w x 18"d. I will use two of the old window panes from my collection as covers. I have several four bulb florescent light fixtures and a heat mat which I can throw into the mix. It is surprising how much can be grown in a 12 sq ft area.

morgan



kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

December 6, 2011
7:19 AM

Post #8918481

I was thinking of lighting for tomatoes inside... I know that when my seedlings start getting taller, the top leaves start shading out the bottom leaves. Would a shop light on its side provide more light for an indoor tomato plant or two? Just stand it up on its end? Just wondering if anyone had tried that.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 6, 2011
8:55 AM

Post #8918584

I think growing lettuce indoors is a good idea, I just need 2 more 4' light ballasts and I'll be good to go. How do you guys hook up all these lights, btw? lots of 3-pronged extension cords?

rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

December 8, 2011
9:11 AM

Post #8921380

[quote="JohnCrichton75"]I think growing lettuce indoors is a good idea, I just need 2 more 4' light ballasts and I'll be good to go. How do you guys hook up all these lights, btw? lots of 3-pronged extension cords?

[/quote]

You're inspiring me to get my lights set back up. I haven't done it since I moved to my new house 2+ years ago. No excuse, just inertia.

When I had mine set up before, I used an outlet box designed for computer and electronics equipment. If you look around (home improvement stores, office supply stores, electronics stores) you can find them with minimal surge protection - just a resettable circuit breaker button without all the expensive electronic filtering you don't need keeps the price down. You can also find them with some or all of the sockets operating from a single on/off switch (if that's something you find convenient - I did). Be sure the unit is rated for the maximum wattage you'll be drawing; don't plan to run a bunch of quartz halogen lamps off a single box, or a single wall outlet for that matter! If you want to be sure you're not overheating the fixture, add up the wattage of all the bulbs and check that it is less than the rated watts of the outlet box.

You can of course opt for a more permanent installation, but I'd recommend an electrician for that. It might be worth it if you're planning to use the same setup for several years. You can buy "industrial" fixtures often for less than the ones designed for consumer use (because the ones designed for home use have exposed cords and need some additional safety features). All the cords will be out of the way in conduit running straight from the fixtures to the nearest wall supply, so getting wet won't be an issue. And you can arrange to have any arrangement of switches and timers you want without having to reach across trays of plants to reach a pull chain or toggle switch. The drawback, aside from paying someone to install it, is the limited flexibility in the arrangement of lights and shelves.

-Rich
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 8, 2011
3:28 PM

Post #8921893

I know what you mean, Rich. We moved into our new home earlier this year (February) and I am just now getting back into the gardening groove. Actually, I planted a hurried crop of vegetables this past spring in some makeshift raised beds as well as in pots, but the drought here in Texas wiped-out everything as I was ill-prepared from a watering standpoint. I think one of our big trees in the backyard is dead, too. Guess I'll find out in the spring. Basically, my year has been a complete disaster and that prompted me to sit-out the fall campaign as well, so I am just now beginning anew.

Also, thanks for all of the advice. I forgot about those surge-protector strips for some reason and that will be well worth the expense. I am planning to have two 4' long shelves, each with 2 light ballasts. So, I will have to plug 4 ballasts into one of my electrical outlets that is about 6' away. Hopefully I will have all of this sorted out by Saturday. This will be perfect, because I miss having fresh herbs for cooking plus I can get a head start on my vegetables as I prepare to make my triumphant return to gardening this upcoming spring.
mraider3
Helena, MT

December 10, 2011
7:06 AM

Post #8923714

Speaking of lights, I purchased an expensive FLT24, 2-Foot, Four Tube T5 Fluorescent Light System from Hydro Farm which has been operating now for less than two months. The ends of the bulbs are already showing the dark signs of deterioration. I'm glad I purchased several cases of the soon to be obsolete bulbs for my inexpensive shop light fixtures from Lowes. These lights worked just fine for my last winter indoor growing projects. I for one am not sold on these so called energy efficient systems. The price of bulb replacement for these 22-inch bulbs was three times higher than the old 4-ft bulbs, and I purchased four, 4-ft, two bulb shop light fixtures from Lowes for less than the cost of the one 2-ft light system. I think I will stick with the shop light fixtures until I am convinced these new systems arenít a complete rip off.

I recently purchased several varieties of determinate cherry tomato plants (Micro Tom, Little Sun, Totem) from Totally Tomatoes, which I plan to give a try. Combined with some Lola Rossa, Black Seed Simpson Leaf Lettuce; some Dwarf Blue Curled Kale; and some Toy Pak Choi, all of which can be grown in two gallon pots, indoors under lights should produce some healthy, fresh salads for the winter months.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

December 10, 2011
11:46 AM

Post #8924029

[quote="mraider3"]Speaking of lights, I purchased an expensive FLT24, 2-Foot, Four Tube T5 Fluorescent Light System from Hydro Farm which has been operating now for less than two months. < snip > The price of bulb replacement for these 22-inch bulbs was three times higher than the old 4-ft bulbs, and I purchased four, 4-ft, two bulb shop light fixtures from Lowes for less than the cost of the one 2-ft light system. I think I will stick with the shop light fixtures until I am convinced these new systems arenít a complete rip off.[/quote]

I think you'll find that as more of the fixtures are sold and more bulbs (and bulb manufacturers) enter the market, the prices will drop accordingly. One of the reasons they're still so expensive is that the manufacturers have to recoup their expenses in marketing, producing and shipping the bulbs; and since the old bulbs are still around, wholesalers and retailers have to create space for the new ones IN ADDITION to their stocks of existing types. Of course, the price of the "full spectrum" and other specialty lights will still be higher, just as they have always been with the old "Grow-Lights", and for the same reason. They aren't really more expensive to produce if you just look at materials; but when you add in the factors associated with low volume, the price has to go up so the producers and retailers aren't losing money selling them.

I'm seeing the same thing happen with LED fixtures and lights. Six months ago, a 65-watt-equivalent floodlight to replace a recessed ceiling fixture cost $70 - if you could find one. Today the exact same fixture is around $35, and there are a LOT of new types hitting the shelves of the area Lowes' and Home Depot.

-Rich

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 12, 2011
11:30 AM

Post #8926382

[quote]I'm glad I purchased several cases of the soon to be obsolete bulbs for my inexpensive shop light fixtures from Lowes.[/quote]

You're referring to the T5 tubes, right, and not the regular old 4 ft. fluorescent shop lights?
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 12, 2011
11:35 AM

Post #8926394

I was wondering the same thing.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 12, 2011
11:42 AM

Post #8926403

I have a flat of Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach under shop lights. They popped in about 3 days. Only about 3 seedlings up this morning, but, if my track record holds, I should have a whole flat of spinach seedlings up by tomorrow morning!

Just remembered -- I need to relocate them to the cool room! Oops!
mraider3
Helena, MT

December 12, 2011
11:48 PM

Post #8927355

I purchased 30 each of the 6100K and soft white T12's bulbs which I use in my shop light fixtures. I use one 6100K and a soft white bulb in the two bulb, four foot light fixtures. Each shelf has two shop light fixtures.They have worked fine for me in the past, and as I mentioned much less expensive. The pic is of a PVC stand which I use for seed starting. The top two tiers have heat mats for seed starting and the bottom section can support up to eight 2 gallon pots.

This message was edited Dec 17, 2011 11:14 PM

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Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 13, 2011
12:09 PM

Post #8928029

Here's my light setup. Concrete cinder blocks, boards, and the shop lights (four per shelf). All lights run through a serge protector strip, so I can turn 'em all on and off at once with the flip of the button.

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
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mraider3
Helena, MT

December 16, 2011
9:10 AM

Post #8931981

Nicely done Linda. I would like to steal this idea without lighting for hardening off plants in my hoop house this spring. I also use a surge protector for my lights and a timer to automatically turn them on and off. I operate the lights 17 hours on, and 7 off, for tomatoes, peppers and onions. Thanks.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
10:44 AM

Post #8932057

Great setups, everyone.

Linda- I will be going to the $ store soon to buy cat litter boxes, what a great idea for a tray! I have plenty of 4" pots, too. Question for the group: will I be able to grow lettuce to maturity in 4" pots? I would like to grow calamar, red sails and another type I have on hand. I think this will work because the root systems are not deep.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
10:55 AM

Post #8932072

John,
I would pick up a couple of those deep aluminum roasting pans and sow each variety of your lettuce seeds in a community flat. The extra pan depth will work and, you'd end up with a "living" salad bowl. You could sow liberally, and use a "cut and come" approach to harvesting leaves as you need them, leaving the plants to continue growing. Or, if they grow too closely together, just thin them out by removing an entire plant.

I've sowed spinach seeds this way, and forgot to go with a deeper pan. Seems they have a deep tap root that needs 10-12" of depth. Good thing I only sowed one flat!

Think I'll run out to the $ store for some deep pans!

Linda
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
11:26 AM

Post #8932102

Thanks! As a matter of fact, I am heading to the grocery store right now. I was going to buy a roasting pan anyway, as chance would have it...funny how I did not think about that to begin with!!! @&*^! That really simplifies things. I should be up-and-running tonight!

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
2:42 PM

Post #8932414

Don't cha' just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the EZ button!!!!

I'll meet 'cha at the light stand!

Hugs!

And, post pics when you can!!!
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

December 16, 2011
4:03 PM

Post #8932485

Dollar Tree has the deep aluminum roasting pans in several sizes- much cheaper than *real* stores!
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
5:47 PM

Post #8932579

Basically, I sowed 4' of Burpee's "sweet salad" mesclun mix this evening. Should be enough for one person perhaps and I hear the greens grow back well. I bought 3 aluminum disposable trays from HEB today @ $0.97 apiece. Each pan is about 16" x 8.5" x 3".

I can put 3 more sets of lights on this shelve system so hopefully Santa has been listening to my pleas. Ideally, I will sow Red Sails and Calamar lettuce soon under lights.

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drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 16, 2011
6:30 PM

Post #8932609

humm why are you sowig salad indoor JohnCrichton75?
in my zone 8a I "THROW" lettuce seeds out from October to February and the lettuce grow ...weee
lettuce seeds need LIGHT to germinate and they like the cold weather of our fall and winter here in Dallas ...
so I was just wondering why bother to sow them indoor ... just curios ... I dunno much anyway .. but I can throw lettuce seeds and they grow !!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 16, 2011
6:48 PM

Post #8932621

I agree with drthor. I just toss them here. I have never covered them even when it was 8*, some got burned but it grew right back. I can see doing it up N. and it wont hurt to do it here. Just not sure why you are doing it that way. Im doing it that way because ATM my garden isnt deer proof. I never cover ANY of my winter veggies and have never lost one.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
6:59 PM

Post #8932627

I don't really have anywhere to toss them, hence the lights.

My beds are not ready. I understand that this is a great time to sow lettuce outdoors.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 16, 2011
7:04 PM

Post #8932629

Kind of like my situation. The beds are ready and the deer know it. LOL Next time you can grow it outside. At least when we get a hard rain we dont have to wash the dirt off.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
7:11 PM

Post #8932634

I am in a new home (moved in February). It has been a busy year. But, I know of the perfect place in my backyard for a lettuce bed- it should be about 6' x 4'. The area was used for a kennel at one time, I believe, and it has some stones on the perimeter. I was tempted to broadcast lettuce seeds but the ground is still rock-hard...drought, you know? I'd like to work the land a little to break the soil and then add more soil on top. I need to weed the area as well.

I have some beds in the front yard that need to be worked as well.

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 16, 2011
7:19 PM

Post #8932644

ookkk it makes sense ... sorry I have just bad manners ... good luck
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 16, 2011
7:48 PM

Post #8932683

John-when you get done at your place do you mind coming up here and finishing mine? I've only lived here 17yrs. Never had an issue with deer until the drought,so I put up a chicken wire fence to keep the rabbits out. Needless to say rabbits are no longer the problem. Good luck!

Drthor-I don't think you showed bad manners. It was a legitimate question with a legitimate answer.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
8:16 PM

Post #8932707

No bad manners at all! Looking back at my post, I can understand the question. I use lights to start seeds mainly but I also use them to grow things whenever I need.


Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 16, 2011
8:31 PM

Post #8932714

Same here. My raised bed is STILL not built. At least the pans can be moved outdoors at some point - at least, that's my intention.
mraider3
Helena, MT

December 17, 2011
10:27 PM

Post #8933976

Gymgirl wrote "You're referring to the T5 tubes, right, and not the regular old 4 ft. fluorescent shop lights?"

My bad, these were the soon to be obsolete T12 bulbs which I was using in my shop lights.

After thinking this process through I decided to use one of the fixtures and set up a cold frame inside my 12ft x 8 ft hoop house using straw bales and some old window frames as covers. I made a telescoping light stand from PVC and I'm hoping these "inefficient' bulbs will generate sufficient heat to grow some lettuce, kale and spinach in our frigid weather. The temps got above freezing yesterday long enough to set up this cold frame.

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mraider3
Helena, MT

December 17, 2011
10:40 PM

Post #8933979

Here is a view showing the PVC telescoping light frame which supports an old shop light fixture I purchased from a salvage store for $8. I have two each ot the four foot T12's soft white, and 6100K. I will check around 10 AM tomorrow to see what the temperature of the media is. Hopefully this operation will survive our current single digit night time temperatures long enough to germinate. Worst is yet to come...Negative temperatures can last for several weeks at a time.

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mraider3
Helena, MT

December 17, 2011
10:52 PM

Post #8933982

This is the light fixture sitting on top of the PVC stand which can be raised about eight inches as necessary. Currently the fixture is about three inches from the growing media which includes wood chip fines. The decomposition process may add some additional heat...hopefully!

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CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 7, 2012
1:30 PM

Post #8958310

Many thanks to all who posted to this thread! I had decided to try growing some lettuces and spinach in my little heated hobby GH this winter (kinda keeps me out of trouble until spring) and needed some tips - many good ones here. Today I sowed two lettuces - 'Tango' and 'Asian Red' - and some 'Bloomsdale Long-Standing' spinach. Had Dr. Earth potting soil and coir mixed together and used plastic produce containers - the big ones that hold strawberries or cherry tomatoes. My little GH is a minimum of 57 degrees but can warm up fast on a sunny day. With three fans (one is always on, another kicks on at 70 degrees when the roof vents open and another little one - always on - under the potting bench where the lights are on for 17 hours). And, if I'm home, I open the door from the GH to the garage to help warm it up while cooling the GH. Can't waste that heat. Anyway, all of your comments were very encouraging and appreciated!
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 12, 2012
6:33 PM

Post #8965441

mraider3- wow, that's quite the set-up you have there! Your plants outta be nice and cozy there, it looks like. I feel ashamed now that I had to grow my crops indoors, lol. I just need more time to make my garden beds!! Or maybe better organizational skills...

Here's a tray of my sweet salad mesclun mix from Burpee. I used a roasting tray (thanks for the tip Linda) which is about 15" x 10" x 3". I sowed these on December 16th and the plants are now about 7" tall. I did not thin very well...the packet says thin to 6", 35 DTM & they should be 9 - 15" tall...am I breaking the rules if I "dig in" and eat them right now? lol.

Thumbnail by JohnCrichton75
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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 12, 2012
6:45 PM

Post #8965453

P.S. is mesclun "cut 'n come again" or "one n' done"?

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 12, 2012
8:05 PM

Post #8965535

yes you can start eating now.
start cutting from the outside of the plant. More you cut more they will grow back ... just like grass
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 12, 2012
8:49 PM

Post #8965579

Perfect...thanks, drthor. You know, the seed packet said that one could also harvest when the leaves were 3" long (which mine are) but I was focusing too much on the DTM. The lights really help, huh?
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 13, 2012
11:28 PM

Post #8966897

John, I messed up and the heater kicked the breaker. The surface of the media inside the hay bales froze down about an inch and seed did not germinate. Figured I would just leave it until spring and see if it will come up then.

I did plant some Baby Whales spinach in one lettuce crisper and four kinds of leaf lettuce seed in another today. Growing lettuce and spinach indoors under lights can produce enough for our needs for now. I did try something new for planting the leaf lettuce which I think should work out fairly well. I took some of my dried, spent vermiculture media which is peat moss and ground it up very fine with a mortar and pestle. I fill a small hot seed jar like you find at Pizza Huts with this ground media and then added a spatula full (about 150 seeds) of each kind of lettuce to the jar. Mixed the seeds into the powdered media and then sprinkled it over the surface of the damp potting mix in the lettuce crisper. It appeared I got a nice even distribution of the seed over the surface. I have a one gallon mister which I sprayed the surface with and will maintain a wet surface with this mister until the seedlings are more developed.

I have used this same method for seeding one of my raised beds in which I raise lettuce in the spring. The beds are 4'w x 8'l, and I can divide the bed into thirds. I lay three large black trash bags over the surface early in the spring, and then cover the beds with three old window panes. When the media under the black plastic warms enough to start planting I remove one trash bag and spread the seed over the first third of the bed. Several weeks later I do another third, and so forth. By the time the final third is ready to pick I can pull the first third and start the process over. The great thing about the shaker method is the ability to cover about a ten foot square area with very little seed. And if you miss a spot or two just sprinkle a little more seed. I keep the shaker in my refrigerator crisper ready to go whenever I need it. I purchase new lettuce seed each year and at around $2 per package of around 850 seed, I want to take it as far as I can.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

January 14, 2012
9:54 AM

Post #8967327

Very nice process, Mraider3. I could see using your process to seed a bed with tiny carrot and mustard seeds, too.

Linda.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 14, 2012
2:24 PM

Post #8967660

Does anyone fertilizer their indoor salad plants? Hating to use chemical fertilizers, I was contemplating top-dressing with some purchased worm castings once the seeds have sprouted. Thoughts?
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 15, 2012
1:23 AM

Post #8968212

Linda, this works better than the fine sand I purchased from Home Depot used for cactus plants. Besides better distribution of the seed and using less seed, you can keep the shaker in the refrigerator until you need to use it. I keep saved seeds and purchased seed packets in the crisper section of one of my refrigerators. I have several of these shakers, so it's necessary to label them with the seed(s) they contain.

Cindy, I use a diluted fertilizer once a week when watering my indoor winter garden plants. The stock solution is one cup of Miracle Grow fertilizer to one gallon of water. From the stock solution I take two tablespoons and add it to another gallon of water. I do this even though I have spent vermiculture media and possibly some composted horse or cow manure in the potting mixes used.

CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 15, 2012
8:02 AM

Post #8968456

I've only had my worm bin going for about a month and was thinking that it might be too early to get much beneficial fertilization from it. Perhaps some worm compost tea from my store-bought bag of the stuff? I don't use MG here.
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 17, 2012
4:50 AM

Post #8970957

Lots of people would agree with you Cindy on MG. Perhaps I should use something different. As for using VC before it is considered castings, I would wait about six months. My bins have been active for years and by removing a little dried material from the surface a couple of times a week, I can use this material directly for germination of seedlings without any problems. As for making worm tea to fertilize you plants, I can't see any problem with using it now as well as later. I am referring to the aerated method rather than the liquor from drilled holes in your bins. I don't drill holes in mine and have never tried the later method.

Linda, I have done the carrot row thing and it works great. I also include some pulverized, composted cow manure in the mix for the garden rows.

morgan
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 17, 2012
6:45 AM

Post #8971073

Thanks for another great tip on letting the VC age a bit before using. I did buy a little aquarium pump and air stones a couple of weeks ago to brew compost tea over the winter and I can use some store-bought worm castings until my "home grown" VC is ready. I'm thinking I'll throw in some kelp extract and a little molasses to help round out the nutrients a bit. Also a good tip on using the VC for seed starting.
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 21, 2012
3:14 AM

Post #8976144

I just posted the same thing Cindy in another recent thread here. There are lots of things you can use to make tea. One thing about using air stones for bubblers is to have some spare stones ready. They do tend to clog rather easily when making tea,
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

January 21, 2012
6:46 AM

Post #8976276

Thanks for the tip on the air stones. I did purchase a multi-pack so I'm good. I just have to get brewing now.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

January 23, 2012
3:31 PM

Post #8979582

>> I keep saved seeds and purchased seed packets in the crisper section of one of my refrigerators. I have several of these shakers, so it's necessary to label them with the seed(s) they contain.

The vegtable bin / crisper drawer in a refridgerator actually keeps a higher humidity than the rest of the fridge. It keeps vegetables crisp by preventing them from drying out.

http://www.creators.com/advice/everyday-cheapskate/what-do-i-do-with-my-refrigerator-s-crisper-drawer.html
(fourth paragraph).

Try petting a little newsprint on a shelf, and some in the crisper. I bet the paper in the "crisper" is more limp. Neither will be crinkly or brittle like really DRY newspaper. Or leave some lettuce on a shlef see it get limp faster as it looses water faster in the drier air.

Until I realized the vegetable bin was a HIGH-humidity area, I used to keep seeds there. I also think it is possibke to get condensation on the regular shelves, so now the only seeds I refridgerate are tomato and pepper seeds, in tightly sealed jars, with silica gel dessicant inside the jars.

But if your seeds don't germinate or get moldy down there, you don't have a problem. Maybe the humidity just shortens their dormancy period, like waking up half-way. I was afraid it would shorten thier storage lifetime - I'm hoping for more than 4-5 years.

Corey
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 24, 2012
6:23 AM

Post #8980286

Well Corey, it looks like I need to do a refrigerator overhaul today...thanks for the advice. Funny thing is I have a jar full of those little plastic desiccant pills which I have been saving and had not found a use for. I heard you could recharge them in the microwave. Very useful advice here Corey...glad you mentioned it.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

January 24, 2012
12:27 PM

Post #8980720

>> little plastic desiccant pills
>> I heard you could recharge them in the microwave

Hmm, without melting the plastic? Maybe they contain something other than silica gel. Silica gel is regenerated at 250-260F, but NOT above 280 or it will turn dark and become harder to regen. I don;'t know about microwave - it may be very effective and, after all, you don;t need the gel bone-dry.

This site advises NOT drying seeds with a lot of silica gel for MORE THAN 7 days. My approach is to use only a little gel with a lot of seeds and paper, in a largish plastic jar that is not quite air-tight, and figure that the gel is usually half-exhausted and half-strength. I have humidty-indicating cards that show 10-20% RH most of the time.

I don't THINK I'm killing my seeds by over-drying them. The paper in the jar, and the seeds themsleves, serve to buffer the humidity when I add new dessicant.

http://www.southernexposure.com/drying-seed-with-color-indicating-silica-gel-ezp-26.html

They advise equal amounts of (mostly-dry) seeds and silica gel together in a small jar for several days, separated by cloth or whatever. Then move the extra-dry seeds to a small, very tightly sealed jar.

(Seven days is said to dry them down to 3-5% water instead of 12% which is normal for air-dried seeds)

rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

January 26, 2012
10:09 AM

Post #8982957

[quote="RickCorey_WA"]The vegtable bin / crisper drawer in a refridgerator actually keeps a higher humidity than the rest of the fridge. It keeps vegetables crisp by preventing them from drying out.[/quote]

I absolutely agree. It is a great place for stratifying seeds that need cold treatment to germinate. I've started peach and apple seeds that way, in plastic bags in moist coarse vermiculite. They dry out more slowly, don't need to be checked as often.

-Rich
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

January 26, 2012
10:13 AM

Post #8982962

[quote="RickCorey_WA"]>> little plastic desiccant pills
>> I heard you could recharge them in the microwave

Hmm, without melting the plastic?[/quote]

Been there, done that. The microwave makes a real mess of the little plastic cylinders that are packed with OTC medicines. I've regenerated silica gel in the oven - that seems to work fine, but not a summer activity.

-Rich


RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

January 26, 2012
3:42 PM

Post #8983317

>> but not a summer activity.

Good point! I should cook all the stale silica gell I've been accumulating while it is still cold - run the stove instead of running the furnace.

I should rmeind people unecessarily NOT to pour hot silica gel from the oven into any plastice container, nor even into glass that is prone to crack. Let it cool as fast as possible so it doesn't absorb much water, and then seal it in glass once cool enough.

And spread it thin in the oven, so it dries faster. 250-260F, staying UNDER 280F.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

January 28, 2012
10:12 PM

Post #8986183

Rick, the best way I've found is to put the silica gel into a wide-mouth Mason jar (no lid) and put the whole thing in a COLD oven. Bring the oven up to about 120ļC / 250ļF and hold for a few hours (or if your gel has a color indicator, until the color changes). Turn the heat off and let the jar cool in the oven until you can touch it without getting burned, then screw on a new lid to keep moisture out. As long as the heating and cooling aren't too abrupt it should work fine without breaking the glass.

Be sure not to exceed the recommended temperature or the silica gel may change internal structure and no longer take up moisture.

-Rich

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

January 30, 2012
10:30 AM

Post #8988141

That does sound like a good idea. I haven't DONE this yet, but my pound-and-a-half of silica gel is almost used up so I will have to, soon.

Reading suggests spreading the gel out into a layer less than 1" thick so it dries more quickly ... you don't find that necessary? You way would be much easier and less messy!

The jars that Safeway sphagetti sauce comes in LOOK like Mason jars, but I doubt if the glass is as heat-resistant. I might have to buy some real Mason jars.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 30, 2012
11:24 AM

Post #8988204

[quote] Reading suggests spreading the gel out into a layer less than 1" thick so it dries more quickly ... you don't find that necessary? You way would be much easier and less messy! [/quote]
If I may intrude, yes, spreading it out allows it to dry much faster.

We use silica gel in pint mason jars with the ring. We replaced the lid with fine screen. These are set in places needed to remove humidity.

Periodically I refresh the silica gel in the oven at low temp. If left in the jars, the color tells the tale. The center is rarely dried sufficiently.
When I spread it out on cookie sheets in the oven it is much more thorough and efficient. Kristi

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

January 30, 2012
9:06 PM

Post #8988913

Good to know!

I checked the MSDS data sheets for silica gel once I began to wonder how much dust there was. One of the lowest toxicities of anything I've worked woith, other than food products!

even dust from normal beach sand is worse, because silica gel is amorpohous and sand has some crystaline silica. You could get silicosis by powdering beach sand and snuffling it up, but not from silica gel.

That said, still don't eat it or breath it unnecessarily. And I;m talking about non-indicating silica gel. If indicating silica gel is like Drierite (Cacium sulphate, gypsum?) , the coloring agent includes Cobalt Chloride - well worth mimizing the dust.

That sounds like you're managing quite a lot of humidity. Something that is not a sealed system, but rather open?

I put 1-2 tablespoons into a craft paper envelope (coin envelope) and let it breath through the paper.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

January 31, 2012
10:10 PM

Post #8990291

[quote="RickCorey_WA"]Reading suggests spreading the gel out into a layer less than 1" thick so it dries more quickly ... you don't find that necessary? You way would be much easier and less messy![/quote]

I suppose that might be true. I've never tried filling the jars more than about 1-2" deep. If you used full jars for drying, it seems to me you'd run into the same problem in reverse - the deeper parts wouldn't absorb much water.

-Rich
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 1, 2012
3:50 AM

Post #8990365

Again, that is correct.

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